24 June 2012

Straight ~ Gay

Bill Moos, Western Reserve Academy
Spring 1968, by William S. Collins 
I love this picture of my art teacher, Bill Moos. Id made four frames and Moos had given four poses.

“Are you sure you’re not gay?” Will Dunklin asked me. He was paying me a compliment. He knew me well enough. He’d just been in our home for the first time. I bet he saw decorations and furnishings he liked.
How could he have such nice things?
Dunklins smart, educated, culturally conscious, and gay. He felt he could ask. I’m safe, my beloved is safe, and our home is safe. Maybe Will’s “gay” was the only answer he could imagine. We spar with and swap salacious cultural commentary. His laugh is as generous as his girth. Will reminds me of my boarding school art teacher.

Bill Moos was gay though he didnt actually tell me until we met in Manhattan in the mid 70s. Hed been my art teacher at Western Reserve Academy. He showed me more care and concern for my gifts and talents than any adult had ever demonstrated. I still love him and am thankful for his care and concern. He taught me photography and was responsible for my learning and doing photography at WRA and going on to earn a decent living making commercial photos.

One time I was in his apartment and he showed me a quite large fragment from a statue, a wing, like an angel's wing, which was hanging above a doorway.

Do you know what that is?
I saw peeling and cracked paint on a wooden hand-carved feathered wing.
No? It's a left wing.

It was from an Italian sculpture.
Moos laughed his barrel chested huge laugh, turned his back and sauntered away, upright, shoulders thrust back, hands swaying with his open gait. Its as close as he came to making social, cultural, or political commentary. Not that Bill Moos was shy of opinion. I'm certain he pinned the ears back on any adult who did not measure up to his very high architectural, artistic, or symphonic notions of what fine art is. He didn't suffer philistine fools.

He had many beautiful art objects in his apartment and home. Moos nurtured artists at WRA. In senior year art class we studied Heinrich Wolfflins, Principles of Art History. It seems I was underwhelmed with Wolfflins clear ideas for analyzing painting, sculpture, and architecture. Mooss comments to me (my parents) were,
Bill did not show any real grasp of Wolfflin's ideas -- especially in the selection of works to compare as the final exam.
I did not hear from him until we arranged to meet in Manhattan for coffee. Mooss teaching was not lost on me. I was taking photography up again. I was excited and I wanted to tell my plans. I see now it was my way of thanking him.
You know I'm gay?
He was complimenting me, treating me with respect as an adult. He is one of two or three people in my lifetime who influenced me more than all others combined. It never mattered he was gay. What mattered was he cared.

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