The Early Years Part 2: Del Mar Location
I did not have a lot of time to consider the move from downtown to a new location and again I found myself with a dilemma. The only location I could find that would rent to a school would double my previous rent. I had no time to asses if the demand would be there to meet the numbers we needed. I ended up sub-leasing a small space on Jimmy Durante Road next to the Del Mar Race Track. It was overpriced and I had to share use of the space with a new age school. I had only one teacher other than myself who would prove to be a detriment as he would unexpectedly leave in the middle of a term with no notification. I was now left teaching both his classes and mine putting the total at 14 classes a week.
As we were sharing this room with another tenant that was running a new age school we had to accommodate the other classes by moving out all of our art stages and benches. A young student by the name of Erik Gist would assist Krista and I in taking down the entire set up and put it up before each class. I don’t think he knows how much I appreciated this small unsolicited gesture. The routine of tearing down and setting up the school would carry on for the next year until we moved again. It was almost the end of the Atelier. Erik was starting to show great promise and our friendship had slowly began to develop. It was this kind of generosity of spirit that I had noticed early on from Erik that lead me to believe he might become my next teacher. He had just graduated from San Diego State University all the while working full time as a cook in an Italian restaurant and attending our Atelier. He grew up in the same area as I did and we shared many mutual friends. I came to have great faith in Erik and knew he would be a good fit for the Atelier. This was one of the best decisions I made while designing and envisioning how I wanted the Atelier to develop. I asked Erik to join me as a new teacher and he accepted. To this day he is one of my best friends, my right hand man, and the best teacher I have had. Teaching in this manner is extremely demanding and Erik always rose to the challenge. This is not to play down the importance or significance of the other teachers to come. They all had a part to play in the rich history of Watts Atelier. I could talk about each of them for pages but I will try to keep it relatively brief as to not make this into a small novel.
We were barely meeting our numbers so Krista took a job in the same building and swapped her pay against the rent. She too deserves a huge amount of praise for her willingness to follow me on this crazy journey. She has always been there to pick-up the slack in the many areas from accounting to graphic design and all the particulars that have kept this venture going. She deserves a medal for her patience and effort.