Monday, December 29, 2008
36x48x2 oil on canvas
by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen
Mr. Magnusen, the subject of my painting, shares many of my same memories. We grew up not far from one another In S. California and later attended the same high school. It was in high school that I fell in love with Dennis G Magnusen. That love story was put on hold for some 30 years.
In 1967 Dennis was drafted by the US Army, and subsequently went to Vietnam in 1968. Circumstances and follies of youth would cause us to follow separate paths.
While in Vietnam Dennis was strongly affected by the children he saw there. "Children were never meant to experience war", he told me years later. He decided that he wanted to do his part to change the world. "Real change in any society begins with the children," was Dennis' mantra, so he became a teacher. He worked with gang zone high school kids in the evenings and intermediate students in the afternoon. Grades of F's and D's were bought up to A's and B's. Mr. Magnusen reached beyond his own expectations, leading kids to an understanding of their own worth, thus opening doors to their potential futures. He created a surf club and got the community to help. He was often featured on local TV and newspapers as someone who was making a difference in children's lives. Dennis also became a Mentor teacher, lending help to other educators. Being somewhat of a rebel he advised fellow teaches of ideas that reached beyond standard textbook techniques.
Sadly the ghost of Vietnam took away Mr. Magnusen's strength in the form of Peripheral Neuropathy, caused by Agent Orange. By 1990 he was too ill to continue his beloved teaching career. It broke his heart. Seeking rest, relief from stress, needing a special place to deal with the physical pain that comes with Small Nerve Fiber Neuropathy, he relocated to Hawaii. Hawaii has been his solace and a cool breeze when memories of who he once was for kids becomes faint.
About three months ago "Mr. Magnusen" was contacted by a former student. Amy had been looking for him for eighteen years. She had heard he had died from Agent Orange complications, but still hoped that she would find him. You see, Amy became a teacher and she wanted to find Mr. Magnusen to tell him how much he had affected her life. While working on her Masters in Literature, Amy wrote a paper describing the most influential person in her life. That person was Mr. Magnusen. Amy called to tell Mr. Magnusen that she wanted to make a difference in this world too. For a teacher there can be no greater reward.
As for me? I found Dennis once again after 30 years, through a miracle of circumstance, but that I guess is another story.
~ Kathy Ostman-Magnusen
About the Schaefer Portrait Challenge
The Challenge is open to artists 18 years of age and older who are residents of the state of Hawai‘i. Work created under direct supervision is not eligible. A select portion of the exhibition will travel to The Contemporary Museum, First Hawaiian Center in Honolulu.
Jurors for Schaefer Portrait Challenge 2009
artist; assistant professor of art
at University of Hawai'i-Manoa (O'ahu)
artist; director of Koa Gallery
at Kapiolani Community College (O'ahu)
A. Kimberlin Blackburn:
artist; professor of art
at University of Hawai'i-Hilo (Hawai'i Island)
What is a Portrait?
Portrait subjects may include any person living in Hawai`i. Artists must have direct contact with the subject, to include at least one live sitting. A broad range of interpretation and styles from representational to experimental is encouraged. Self portraits are also accepted.
All works entered must be original one of a kind and newly-created specifically for this exhibition. The work may not have been previously shown in any other exhibit, gallery or website.
• Acceptable media: drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media and monoprint.
• Non-acceptable media: photography, photographic reproductions and ink jet (giclée) reproductions.
• All works must be submitted in final presentation, ready for display.
The Challenge is pleased to offer the following awards:
• The Jurors’ Choice for $15,000, graciously sponsored by Jack & Carolyn Schaefer Gray, will be chosen by a jury committee.
• The Marian Freeman People’s Choice Award for $5,000, sponsored by Gage Schubert, will be awarded to the artist who receives the most votes by gallery visitors during the exhibition period at MACC.