Visual arts teacher to retire after 25 years

Angela Chon

Visual arts teacher Art Tobias works on a pot. He has taught art at the school for 25 years and is retiring after this year. He will continue working on ceramics, writing his book “Cowboys to Cab Guys” and rebuilding the engine for the sports car.

Visual arts teacher Art Tobias will retire after 25 years of teaching at Harvard-Westlake to continue working in his ceramics studio and on other projects that are “halfway completed.”

Tobias began teaching in a reform school system in Arkansas for eight years and moved to California to teach at the Pilgrim School for another three years.

After deciding that the pay and facilities were better, Tobias started teaching at Harvard School in 1989, he said.

“Harvard School had very strong visual and performing arts combined, and I really liked that,” Tobias said. “And I liked the vision of all the arts being taught together from a unified conceptual base.”

Although after the merger of Harvard School and Westlake School, the visual and performing arts departments were separated, Tobias has enjoyed teaching a variety of arts, he said.

He has taught almost all levels of media, started the three-year animation program, and taught all levels of architecture and drawing and painting.

Eight years ago, Tobias started teaching AP Art History.

Tobias will work on ceramics, continue writing his book and rebuild the engine for his sports car.

“I can [retire] because I am at an age where I can be collecting money from my Social Security account and because I want to,” Tobias said. “And I have a lot of various things to catch up on.”

He has been working on his book with the working title “Cowboys to Cab Guys” for about three years and hopes to finish it in his retirement, he said.

The book is about the cultural history behind the popularity of cowboys and cowgirls during the baby boom generation.

“Dr. T was not only an amazing teacher, but a mentor that we could all comfortably talk to and work with,” Diana Kim ’15 said. “He taught us everything he knew with humor and sensitivity and often came before school and stayed late afterwards to take care of our works.”

His students will not only take their ceramics skills with them to college, but also the experience of studying under a “caring” and “passionate” teacher, Kim said.