Ted Majka of Yukon knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist. Even with the absence of art classes at his school while growing up, he developed an appreciation for art and practiced copying things that caught his eye. After high school, Majka sought arts instruction by enrolling in El Reno Junior College where he studied for two years. After junior college, he continued his education in workshops with artists such as David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw. He also met Mary Geatches at Geatches Studio in Oklahoma City, and she became his teacher and mentor.
Majka credits Geatches with teaching him the lessons of color and composition in art. “She picqued my interest in the history of art, as well,” says Majka.
Geatches Studio was originally started in 1954 by renowned Oklahoma artists Dick and Edith Goetz. The vacant grocery store was their art studio where they also offered classes until 1978 when they moved to New York. Mary Geatches, a student of the Goetz, continued operation of the studio after their departure. Over the next several years, Geatches mentored and taught a variety of talented artists who would go on to establish successful careers in the arts, including Majka.
Following the death of Geatches in 1985, Majka and the other students at the studio banded together, formed a board, purchased the equipment, and kept the studio open. They brought in teachers like Mike Larsen and O. Gail Poole to continue the classes. In 1991, Majka took over the teaching in addition to establishing an open studio space for artists to create alongside other artists. The studio has now been in operation for more than 50 years.
It is easy to see how, in his own career, Majka has continued Geatches tradition of mentorship and education. “Artists need that camaraderie with other artists,” says Majka. “The studio provides a place where artists can exchange ideas and share techniques. We don’t hold anything back. We help each other. We owe it to younger artists to do that.”
In this exhibit, titled Paint, Pastels, Parks, and People, Majka exhibits a selection of works from various studio sessions. The artwork is proof of Majka’s dedication to practicing his technique. “It is my opinion that for an artist to perfect his skills and talent, he must first learn and then regularly practice the art of drawing,” says Majka. “A good painting is developed from a solid foundation of strong drawing skills with the addition of color. I practice these principles while striving to observe the subtle changes in values, plans, and colors that will enhance and improve the finished painting.”
Of his teaching philosophy, Majka says, “I try to instill in them to never give up. Learn from your mistakes. Art is one of the most powerful communications you can give back to your community, friends, and family.”