Never stop exploring
ARROWHEAD – Art wakes Dick and Bobba Hauserman up in the morning. Not golf. Not bridge. Not tea with the ladies.At age 90, or so, the Hausermans travel from their home in Arrowhead to the National Academy in New York for about 16 weeks each summer taking classes five days a week, three hours a day to pursue their new found passion – figurative painting and drawing. Bobba was inspired to learn oil painting to capture her grandchildren on canvas. She went first to New York in 2001, not knowing she would enjoy painting so much, and then two years later convinced Dick to attend, who now takes figurative drawing classes working in charcoal and pencil.
Dick was one of Vail’s founding fathers. He sat on Vail Associates’ first board of directors, opened the town’s first ski shop and served as chairman of the architecture committee that designed and developed Vail. Besides art, Dick has also written two books late in life, “The Inventors of Vail” and “On the Road to Vail.””Some older people have no reason to get up in the morning,” Bobba said. “Art keeps us interested in life. We don’t think about much else.”At the National Academy, Bobba paints and Dick draws to live, nude models. As opposed to depicting landscapes or painting from photographs, Bobba and Dick are drawn to the emotion of human bodies and faces.Bobba paints her models in bold, strong colors, and she doesn’t feel the need to paint realistically, either. She interprets the model and mood, changing color or body position to create a stronger painting.
“Sometimes when it looks OK in real life, it doesn’t look so good in a painting,” Bobba said.Dick’s charcoal sketches seek to capture human passion through facial expressions.”Everything about my art revolves around this one piece,” Dick said, pointing to a sketch of an African American male with a chiseled face and spiky hair peering out into the distance as if ready to conquer an obstacle. “It’s so dramatic. There’s such a feeling of strength in that look.”
Art has always circled the lives of Bobba and Dick, even though it wasn’t until recently that they chose to follow the path directly. Bobba has an art degree. For 30 years she worked as a fashion illustrator and costume designer for Jonathan Logan and Dalton Cashmeres, among other labels.”When I was a designer, I was always the colorist. I would put color together to make stripes,” Bobba said. “That’s the way I work with my paintings. Here I put colors together that would probably make nice stripes.”Dick studied architecture at the University of Southern California until 1938. He was required to sketch in his classes and took one life drawing class, but it had been 60 years since he placed a pencil to canvas. The feeling came right back, he said.
In New York, Dick’s fellow students call him “King of Quickies,” quickies being an exercise at the start of class where students sketch as fast as they can a model who changes position every two minutes.
“It’s fast and it expresses freedom of stroke,” Dick said.Bobba’s National Academy instructor recently told her she would be wasting the rest of her life if she didn’t move to New York full time to pursue her art career. Her instructor said: “You are no longer a painter, you’re an artist.” Bobba said she’s seriously considering the move.”It’s thrilling to be able to start something late in life you have never done before and have a modest amount of success with it,” Bobba said.
On Monday, the Vail Symposium will honor Dick and Bobba with its first ever Explorers Award for the couple’s openness to explore new paths and fearlessly pursue dynamic learning. There will be an artists’ reception, show, sale and dinner at the Sonnenalp in Vail.For the Hausermans, learning new things is compulsive and never ending. It’s what inspires them to get after life, as Bobba said.”The more you study, the more you want to study – and the less you know about real art,” Dick said.
Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado