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home : news : news Tuesday, May 24, 2016

12/29/2012 Email this articlePrint this article 
Still inspiring her former students, Gloria Malooly, a retired art teacher from Central Community High School, poses next to a landscape created by one of her students, accomplished artist Ellen Wagener, formerly of DeWitt. Wagener dedicated the landscape in Malooly’s honor, a scene depicting a harvested field south of DeWitt, which now hangs at First Central State Bank. Photo by Kate Howes
Art teacher honored, full exhibit planned this summer

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

Gloria Malooly of DeWitt may have retired from teaching art at Central Community High School over two decades ago, but to this day she continues to inspire and influence her past students.

Proof of that comes in the form of a landscape created by Malooly's former student and accomplished artist Ellen Wagener that Wagener has dedicated in honor of the teacher she says helped her learn more about art than anything or anyone else in her life.

"Honestly, I learned more from (Malooly) than I did from any other teacher or professor I ever had," Wagener told The Observer. "I feel like everything I needed to know I learned from her right there at Central."

Wagener recently donated a landscape of a harvested field south of DeWitt to First Central State Bank as a tribute to her former teacher who helped her unlock and uncover her true talent for art.

The landscape was chosen for a reason and has special significance, Wagener explains.

"It's of a harvested field, showing the work is done," she notes. "That's what made me think of (Malooly). She's put a lot of great work and effort into her community and her students . . . she's enjoyed a life well-lived and her hard work is done. I thought that made it very appropriate to add to the collection at First Central State Bank."

For Malooly, the gesture means a great deal, and having Wagener as a student was a very gratifying experience.

"I think it's wonderful (Wagener) is doing this for me," she says with a smile. "It's also wonderful she has become so successful, but I'm not at all surprised. She always had so much drive and ambition. I remember specifically the time she started using pastels. She entered a small painting at a show at Marycrest College and she won first prize. That sort of set her off . . . and just look at her now."

Being remembered so fondly is very flattering, Malooly says, and reinforces her passion for art and sharing it with others.

"It just makes all those years of teaching worthwhile," she shares. "It reminds you you're not forgotten and you did something to help this person accomplish her goals and ambitions."

Although her days of teaching in a classroom are behind her, Malooly still remains very active in the field of fine arts.

As a long-time member of the DeWitt Area Fine Arts board, Malooly helps organize the annual John Bloom Fine Arts Festival at Lincoln Park in downtown DeWitt, and, until recently, arranged for area artists to display their work at the First Central Art Gallery, located in the lobby of the Operahouse Theatre.

For 20 years, she also has worked as a docent at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

"It's a lot of fun," Malooly says of her continued involvements in the arts. "I think DeWitt has come a long way in embracing fine arts and a lot of that is due to the terrific teachers we've had - Carolyn Eggleston, Ed McMahon, Tom and Jeannie Dean, just to name a few. We also have a community that is interested in and receptive to the arts and they support us. Even just simple exposure to art is beneficial to people's minds and well-being.

"I've tried to cut back a little bit, but I like what I'm doing. Art of any kind is something you can do all of your life; you can continue to be creative. So many people who get involved in the arts continue to be involved. And why wouldn't they? It's fun."

Special exhibit being organized at First Central Gallery

Al Tubbs, a strong supporter of the arts in DeWitt and Maquoketa and a great admirer of Wagener's work, says he is amazed by how many of Malooly's students have gone on to enjoy lucrative careers in what often is an extremely challenging and highly competitive field.

"Her influence is showing up in the sheer number of her students who have achieved a great deal of notoriety for their work," Tubbs relates. "It's a long list and they wouldn't be where they are if it hadn't been for (Malooly) mentoring them and helping their interest in art grow and develop."

Her fellow members of the DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation couldn't agree more. Those who serve on the foundation's gallery committee are arranging a special exhibit that will include a mixture of works of some of Malooly's former students who have made a name for themselves as successful artists.

Committee member and former art teacher Carol Beck says they are in the process of contacting a number of her past students and are hoping to have the exhibit ready to display at the First Central Gallery sometime in July 2013.

"This will be a well-deserved honor for (Malooly)," Tubbs says. "To have shaped the lives and careers of as many people as she has . . . that's definitely something worth noting and sharing with the public."

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