April 12-18, 2002
Back Issues
University sets stage for graduate student innovation
State cuts force hikes in tuition
Faculty Actions from the April BOV meeting
First fine arts major returns to see students work
African-American women at increased risk for stroke
Commerce school cultivates innovation and creativity in wine industry

Reactions to Sept. 11 featured in annual ‘Muzzle’ Awards

Baseball field named in honor of the late Ted Davenport
Graduate students are lifeblood of research enterprise
Theater students ‘saw’ a solution for set construction
Lectures engage the mind
Design choices can affect the world environment
Students get one-stop financial services at new Cavalier Central
Feeding hungry ghosts
Whale of a sculpture on display at Fayerweather
After Hours -- Lori Derr
WFPA to honor Bunker, Toms and Black

First fine arts major returns to see students work

James Whiting with students
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Studio art majors David Bendernagel (left) and Maggie Booth (right) discuss the exhibition of their work in Fayerweather Gallery with U.Va.’s first fine arts alumnus, James Whiting (U.Va. ’52).

By Jane Ford

When James H. Whiting entered U.Va. in 1948, he was the only student majoring in studio art. He took art history and architecture history courses in Fayerweather Hall, but portrait painting, drawing and printmaking classes were held in an old Army barrack warmed by a kerosene heater.

The barrack, which clung to the hillside behind what is now the U.Va. Art Museum, was a great space for studio classes, but was cold in the mornings, he recalled on a recent visit to the McIntire Department of Art.

Last Friday, when Whiting (Fine Arts, ’52) looked over plans for the Carr’s Hill Arts Grounds with Lawrence Goedde, the current art department chair, and William Bennett, chair of studio art, they discovered the new studio art building will occupy the same site as the old barrack.

Whiting was impressed with the new building’s planned gallery space, where students will be able to show their work. Exhibitions were not a part of the program when he was a student.

During his visit he toured studio classes and attended a critique of work by Maggie Booth and David Bendernagel, both students in the Aunspaugh Fifth-Year Program in Studio Art. Their work was exhibited in Fayerweather Gallery. In his day there was no such thing as contemporary painting, he said. “I’m fascinated by how they are so much into the philosophy and motivation for their work and how candid they were in criticizing each other.”

Critique is a wonderful learning tool, said Whiting, who teaches a beginning art course, “Painting What You See,” at a Richmond community college.

His course of study at U.Va was based on a rigorous classical approach of looking closely and representing the world you see around you. He studied with Charles Smith, the program’s first head, and architecture historians Frederick Nichols and William O’Neal. He credits them with molding his lifelong love of art and historic architecture.

Although Whiting went on to obtain a degree in commerce and worked in the textile industry and finance until his retirement, he continues to paint what he sees and loves. He has received numerous commissions to paint portraits, landscapes and historic homes. His work is currently on display in the Richmond Public Library.

Both painting and teaching art “give me a tremendous amount of pleasure,” Whiting said. “In my own painting I do things by rote and share with my students what I learned here as a student.”


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