Tammie Gercken Writer
The City of Morganton invites people to visit City Hall to view the work of a beloved local artist.
This month’s “Art in the Hall” exhibit features paintings created by the late Raymond Goodfellow, said Kasey Goodfellow, his daughter and community events coordinator for the city of Morganton.
Raymond, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, served Western Piedmont Community College as an art instructor, dean and vice president of academic affairs during a career that spanned nearly three decades, according to his obituary.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and an MFA from East Tennessee University. After graduating, he moved his family to Morganton in 1979 to work as an art instructor at the WPCC.
“I remember him telling me that on his very first day teaching at the WPCC he was so nervous that all he could do was call the role and then he sent the class away” , Kasey said. “The next day he came back and taught. He had a knack for connecting with students through his humor and vast knowledge of art. He shone as a teacher and continued to teach and grow professionally over the years.
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Raymond’s obituary states that he became coordinator of the visual arts program in 1980 and won the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1992.
A student and colleague Raymond mentored eventually took his place in the WPCC Arts Department when Raymond was promoted to Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2002. Mark Poteat, current visual arts coordinator at the school, explained how Raymond shaped his career.
“Apart from my parents, Raymond was the most influential person in my life,” Poteat said. “I would not do what I do, and who I am, without him and his influence. He was an intellectual of the highest sense without any pretensions. From Raymond, I learned that the study and creation of art is a way to learn a lot about life, I learned from him the importance of being part of or connected to something (art and teaching) bigger than ourselves.
In addition to impacting students in the classroom, Raymond has partnered with Mary Charlotte Safford, retired Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at WPCC, to offer art and history tours in France, Italy and Ireland with students and community members.
“Talking about ancient Roman architecture while looking at a slide is one thing, but walking around Rome with Raymond commenting on what we were seeing was another,” Safford said. “Seeing Caravaggio’s “The Call of Saint Matthew” in the chapel where it has been since 1600, with Raymond highlighting the brushstrokes and use of light while telling stories from the artist’s life, has was an amazing experience for all. He was a great storyteller, which is one of the reasons he was such a good teacher. These trips had an incredible impact on our students, most of whom had never traveled outside the country, and some had never flown before.
Raymond’s work gave him time to hone his craft in the studio. His main medium was oil on canvas, although he also used graphite. Kasey has described her art style as “abstract, dynamic and brilliant”.
Raymond left a lasting legacy at the WPCC after his death from cancer in 2006. The school named its art gallery in his honor in 2007.
“Raymond started the art department at Western Piedmont Community College,” Poteat said. “He made a difference in the lives of many students, including mine. Which, in turn, through his influence, has enabled many of us who have gone on to teach or make art to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. This continuity of his influence is his legacy.
Safford described Raymond’s leadership style as “thoughtful, respectful and often laced with humor”.
“He wanted to make sure the people in his division were providing the best learning experience for students in the classroom and in the community, and that we had the resources and support to do that,” Safford said.
Kasey described her father as “an extremely driven person who enjoyed life”.
“I believe my father’s legacy at the WPCC is one of kindness, honesty, reliability, drive and talent,” Kasey said. “He was so smart, but he always made learning fun, never intimidating. He made it his mission to help others love and see the beauty in life. This was best accomplished by giving lectures on art and adding his fun life experiences that made people feel immediately comfortable with him and eager to learn The number of people who knew my father and/or had him as a teacher and as administrator who approached me and expressed the huge impact he had on their lives is immense.
Michael Berley, Project Manager at the City of Morganton, recently noticed Raymond’s work hanging in Kasey’s office and suggested they make it the subject of an “Art in the Hall” showcase. The exhibit includes approximately 20 pieces that Kasey felt best represented Raymond’s technique and style.
“We’ve seen him paint them, rework them, completely paint them over the years, and they’re just irreplaceable treasures to us,” Kasey said. “The reason we said yes to this show is that we wanted to give those who loved Raymond the opportunity to appreciate his works again and introduce his art to new members of the community who may not have unaware of the impact he had on so many people.”
Poteat shared how he felt seeing Raymond’s artwork again.
“Seeing his works on display reminded me of what a wonderful painter he was,” Poteat said. “He had an exciting way of using contrasting colors to give his paintings a sense of vitality, as well as rich surfaces that bring his paintings to life and create presence. He had a great sense of design in the way he arranged shapes, lines and colors that balanced his paintings. Along with the visual impact of his paintings, the works on display explore topics that address social and political issues, the celebration of family, and the joys and trials of life. I encourage those who have seen the work to go back and take another look and those who have not seen it to go. Looking at the works together, you will see the spirit of a person who was connected to something bigger than themselves and learned a lot about life.
Kasey noted that Raymond’s work reflects “his extremely huge heart.”
“He left us way too soon, but he used the time he had to laugh out loud, love a lot and have a profound impact on those he came in contact with,” she said.
Editor Tammie Gercken can be reached at [email protected]