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Serious Delight at ISB Gallery

Serious Delight at ISB Gallery

This summer RISD honored the memory of Tom Sgouros 50 IL with Master Class, a summer exhibition of work by the alum and late professor.

A wonderful retrospective focused on the work of alum and late professor Tom Sgouros 50 IL has graced the ISB Gallery for the past month and will come to a close this Sunday, July 10.

Tom Sgouros 50 IL

Master Class: The Art of Tom Sgouros features a selection of narrative and still life oil and watercolor paintings, including work from the Remembered Landscape series the artist produced later in life as he began to lose his sight.

In addition to the work itself, the beautifully conceived show is full of warm, funny and insightful comments from the many former students – and now faculty members – Sgouros touched as a teacher, mentor, friend and colleague.

Bestselling author/illustrator and MacArthur Award-winner David Macaulay BArch 69 tells a great story about begging Sgouros to let him do an independent study semester with him, which led to a lifelong friendship.

“We were colleagues and even became neighbors, but first and foremost, in my mind at least, I was always the student and Tom Sgouros was always my teacher, and nothing made me happier than seeing the personal pride he took in my success.”

Associate Professor Susan Doyle 81 IL/MFA 98 PT/PR, who heads the Illustration department, notes that when she asked Sgouros, her former thesis advisor, how she could be a better teacher, he said, “Be a better artist” – advice she still takes to heart.

Senior Critic Joe McKendry 94 IL notes Sgouros’ “wicked sense of humor,” while Associate Professor Fred Lynch 86 IL tells an anecdote about what Sgouros told Illustration students visiting his studio a few years before his death: “Here’s my advice for happiness and success in the arts:

1. Work six days a week in the studio – all day.

2. After a long day’s work, enjoy a nice glass of red wine. You’ve earned it. And,

3. Marry a sexy partner.”

Assistant Professor of Illustration David Porter 69 IL says that throughout his life, Sgouros introduced generations of students “to the delightful seriousness – and serious delight – in the making of art. But Tom’s ambition was larger still,” he adds. “He once told me that he aspired – for himself, for his department, for RISD as a whole – to offer students… an education where art was central, but as a means as much as an end.”

In other words, Porter points out, Sgouros saw studio work as “not merely a professional practice, but a passionately engaged approach to life, to learning, to living.”

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