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Virtual View of Art: From the Basics to Specialties

June 25, 2015

Jeff Mishur shares his expertise as an art historian

Maybe you have seen the sculptures of Lorado Taft or gazed at the images created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Virtually! It’s likely, then, that you sat in on one of Jeff Mishur’s Lifelong Learning presentations at North Shore Senior Center. If you missed Taft or Toulouse-Lautrec but do want to learn more about art history, watch for his upcoming lectures, like “Art Appreciation 101” or “Frida & Diego: The Art of Kahlo and Rivera.”

Jeff is an art historian who has been a university teacher for 20+ years. In 1998, he teamed up with his wife, Dr. Michelle Mishur, to form Art Excursions, Inc. They offer private art tours and a variety of lectures, such as those both Jeff and Michelle have been giving at the Center for many years.

When asked about the pathway to his current work, Jeff said, “As an English major at Northern Illinois, I wanted to prepare for a career in writing, but the program actually was geared more toward those headed into teaching.” So he switched to art history and received his bachelor’s as well as master’s degrees in the field. Interestingly, Jeff began to earn his living in the business world where he ran computer systems and handled accounting. “I learned a lot about business on the job,” he laughed.

Jeff was teaching as an adjunct instructor in art history at the same time. But not completely satisfied, he began to recognize that when touring students at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the coursework, other visitors would attach themselves to the group. Ah-ha! The marketing bud started to blossom: “We can offer educational experiences to those outside an academic community!” His accounting and business strategy background was solid preparation for managing what now is a flourishing company. Although Art Excursions is his full-time job, he continues teaching undergrads and giving lectures at libraries, businesses, organizations, and clubs.

Jeff likes lecturing to adult audiences. “The casual, informal, and fun atmosphere I create at a lecture draws a different audience than the academic classroom does. With mature adults engaged in continuing education,” he said, “100% choose to be there … and they’re interesting people!” For example, some of those who attend each of Jeff’s lectures at the Center are art collectors. Some are artists themselves. And some have zero experience in art.

To Jeff, another positive aspect of giving continuing education lectures is that he is able to go into depth in specific areas, unlike with his basic art history undergraduate classes. “Every year I develop new topics that broaden and deepen my own knowledge,” he said. “I enjoy the opportunity to lecture on anything I choose. There is enough enthusiasm for and interest in art in this community that even specialized topics go over well.”

Jeff added that some of his lectures are related to exhibits locally. “People attend my lectures because they want to gain as much exposure to the artist’s work and learn more about the background.”

So check out the Lifelong Learning catalog to find an art history learning opportunity that fits your interests and schedule.