Ani Art Academy Waichulis Artist of the Month: Edward Dillon
Edward Dillon took every course Professor Anthony Waichulis offered at Luzerne County Community College, in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. He
even requested a cast-drawing class for him and some of his classmates, a plea Waichulis consented to by heading a semester-long
workshop free of charge.
But in 2007, however, a year after his graduation, Ed called Anthony Waichulis to vent his frustration with the shortcomings he faced in his
artwork since their last class together. He’d been practicing gesture, figurative, and portrait drawing, irritated by his progress and
disappointed with his instruction. Waichulis’ description of his studio and the small group of apprentices in his atelier not only excited Ed, it
made it difficult to deny his craving for the hope he once felt from those college classes.
Ed asked, “What do I need to do to be accepted?”
In his typical fashion, Waichulis replied, “You’re accepted.”
“When can I start?”
“When would you like to start?”
“I’ll be there tomorrow!”
And now in 2012, coupled with five years of Waichulis’ unparalleled instruction, Ed’s commitment, enthusiasm, and talent have prepared him
to head the Ani Art Academies’ second international school, Ani Dominican Republic, as the primary instructor.
The Academy’s grand opening is scheduled for November 2012.
Months earlier, when Waichulis first posed the question about who would like to teach in the Dominican Republic, Ed answered, “I’ll go tomorrow!”
As soon as he reached the required level in the program, he began teaching on weekends the students who travel to Ani Waichulis in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “I’m so grateful to be part of this process. Anthony’s reshaping the world view of representational art. And he’s selected me to teach at the new academy what he’s been teaching us all these years. I hope to repay his generosity by adhering to and passing on the principles of his curriculum….Anthony has given me the greatest gift of my life.”
During his visit to the country, he was both charmed and amazed by the character of the people. He recounted how when he overpaid a toll more than ten times, the gentlemen returned his money, communicating the misunderstanding with a smile and pantomime. “It’s more than just people returning my change.
There is a real warmth, honesty, and decency I feel with almost everyone I meet in the Dominican Republic.
“When Anthony and I did a presentation at the local high school,” he continued, “the students and teachers treated us with generosity and respect. We were approached by art teachers who have a desire to enrich their communities by volunteering to learn as much of the program as possible to bring it back to their students of all ages. And the students’ earnestness was something I haven’t experienced at that level since I was a child myself.
“I just work and teach every day. But when it comes to the anticipation, I try not to think about it. I keep my emotions in the middle of the road, the middle path.”
But Ed later admitted that as his departure date approaches, he’s unable to comprehend how deeply the upcoming changes have already affected him. He said he dreams about the Dominican Republic, students with whom he can’t wait to share, and what his life will become there.
He often includes elements of fantasy in his work, sometimes delving completely into fantasy and illustration. And, somehow, in the weeks before the grand opening, it’s as if he’s been experiencing a visceral embodiment of his artistic vision, the blending of real and unreal.
Ed’s father paints, and his grandfather was an illustrator best known for the creating the iconic Mack Truck logo. His family, especially his mother, has helped to foster his interest in art. “My mother would frame drawings I did in grade school and hang them. She’d tape others on the refrigerator. She encouraged my brother and me to express ourselves through art. That’s the passion I want to bring to my students. Being an artist isn’t easy, art often takes a backseat to everyday pressures.”
As children, he and his brother Joe Dillon, also an Ani-Waichulis apprentice, competed and collaborated, writing and illustrating various projects like handmade books and posters. “Not only is he one of the best people I know,” Ed said, “he’s one of the best draftsmen I’ve ever seen. I’m lucky to have him, and I hope I’m able to bring that sense of unity and friendly rivalry with me.”
In Call to Adventure, a 16”x20” charcoal and chalk, Ed draws on both the Middle Ages and Renaissance for wisdom, viewing his future at the Ani Arts Academy Dominican Republic as a personal summons to action. He echoes ancient hero-myths and the clarity of American mythologist Joseph Campbell. Ed shows how archetypical objects and heroes mirror the tasks and symbolize the decisions of everyday people. Call to Adventure is an allegorical medley, a medieval helmet and goblet, gold coins, bits of nature, and a box for the journey—possibly a symbol of what the artist himself contains—skill and character acquired from surrendering to the absolute principles of art.
Before questions regarding him and art are even asked, Ed is ready to answer. And in the classical, almost archetypal manner, his readiness has prepared him for his unintentional journey to the Dominican Republic.
Written by: Carmen Latona