Gratitude for someone who took stock in me

I have been blessed to have had people who stepped forward at the right moment to lift me up and defend me. One such moment was when I was a senior in high school.

I attended Skyline High School when it was still the hub of all the magnet schools in Dallas. I attended the Art Magnet portion of the school. I graduated in 1976 and in 1977, DISD moved the Visual Arts, Dance, Drama and Music programs and all of the teachers to Booker T. Washington which is downtown in the Arts District.

I had a really great high school counselor who counseled me to take some summer classes so that I could take six hours of Art and one of English as a senior. That year as a Senior, I created a piece of sculpture called “Aspirations” under the mentorship of my wonderful sculpture teacher Leon Pledger for Skyline’s High School’s courtyard.

Aspirations, 1976, Welded Steel and enamel, 12 feet tall, now destroyed

One day I was staying late at school and working on some sculpture. The teachers were having a professional development meeting. The late artists Octavio Medellin and Heri Bert Bartscht were there as curriculum advisors. I knew Octavio and Heri because of my father.

Head of the Art Department, Margaret Hull asked me to take Heri and Octavio down to see my piece of sculpture “Aspirations” because it had been recently installed. Interestingly, Bartscht did some of the liturgical art at St. John’s Episcopal Church where I was baptized, married and go to church.

Right away, Bartscht started verbally tearing my sculpture to shreds. Octavio let lose the GD word, “God damn it Harry, look at what this young man has done” and went on to defend me.

I will never forget that exchange and will forever hold Octavio as being one of those persons who early on, took stock in what I was doing and made me feel as if I was on the right path.

I think you need both kinds of people in the world, so you don’t get too full of yourself, but I will always remember Octavio for his act of kindness and his acknowledgment on that day. Anyone who ever took classes from Octavio could tell you a similar story.

Octavio in his studio carving on one of his beautiful wooden sculptures.

For more information about Octavio Medellin

Octavio’s show at the Dallas Museum of Art

Octavio’s listing in Wikipedia

Octavio’s work with the Creative Arts Center, Dallas Texas

Octavio Medellin: Artwork and papers – SMU


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