European/Southwest Art Classroom: Fairwell W'21

Posted by European Art Classroom



This last week of the European/Southwest art classroom has been bitter sweet. We kicked off the week by going to Santa Fe, New Mexico, knowing that once the trip ended we would all be going home, but that did not stop us from having fun.


Heading to Gallup, NM on the iconic Route 66


The famous El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM






Our first stay was in Gallup, NM where we enjoyed the famous Hotel El Rancho. It was a heavily used hotel for many many Hollywood stars situated right on the famous Route 66. It's reported haunted as well, which made some in the group very uncomfortable. But we lived!

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The view from our rental house in Santa Fe. 


Meeting Gallery owner and director Chris McLarry of McLarry Fine Art on the famous Canyon Road.

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We made the most of our time in Santa Fe, from going to art galleries and meeting an artist, Poteek Victory, who was mentored by the famous Andy Warhol...








A day trip up to Taos. Here is the Pueblo of San Francisco de Asis.


Kerri sketching the details of the beautiful door. playing shuffleboard all night long. As we all sat in the van on our way back to Casa Grande, it forced us to reflect on the past 2 months. How we were all thrown into a reworked version of European Art Classroom not knowing what to expect. I think everyone on the program can agree how lucky we were to be able to do this. While not going overseas was a bummer, it forced us to explore our own backyard.


We tend to overlook what we have here, in the great nation of the U S of A, leading us to take it for granted. Being here allowed us all to fall in love with what we have right in front of us. From painting every mountain, playing cards, making an art book, creating a sketchbook (Carnet) leather cover, learning about the southwest, sketching everything, and building friendships that will last a lifetime, we all had fun every single day. 

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My favorite day during the past few months was definitely when we went to White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Even though we were all tired from sitting in the car from Santa Fe, not knowing where we were going (Dave and Jen’s surprise), it was an amazing way to close out this experience.  The landscape seemed as if we were not on Earth, creating a space for us to escape reality. Relieving us from all the stress, anxiety, and worry in our minds and bodies, it allowed us to truly experience a moment of what life is supposed to be like. For a brief second in our young adult lives, we were truly able to be young and free.

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There aren’t many times in our lives when you feel detached from society in a good way, especially now, but this was definitely one of them. I love the people on this program and they are these moments like that, that remind me of why.


While we may be one of the only groups to not go overseas, we are definitely the only ones to experience a true moment of freedom like that. Here's to the 20-21’ Winter Euro group, Southwest Remix. - Max '21


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For this last blog I want to talk about my top three favorite adventures in these past two months. The first is the hike up Cathedral Rock with Anna, Max and Cha during our time in Sedona. It was extremely special due to the fact that the four of us went as far as we could up that mountain and got to experience a sense of adventure while enjoying the views that Arizona offers. The day after that Emily, Kerri and I hiked out to watch the sunrise over the Sedona landscape on a beautifully calm morning amidst a week full of tasks and fun outings. Lastly, my absolute favorite adventure during this amazing trip, was our White Sands National Monument visit. The fun we had jumping, sledding and simply enjoying the spectacular views is indescribable and unforgettable. These just being a few of my memories that will last me a lifetime. 

I would like to thank my parents for making it possible for me to come on this great learning experience. I would also like to thank Jen and Dave for making these past two months amazing, even during COVID times. Lastly I would like to thank everyone in my group, Phoebe, Cha, Max, Kerri, Anna, Hailey and Emily for always bringing a smile to my face and making this experience what it was. I had a great time and I am happy to be leaving with many many memories. -  Birgit "Birdie" '21


I’m sad this program has come to an end already. This was truly a once in a lifetime, unforgettable experience and I’m so glad I got to enjoy it in Arizona. I gained amazing friendships and became closer with my peers. I’ve learned more about myself not only as an artist but as an individual. I'm going to miss the long van rides as a group as well as the many visits to National Parks. The highlight of the program for me was the White Sands National Park, I had the best time sledding down the tall sand dunes with the group and watching the sun set as the moon rose in the distance. I hope for others that have the opportunity to participate in this program, do so with open arms.  - Phoebe '21

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Landing in the arid desert landscape of Arizona I found myself uneasy with what the perspective of this experience would bring. At that moment I was unaware of the majestic indigo mountains, crimson red columns of rock, and dry golden dust that my newly trained eyes would absorb in order to translate life’s beauty to canvas. I had no idea how many laughs I’d have, intellectual and nonintellectual arguments I’d be a part of, bumpy rides in Gepetto (our van), galleries I’d visit, and the many memories I’d make. Most of all I had no idea how much I’d grow as an artist thanks to Jen and Daves’s patient and steady hand guiding my growth. I wouldn't have wanted to spend the winter term of my senior year any other way. Thank you so much to my entire group, Jen, Dave, Mom, Nana, and Bumpy I wouldn't have had such an amazing experience without you guys!  - Kerri '21


Euro, or Euro in the Southwest, was a truly transcendent experience. It was one that allowed me to totally sever any distractions that would normally be present, and totally immerse myself with those around me. Inspired by the nature, architecture and teachings of Dave and Jen, I was quite confident I had improved by the end of my trip. For that, I would regard it as a total success. I miss everyone already, Dave and Jen the most. I could not recommend this enough to any student, even one who has never picked up a paintbrush. 

