Sunday, October 14, 2018


Real School People® reached its 8 year anniversary in 2015. This is the edition that I waited to publish.  I started it to honor the 90th birthday of Emerson Terry. This issue is in honor of the celebration of his 93rd birthday: October 14, 2018. Happy Birthday, Emerson!

The dictionary has defined it as: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

What is the definition of art? I would say it's the result of something that emanates from the soul. It begins before any study. It has to be inside the soul. It has a special unique place, art. 

I believe there is art in everyone. Who remembers finger painting back in the day back in grade school? It was a window into self expression and creativity.

I remember when we did Batik in grade school. We would draw with crayons on white paper and cover the paper with black paint. The wax from the color would emerge in striking contrast to the black paint where there was no wax.

One of my paintings from back in the day. 

Back in the day, my goal was to be an art major, but music intervened and so did writing music, poetry and short stories. I was selling my paintings in 9th grade and there are some that I kept.  Here is two of them. ---->

Another one of my paintings.

One day, I just stopped painting. I don't know why. Had I fulfilled whatever there was inside of me that needed to satisfy my need for expression in that way? I can't really explain. 

I thought about getting back into painting again. I would love to paint portraits of my grandboos. I leave the possibility open. 
The wonderful thing about art is, it doesn't leave you. 

Myra Elias

I started art classes in middle school at GDS. I had an excellent instructor, Myra Elias, who headed the art department. She was an inspiration to me: instrumental in guiding me toward my personal creativity as an artist. 

She taught me to see the art in everything. It's funny, looking back. We, in youth, see our teachers as who they are when they come into our lives, sometimes not considering who they were before they became part of our learning experience. I had no idea of the scope of her work. She was an artist who shared her broad spectrum of knowledge and experience with her students.
Myra with a portrait by her son Max K.

Her curriculum included study of the different genres of art and the artists who employed them: Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Georges Seurat, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Mary Cassatt, to name a few.
Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali in 1931

Of the many artists I studied,  I became attached to the  surrealistic art and  work of Salvador Dali. His surrealist work defied anything that I'd ever seen. My favorite was his work in 1931, "Persistence of Memory".  

Myra passed away in 1998 at the age of 80, but she will always have a special place in memory for me. In thinking back on my studies in art, I searched and found a website to find out more about her work. I connected with her daughter Alix.

Myra Elias painting: Roman Ruins in France
Roman Ruins in France
Myra Elias painting: Salzburg--Mountain View with Church
Salzburg Mountain View with Church
Myra Elias painting: Paris aka Brandenburg Gate

                Paris aka Brandenburg Gate


Myra's son, Max K. Elias, taught science at GDS for over 40 years, and was also an artist and sculptor. I never knew the extent of his work either.

All the GDS alums reading this may remember that large sculpture of a grasshopper in the the lobby at the McArthur Blvd. address at the lower school back in the day which eventually became the school's mascot. I just learned that it was Max's sculpture that trademarked the school.

One of Max's grasshoppers for GDS


E  M  E  R  S  O  N       T  E  R  R  Y


"I am an artist, who made my living in advertising as a commercial Illustrator; from 1954 through 2002. I am an artist who used my paint, brushes, and canvases to call for social, political, economic change. I paint and document African American history specifically; the Civil Rights Marches of the 1960’s, individuals and groups like the Tuskegee Air Men, Black folks in the Old West.

I started with documentary paintings of student marches of the Civil Rights era. The series includes 14 paintings depicting acts of social-political engagement; protest marches, sit-ins from Washington D.C., to Los Angeles..."
I can’t tell you how excited I am to write about our cover personality, the awesome, Emerson Terry: artist, family man, mentor, pioneer and historian. It was more than an honor to celebrate his 90th birthday in October 2015 at his Art Exhibit/Birthday Celebration. Being the art director that he is, I became part of the crew, helping with setting up his work as he directed where he wanted everything to be placed. That in itself was an honor!

He is a fascinating individual and in terms of history and the telling of it through his work, he is well ahead of his time. He always knew how important history is. 

Emerson Terry's 90th Birthday Celebration & Art Show 2015

If we want to talk “coolest of the cool”, Emerson Terry is it. He is an innovator,  true visionary and historian.  He’s that person who had a vision, set his goal and went for it, regardless of what the odds may have been some 70 years ago. 

What Emerson and I share is our love of history. Mine spurred by being told in school that black people had no history; his in the history of the black cowboy, that many assumed didn't exist.

