Guest Teaching Artists and Former Faculty
Michelle D. Ferrera
Alejandro Martinez Padilla
A Tribute to Pam Whidden (1952–2018)
Sadly, longtime model, scheduler and Athenaeum friend and supporter Pam Whidden passed away on Friday, July 13. She was loved by everybody at the Athenaeum and in the San Diego art community. We will all miss her lively spirit, her humor and her totally unconventional personality. Here is a tribute to Pam by Athenaeum instructor and artist Ken Goldman, who worked with her and was a friend for almost 40 years:
“Art-models are to figure artists like flowers are to bees. We have evolved together, we depend on one another and throughout recorded time, have always mingled our instinctual symbiotic efforts. The result of this cross-pollination is a sweet honey-like essence: the dynamic figure drawing or painting. The act of a model posing and an artist attempting to capture the essence of a pose is a sacred act where the immediacy of the present moment envelopes linear time and a long three-hour session becomes a timeless meditative blur.
In the early–mid 70’s, finding a really good art-model was not easy. Sure, you could stop someone on the street but that seldom worked out! Those folks quickly realized that modeling was much more than just holding still, and many “would-be models” quickly dropped out leaving artists high and dry. One model, Pam Whidden, was an exception and from those days on, was always one of my favorites because she was not only really good (especially with gestures) but she could always be counted on to show up early and work late. By the time the 80’s rolled around, sketch groups were beginning to pop up everywhere and Pam was able to make a living by posing in many of them and finding friends who she could also train as art-models.
Then, by the late 80’s, Pam single-handedly changed the art-modeling world by creating The San Diego Artist Model’s Guild which solved two major issues: 1. How could a model be sure she or he would be respected by artists and paid a fair wage? 2. How could artists be sure a model would show up on time and work in a professional manner? Pam’s San Diego Artist Model’s Guild changed everything from night to day in terms of professionalism. In the late 90’s and 2000’s Pam became a part of the Athenaeum working tirelessly assisting at events, scheduling models and monitoring the Sunday sketch group.
Pam, your pioneering spirit, generous loving heart, dedication to the arts, fun-loving nature and dynamic poses are in our memories, sketch-pads and paintings forever.”
—Ken Goldman, artist, instructor