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Artist and Teacher: Corrine Bongiovanni

Whenever I visited with my father, I was often surprised at how many artists and art can be found in towns across Maine, especially Coastal Maine.  The breathtaking coastline of Maine and the rugged character of the people, farms, and villages dotting the coastal inlets has inspired artists since the earliest days of Western habitation.  I imagine there were native Americans and Norsemen who were inspired by Maine’s beauty.  Today, meet a Mainer, and you might meet an artist, even if that’s not their first or only job.

Corrine Bongiovanni is one of those Maine artists, the type of person who has had a rich life, made richer by her exploration of art.  She met my father through his workshops, in Maine and New Hampshire, and shares her passion for painting through art classes.  When she teaches, she shares a few lessons she learned from those workshops.  
Corrine says, “[Your father] became my role model for how to teach and I actually think of him in every class I do.”
 
As I’ve mentioned before, my father was a perpetual student of English, his second language.  He coined words that seemed to work for a specific moment or activity.  Corrine recalls, “I credit him with the term, ‘bizooten bush’ so your dad’s knowledge and personality are passed on to many who never had the good fortune to know him.”  Those bizooten bushes were his way of perhaps hiding a weak spot in a painting, or adding a splash of green where it was needed. 
 
My father rarely talked about his childhood, even with me. “I do recall asking Tony about his childhood years,” Corrine said, adding “I had the impression that he didn’t like to talk about those years, but I think he said he left home very early, as in around 6 yrs old. His parents sent him off to live with others in Austria? holland? where he’d be safer.” (note: it was Belgium, and he considered his Belgian foster family a second family and remained in touch for years, and he was sent there by his mother at the encouragement of Allied forces assisting in Netherlands recovery).

“Tony was a hoot, albeit dedicated to insuring that his students learned the best he could teach, and he never seemed to lose his passion for teaching. He’d learned how ro teach by watching the best. I did the same and Tony remains my role model for how to teach and how to critique. His voice is heard in every class I do starting with, ‘You’ll do better if you don’t take yourself too seriously.‘”  Good advice from Corrine, channeling my father.  Good advice for art, and life.

“I miss your dad.” As do we all, Corrine!

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