First fine arts major returns
to see students work
by Jenny Gerow
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.
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.
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.
Friday, when Whiting (Fine Arts, 52) looked over plans for
the Carrs 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.
was impressed with the new buildings 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.
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. Im fascinated by how
they are so much into the philosophy and motivation for their
work and how candid they were in criticizing each other.
is a wonderful learning tool, said Whiting, who teaches a beginning
art course, Painting What You See, at a Richmond community
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 programs first head,
and architecture historians Frederick Nichols and William ONeal.
He credits them with molding his lifelong love of art and historic
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.
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.