Art professor inspires sentiments of creativity


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Fine and media arts department Chairperson Anthony Gordon (left) critiques student Uriel Rocha’s painting in A-6 on Monday.

By Luis Cortes, Advocate Staff

The definition of beauty changes from person to person.

People interpret beauty differently and their personal experiences shape those interpretations.

For fine and media arts department Chairperson Anthony Gordon, one possible definition of beauty is something that alleviates stress, as he grew up practicing the martial arts. And as an artist, he spends lots of time creating beauty in his work, thereby relieving his stress.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the world,” Gordon said. “So it’s nice to bring some beauty into it. Humans are attracted to nice things.”

In addition to teaching art classes at Contra Costa College and chairing the art department, Gordon said he likes to practice his art, travel and practice martial arts. He is planning to host a gallery event to showcase his artwork some time soon.

Gordon grew up in Richmond and attended CCC from 1991-93. He transferred to San Francisco State where he received his bachelor’s degree. While growing up, Gordon practiced different forms of martial arts, obtaining a sash in Filipino martial arts, a brown belt in judo and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“Martial arts go beyond self-defense,” he said. “The camaraderie is second only to the military.” He said practicing martial arts is useful to manage stress and is an excellent way to clear the head.

While in college Gordon didn’t practice martial arts, taking a short hiatus away from training. But, he said, when he took it up again, it was like riding a bike; one doesn’t forget.

“Muscle memory definitely is involved,” he said.

After graduating from SF State, Gordon took seven years off from school and moved to the Los Angeles area where he worked in television doing grip (part of the production team that develops and builds sets), and working as a production assistant and in graphic design.

While working as a designer in the early 2000s he spent time at video game companies including Activision and Electronic Arts (EA). Gordon said he had a hand in the production of the early versions of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” and “Call of Duty.”

Gordon said the freelance graphic design (a graphic designer that works for private clients and company’s) industry slowed down around that time.

So he returned to college and earned a master’s degree from Cal State-Fullerton.

He said he enjoys creating art because it makes him happy.

Most of Gordon’s art is figurative, using a mixture of drawing, painting and printmaking, which includes silk-screen printing (a method that involves printing ink through stencils that are supported by fabric across a screen), lithography (a process where the ink is applied to a grease-treated image on a flat surface) and the use of metal zinc.

“My paintings are a hybrid between all of those three,” Gordon said.

He described his teaching style as transparent.

“My students know me pretty well,” Gordon said.

Graphic design major Fred McElroy has taken four classes from Gordon — Drawing and Composition 1 and 2, and Photoshop 1 and 2.

McElroy said Gordon’s classes are enlightening and impactful, and students get a lot out of them because of the material he teaches. “You learn skills you may not have used before,” McElroy said.

“And while you are in the class, he challenges you (on your work).”

Along with his transparent teaching style, McElroy said Gordon helped him moved out of his comfort zone.

“When I started drawing, I tried to personally stay away from drawing human faces,” McElroy said. “But I had an assignment where we had to do that, so I learned how to adapt, and I felt comfortable doing those drawings.”

McElroy would recommend Gordon’s classes because he is hands-on and allows students to do the things that will help them out as an artist, such as listening to music while they paint. He said

Gordon allows his students to succeed.

“You aren’t (just) a body in the class. He is there to support you when you need it,” McElroy said.

While attending SF State, Gordon took an art class taught by current CCC adjunct art professor Frank Cole. And although Cole doesn’t remember anything about him from that time, he has grown to know and respect him.

Cole said he watched as Gordon progressed from a part-time professor to tenure-track and department chairperson.

He said Gordon is a “great boss” who always remains calm even as the head of a big department. He also likes the fact that Gordon is a practicing artist as well as a teacher.

“He is a good boss. He seems to have a good balance, is personable and is a good person to work with,” Cole said.

Cole said that Gordon’s art is abstract and is materially-oriented because his paintings use different mediums and materials.

Gordon believes many former CCC students, like himself, return to teach on campus because of its sense of community and caring atmosphere.

“CCC is special,” he said. “There’s something about the people (here) and this place that makes it special.”