Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My (Our) Old School

 One of the first things I remember learning about Jack, back when he was coming around here under the pretense of learning how I built my house, was that he also had gone to the University of Montevallo, which is where I graduated from.  I have always thought it was pretty cool we both went there, albeit years apart, both traveled around so much and then ended up meeting.
I think if you ever meet anyone that did attend the U of M you will find also, that almost 100% has exceptionally strong and dear memories of the place.  It's kinda hard to describe but Montevallo is one of those magical places that stays with you the rest of your life.  It is a public, liberal arts college and is consistently rated in the Top 50 of all the U.S. universities.  It has, in my opinion, one of the very top undergraduate art programs anywhere.

As long as Jack and I have been together we have talked about going back one day to visit our old school and this year we finally did just that.  I regularly participate in the yearly alumni art auction (to raise money to repair all the crap we tore up when we were there, lol!) and they were also dedicating the long awaited, new art building on campus.  The art department has doubled in size since I was there and they were sorely needing this.  We missed the actual dedication ceremony but did get to tour the building anyway.

One of my nieces is attending Montevallo (her first year), so she met us for lunch and then walked around campus with us for a while to show us all the new stuff.  It had probably been 8 or 9 years since I had been there and more like 35 for Jack, so there was lots to see.
My sister also graduated form Montevallo, so it has quite the following in my family.  I am one of the few Alabamians you'll meet that does not root for the Tide or Tigers.  I root for the Falcons, thank you very much. And no, UM does not have a football program.  They actually like to emphasize getting a real education.

This post is going to have a LOT of photos (thanks to Jack) but I'll try not to bore you too badly.
Th photo above is part of the new clay studios.  Absolutely fantastic.

This is just a small part of the sculpture studios which includes just about any type of welding you can imagine.  In fact, Montevallo is where I first learned to weld and then continued my education and certification after being in construction.

One thing Jack and I had in common at UM was we were both damn poor back when we attended and we both worked for the school to help get by.  I worked for the art department as a shop assistant and one day the sculpture professor gave me the task of labeling the only restroom as unisex, as we tore one out to make more room for work.  Over 24 years later my sign is still there on the door.  I really couldn't believe it. lol!

 Some of the concrete work in the new building left a bit to be desired, especially this wall over on the far right, but overall it is a fantastic new space.  This is the bronze casting area and UM is one of the very few schools in the US that offers such to their undergraduates.  The yellowish-brown thing with the warning sign on it is the foundry where the bronze is melted and the pit in front is where the investments (molds) are buried for pouring.  They bury them in case they burst during the pour.  That way the molten bronze is somewhat contained by the hard tamped sand and does not flow out on the concrete floor, which would be very dangerous.

These are scenes from around the rest of campus.  The old tower that I'm really not sure what it used to be.  Parts of UM date back to the Civil War and this may be something of that era.  I guess I should find out.  Now it houses some offices and the campus chimes.

UM is also fondly remembered for it's cobblestone roads and walkways.  I was pleased to see they had repaired a lot of them because when I was there the quaintness was beginning to be overshadowed by the clunks you heard from your vehicle every time you drove over certain areas!

Me with one of my favorite professors!  He taught printmaking, which was something I really, really sucked at but Professor Stephens has always been one of my biggest fans and owns a fair collection of my work by now.
The professors here are world class, literally, and they demanded the absolute best from every student.  They are not afraid to tell you like it is too and I saw more than one student leave an evaluation or critique in tears.  A lot of people like to joke about art classes being easy; you know, the old "basket-weaving" thing.  I learned real quick that was not the case here.  But we left knowing what it would take to survive as a working artist.

If you know much about UM, you'll know that it is also one of the most haunted places in Alabama, with the King House being at the top of that list.  They used to let visiting scholars stay here but I think one too many nighttime incidences stopped that.  They now put visitors up elsewhere. 
There are many, many websites that offer information about the hauntings of UM and THIS is one I found that had a lot of good history and pretty accurate information, at least as far as what I learned when I was there. 

This is actually a bike rack designed and build by the art department.  I'm not sure that the other students know that and use it!

The new gymnasium and athletic department.  UM does have one helluva baseball team.

This is part of the campus lake.  We used to come down here some for picnics and just hanging out and it is within walking distance of campus.

 Me with one of the large sculptures on campus.  This was done by our very well known sculpture professor, Ted Metz, and some of the sculpture students.  I think it took about 3 years to complete.  I was not involved in the making but, since I was in heavy construction, me and Allen went down and set the foundation and later the hands.  The large limestone blocks we set during a very heavy thunderstorm, complete with lightning!  The crane was there with the truck and we really had no choice.  The dollars were ticking on both so we just had to grin and bear it.  It worked out fine though.

Here's Jack in front of his old dorm.  Thank God I was able to live in an apartment the whole time I attended.

This is the road leading up to Flower Hill, the home of the President.  In the spring it lives up to it's name and it really beautiful.

A better view of the hands.

More cobblestone.  The weather was fantastic that day; sunny and about 60F.  We walked everywhere. 

And, lastly, the art auction that ended the day.  All my contributions went for a decent amount (about what they normally retail for or a bit more) so I was happy.


ErinFromIowa said...

I enjoyed this subject matter. The college looks like one I would want to attend. You and Jack look fantastic!

Mr. 40 said...

It looks like a very nice campus. Thanks for the tour. :)

I was especially intrigued by the haunted house and night time incidents.

JO said...

What a beautiful campus. Looks like you sure had lots to remember.
I'll go back and read about the haunting's later.

Hermit's Baby Sis said...

Annie - the pics show the campus to be movie-image Americana, and a lovely place to learn. How delightful that y'all got to go back and visit, and together! Glad your pieces all went well - I'm sure they are all proud of you! (Your colleagues and profs, not your pieces. And I was an English minor in college!)

Ed said...

I went to my old college a few years back to show my wife and I got lost. So many of my old buildings have been torn down and replaced with large new buildings and the place had grown huge! I felt so excited when I could spot something that I still remembered as being there when I was there.

edifice rex said...

Hey Erin! thanks! glad you enjoyed the post.

Hey Mr.40! Welcome! I put a link in to one website that expands on the hauntings quite a bit. There are tons more too.

Hey jo! Yeah, we had a great time.

Hey Sis! thanks! yeah, UM is a wonderful place with lots of wonderful memories.

Hey Ed! Fortunately, most of UM's older buildings are on the U.S. Historic Registry, so they are protected form being torn down. Lots of history there.

Island Rider said...

This is the year of my 35th college reunion. Still trying to decide if I should go or not. Your pics make me think I should.

edifice rex said...

Hey IR! Yes!! you should!! it will be fun I'm sure.