by MARCELLA IVINS//Staff Writer
Creating art and helping students do the same has been the way of life for the past 41 years for John Hope.
Hope was an art teacher at Levelland High School for 29 years. He said he loved working with the students, and he had a few young artists who earned many state and national awards. After Hope’s retirement in 2004, he and his wife, Bette, took a trip backpacking to Europe.
“Bette and I had save and planned for years to take a trip to Europe,” Hope explained. “After I retired, we spent six weeks backpacking across seven countries, seeing that beautiful part of the world and the amazing art and architecture, while enjoying the wonderful people and different cultures.”
Hope and his wife also own “The Hope House Bed and Breakfast” in Levelland. They opened in 2001 and have hosted guests from all around the United States, as well as from, South and Central America, Germany, and South Korea.
Sometime after Hope’s retirement from Levelland High School, he received a call asking him to teach at South Plains College.
“When I retired in 2004, Lynette Watkins was teaching in the Fine Arts Department, and she called me to ask if I would consider coming to teach drawing and advanced drawing at SPC,” Hope recalls. “I did that for several years, then began teaching art appreciation classes.”
Hope currently serves as an adjunct instructor, mostly for non-art majors.
“I enjoy helping students from many areas of study learn about all aspects of art and how to look at the world differently from a creative perspective,” says Hope.
Hope and his wife continue to create all kinds of art. Both studied in Ravenna, Italy. They have also have been featured on “Texas Country Reporter”, along with the Levelland Mosaics, in 2006.
“My wife, Bette, and I, have created several large-scale mosaics and murals,” Hope said. “The glass-tile mosaic that is on the Student Services Building at SPC, I designed and we created in 2001. It depicts the windmill, symbol of SPC, and the beginning of a new day, a new beginning. That’s what I experienced as a young student and what each individual begins to realize as their full potential as they attend South Plains College.”
The mosaic is made of thousands of colored glass tile from Italy and Mexico, including 24-karat gold leaf tile. He said he and his wife learned this difficult technique from Don Stroud and Burl Cole, his former art professors at SPC.
Hope was born and spent most of his years growing up on a farm outside of Levelland. He graduated from Levelland High School and saw South Plains College as the obvious choice to continue his education, considering it was close to home.
“South Plains College offered the basics I needed,” recalls Hope. “I also wanted to take some art classes, and that ended up being my major. South Plains College helped me realize so many things about the potential that I had. I had caring instructors, and many became close friends after I graduated. When I went on to Texas Tech University, I focused my major not only in all kinds of art but got my degree in art education.”
This semester will be the 41st year in the classroom for Hope. Hope and his wife have two sons and two granddaughters. Hope and his wife will be celebrating their 42nd anniversary in June.
“I still enjoy getting to work with students very much,” Hope said. “I would tell students to choose a worthwhile goal, and work as hard as they can to get the knowledge and training to realize their dream. Never stop learning, and always treat everyone the way you wish to be treated.”