We had already been told who you were — a Tamarind Master Printer who worked with famous artists around the globe — but we really had no idea. Your first week of classes at UNF you taught us stuff you had taught to some of the most influential contemporary artists who ever lived. We learned how to organize separations, the difference between Cobalt and Japan Drier, the best ways to preserve and catalog inks when printing large editions — decades of invaluable information that you brought to a humble little classroom in Jacksonville. John Hutcheson, you were a rockstar.
I wasn’t totally sure you hadn’t invented half the things you taught us, due mostly to the ease with which you recalled every minute detail with a couple of epic stories to back it up. Then we realized you were in our textbooks.
Do you remember a time you were taught by someone who was featured in the textbooks you learned out of? It was incredible! In photos was Roy Lichtenstein or Robert Motherwell (mega-star artists), and standing next to them was you, teaching in your calm and endearing manner the same way you taught hundreds of UNF students (and professionals) for the better part of the last decade. It was a dream learning from a true Master, which is a title you earned, not just a compliment.
I told you early on, during a brainstorm, that I loved Frank Stella and your reaction was like striking gold. Turns out that THE John Hutcheson was the Stella’s personal printer for years. Literally hung out and influenced Frank’s work for longer than I had been making art at this point. Frank came to the memorial service here in town for you, and every time I saw him, he was smiling and laughing. You made that part pretty easy
You were way more than just a stellar printmaking professor at UNF, you were a friend of mine. We talked about why cheap beer from southeast Asia is really awesome for some reason, how our wives (literally) run circles around us, the best ways to handle a walking cane in style, and why the hell we ever got into making art. Your generous, lifetime of wisdom is, and always will be, appreciated and shared for as long as anyone is willing to listen to my handed-down stories from an internationally-known master printer.
Since most of our time was spent in the print lab at UNF, I just wanted to let you know that your RateMyProfessor score is perfect, plus you have the tags of “respected” and “caring” — not that you didn’t already know that, but worth noting.
It’s kind of amazing to me that we spoke so much about retirement and your strength through Muffy’s health issues, and here we are, writing letters back and forth again in this distant way. You’re THE John Hutcheson. You worked with Frank Stella, James Rosenquist, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell and Robert Motherwell. You’re just supposed to be around, in case we need you. I guess it’s nice that you can finally relax and let all of us do the work for once.
John Hutcheson, our “Dr. John,” you were one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and I know anyone else would say the same. Thanks for everything.
By Kingsley Spencer | Contributor