Though he would rather be home in his self-made studio selling his art to others, he teaches. He chose art because, as he sees it, “With art, it is not just a matter of sharing my knowledge of techniques and art history, but it’s also about sharing my passion for it” (Entrican, “Answers”). Along with why he teaches, he shares his hope as he goes on to say, “My hope is that by sharing my passion, it will inspire others to find something that they’re passionate about” (Entrican, “Answers”). I truly believe any other teacher would give a boring, unhappy answer like “It pays the bills.” His classes consist of Art 1, Art 2, Art 3, and even photography students. He knows not everyone placed in his classes see it for art, so in turn he pays more attention to the ones that possess talent and/or interest. It may seem unfair that way, but the kids just gathering the credit do not listen to his ideas or advice anyways. Now that I knew why he became a teacher, I wanted to know “why art?”
The answer came out in a truly meaningful way although Mr. E fumbled over what seemed like a simple question. “On one level, there are things like the smell of linseed oil, the ritual of building canvases, mixing colors, the way you can control every drip and nuance of your brush stroke but still maintain a sense of spontaneity” (Entrican, “Question 3”). What captivates him so much about art really sparked a deep moment even for him. “I like the way art, specifically images, can manipulate common perceptions: beauty can be found in the grotesque and ugly can be found under the veneer of the beautiful” (Entrican, “Question 3”). The thing he does to make a living makes him feel like his true self outside of a work and home life. To him, nothing else in the world can do that but art. So why art? He chose art because he can demonstrate it for others in hopes of being an inspiration, and for the pure utopia feeling achieved with the stroke of a brush or the flow that comes out of a pencil. All the factors of art being most important in his life become incorporated through his classroom.
His room, the biggest of all the classrooms, stays dim throughout the day. The tables have never seen a sponge in their lives. Even the sinks remain messy during the year. Oils, pastels, paint, and pencils lie everywhere in the room. When you enter this room, music plays softly from the computer whether it be Tori Amos or the classics of Van Halen. Although his desk stays vacant all through the 7 hour days, papers and eraser bits find their way onto it to add a covering over the wood. Some students use the art room instead of the cafeteria for lunch. The art room brings about a vibe that cannot even be described. The classroom gives off the relaxed mode with the smell of art supplies and the quiet atmosphere. There is a coolness in the air that conveys the sense that a person can “chill” there in sweatpants and a hoodie while working on a potential masterpiece. Now, with a true artist in the building, the art room can be symbolized as a haven for “artsy” students. As that haven for the artists, it also acts as a home for Movie Club.
My last year finally came at Jeffersontown High School. I never participated in anything fun during my 4 years there. Then I heard it: “If you love movies, meet in the art room for the first movie club meeting at J-town.” I had no interest in meeting the new art teacher, but when I heard about movie club over the announcements, I could see a meeting in the near future. I strolled into the art room and got greeted by a short (5’4’’ to be exact), red-headed young man. I thought this person might be a student until a few more people showed up and he began talking. He stood in front of the television, crossed his legs every few seconds, and made sure to look at each of us to remember our faces. When we met for the first time, Mr. E came prepared with the story of when he first realized his addiction to movies, the ideas he planned out for movies we would watch, and the story about the character Harry Lime which became the “logo” of our new club.
Movie club, as everyone decided, occurred every Thursday. During that time after school, we would all watch a movie. They changed every week from old, to new, from foreign, to horror. Mr. E really did his research about the directors and actors which made the club more than just a movie and popcorn. The club became very diverse in the selected movies. He made it that way to get people better shaped to the art culture. After the movie finished, people gave their opinions of it. We created a blog made especially for each movie that would be viewed each week. Another perk included our own shirts via screen printing. The design Mr. E made himself, wasa countdown normally seen at older movies and a lime took the place of the number 1. Even though movie club did not have that many members, it worked out for the best I think because everybody became closer. The few times movie club got cancelled, it put a drag on the whole school week. If movie club became super important in my life, it surely became super important in Mr. E’s life as well. Plans needed to be made for this club to work out; there needed to be a motive behind it as well. I had a nagging curiosity to know why he chose to start a club for movies rather than art.
He begins to explain how he started out new to J-town last year, how his sense of humor did not belong in the teachers’ lounge, and the noticeable age difference between him and his colleagues. He is 28, loves telling stories with lots of exaggeration and humor, and possesses “unteachery” amounts of sarcasm that he adds to anything. I can see where he came from now in starting movie club. He continues his reasoning for establishing this movie watching group stating that, “Movie club allowed me to meet students outside of the normal classroom situation, build relationships with them, and build a kind of community around a similar interest. I don’t want to say it was a way of making friends, but in a sense it was” (Entrican, “Movie Club Memories”). The wonderment vanished. What started out as a selfish ambition ultimately led to the best thing to happen to J-town high school.
Before he came to the high school, the musicians, readers, movie-goers, and artists scattered themselves amongst the school. Being the head of the art department himself, his job depended on bringing all of those types of people together. It worked. The success of him as a teacher, a friend, and an artist made the collaborating of everybody possible. A high-spirited person, a now authentic art environment, and a club for people looking for something to do or for a best friend created the meaning of an art teacher wanting to branch out and make the most of his first year. What could usually be accomplished in years of teaching, Mr. E managed to pull off in his very first year. By allowing the students to be themselves whether they wanted to make art or not, he gained peoples respect. In letting the room become a flurry of papers and pencils, he showed that art only mattered. And by donating his time to a few students once a week for two hours, he received what he hoped for. People became passionate about movies.