You may have read a post from March 5, 2009 called Thank a Teacher where I thanked one of my high school art teachers, Bruce Aydelotte. That post received several comments and on May 9, 2011, more than two years later another comment came through on the post. The time delay was unusual. It said:
This is a long shot. I have a pen and ink “Rainy Day” signed Aydelotte ’34. I think your teacher is much too young to have produced this drawing, but perhaps he is the son of ??/? any ideas, please let me know.
I didn’t post it right away since I wasn’t sure if it was spam since so much time had passed. I sent the comment to Bruce and asked him what he thought. He was curious so he emailed the writer and over the next couple of weeks they exchanged many emails figuring out the mystery of the pen and ink she asked about. Below is the story as it unfolded which makes me think without technology this story would not have happened…
In 1934 Bruce’s Dad, Art, was 25 years old and in the State Police. He was a very talented untrained artist and particularly adept at pen and ink renderings. He used cross-hatching and other textural techniques to enhance his work. In 1947 he created a personal Christmas card for Bruce when he was 5 years old. Below are the drawings…
Bruce was curious enough to know if it was his Dad’s work or not so he contacted the person, assuming from the name, Elon, that it was a man. Turned out that the person is actually a woman who is a lawyer from Kentucky. Elon has a daughter with a degree in Graphic Design who was willing to scan the artwork and send it to Bruce so he could predict whether it was his Dad’s or not. The lawyer had framed the work years ago with a yellow frame. She thinks she had probably bought it at a junk shop or antique shop in Louisville, Madisonville, Henderson, KY or some place in between.
Bruce looked closely at the signature, after all this is the man who taught me calligraphy so he knows “stuff” about letters. This is what he says in his email:
The *A* is a cursive style A as was taught in penmanship class and my father had excellent penmanship……I have inserted several examples of his actual signature that I scanned from various membership cards of his that I still have……..see his sigs below and notice the angle of the lettering, compared to Rainy Day……and the way the A’s are looped as in typical cursive handwriting….all three are very consistent…And in the sig from the drawing the A is a cursive style as well……… notice how his *y* was connected from the capital *A*, but is separate from the *d*. Unfortunately, in the Rainy Day sig several of the following letters are also separated…….but handwriting styles can, and often do,change over years………the sigs that I have shown are from the ‘50’s, when he would have been in his late 40’s……..roughly 20 years later……..
Interestingly enough he adds:
I am not a handwriting expert by any stretch, but I think there are definitely some similarities……..especially in the *Ayd* part…. there are definite similarities.
Bruce and his Dad
So, how did she stumble upon the post about Bruce? Well, here is where technology played an important part in learning about this art work. Talk about a small world… Elon says:
I’ve googled the name over the years and finally added the term pen and ink and found your student’s piece about you. I noticed in either that (or something near it) the name of my good friend, Corliss Chastain. Corliss taught art in Maine for years and still lives there. I’ll bet your former student knows her.
Of course I know Corliss and I am sure many of you do. Corliss taught art at Maranacook High School before she retired two years ago. Elon continued…
Arthur Aydelotte, State Police, circa 1935-36
With the availability of information on the internet, I’ve been able to identify a lot of artists. The “less famous” are just as interesting to me as others and perhaps more interesting to me. I don’t equate fame to the art. The old saying, “I don’t know art, but I know what I like.”
And then Bruce learned …
Elon wants to gift the artwork to Bruce. He is has mixed feelings about accepting it since she has been such a wonderful caretaker of it for many years. Bruce thinks it is pretty cool that she has searched for a long time to find out who the artist was and now that she knows she is ready to pass it on.
“Quite an interesting adventure of discovery for her, for me, and for you………pretty amazing place this *cyber-world*.” And remember this all started over two years ago with wanting to thank a teacher. Now that it is summer perhaps you have a few extra minutes to think aobut those teachers from your past who have made an influence on you. Have you takent the time to thank them? I hope so!
Art work from the past