I came to Bucknell in 1960 from New Jersey and quickly got caught up in the social scene. By 1963, my junior year, I had left fraternity beer-party life and befriended a group of very talented and gifted students who seriously studied art, drama and literature. English Professor Joseph Guerinot was at the center of this group. Joe’s apartment on the banks of the Susquehanna River was a meeting place for some of us. Talk centered on art, literature, history and French cooking. This was a new and inviting world for me. Alice Hooker, daughter of Ward Hooker, a professor of English, was a member of the group. Alice commented affectionately over a glass of red wine: “Joe, you don’t talk talk; you speak prose.” And indeed he did.

Randolph Osman
Photo: Randolph Osman ’64
Randolph Osman ’64 lives in Falls City, Ore., where he enjoys fly fishing and writing. He is the principal of Osman Associates Art Appraisal.

Joe praised my writing, verbal and analytical abilities. He also introduced me to his passion for medieval art and culture. We took spring break at a Benedictine Monastery, Portsmouth Priory School, in Rhode Island, where Joe was an oblate member. I thought of this visit as an extension of my Bucknell experience.

At 23, I didn’t yet have the GPA to qualify for a junior year abroad. Joe had worked in Europe to complete his Yale Ph.D. He couldn’t drive, so he hired me to drive him around Europe while he explained, with a French Guide Michelin on his lap, the cultural, artistic, historical, gastronomic and philosophical history of wherever we happened to be. This was better than any seminar I’d had as an English major. The next year after graduation, I secured a job teaching English at a binational institute in Barcelona.

My 1964–65 Christmas vacation from teaching in Barcelona was a motorbike trip to visit Catalan Romanesque churches and altar frontals in Andorra in rain and snow — and to eat in Pyrenean home kitchens. I knew how to find these towns and churches because Joe and I had visited many of them the previous summer. My spring vacation found me on the same used French motor scooter — this time in Cartagena, Toledo, Valencia, Cordoba and Sevilla carrying a backpack loaded with maps and Guide Michelin books. Following my time in Europe, my interests shifted from English literature to art history.

At Joe’s insistence, I applied to New York University for graduate work in art history and left Barcelona to study art history at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. In my second year, I was accepted into the new NYU/Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA)/museum studies program with an internship at the Cloisters Museum, a branch of the MMA.

It was summer 1966, and my guide book on New York art museums (Art Centers of the World–New York) was to be published that fall. I was also offered a job teaching art history at Portland State College (now University) to begin in September. It was a busy summer.

After three years teaching art history at Portland State, I spent three years as curator of education at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California; then six years as director of the W.B. Gray Gallery of art at East Carolina University; and after that, as director of art programs at the Ketchikan Museums in Alaska. Since 1993, I have been an accredited senior fine art appraiser in Oregon.

A lot of what I have accomplished is based on my liberal arts studies at Bucknell. This foundation for my later study and work provided me the ability to read and analyze ideas, to write, edit and compose books, articles and grants. Joe Guerinot, who died in France 20 years ago, was the central figure among my many influential professors. In the classroom and on the road in Europe, he left an indelible impression and I am in much debt to the values he and his friends imparted to me.