There were congratulations and bittersweet smiles at the Etherredge Center on Tuesday night as faculty, students and friends bid farewell to one of their beloved teachers.
Al Beyer, a professor of art at USC Aiken, recently retired after 37 years of teaching at the university. The crowd gathered at the Etherredge Center got to view a gallery of his work, and to hear him give a speech of thanks and goodbye.
“I’m really just overwhelmed,” Beyer said during the event. “It was nice of people to miss the ‘X-Files’ for this.”
USCA Chancellor Sandra Jordan also spoke at the event, praising Beyer’s years of dedication to his students and reading some remarks of gratitude that students who couldn’t attend had written to Beyer.
“Any of these pieces may be purchased – did I mention they could be purchased?” Jordan said, to a room full of laughter. “They will benefit the USC Aiken Art Faculty Scholarship Fund.”
Works from other art professors at USC Aiken were also included in the gallery.
“To ensure his legacy of dramatic, thought-provoking art continues, the university has established the USC Aiken Art Faculty Scholarship Fund,” said Mary Driscoll, vice chancellor for advancement and external affairs in a press release. “He simply wouldn’t have it named for him, but Al did want to make sure students majoring in fine arts with an emphasis for visual arts could apply for this scholarship.”
Not all of Beyer’s art students are in college. Some who attended the event have been taking lessons from him for over a decade.
One of those students was Mary Alice Lockhart, who began taking art lessons with Beyer in 1994 after she retired.
“I’ll miss him so much,” Lockhart said. “Coming here was so special, and it started me on another career that has been so special…I never knew that art could be so fulfilling and versatile, and could be done so many ways.”
Beyer doesn’t plan on teaching any more art classes.
“I’m going to paint, I’m going to garden and I’m going to work on my famous housekeeping skills,” Beyer said.