The Educator

. . . transformation/metamorphosis is the place / time / idea / feeling / vision / action that transcends mere analogy and becomes metaphor—which is art.

Dutterer, from an address to Skowheegan, 2003


How Bill Taught

His involvement with [his students] was . . . he went to another level. . . . He didn’t act like an academic teacher.  He’d get very close to people in relationship to the work they were doing.

. . . one of the things I found so strong about Bill’s teaching. . . .[He] was irrelevant, irreverent.  By irrelevant, I mean, he’d talk about stock cars and he’d talk about music and he’d talk about other things while he was talking about [that student’s] art.  He’d talk about other stuff, but the student’s there looking at his painting and the story would be about that painting.

I remember during one critique [for one] student . . . who was just throwing paint all over the place.  Bill just sort of sat there and [other members of the teaching team were] talking like, “what do you feel when you do this?”  “What is driving you to work this way?”  “What can you tell us about this?”.  Towards the end of the critique Bill sort of harrumphed, looked over his glasses and said, “Your paintings make my eyes throw up!”  So there was a lot of irreverence and relevance about his critiquing–which was more the way an artist would react than a teacher.  Bill’s responses were on that visceral level.

His teaching was not pedagogic.  Absolutely the opposite.  He could be talking about something else and be talking about that painting.  It was being around him that was important.

Robert Stackhouse, Artist
Emeritus Chair, B.F.A. Program, Corcoran School of Art


He was one of the perfect persons to critique with and learn from because he combined an incredible knowledge of art history (and most contemporary art) with knowing when it was relevant for a student’s growth.

Terry Braunstein, Artist
Emeritus Professor, Corcoran School of Art


The [team teaching] idea was to have four people in the classroom at one time so the students got four points of view about anything. . . it drove [the students] nuts until they “got it” that they were responsible for making decisions in this diversity of points of view.

. . . [Bill] wouldn’t follow curriculum.  You [were supposed to] come in and be available to as many students as possible.  [Bill] was like a wild hare everywhere.  He would strike up a conversation with [a student] and not do anything more than that.

None of [the other faculty members] would call him to task over it while the rest of them would do what they were supposed to do.  The one thing I did want him to do was to fill out his grades at the end of the semester . . . [Bill] would turn in a blank paper.

Rosemary Wright, Artist
Emeritus Head of Third Year Fine Arts, Corcoran School of Art


Bill was the first person that I was friends with at the Corcoran because he was the most open guy there.  . . . I used to watch him.  I used to talk to him about stuff and I got looser.  I felt more comfortable.  I learned from him.  I’d just observe him.  How does somebody who’s an artist work?

Wm Lombardo, Artist
Emeritus Professor, Corcoran School of Art


. . . [more important] is what Bill calls sensibility—how interests and passions enter your work.  Instantly, Bill would sot them or their absence.  A unique ability.

Lee E. Haner, Artist,
Emeritus Professor, Corcoran School of Art,
George Washington, University


Students’ Perspective

He was so direct, you know. . . . such an honest personality. . . .The main idea I got from Bill and the Corcoran was to be true to yourself. 

Some of the stuff [Bill conveyed] was not expressed verbally so much as it was the idea of them [Dutterer, Stackhouse, and Green] as an example and showing what it might be to be an artist.

Tom Kenyon, Artist
Former Student


He played a very important role in my life in that he imparted a sense of self-worth.  I think he took the time to actually spend to get to know me and to recognize that yeah, I’ve got a lot of weaknesses but there are some strengths too.

In 1979, Dutterer was appointed Project Director for the Corcoran School of Art’s Artists’ Survival Workshop.  Funded by the Ford Foundation, Bill mentored four Corcoran students.  The 10-week workshop provided aesthetic and theoretical experiences as well as artists’ survival skills learned through design and conversion of raw loft space into living and studio space for a professional artist.

It was sort of free flow:  whatever you had to offer you pitched in.  It was a great learning experience for everybody.  There was a lot none of us knew:  whether it was living in lower Manhattan or the wonderful music collection that [Bill] had or the books or the knowledge base that he so willingly shared with you.  You couldn’t help but walk away enriched.  He just had a tremendous grasp of a lot of different topics that were so diverse that you’d never think anyone would know about—like dirt track racing and fine art and all the things in between.

. . . I think without [the grounding of the loft-building project] it would have been impossible for me to make that leap into becoming an entrepreneur and being fortunate to never have really worked for anybody.  It was Bill and Stackhouse and Tom Green.

Pete Viscardi, Former Student, Artist, 
President of Partners Contracting