~Not to pay a debt but to acknowlege it~

"These brighter Regions which salute mine eyes
A Gift from God I take:
The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the Lofty Skies,
The Sun and Stars are mine: if these I prize."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Hot Chef's Soup."

“Phil! That’s me!” the woman in the front row of the art history room exclaimed in astonishment. There on the wall was the Palio horse race in Siena and she was part of the crowd scene, photographed by Philip Dedrick some years before.

 It wasn’t the coincidence that surprised P.D. as much as the woman up until that moment had always regarded him as “Mr. Dedrick, this…” or “Mr. Dedrick, that..”

Things happened in that room. Chuck Ludeke at the projector inserted a slide that suddenly illuminated the wall with an image of myself cradling in my arms a peculiar sculpture done by a fellow art student. This evoked a quick and pithy comment by P.D. about my parenting skills.

Naturally we were expected to remember all the dates, the periods, the movements, the dynasties, and take closer scrutiny of Marcel Duchamp’s cubist painting of ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ when the subject was revealed to be male (!). Everyone lugged along the massive, grey book ‘History of Italian Renaissance' when not using it as a door stop… but few investigated its pages until THE FINAL came up.

We had to write a paper, the topic passing approval first, but anyone who received an ‘A’ did not have to take THE FINAL... which lead to much groveling throughout the land for those with 'A-' or 'B+' papers. Rama even confronted P.D. in his office, decked out in sari and sporting boxing gloves to complain about her 'A-' paper. P.D. recoiled in laughter, “Please, just don’t hit me!” Obviously she did have an earlier success, her favorite professor's praise pure poetry... yet one ponders whether her appreciation for Masaccio had anything to do with his subjects dressing in similar flowing garments? 

~The Tribute Money~
Masaccio aka 'Slovenly Tom'

One ‘B+' paper tried to bribe him with a plate of home baked brownies, I remember, hoping to appeal to his reknown culinary desires. It was a miserable, funny, failure. That year a book called ‘The Art of Walt Disney’ was published and a girl tried to hoodwink him into this being a topic for her paper, and he snapped, “There is no such thing!”For most it meant hours reviewing slides, taking notes and MEMORIZED LIKE WE NEVER MEMORIZED BEFORE. Years and years later, possibly to P.D.’s disappointment, I revealed a word association technique developed by Bill Bruning that got us through the test. Every image was broken down into something easier to store away: the one that I have never forgot was Hatshepsut. She ruled as Pharaoh, her images often sported a male beard, and (for reasons still arcane) after she died her step-son had nearly all carvings and statues obliterated of the queen we knew as Hot Chef’s Soup.

Hatshepsut at Karnak


  1. Thanks for posting these memories! I attended Rockford College in the late 70's and only had one class with Prof Dedrick (Art Appreciation), though I met him periodically at parties and shows when I was hanging out with the art students. You make me wish I had been an art major!

  2. Brilliant blog. I never met the man except through your stories of him over the years, and this blog brings him (and your other college experiences) to life for me. But then, I've always enjoyed your way with the written word. Keep up the good work.