Do you remember who your art teacher was in grade six?

The Dean of Art, Al Colton, during his recent show at the Birthplace of B.C. Gallery


If you went to Charles Dickens Elementary in East Vancouver in 1953, chances are that Al Colton was your art teacher. Two of his former grade six students, Audrey Harkness (nee Chwarlinski) and Geraldine Swayze (nee King) came to the Gallery in search of Al today. Another one of their class mates, Pat Lee, was in the store recently on the same mission. Al, however, was at his home studio painting for the Gallery’s upcoming show, “Art on Ice”.
Al Colton has been painting for seventy years. His art career started at the Ontario College of Art in 1940 with instruction by Group of Seven artists, Arthur Lismer and Frank Carmichael. After the Second World War and air force duty, he studied under Jack Shadbolt at the Vancouver School of Art. He taught art in the Vancouver School District and before retiring he served as the art coordinator for several years.
His former students remember his wry sense of humour and his passion for the arts. Audrey Harkness recalls when she was in his sixth grade class, Mr. Colton went out of his way to get her free instruction at the Vancouver School of Art on Saturdays. That meant a lot to Audrey because her family at the time could not have afforded the fees.
Do you remember your grade six art teacher?

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