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painting by Dwight Harmon

painting by Dwight Harmon

My friend and teacher Dwight Harmon deserves a lot more space than I could ever provide for him but I will do my best to honor him.
In 1974 I took a night class at Art Center while still attending UCLA. I wanted to see if I should go there after my graduation from the fine arts department at UCLA. The class I took was with Dwight Harmon. All I can say is lucky me! All my doubts were gone within a few sessions. Dwight’s knowledge and charisma won me over. I learned more from him than all my teachers at UCLA combined. Three weeks after I graduated UCLA I was sitting in my classes at Art Center. I had a couple classes with Dwight over the course of my stay at Art center. Each time I had him I learned so much and the joy and enthusiasm he should was infectious. It always reminded why I came to Art Center. That attitude pulled me through a lot of all nighters and rough classes like Ted Youngkin’s perspective or Midge Quenell’s design. Aside from the classes Dwight was a friend who was constantly interested in how I was doing. I know he cared about all his students the same way and we all are lucky to have had him as a friend and teacher. When I heard of what happened to Dwight on that fateful night in 1996 I was dumbfounded. Once again a great person was cut down senselessly.

Dwight painting

Here’s a tribute from another of Dwight’s students Steve Nowlin…
In 1977, I came to Art Center as a graduate student in Fine Art, and was assigned to three advisorsone of them, Dwight Harmon.

This guy immediately fascinated mehis was a mixture of strongly disciplined process and wildly speculative experimentation. By the time I graduated, his ideas had become embedded in my own. Everything I’ve done since, and I would imagine everything his other students have done as well, has had a little part of Dwight in it.

He was a multiple recipient of Art Center’s Great Teacher Award. He earned his B.F.A. from the college in 1969, and his M.F.A. in 1971. He made paintings, sculpture, airplanes, walls, buildingshe could make anything. Dwight mixed the weirdest assortment of stuff into paint, and taught us all to be fearless.

One night in 1996 after teaching his class Dwight was accosted by strangers near the home he and his wife Maria were building in San Bernardino. Dwight was beaten, and tragically died from his injuries.

A memorial scholarship fund was established in Dwight’s name, and now has nearly $98,000 in itmaking it one of the largest of Art Center’s resources for financial assistance to students. Maria Rendon Harmon has donated 15 of Dwight’s paintings for auction, to help increase the fund and continue its vital contribution to the college.

I hope you’ll help, and in turn acquire a memento of this truly great person and unforgettable Art Center teacher. To help…

Stephen Nowlin
M.F.A., Fine Art, 1978
Creative Director, Art Center Online