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Retired art teacher's work shines on 'Sunday Morning'

Mike Gouker's sunburst design featured on CBS program earlier this year

May 12, 2013|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Michael "Mike" Gouker's colored-pencil sunburst was featured on the Feb. 17 edition of CBS' "Sunday Morning." The Hagerstown resident is a retired art teacher and professional artist.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Michael “Mike” Gouker of Hagerstown has known since his early years that art would be a part of his life.

“Art was the thing growing up that I could do the best. It was my interest. I told my sixth-grade teacher I wanted to teach art,” Gouker said.

The retired art teacher and professional artist has been honing his craft since childhood and keeps looking for new venues for exposure.

About three years ago, Gouker submitted a drawing of a sunburst to CBS “Sunday Morning” hosted by Charles Osgood. The show’s logo is a sunburst, so it features artistic renderings similar to the logo.

Gouker said he received a personal letter from network employee Jessica Frank thanking him for his submission and telling him it would be kept in a file.

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Gouker’s colored-pencil sunburst featured the charcoal eyes and mouth and carrot nose of a snowman, so he figured it would be used during the winter.

After a year came and went, Gouker sent a reminder note to Frank, written as though it were from the snowman.

About two years went by without any sightings of Gouker’s art on the show. Then, out of the blue, he got a phone call at 8:45 a.m. Feb. 17.

It was Frank calling to let him know his drawing would be featured on that day’s show, which started in 15 minutes. While there wasn’t time to alert family and friends to tune in, Gouker had enough time to prepare to record the show.

“It’s a thrill to know somebody liked my work well enough to put it on national TV,” Gouker said.

The snowman sunburst received national network exposure after a weather segment, as the show was transitioning to a commercial.

“It’s kind of like bragging rights,” said Gouker, 65.

Gouker grew up in Myersville, Md. and graduated from Middletown (Md.) High School in 1965. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Frostburg (Md.) State University, taking all the art classes he could fit in his schedule.

He earned a master’s degree from Shippensburg (Pa.) University.

His first job offer came from Washington County Public Schools, which he accepted before Frederick County (Md.) Public Schools offered him a job. Gouker started teaching in Washington County the fall of 1969 and taught for 42 years, primarily at North Hagerstown High School, before his retirement in 2011.

Gouker married his high school sweetheart, Pam Johnson. She graduated from Frostburg State and taught first grade in Washington County for 41 years.

The couple has been married 41 years and has two grown sons.

In his retirement, Mike Gouker does some substitute teaching and is an adjunct teacher at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, where he said he’s inspired by the students.

He teaches drawing classes at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Gouker likes using various mediums, including watercolor, colored pencil, and pen and ink.

“Sometimes I just start doodling. I don’t know where I’m going to go with it,” Gouker said.

Gouker said he considers himself a professional artist not because he makes a living from his art, but because he’s more than a “hobbyist or Sunday painter.”

His artwork has been displayed in the Washington County Arts Council gallery and at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ gift shop. Gouker recently took down a show at Piccola Roma Restaurant in Annapolis and has been selected for seven or eight juried shows at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis.

Gouker said sometimes it comes down to “serendipity,” among other things

“You have to put yourself out there to make your breaks,” he said.

To see some of Gouker’s work, go to www.theartistangle.com. Click on Member Gallery (A-H).

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