Robert Curtis Wilson was an artist, writer, and educator born in Sullivan, Indiana, on September 3, 1926. As a young man he served in the European branch of the Armed Forces during WWII, before settling in California. Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree from Los Angeles State College. He also went forward to gain his Master’s Degree from California State University. Before entering the field of education, he worked as a commercial artist and technical illustrator for companies such as Bendex Engineering and Douglas Aircraft. It was during this time that he established himself as one of the up-and-coming young artists of the Los Angeles area. He exhibited his works in many local, statewide, and national shows; winning numerous awards for his drawings and paintings. He was listed under Contemporary American Painters in the Bibliographic Files of Venice and Who’s Who in American Art and Antiques.
He began his teaching career at Northridge Junior High School, later becoming an Instructor of Art at Los Angeles Pierce College. A chance encounter with Dr. Stanley Czurles at a national art education conference led to a teaching position as an Associate Design Instructor at the State University College at Buffalo in 1963.
For the next 23 years he taught a variety of art education and design courses, most notably Design 101 and 102. During that time he published several books, “An Alphabet of Visual Experience” (1966) and “The Role of Crafts in Education” (1969). He organized and taught several regional statewide design workshops and summer art education workshops, which ultimately led to the production of instructional films and television programs. He was also a frequent speaker and juror at many art conferences and shows at both local and state level colleges.
Besides teaching, he served as chairman on several curriculum, by-laws and personnel committees, as well as the Dean’s Advisory Council. In 1965, he was chairman of the Grants and Awards Committee; which was responsible for opening grants from the State University Research Foundation to the Art Education community. He was Faculty Advisor to the Fine Arts board for three years, supervising two Critic’s Choice field trips to New York City, while also coordinating the production of college-wide Convocation of the Senses in 1969. He also served as advisor to the college yearbook, “The Elms”, from 1966 to 1969.
Along with his academic publications, he wrote several unpublished books of historical fiction, two murder mysteries, several novels, and eight children’s stories. He also researched and published numerous magazine articles and served as Science Editor for Mankind Magazine in the early 1970’s.
Besides his artistic endeavors, he enjoyed many interesting hobbies and pastimes such as stamp collecting and restoring 19th century landscape paintings. He was also an avid collector of primitive sculpture and hand-crafted arts acquired from his travels around the world.
Professor Wilson retired from Buffalo State College in 1986 and moved part-time to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where he continued to paint and write. He died on October 9, 1996 at his Gulfport home and was laid to rest in the Biloxi National Cemetery, in Mississippi.
Between the years of 2000-2002, Mrs. Marilyn Wilson, (‘71, ‘84), his survived widow; donated a collection of 32 works to Buffalo State College. Other donated collections of paintings are located at: The Burchfield Penney Art Museum, NY; The Sullivan Indiana Library Collection, IN; The Harrison County Library Collection, MI; The Oviatt Library Collection at California State University at Northridge, CA; Pierce College, CA; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, CA.
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