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Dear Class of 1992,

We hope your Summer went very well. If you're going to be in Santa Barbara on October 14-15, we hope you'll drop by homecoming and look through some of the improvements that are (still) being made to campus...

After the completion of Westmont's new buildings for Art and Science last year, the Art Department vacated the old "Reynolds Gallery" (you remember the old building situated below Armington near Deane Chapel)...Crews spent the summer transforming the interior of Reynolds into a state-of-the-art Music building, complete with 12 soundproof practice rooms (up from just 4 in their previous home) and faculty offices...Check it out when you're on campus next...The improvement is stunning! And now that music has moved out of Porter Theatre, the Theatre Arts and Biology departments are getting new spaces for their students as well.

As always, we welcome and invite you to send us an article about what you've been up to recently. We'll collect your responses and include them in our next newsletter in December. For this newsletter, we'd like to thank Kris Baines for sharing her life with us...

In His Grace,

Lori Walker and Mike Willbanks, Class Agents for 1992

Kris Baines

God is good. He works all things for his purpose and gives us all unique gifts. In my early forties I'm still trying to figure out what mine is, but my husband, Tom, clearly has the ability to see and to create beautiful art. While I believe he was born with an artistic bent, he has developed a style of art that he discovered inside himself very recently. And I know it's a gift from God. A longtime music lover of diverse genres, particularly jazz, Tom's subject matter began with jazz greats like Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane and Ella. "Visual jazz" is what Wayne Philips, pastor of Open Table Church, calls his work. Artist Susan Jenkins describes it as the "modern Seurat of optical blending, the modern Picasso of Cubism and the modern Warhol with his subject matter." My friend, Nicole Gilmore, blogged about Tom's art recently (Fine Art by Tom Matousek olie-oh.blogspot.com), describing his ability to "reveal the radiant beauty inside these creative souls." This is what I'm talking about when I say that Tom has the ability to see things most cannot, or at least what I can't.

Ella Fitzgerald, Click to see painting

In tune with his senses, Tom has always seen God's beauty in nature, feeling strongly that church should happen on top of a mountain rather than inside four walls. He's pointed out to me, among other things, the smell of the rain (I never knew it had a smell), flavors and textures in favorite dishes (I knew certain foods tasted good, but couldn't tell you if it was because of the tarragon or the freshness of the fish), particular bass lines or riffs in songs that I had never noticed. But more importantly, he always could see the good in people and in situations that I overlooked. I feel fortunate that Tom awakens parts of my soul - and my ability to see - beyond my myopic and narrow perspective. But I think God has awakened a new ability to see (a seventh sense?) in Tom recently in terms of depth of perception with his paintings. God's timing is always perfect, and it couldn't have happened sooner.

Here is the story: About three years ago, the pastor of our church, Jeff Reed, a Westmont graduate, invited Tom to paint something for a sermon focused on art in worship. Just before Tom started his painting, his father passed away; he was a man who had always discouraged Tom from pursuing a career in art because it wasn't practical. Tom, while working unhappily in retail management, had dabbled in art for decades before this "awakening." He drew houses for an architect, created graphics for a Colorado Snowboard Company, and painted children's murals and theater sets while still holding onto his earthly father's words that he could never make a living as an artist. Tom has had a part-time mural painting business for the last twelve years, but it's not the same thing as painting for yourself, painting what's inside of you. After his dad passed, Tom began a new journey. The piece Jeff used for that sermon had an impact on one woman in particular, a former art teacher, who told Tom, "I don't know who you are or what your background is but you should be doing this for a living. One-hundred people would have tried to paint this and not even come close. You pulled it off." Her words and the positive reception of others helped Tom finally come to realize, on the heels of his father's death, that this is who he is--an artist. "I didn't need to pretend to be someone I wasn't anymore."

Tom Waites, Click to see painting

Tom also thinks that he wasn't mature enough to handle this gift until now. He would have squandered it if it had happened any sooner. It's been a process, too, for Tom to understand that God is not just the creator of all things, the person we call out to in times of desperation, but his father, in the complete sense, a father who wants to rain down love and blessings beyond what our earthly family can give. Since this first painting a fire has been lit inside Tom, compelling him to paint. It's so important to Tom that he paints early in the mornings before he leaves for work and stays up late most nights working on a piece. But he never paints without lighting a candle to "remind me never to forget that God is present with me as real as the flame is burning next to me --it's me and Him working together on this project." The candle also serves to remind Tom (if he ever "makes it") where his gift came from and to always stay humble and grounded. He doesn't ever want to forget that all we have, all our gifts and talents, come from God and are not merely from our own abilities. He now has a portfolio of this "visual jazz," prismatic style of art that is abstract, yet depicts a perfect likeness of each image he paints. He has shown his art in local restaurants and cafes in Oakland and Berkeley and is getting ready to show in some galleries in San Francisco. Tom believes that God is using him as a vehicle for something much bigger than himself, but he doesn't know what that is yet. But I know that He will reveal it in His perfect timing. In the meantime, I get to enjoy both watching my husband become the artist he was always meant to be, and the beautiful art on the walls of our home that awes our friends and family. God is good.

Tom's mural painting website: www.piedpiperdesigns.com
Tom's art website artbytom.jalbum.net

The two images I included are both oil on canvas, 48" X 60", (1) Ella Fitzgerald and (2) Tom Waites

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