WiIliam Clover and the Endowed Chair

Home 2009 Archive WiIliam Clover and the Endowed Chair

Michael Rutschky

Published: January 24, 2006

Schmoozing.  Did I spell that right?  The art of making your way around a room.  I’ve never been good at it but I’m better than I was. 

It’s something you either pull off, or you just wind up walking around the room with that awkward feeling of being there, but not “really” being there.  It takes a lot of confidence, charm, and class.  Luckily, I brought a date. 

My girlfriend and I attended a reception last Friday honoring visual arts instructor William Clover.  After teaching at PJC for many, many years, Mr. Clover (“Clover” to his students, “Furball” to his friends) was awarded the Anna Lamar Switzer Endowed Chair. 

I’ve been a graphic design major now for two years, so I’ve had at least one class with most of the art faculty.  Last semester I took digital imaging, a course taught by Clover himself, who hit me as being the funniest man never to have been offered a TV sitcom. 

The reception itself was beautiful.  Right now a collection of Clover’s digital art and sculptures is being displayed in the gallery of Building 15, along with some digital art by Jerry Lamme and sculptures by Kris Rybka. 

Clover’s art was arranged very nicely, using giant banner-size prints along side smaller framed prints of the same piece. 

I thought this was a very great way to experience Clover; it was big and over-the-top and absolutely gorgeous.  And at that size, you perceive the piece a little bit differently; the art has more control over you. 

So there we were, me and my Girlfriend (who has a name and IS real) are at this big Art Gallery Reception Shindig and I’m a bit overwhelmed.  I kind of just wandered around trying to get my teacher to make eye contact with me, at which time I could introduce my beautiful date and “schmooze.” 

I read somewhere that the worst thing to do at office parties is to “talk shop,” so I figured that applied here.  But I only ever knew these people as teachers.  Great teachers, yes.  Really inspiring and insightful mentors who could be reading this column right now, yes.  But still teachers, and I’m still just a student.

And not just teachers, but artists to boot!  Very intimidating.  I wanted to at least look like I wasn’t a complete fool. 

I ate as little as possible of the free cookies (GOD, were they good) and made sure I didn’t ask if I could see the “endowed chair”. 

Clover was a hoot.  I knew his acceptance speech would bowl everyone over.  Just in case he’s reading this, I’ll go ahead and claim the last line was a pun on ceramics.  He’s definitely earned the title, and I was very happy to have been there when he got it. 

I wrote this column because I strongly encourage everyone who’s reading this to take a break from the rigors of the semester and experience the gallery at Building 15.  The art majors like me are lucky enough to see this stuff everyday, but a lot of other students don’t know what they’re missing. 

Right now, in addition to Clover’s collection, the gallery is showing some really amazing work.  Rybka’s sculptures of sticks and bronze are haunting with a kind of primal surrealism, and I absolutely lose myself in Lamme’s prints. 

Please, go check it out at Building 15 (the weird looking one).  Take a few minutes with each piece and let it work its way into your head.  And while you’re at it, bring some friends.  Or, if you’re brave enough, just try to schmooze.