Hello everyone, Terry here. We haven’t posted anything new in awhile because we had to say goodbye to some very dear family and friends. Below are a few words for our friend, Gene Threats.
I met Gene at the College of Coastal Georgia about 9 years ago when I began to teach art at the college and Gene was on the staff. We both moved in the art circles and I became aware of his work and his friendly nature. He was passionate about art and asked me if he could come talk to my classes about his artwork. I was happy to invite him to speak about his work and life as an artist. I wasn’t sure at first what he might say, but if it was not a good experience or the students didn’t like him, I would not ask him to come back. It turned out to be a great experience not only educationally but also spiritually.
I would have been happy for him to talk just about his training and the inspiration and composition of his pictures, but he gave the students so much more! He revealed to them how he got started with drawing, his health struggles and how he was coping day after day with the challenges of being an artist in a today’s society. Because of his generosity, Gene returned every semester to talk to my classes for about 6 years except when he was out-of-town or sick.
Gene told us how he had started his art career in printmaking, but the chemicals used in the process made him so sick he had to recover in the hospital. He found himself unable to pursue his dream and not really knowing how to proceed. While he was in the hospital, someone brought him a child’s set of colored pencils to help him pass the time. In the art world colored pencils are considered on the level with crayons and play dough. But Gene used them and began to see how he could pursue his expression with the simple marks and colors of the pencils. They fulfilled his desire to draw and, at the same time, had expressive qualities when used with skill in a painterly fashion. Gene kept developing his talent and raised the quality of his pictures through constant practice.
He shared with the students about his health issues with his kidneys that necessitated a transplant and other health issues. He told them how he had moved back to Brunswick to take care of his elderly mother giving up opportunities in larger urban settings. It took courage for him to be so open about his personal struggles to a bunch of strangers, but it never failed to touch the hearts and minds of my students. Every time Gene came to talk to the classes, many people would thank me for inviting Gene to visit us.
So I thank God for Gene Threats. His talent in expressing emotions and people is there for us to see. Who can forget the picture of the young man in overalls with a chain around his ankle or the father raising his child up in the air in the collection of the College of Coastal Georgia or the picture of Dr. King on the march to Montgomery. I will remember his generosity in sharing himself and his work with my students and the courage he showed in sharing his inner struggles in his life as an artist.