Columbia College Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art Sid Larson, who passed away May 21, was named an honorary alumnus in 2001 for an incredible half-century of inspiring, motivating and bringing out the best in faculty and students.
A memorial service will be held in Launer Auditorium, Saturday, June 20, at 10:30 a.m. with a reception immediately following in the Dulany Hall Banquet Room, Columbia College Campus.
Colleagues and students praised Sid's light, eclectic teaching style, a style perhaps influenced by his own work. Larson's painting style runs the gamut. It can't be pigeonholed. Larson's curiosity and artistic flexibility is probably one reason he was such a good teacher.
Tom Watson, art professor at Columbia College for more than 30 years, said Larson's teaching style and enthusiasm helped the art department bloom. "When I first came here, our enrollment jumped so quickly... whenever a broom closet opened up he'd see it as a possible place to put a student."
David O'Hagan, a music professor emeritus who taught at the college for 35 years, was a close friend and co-best man at Larson's 2003 wedding to Mary Wells. O'Hagan said, "Really every teacher should see him teach... I learned how to communicate with sensitivity, to students and to everybody from him."
One student greatly influenced by Larson is Larry Young '76. Young is perhaps best known for his monumental outdoor sculptures; a fine example sits in front of Dulany Hall and another at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City. Young studied sculpture at Columbia College under Larson, followed by a two-year fellowship studying sculpture in Italy that Larson helped set up.
Young is not reticent in speaking about Larson. "I owe my life to Sid Larson … He is the reason I am an artist,” he said. Young also was a close friend and co-best man at Larson's 2003 wedding; Young named his daughter Sidney. Young further organized "Larson's Legacy," an exhibit of the work of Larson and about a dozen former students in Columbia, Mo., in 2005.
Another example of a successful student is Marc Bohne '77. When Larson said all his students need not be artists, "Be a chef! Be a photographer! Life is good to those who take a chance and explore," Bohne took this to heart. After a 20-year hiatus, Bohne started painting again in the late 1990s and met with swift acclaim. His landscapes are now world famous. Bohne said that Larson inspired him and is "godfather to us all."
Pamela Lenck Bradford '80, who was juror of Columbia College’s 19th and 20th Annual Paper in Particular exhibitions, is known for her use of color and the liveliness of her large still lifes. She also is known for meticulous book illustrations. Bradford said that while Larson taught art, life was his real subject: "Art was the vehicle for lessons on character," she said.
In 2002, Larson said, "Teaching is a calling," not just a vocation. "It's fulfilling, it's worthwhile. And it’s selfish," because a teacher gets the thrill out of seeing talent blossom. "And they pay you for it!"
"Art is a way to look into the heart and mind."
Larson's influence and inspiration lives on today through the George Ann and Sidney Larson Scholarship Fund and the Sidney Larson Student Art Award. For more information, contact the Columbia College Development office, 1001 Rogers St., Columbia, MO 65216; (573) 875-7563.