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A Provincial Artist's Education

I grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, a mid-size industrial town in the Piedmont region of the state. Great art was hard to come by. The closest museum, or so I thought, was the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, almost 3 hours away. I wasn't aware until much later that less than a half-mile from my house was the Maier Museum , a small gem of a collection representing virtually every major American painter from the 18th to the 20th century.  Like most kids growing up in small town America, art was pictures of old barns painted from photographs (Mabry's Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway), illustration, or commercial art. On television in the 60s we had our forerunner of "Happy Trees" Bob Ross, a beatnik artist by the name of Jon Gnagy, who sported a goatee, a black beret, and a plaid flannel shirt. In a half hour program, Gnagy would whip out realistic landscapes with roads and buildings in perspective. Gnagy's show was a hook for a complete line of art materi

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