"In the early 1970’s one of my daughters wrote a report about Black Cowboys. Her teacher said there was no such thing as a Black Cowboy. That was the beginning of a series of paintings on the Old West where 1 of 3 cowboys (and women, i.e. Stagecoach Mary Field) were African American, Latino, or Native American. There are 12 paintings in my African Cowboy series. The series led to a show at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles."

Emerson Terry's paintings of  African Cowboys. To see a larger photo, go to his site and click on thumbnails to get detailed information. 
Emerson  was one of the first black students to attend Art Center School in Los Angeles. (what is now Art Center College of Design in Pasadena)  His work sets him in the honorary, well earned moniker as  “artist griot”, telling stories of history from his pallet.

Interview by Pasadena Black Pages w/ Dennis Hayward

Reginald Dorsey

A special acknowledgement from actor, director and cowboy, Reginald Dorsey gave Emerson's milestone birthday even more of a special meaning. 

 Alumnus Emerson Terry Broke Down Doors, He Just Didn’t Realize It

by  February 15th, 2012
It wasn’t the end of World War II, new job opportunities in the defense industry or the region’s cultural awakening that drew him to Los Angeles in the mid-1940s. It was the weather. “After I was discharged from the Navy, I went home to Ohio and then on to Detroit to work on the assembly line,” 86-year old Pasadena resident and Art Center alumnus Emerson Terry (ILLU ’53) recalls. “It was cold in Detroit, so my brother and I decided to move to Los Angeles.

“We arrived in Pasadena on New Year’s Eve in 1946. It was something, driving down the boulevard with people lined up along the street and banners flying in the air. Neither of us had heard of the Rose Parade before and we felt that spirit of celebration.” [ed. note: Art Center didn’t move to Pasadena until 1976.]

In 1948, when Terry was taking art classes at Los Angeles City College, a former classmate told him he had enrolled at the Art Center School (as the College was then known) and invited him to visit. “I was blown away by the quality of the students’ work,” Terry says of visiting the school’s Third Street campus in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. “I realized that type of artwork was what I really wanted to do, and I wasn’t going to learn it at City College.”

Having been admitted under the strength of his portfolio and the G.I. Bill, Terry began taking classes. “The Art Center experience was unlike anything being offered by other colleges or universities at the time. It really was a school where the instructors were all industry professionals. That in itself made the learning very concise. And I dare say, it was a different experience than learning from people who had only gone to school, matriculated and started teaching.

Terry was among the first African-American students to attend Art Center. In fact, one of his fellow classmates, Bill Moffit, was both a friend from his earliest days in Los Angeles and also the first-ever African-American student admitted to the school. But according to Terry, the dearth of African-Americans on campus didn’t affect his experience. “I made new friends at Art Center and didn’t feel out of place. I was able to compare my abilities to other people’s abilities. That’s where we acknowledged each other’s differences: the quality of our work.”

While Art Center prided itself on providing its students a professional working environment, the real world was a bit different. “It was one thing to get into school with government money and a decent portfolio,” Terry stated. “But when it came time to take my portfolio and knock on the doors of studios and agencies—that’s when segregation and racism reared its ugly head. This was before the Civil Rights movement of the ‘60s. It was before Martin Luther King and sit-ins and fighting for inclusion.

“By the time I finished Art Center I felt I was a very capable artist. And while my instructors said I would do quite well, they failed to realize what circumstances I would face. It was very difficult for me to see my Caucasian friends walk right into job openings that I knew I was qualified for.”

Despite the challenges of the time, Terry went on to work with a number of prominent companies. His first full-time job was with aerospace firm Douglas Aircraft Company. “I used a lot of what I learned in Hamilton Quick’s perspective drawing class on that first job,” Terry recalls.

Other companies Terry worked for throughout his illustrious career include: Revell, a leader in plastic model kits; defense industry contractor General Dynamics; The Film Designers Division, and NBC’s print media department. He also served a stint as Treasurer of the Society of Illustrators, during which he created significant work for the United States Air Force Art Program.

The Happy Happy He, a character Terry designed for a book written by Redd Foxx
Terry also worked at some of the top agencies of the ‘50s and ‘60s, including Stephens Biondi deCicco, Diener/Hauser/Bates, and Group West Studios alongside top-notch illustrators Ren Wicks and Art Center instructor Joe Henninger.

In part, it was his Art Center network that provided him jobs. 

