The Start Of Our Life’s Journey Together
By Wes Siegrist
We’re often asked how we met and if we were both artists at that time. We thought, since we’ll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this week, that this is an opportune time to share more of the story than we’re typically able to say in a few seconds at a show or encounter.
We were actually introduced to each other by Rachelle’s mother, Sally, in August of 1989. I was working at the time doing t-shirt designs, logos and billboards for a group named Youth Arise. [A coming together of local churches and organizations to promote activities for the youth of the area and I was part of the group as a representative from two different church youth groups] Sally had known me for several months prior but was unaware of my artistic side until I started volunteering work with Youth Arise. Knowing I was also active as an art teacher to adults and kids in the surrounding area, she had asked if I would be willing to speak to her daughter about art to which I answered “yes”.
My life quickly changed for the better later that week when Sally surprisingly introduced me to not the little child I was expecting, but a very cute young lady! Rachelle loves recounting how at that initial introduction I was holding a heaping plate of brownies! (Those who know her FONDNESS for chocolate understand!) [I was taking them back to share with my youth group …really!] Funny, but neither of us recall really talking about art at that meeting other than perhaps noting I had designed the t-shirt I was wearing!
Our first date took place at the Okeechobee Pizza Hut where I nervously asked Rachelle for a pen and proceeded to draw and doodle all over the placement with the excuse that I couldn’t talk without a pen in my hand! Afterwards, Rachelle went back home with me to meet my Nana, whom I was living with, and to see my studio and college portfolio. She was getting ready to start college herself for commercial art and I had just graduated from college the year prior with a BA in Fine Art and a BA in Graphic Art. Later, we went back to her house where I played guitar for the family.
I was teaching watercolors at the time at the Highlands Museum of the Arts in Sebring, FL and offered for Rachelle to join my class. The hourly commute, to and fro each week, was a great opportunity to get to know each other and we often visited Highlands Hammock State Park, near the museum, to walk in the woods and share a picnic. To answer the other question: No, Rachelle wasn’t an artist when we met. She had interest in the field and had done a little oil painting with her Granny Beth, but my class was her first attempt at serious painting. I additionally helped tutor her in her classes at college once she started her semester. It was during a discussion about her career path that the now legendary phrase was spoken … “I’ll teach you to paint if you’ll marry me?” Yes, that’s a cute paraphrase of my superfluous discussion but suffice it to say, she agreed. At least, she kept dating me! We made it all formal a bit later when I airbrushed a t-shirt with the phrase “Larry, May I Ask You A Question?” and wore it the night of my birthday. I figured surely her father couldn’t say no at my birthday party!
While Rachelle attended community college, she also continued to sit in on my various classes as scheduling allowed and managed to join my Nana and I at some art shows. (Pictured above is us at the Beaux Arts Festival in Coral Gables, FL in January of 1990) I also sat in the back of some of Rachelle’s college classes and much preferred helping her with art homework over science, English and her dreaded Engineering Drafting class!
I “surprised” my family in February by introducing Rachelle as my fiancee when she flew home with Nana and I for a several day visit! I’m still not sure how I convinced such a lovely princess to spend the rest of her life with me but I’m fairly certain teaching her to paint wasn’t what swayed her … it must have been the CHOCOLATE!!!!
Rachelle will be sharing memory highlights and photos from our wedding on the upcoming Sunday blog.
Special thanks for indulging our overt sentimentality this week ~ The Lovebirds, Wes & Rachelle