There are people who do some of the most important work in the world, despite meager salaries and an often thanklessness and emotionally stressful work environment, all for the love of it.
They’re called teachers.
So it’s good to see that two retired Northwest art teachers are getting a bit of due appreciation and enjoying their time in the sun at local art galleries this month. Beginning this week, the Kingston Art Gallery features former Bellevue and Steilcoom school district faculty Winnie Rich while the Silverdale Fine Arts Gallery showcases former Bremerton High School and Northwest College teacher Willo Huard.
Both painters will be feted with gallery parties this weekend — Silverdale’s during the Old Town Art Walk 6-8 p.m. Friday, and Kingston’s at Second Saturday Gallery night at 5-8 p.m. June 14.
“Life is so sweet,” Rich said in a smiling, tranquil tone. “It just keeps getting better and better all the time.”
Both she and Huard said they don’t regret their career path in the least.
“There are three important parts of my life,” Huard noted. “That is family, teaching and painting. And I can’t really put one at any different level than another … they’re all very important to me.”
Education was one of a handful of options available for young women at the time Huard enrolled in college, during the late-60s at the University of Washington.
She first chose the field, then switched to textile design, but would be back in education a decade later after making her way to Kitsap.
Rich went from Olympic College to Western Washington University to UW and a final fifth year at Pacific Lutheran University for a degree in elementary education and art. And she spent the next 20 years teaching art to Seattle kids.
She can’t quite recall when she began painting.
“I’m hedging, because I’ve done it forever, it just keeps mutating,” Rich said, thinking back over the years.
From the classroom, she went onto creating tile murals and porcelain pieces out of Rich Studio in Tacoma before returning to Kitsap and finding the painter within her living in Hansville.
“It’s always felt like home … it’s always called me,” Rich said.
That same sentiment is true in Huard’s artistic background.
She noted the Northwest as an environment that trains one in subtlety and likened her paintings to kids.
“It’s almost like your children,” she said. “You create this idea and then you incubate it and you mature it and then you put it out there … and you hope it stains something.”