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Blog art croppedBy Jim McCloskey

I’m still smiling.

As I’ve declared in a few recent blogs, my hope has been that the apparent conflict between Genesis 3 and Artistic Resources & Training (ART) would result in two high-caliber education providers emerging in place of one that was drifting.

If the first classes conducted by ART are any indication – and given my faith that Dave Peterson and the folks at Genesis 3 are kicking their program up a notch – then we are well on the way to establishing systems that will propel education in the art and science of watershaping forward on a national if not global scale.

Yes, there were hiccups in the ART classes, which were held at Pebble Technology’s headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., on May 19 and 20. It was clear, for example, that this was a shakedown cruise for ART founder Mark Holden and instructors Shawn Still, Shawn Hayes and David Tisherman in getting accustomed to the facility and its layout. It was also clear that this was the first time these classes had been offered and that the instructors were to some extent figuring out their students and feeling their ways through the material.

But these quirks show themselves the first time any class is given on any level, and I easily see the potential in both of ART’s eight-hour courses – one on the coloring of cementitious finish materials and the other on advanced watershape design. I trust that good starts will lead to much better results as time passes.

As it was, the plaster-coloring class was grandly eye-opening. Shawn Still (who was interviewed on the subject for this newsletter’s April 25 edition) started it off with a detailed presentation on the nature of plaster, highlighting the differences between the materials supplied by various manufacturers. He then instructed designers and builders on the value of being assertive and digging for details when it comes to working with their subcontractors in the selection and amendment of finish materials.

This set the stage for Shawn Hayes’ mind-boggling discussion of plaster’s ability to take on a broad spectrum of colors – hues going so far beyond white, light gray, dark gray and black that cementitious finish materials can and should be regarded much more highly as a design feature. (One caveat: Knowledge of the raw materials that go into the plaster mix before the pigments are added is crucial to consistency of results and success in giving clients what they want and expect.) Hayes’ presentation was fun, plain and simple.

The advanced design class was similarly valuable, with instructor David Tisherman taking the information about materials selection and color from the previous day’s class and showing its direct application in design development and presentation. David has never been shy about showing off his work, and in this context the color-drenched project he put on display helped bring the weekend’s instruction full circle. Bottom line: Color matters, and knowing how pigments function in cementitious finishes is the key.

I am certain that Mark and the two Shawns will put their heads together and polish the approach before the plaster-coloring class is offered for a second time in late September 2012, again at Pebble Technology’s offices in Scottsdale. The more integrated their thought processes become, the better the course will be.

I went into the weekend wondering if Mark and his associates could clearly define what they seek to accomplish. I think they succeeded and that the bar has been raised. And if I have any clear sense of what Dave Peterson is after with Genesis 3’s programs, this is all going to engage the industry in progressive watershaping education on a level never before attained.

There’s a cool swagger to what’s taking place that really impresses me. So yes, I’m still smiling – but now I want more.

What are your thoughts about recent events on the watershaping-education front? Is Jim’s optimism well-founded? Or do you see reasons to wait and see? Please share your thoughts below.

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  • Guest - Mark Holden

    WOW. Jim, thanks for declaring an “apparent conflict” exists in your first sentence when I have gone to great lengths to encourage everyone at Genesis 3 to continue with their program and the ART program to complement this. I just got done defending you with Shawn Burch’s statements about this topic and this piece promotes conflict that is not even there. PLEASE help everyone to have access to education without the burden of picking some fictitious side to things. I openly encourage any student of our recent class session to objectively speak on their experience. Looking forward to good times with all of you again…Mark

  • Mark:
    I appreciate your candor and the fact that, despite your strong feelings, you’ve been willing to discuss my latest blog in a constructive manner. I see that the way I expressed myself left me open to misinterpretation, and for that I take full responsibility. Please know that I returned from Scottsdale completely delighted by what I’d seen in the first two ART classes. It was a fantastic debut that exceeded my expectations (and those of others as well). In hindsight, I wish I had made that point more directly.
    As we have discussed, it has always been my practice to step back from situations and events and do what I can to put them in a useful context for anyone who reads my words. In an effort to do so, I headed in directions that obviously disappointed you, and I can see how I ended up muddying the waters instead of setting a full and useful context for appreciating the value of your program.
    As I have related to you, I positioned my words on ART’s debut as part of a string of blogs I’ve written about what I see as a great and unprecedented moment in the history of watershaping education – a crossroads where events have led to the emergence of ART as a new educational forum. As I wrote in my current entry, I thought Shawn Still and Shawn Hayes opened everyone’s eyes to the underappreciated potential of color in cementitious materials. I thought David offered a wonderful presentation that brought things full circle and lent value and credibility to everything the two Shawns presented the day before.
    That praise seems to have been lost in the blog as published, and that’s a shame. ART is accomplishing great things, and my aim was (and is) to encourage you to continue on your path, focus on your mission and avoid complacency on any level. My intention was to support and encourage, not to offend.
    Jim McCloskey

