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Students remember artist with special talent for teaching

The Kansas City Star - January 28, 1991
by: G. Fred Wickman

Matthew Monks was an artist who drew like a child.  From a friend, artist Ken Southwick, that is high praise.
Monks taught children on Saturday morningsat the Nelson Gallery.  He was effective because he got down on
the floor with the kids.

"He encouraged his students to do their best and always drew along with his classes." Southwick says.  "He
continued throughout his life to develop his own skills and never hesitated to experiment with something new."
Monks earned lofty status.  He was allowed onto the grounds of the White House in the mid-1970s to paint a
watercolor of the South Portico.  His art was recognized through awards and praise.  He was a lithographer,
too.  But it was Monks' ability to work so well with people that won him admiration and friends long before he
died in 1989.  He never seemed to lose his youth, Southwick says.

To honor Matthew Monks, three classrooms in the Nelson Creative Arts Center were renovated.  The center
offers classes for children and adults.

The renovation and honor for Monks are enhanced by an exhibition of work by his former students.  You can
see their art through March 3.  Alongside their works are something speical: statements by the students about
what made Monks such a good teacher.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was a student of Monks between 1971 and 1973.  From my point of view there was nothing
child like about his work.  Mr. Monks was an astute master of simplicity.  His visions were chaotic at times, but
these visions required one to step back and breath to see their genius.  The picture below is a painting he gave
to my father, Lloyd Ralph Baum, when he was in the hospital with cancer in 1976.

I also find myself regretful that I did not pursue a career in art.  Comic books were not thought of a viable art form
back in the day.  Considering what happened to Hell Boy, 300, and Constantine I may have chosen wrong!



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