Art Classes


University of Minnesota
 
In the fall of 1920 I entered the University and signed up for a course in Architecture. I decided on this only because I figured it would give me a career where I could make practical use of my art talent being too ignorant of any other possible fields of endeavor. I liked it very much and excelled in the studies that required art ability. 
 
I turned in a few cartoons to the school annual whose art editor at the time was Levon West – later a prominent etcher and who later on as a prominent photographer took the name of Ivan Dmitri. Years later, in New York city after a lecture he gave on the then infant business of color photography I went up to shake his hand and we reminisced on our days at U. of Minn.
 
Despite the fact that I had a part time job in the school library the $600 that I had saved was pretty well depleted by the end of the year. I began to look forward to what to do the following year. I returned home on the train a sadder, hungrier and thoroughly dispirited failure and got back on the telephone gang. In the fall of 1920 I decided to quit my study of architecture and go to study art at the Chicago Art Institute. I regretted leaving the University and dropping the study of architecture but I figured I had no choice. I just knew I needed more money than I could raise to continue.

NOTE: that he refers to starting the U. of Minnesota in the fall of 1920 and then again repeats that same timeframe for starting at the Chicago Art Institute. Records recently obtained from the Art Institute show he began classes there on 9-27-1920. So he actually began school in Minnesota in the fall of 1919.

Chicago Art Institute

So in the fall of 1920 I headed for the Chicago Art Institute. 

Clarence at the Chicago Art Institute.

The first thing to do was to pick up a roommate which I did, a fellow named Roland Beard (long since dead) and we rented a room on the near North Side, about a mile from school so I could walk back and forth. I always had a roommate to share expenses. One time four of us had a room together, Henry Chapman, Bob Middleton, Kazu Kaueko and myself. Harry Reynolds took Kaueko’s place. Bob Middleton, who used to cut our hair, became a famous type designer for Ludlow Co., Harry Reynolds head of Art Dpt. U. of Utah, Logan, Utah, and Chapman a very successful Chicago commercial artist.

Outside the Art Institute on Michigan Blvd.

My years at the Art Institute were very happy as far as school work was concerned. I excelled in practically every type of art, had lots of fun with fellow students and began to like the girls, too.

Clarence did this watercolor at the Art Institute sometime between 1920 & 1923.
He did it on butcher paper because, as he explained once, he had no money
for art paper. He also said it, "won first place." It's not known if that 
was a competition at the school or elsewhere.

Making my way through school, though, was pretty grim at times. I always had a job in a restaurant or cafeteria near school so I’d be sure to eat. One year I did janitor work two hours before school and one year I taught children’s class Saturday mornings for my tuition which was $200 per year. A couple of years I worked nights as a checker at the Dearborn St. R.R. station for the Express Co. for 49 cents per hour.

A family member believes this oil was done while at the Art Institute in the early 1920's.

I joined the Delta Phi Delta “fratority” (men and women) Zeta Chapter and had some nice times socially with them

Delta Phi Dela "fratority." Clarence is pictured back row center.

I really worked hard and I guess I ran myself down more than once. As an example one year my schedule was like this. Up at 6 a.m. with a mile walk and a hasty breakfast to the Art Institute for my janitor job 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Classes to 11:30 when I would rush over to a restaurant and eat lunch, then bus dishes 12:00 to 1:00 noon hour. Back to classes and to the restaurant for the second meal I had earned then a mile walk to the R.R. station to report for work at 4:00 p.m. I would work here anywhere from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. depending how much work there was and then the two mile walk back home. In addition I was doing some charcoal portraits of famous people for a phrenologist who used them to illustrate his lectures.
 
One year I had a job working nights at the Chicago Public Library. This was right down my alley for I had worked at the U. of Minn. Library and practically lived in the Eau Claire Library.


This photo was labeled "Art Institute friends."

Another job I had one time was helping to decorate a ritzy restaurant on Michigan Blvd. in the Blum building. The designer was a real nice Russian by the name of Ozanoff who mixed his colors with dry pigments and egg whites. The restaurant was decorated entirely with Russian motifs and was called The Samovar. Another time I helped the Art Institute curator make a survey of all the paintings in the Art Museum “catacombs” and never realized the enormous amount of art they held that was probably never shown. 


Another photo labeled "art institute friends." Please contact me if you recognize anyone.

I graduated in the spring of 1923 and the program showed me as one of the honor students. I tried for awhile to get a job but was unsuccessful so I went back to Wisconsin to work for the Telephone Company deciding to come back in the fall to look for one. When I did come back I first got myself a job bussing dishes so I'd be sure to eat and roomed with an art student on Chicago Ave. The first job I was able to get was as a "flunkie" in the Irwin H. Henoch Studio on Michigan Blvd. The job only paid me $10 per week so I had to keep right on bussing dishes. I picked up an art job one day and made $20 on it and I thought here I was a big shot making more in a few hours than I could make in a week at the studio so I quit. I did a job or two for "The Modern Hawkers" an advertising business.


More school friends.
Clarence is 3rd from left. One gal is Margaret Schneider. Others unknown.

One day I met Ed Kopietz, an art student I knew while walking along Michigan Blvd. He was from Wichita and he told me about his friend C.A. Seward, Art Director for The Western Lithograph Co., looking for someone to work there. I wrote for the job, was accepted and arrived in Wichita right after Christmas 1923 and started to work there Jan. 1, 1924. That is how just a chance meeting on busy Michigan Blvd. determined the direction of my life's work.


Ed Kopietz at his easel.