“...There have always been some people that have never had that racial bias or that racial hostility. They accepted people for who they were. When they got into positions at studios or companies, they gave me the work I wouldn’t get otherwise.”

At the same time, Terry started what would become a successful freelance career. “I was freelancing all the time,” he said. “Technical illustrations, exploded drawings, production design, book covers, small paintings. When you’re out there hustling, you take what you can get and you make the best of it. Eventually, through my freelance work, I was able to get better employment opportunities. When I look back, I did a lot of extraordinary things.”...

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Display case for musician Nolan Shaheed's CD. Designed by Emerson Terry.

Emerson Terry is an extraordinary entrepreneur who's experience and work ethic spans over 60 years. His amazing drive throughout his life is a stellar blueprint to the artists and entrepreneurs of the future. He is the definition of the word entrepreneurship and should be celebrated each and every day.

Bachelor of professional Arts Degree, Art Center College of Design,
Pasadena, California

U.C.L.A. Graduate school of Film Making, Los Angeles, California

California Institute of the Arts Chiounard, Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles, California.

Documentary Painter of African and African American Historical
Macintosh Computer Experience In Design, Illustrator, Photoshop
Falcon Cable Television      Family Savings & Loan
Americola Beverages Co.    Amazing Horizon Films
Quiet Majesty Productions   KJLA Radio Station
Seiniger Advertising Inc.     Harridsleff/Amerman Adv...
20th Century Fox Adv..       CBS Print Media Dept.
Diener Hauser Bates Inc.,   Continental Graphics
Hanna Barbara (Display Division)
Cornerstone Display Group

Art Director, Designer producing conceptual
designs for net work prime time shows and Movie of the Week ads
printed in TV Guide, National Newspaper, Magazines, and
On Air Promos.

 Art Direction, Designer, and Conceptual Sketch Artist. 
Producing Feature film Advertising
Campaigns, for Trade journals, Newspapers, T V Guide
and Story boards for CBS Trailers. 

Some of the clients were:
Paramount Pictures Dennis Davidson & Assoc.
Paramount TV Universal Studios
CBS Movies of the Week Irwin Yablans
A.P.I. Corellco


R  I  E  A     O  W  E  N  S

I became friends with Emerson's daughter Riea shortly after I started working in advertising in the early 80s. 

She invited and my kids to hang out at their family tradition called "Friday Night Fights". It was such a casual, warm and wonderful way to spend a Friday evening. The kids were all little and running afoot with lots of room for them to play for an endless kick back family night.

When I went to Riea’s second show, which she did with our friend Gail Oliver in April of 2015, I went up to Emerson Terry and said “Look what you started!” With a big grin and a chuckle, you could see his pride. For me, it was like a family reunion. Seeing her family at her first art showing, and now the second, remembering the Friday Night gatherings.

Gail and Riea's Art show Nolan Shaheed was among the guests.

#DrawSomething2 #dance #dancer #braids #movement
Riea's Art

The artist community is a warm, inviting arena. Whenever I see an artist’s work, I feel like their soul is speaking directly to me, from the depths of the core of their creativity. They are communicating and revealing a part of themselves that they may believe you won't understand. It's more of that old saying, "I can show you better than I can tell you."

There is no right or wrong in the world of the artist. It is what it is: the freedom to let your eyes and soul express what they conclude at first glance. There are no limits as to how we receive it.

Artists are the subliminal soldiers of change. They give us their truths and allow us to explore our responses on every level.

Riea’s work makes an incredible statement: she grew up surrounded by magnificent art pieces authored by her dad, Emerson Terry. 
Daddy helping me with my painting.
Riea's dad helps with one of her paintings.

My first thought when Riea told me about her first show in 2015 was "What took you so long?!" 

As realschoolers, we are living our lives to reach an inexplicable pinnacle of choice: that is to tell the world who we are with a lot of living wisdom to back it up. This is something that the younger generation will learn only with time.

#hatstory #fashionista #fashion #hat #feathers

Riea started in advertising at Sears, then she went on to work for the recruitment division of J.Walter Thomspon (where I met her) and was a Graphic Designer Paramount Pictures, as well as Senior Art Director for the WB and E! Television Networks.

Currently, she is curator at Alkebu-lan Cultural Center in Pasadena, where her father is one of the co-founders. Under her direction, she has passionately fueled the center into a showcasing mecca for seasoned artists as well as creating buzz and optimal exposure to new artists on the rise. 
Alkebu-lan Cultural Center in Pasadena
Riea captures life from every angle through her work. And while they say there will be no wine before it's time, she broke out the wine glasses with her first art show in 2015. Her work is a rainbow of diversity: watercolors, acrylics and oils, capturing moments in life and giving them new life on canvas.

Riea's recent showing in Ontario California at the Dia de los Muertas exhibit was well received with awe and praise. She celebrates the legacies of her ancestors with this piece entitled, "Because of Them, I Can". This is unique self-portraiture showing the artist honoring her personal family history. Riea meticulously wrote the names of the ancestors on the edge of the canvas.

Even the process of putting this work together is breathtaking. The faces of her ancestors speak even as a work in progress. It is stunning.


Wornell Jones with his favorite Riea Ownes painting

When I showed Riea's work to my friend and colleague, musician Wornell Jones, he fell in love with one painting in particular and it was a must have for him. In a recent visit to the states from Japan, he got to meet Riea in person.


Thomas James Cassells 1814-1876
     T R I V I A

    Frances Lucy Woodson 1814-1899

It wouldn't be until almost 37 years later that we would realize what a small world it really was when we recently had a conversation about genealogy last year at a gathering in my home. 

We compared notes and made an amazing discovery! Our genealogy connection would be with my oldest daughter's paternal 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Cassells who married Riea's ancestor Frances Woodson of Woodson/Hemmings ancestry. Both were born in Virginia and migrated to Ohio.

And did I mention that she's a black belt?
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G A I L    O L I V E R 

"My love of photography started in 1976 and ever since, I am rarely ever seen without my camera hanging from my neck."

I've written about the very groovy, visual artist Gail Oliver with her stellar sense of humor and upbeat perspective on life and the world.

"After working as a graphic designer for years, I am grateful to be actualizing my dream! Creating groovy stuff to share…

Image may contain: indoor
Before Riea and Gail's show 

Well, she's still groovy and now, she's doing the dishes! That's right. She has designed gorgeous salad and dinner plates. These make great gifts!

Gail also puts her artistry into custom life event poster prints. She has taken the traditional wedding, birth, anniversary and other life moments announcements and made them into extraordinary art to personalize your special events and milestones!

G E O R G E   E V A N S

It had been years since I've seen George, but in a conversation with another friend of mine his name came up because he was her son's art instructor.

It was so good to see George after so many years first at a reunion that Riea organized in the spring of 2009. I think it's about time for another reunion! And I saw him again at Riea's show in 2015.

We all have so many memories and throughout the years. That every time we all I see each other it's a reunion.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of surrealism. 

George works in different mediums. His depth at working in watercolor and sketch is amazing. 

His combinations of different angles and meshing the "unlikely" with the likely are moving and breathtaking.

In the spring of 2009, Riea coordinated a reunion of "the Gang" from Thompson. It was a wonderful reunion with amazing people. Almost 38 years ago, some extremely special people would come into my life and we would become a family.

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P E T E R   B O U R D E L L E

Peter with his grandfather's sculpture, Herakles-The Archer on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of  Art

Peter and his Dad

I think that art is in your genes. One way or the other. It is a lifeblood of sorts that continues to grow, transform and engage. 

What do you say when someone tells you their grandfather's work is at the LA County Museum of Art? It’s extraordinary to hear, when someone you meet shares a little about their family tree. This is the fascinating thing about meeting people. Peter Bourdelle is one of those fascinating people I met a few years ago.

Emile-Antoine Bourdelle 

Now whenever, I go to the museum in, I'll think of his grandfather, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, born in 1861. His ggrandfather Emilie Reille. was a cabinet maker who put his art into sculpting his furniture designs.

By 13, Emile-Antoine took art classes while also apprenticing in his father's studio. Emile's work is celebrated internationally.

Peter's father Pierre has work some of which is displayed in on the exterior of the Centennial Building at Fair Park in Texas. 
Peter stands outside of the Centennial Building  in Dallas where his father's mural is displayed.
Peter's work
Peter's wife Sandy's portrait of Peter
Peter in 1970

The painting on the right is Peter's as he keeps the tradition of art moving forward. Not only is he an artist, but his lovely wife, Sandy creates art as well. She created the art on the left of Peter.

Meeting Peter Bourdelle is an amazing experience. As amazing an experience as his genealogy and personality. He is truly a peace loving spirit of an individual, with a wonderful sense of humor and a warm heart.


Thanks for sharing the journey!
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Emerson Terry with his grandsons