Thank you to Proctor and everyone who supported me!  - Cha '21


My favorite part of this experience was the time that we spent in Sedona, but more specifically, almost the exact time that this photo was taken. Staring out at the view from Cathedral Rock, I realized that I had buried a lot of grief before leaving home in January, including two tragic, untimely deaths of family members. Being without my family made it hard to deal with alone, so I had brushed it aside. Sitting on this rock, feeling the otherworldly vortexes of Sedona, I started to cry. I didn’t feel sad, but it was like that was what my body needed to heal. I hiked back down that day feeling physically drained and mentally exhausted, but I hadn’t felt that at peace with myself in a very, very long time. This whole expedition left an impact on my life, but Sedona opened something inside me that will stick with me forever.  - Hailey '21
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I wanted to take a moment to thank Jill and my parents for making this experience possible! This program was unexpected, exciting, and full of surprises. I was able to get to know 7 other incredible adventurous souls and learn along side them. I was able to work under two established, worldly, experienced, incredibly smart people who taught me so many life skills and the power of enjoying where you are. This term highlights the saying: “When life gives you lemons...”.  I am thoroughly thankful for my experience here and hope others take advantage of this program in the future. - Anna '21
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Cowboy Hat.

As we landed down in Phoenix January 4 I was almost culture shocked. Our leader Dave was wearing this staring cowboy hat that worked so perfectly with the environment we were in. On our first excursion, Dave whipped our van around and we stopped at a street vender who sold cowboy hats. Excited, we jumped out of the van I spotted the perfect one. I was later informed that it was a “Gus” style of hat, I loved it. I wore this hat religiously, it made me feel invincible, like I could do anything. Our group wore them as unity and we looked amazing doing that. This hat is something that I can take with me forever and  it reminds me of all the amazing memories I have been so lucky to experience here in the Southwest. - Emily '21

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"Are you done messing around? Let's go." I always liked this photo. Max looks like one of the three Wise Men. You were a fun group and I laughed and laughed a lot at home, on the road and in the field. You all, every single one of you, improved immensely. For some, less was more, or you needed to: loosen up, tighten up, use more paint, use less turpentine, use less paint, don't hold your brush like a pencil, stand back, walk away, do some air squats, squint, find the value bookends, don't copy - evoke, they're just shapes and colors. It's all good and art is a very long road, it's not easy. Making meaningful art, art that matters is not about talent, being a genius or about your education, some people waste these in life, it's about persistence. Persistence. Good luck to all of you as you navigate the forever future. Don't stop drawing and always push to see rather than just looking at stuff. Remember, "Blessed are they who see beauty in humble places where other people see nothing" - Camille Pissarro.   Be well and stay in touch - David

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I love my job, and I love Proctor Academy for holding dear these life-changing off-campus programs. I was clinging to running the program in France this winter for so long, that the hope of it was met with grief when the travel ban wasn't lifted by our redline date. I truly felt like my purpose in life had just been thrown in the trash bin. Woe-is-me does not even come close to my sorrow. I really missed living, teaching, and interacting with students, and here it is again, another term stripped from my career. That is, until the administrative emails started to trickle in!

I would like to thank Derek Nussbaum Wagler for sparking the idea of altering our beloved "European Art Classroom" to the stateside "Southwest Art Classroom" during this pandemic. Even though creating it blind from lockdown in our home in Washington State was a challenge, it absolutely was the best bet to be able to carry out this art intensive, and not have to bag it because of international travel restrictions. I must also thank Mike Henriques and Karl Methven for having such confidence in Dave and me that they committed to the plan without hesitation. A no-brainer nod must be given to the amazing Health Center for their long arm reach in supporting us in Arizona (can you believe that our group did not even have one single cold???) Hats off to Jill, our on-campus partner who tirelessly shuffled the participants (some wavering, some dropping off, some begging) and communicating with their parents, advisors, and us. To Stephanie the Business Office Queen I bestow a huge HUG and immense gratitude for establishing our new Southwest Art bank account, credit line, and keeping our bills paid on time. I am so used to our French system and business connections, that functioning here in the States meant brand new accounts and contacts. Stephanie, you worked wonders and I truly appreciate your support.

Lastly, I must say that Dave is the best colleague anyone could have, and I count my lucky stars every day for his partnership. And to this group of loud, lively artists, your resilience and willingness to take a chance on SW Art Classroom fills me with such happiness! I respect you. 


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