  • Guest - David Penton

    Having attended both the recent Genesis 3 summit in Palm Springs as well as the ART class in Phoenix, I have to say that I am very impressed with the direction that both groups are going!
    Unlike some of the other educational opportunities that exist within the industry, both of these organizations are offering classes that are far beyond what is available anywhere else.
    Mr. Tisherman is a master of design, and any time that I can spend time gleaning information from him, I relish the opportunity – and I never walk away disappointed!
    Mark Holden has a perspective that is rooted within the pool industry, yet completely unique, and somehow unbiased and unaffected by the industry. Talking to him is like talking to an outside observer, yet his intimate knowledge of our industry is apparent as soon as he begins to speak. It is a perspective that I find refreshing.
    As a long time member of Genesis 3 I appreciate that as an organization they have completely revolutionized this industry and raised the bar for those who choose to engage.
    I see each of these organizations as unique, and filling slightly different, yet absolutely essential needs!
    David and Mark bring a highly educated and decidedly artistic perspective to building pools. They are offering students the opportunity to learn from, and interact with true Artisans both from within and outside of our industry. They challenge students to continue to broaden their viewpoints and perspectives on how swimming pools should look and interact with their surroundings.
    The reality is that these artistic masterpieces can be incredibly difficult to construct – and the clientele that can afford one of these expects that it will stand the test of time! This is where Genesis 3 has already proven its strengths. The technical expertise of the Genesis 3 leadership is recognized worldwide, and as an organization they have proven that building pools the right way can, and should be done by everyone. This is being exemplified with their code of conduct that they are requiring all members to adhere to.
    Sure there will be some overlap between these groups. But multiple perspectives are always helpful in fine tuning your own craft. That is what I think these 2 groups offer: Differing perspectives with a similar end goal in mind – educating students on how to take their businesses (and this industry) to a higher level.

  • Guest - Michael J. Logsdon

    My turn to weigh in! I was absolutely thrilled how the first two classes went with ART’s new program and completely agree with David Penton, so I won’t reiterate the same things.
    Anyone that knows me, knows that I give David Tisherman credit for my knowledge of design and taking my education in landscape architecture to a higher level. He is unquestionably in my humble opinion a true “master of design” and I am the student.
    I am blown away that ART’s “maiden voyage” was so successful and how much there is to learn even though I have been in this industry of designing and building outdoor living spaces for 30 years. The two classes exceeded my expectations as always when Holden and Tisherman are involved.
    Thank you also to Pebble Technology for being such a wonderful host; the facility was fantastic. Shawn Hayes’ and Shawn Still’s presentations were awesome. Though my eyes usually glaze over when the instruction turns technical, they did a great job of getting the students involved in hands-on demonstrations and kept me interested even with my attention deficit and all that goes with that!
    Great job Mark and David! Thank you so much, you all never cease to amaze me with your knowledge and passion for teaching and giving of that knowledge to those who are willing to admit that we can all improve!
    Now to inform anyone who cares as much as I do, I am also excited about the direction Genesis 3 Group is going. I was unable to physically attend the summit in Palm Springs but sat in virtually via the wonderful web.
    I am really looking forward to the next Genesis 3 classes that are on the way. And as always the consummate professionalism they always deliver impressed me as well. Dave Peterson of Watershape Consultants is going to be a great asset and complement Brian Van Bower and Skip Phillips as Genesis moves forward!
    I have learned so much from everyone in the 10 years I have been attending the Genesis 3 functions and training and had more than my fair share of fun too! I am so happy to see that there are going to be so many high quality educational and learning opportunities available now and I wish Artistic Resources & Training and Genesis 3 Group all the prosperity they all deserve!
    My sincere thanks, David, Skip, Brian, Mark and Dave for the great training and friendships and I look forward to moving ahead with all of you and becoming the best I can become and hope to give back as you all have…someday when I feel worthy!
    Take care and god bless!