Retired Art Teachers Run Studio Out Of Home
Retired art teachers Dennis and Charlene Bergen have an art studio at their home in Anderson.
Both of them were born and raised in McDonald County. Dennis worked 35½ years at McDonald County Schools — all schools and all grades, he said. Charlene worked 18 years at McDonald County Schools, with 13 of those teaching art.
They shared how they got into art and how their careers went.
Dennis said he had an older brother who liked to draw. It seemed like art always came naturally to him. He remembers drawing in elementary school on the Big Chief tablets.
“I hadn’t really planned to go into art. I was going to go into engineering. I took math and science,” he said. Then he found he had some ability in art and he had a teacher who really encouraged him. He only got a teaching degree to have something to fall back on, he said. He didn’t apply for his first job. The school district, Washburn, asked Missouri Southern State University for its top graduate in art. He taught there two years and then got the chance to come home and teach here in 1981. That was the same year he and Charlene got married.
He is now retired from teaching but still pastors Banner Church of the Nazarene. He did both for 20 years.
Asked what he loved about teaching, he said, “The interaction with the kids was the best part of it and helping them discover talents they didn’t know they had.”
He added that seeing many students go into the field and make a living was really rewarding.
Charlene said she always loved art but she had a prior career as a graphic designer for a band uniform company in Neosho. She did that for 11 years. She got to design the uniform for the Texas Longhorns and bands all over the nation and traveled with the job. She said she loved it, but she always knew she wanted to teach.
After that, she was the art director at the Neosho Rec Center. She taught music and art to children and wrote grants for the center.
Then she worked out of her home with DeMoulin Uniforms, the top band uniform company in the nation, she said.
She went back to school at night to become a teacher. Soon McDonald County hired her. She later earned her master’s degree. When she got into teaching she was a library aid, worked for the assistant superintendent, taught music and finally taught art.
Asked what she loved most about teaching, she said, “Working with the kids. You sure miss it once you get out of it. Being a positive influence. Getting the kids ready for competition. Seeing the kids improve every year.”
She retired in May. She said last year at Christmas she got the feeling she wanted to do something different, so she started Bergen Studio.
One thing she does through Bergen Studio is running the school district’s art bus, Art on the Van Gogh. With it, she travels to the various schools and teaches art lessons to children. She stays pretty busy with the bus, and Dennis stays pretty busy with the church, so they create art when they can.
Charlene has a pottery wheel and kiln in her garage. She has done an expo where she sold some pottery and crafts. They can make custom pottery pieces, Dennis said.
Charlene recently donated a photo to a silent auction for a seeing-eye dog.
They do portraits and paintings. Dennis did some portraits at Christmas, and a lady in Anderson commissioned a watercolor painting from Charlene recently.
They also have CDs with music that Charlene recorded.
To schedule a portrait or to commission a painting, call 417-529-1617.
“We love McDonald County and, Lord willing, we’ll be here the rest of our lives,” Charlene commented.
“The interaction with the kids was the best part of it and helping them discover talents they didn’t know they had.” Dennis Bergen Former Art Teacher
Dennis and Charlene Bergen are pictured with an original painting at their home in Anderson. The retired art teachers run an art studio out of their home.