"Spadecaller's Art Reveres Nature and Uplifts the Soul."         
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Spadecaller Art

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Art Rehab

It was 1957. Mrs. Himmler, my third grade teacher marched us in single file to arts and crafts. In the large room, there were three long rows of sturdy old wood tables.  Multi-colored splotches of old dried paint covered the tabletops. Three dozen heavily varnished scarred chairs with nicks and scratches surrounded the long tables.  The art teacher, Miss Curio, seated us as Mrs. Himmler departed.  After finding my unfinished picture, I positioned myself at the table and resumed drawing.
Miss Curio was a peculiar and nervous woman in her early forties.  She wore most of her thick frizzy gray hair in a bun with a black net that trapped most of it in
place. Escaping from the mesh, there were always stray strands of crooked gray hair that extended outward above her ears and over her forehead.  Her jagged hair radiated outward, as if she had received a large jolt of electricity.  She never applied makeup and her olive-grayish pallor well reflected her gloomy demeanor.  Black-framed spectacles shaped like the rear taillight fins of a Chevrolet from the early sixties made her dark eyes appear smaller than their actual size.
The most troublesome of her idiosyncrasies was her need for orderliness. When chairs blocked the aisles, it infuriated her.  She policed the rows watching vigilantly for the back of any chairs should they dare to cross the threshold into the forbidden zone. In every class, Miss Curio always caught at least two or three offenders.  She would shake the back of the chair violently shoving the student's body tightly against the table.  Her conduct clearly bordered on insanity, but everyone adjusted to her bizarre behavior; well, almost everyone.
Around her waist, Curio wore a lanyard from which a large shiny metal hoop held her large collection of keys.  I will ever forget that day when she had opened the supply closet door with her key and disappeared for a moment to gather some supplies for the classroom. I was pleasantly absorbed in my drawing, when suddenly the entire room began to shift.  It was happening. The crazy old coot had my chair in her clutches. She jostled it from side to side and then shoved my chest into the edge of the table. While rebuking me for my serious breach of sacred law, she noticed my picture. It was the wrong assignment. I had ignored her earlier instructions: to draw, color, and cut out a pumpkin for Halloween. She pushed my picture aside and demanded that I proceed with her assignment. 
I was annoyed.  It was enough to have my chair tossed from side to side and then to have my body thrust against the table.  But, to have my unfinished picture yanked away; that was more than I could tolerate. Rarely could I ever finish a project in her class.  Pretending to cooperate, I asked Miss Curio for more paper and a large orange crayon. She located her special key on her silvery hoop and then disappeared again into the supply closet to retrieve the crayon.

 I drifted discreetly over to the closet behind her.  I then softly pushed the large oak door shut.  It locked automatically.  Returning to my seat, I pulled my chair out into the aisle and resumed working on my original picture. Suddenly, the pounding, thumping, and muffled screams from behind the thick wood door distracted the entire classroom of children.

 In my spontaneous approach to problem solving, I realized that my actions had consequences. The only key available to open the locked closet dangled from her metal hoop that hung from the lanyard around her waist. 
I cringed as I looked around the room. Thirty-two kids without supervision in the art room was an appalling sight. Some ran across the tabletops, while others knocked back on the closet door mercilessly taunting poor Miss Curio.  One boy screamed to the art teacher through the closet door that all the aisles were blocked with chairs.  The uproar spiraled into a frenzy of laughter and shrieks.  Shuddering with fear, I dreaded the outcome. It was then I knew that what my teachers had said about me was true:  I would end up becoming a criminal and spend my life in prison.
In an instant, there was silence. Standing like a statue before the room with both hands upon her hips, Mrs. Himmler glared at us in outrage. Into our guilty eyes she stared unfalteringly. After striking fear into every one of us, she turned slowly to face the supply closet.  "Go back to your seats now."  In a grave tone, she succinctly enunciated every word elongating each vowel and each syllable carefully. Like frightened little creatures, the speechless scurrying was over in seconds. Himmler?s high-heels rapped loudly on the wooden floors, as she strutted over to the supply closet door.  
"Can you hear me, Miss Curio?  Can you hear me?  The custodian will be on his way to let you out."  My heart pumped rapidly. A minute passed and then Mr. Cleaver, the school principal, entered the room with the custodian trailing directly behind him. The principal had always frightened me. Standing between six feet and seven feet tall, he hovered over everyone.  He had white hair and goat-like blue eyes that contrasted his fiery red complexion. Similar to what my father wore to work, he had on a dark gray suit and a red striped tie.             
"I want to know who locked Miss Curio in the closet!"  Cleaver's voice boomed. My fear intensified as he examined each of our faces hoping to rout out a potential fink, who might give me away. The room remained silent. For a second, I began to think that there was a faint possibility of hope. Could I get away with it? The principal spoke again in a louder more angry tone.
"No one is going home after school."  He announced with grave finality.  "Unless someone tells me who locked Miss Curio in the closet!"  My mouth had grown dry. With contempt in their eyes, my classmates began to glare at me. Intolerantly, they waited for my confession. Struggling with the mounting pressure, I began to weaken. As I was about to stand and admit my guilt, Neal Weiner started to cry. 

 "I want to go home.  I want to go home after school." He whimpered as he pointed his finger at me. "He did it!  He did it! It was Mike. I saw him. He locked Miss Curio in the closet. It was his fault. Can I go home after school?"  After Neal's desperate outburst, Mr. Cleaver escorted me out of the classroom, into the hall, and down the stairs to his office.

 "Why did you do that?" He asked. 

"I'm not sure."  Nervousness had caused me to completely forget what had led to my inspiration.

The next day my parents had to come in for a conference about the incident. The principal recommended that I see the school psychologist, Dr. Floyd, on Tuesdays and Thursdays during art class. When my parents came home, my father gave me a spanking and warned me; "Young man, let me give you a word of advice; don't pull another stunt like that again or I'll break your neck."

The unimaginative psychologist, Dr. Floyd, insisted that he needed my help in finding things that resembled his collection of inkblots.  He seemed quite pleased with my ideas and I spent the next two weeks in art rehab. At the end of our last session, Dr. Floyd asked me if I was ready to go back to Miss Curio's art class.  I lied and said, "yes."


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