The 402 Arts Collective has been in existence for a little over two years. Since the very beginning, the 402 has always had experienced musicians who have taught and shared their talents and abilities with the general public. Just within the past couple months however, the 402 has begun to make a changes with the help of a man named Cody Wheelock.
Cody Wheelock joined the 402 team just before this past summer began. Cody is a professional visual artist as well as an art teacher at Fremont highschool. “I currently teach advanced art studio, pottery and art one,” described Cody. Although busy with school and being a family man, Cody finds time to volunteer his services at the 402. He is the Visual Art Director at the 402. His work will be featured in the 402 Gallery this November. He also will be instructing a Drawing Bootcamp next month along with his private lessons.

Wheelock grew up in Dewitt, Nebraska. “It’s near Beatrice. Do you know where Beatrice is? No? It is forty-five minutes south of Lincoln. We’re good with Lincoln right?” He chuckled. Growing up in a small town of 500 people, Cody told the 402 that he has been drawing for as long as he can remember.

“I had tubs at home filled with art stuff. I remember having blank comic book pages that I would fill up with my own stories. I also would take computer paper and staple them together to make my own books.”

Around 4th or 5th grade, young Cody tried his hand at teaching. “I would try to give art lessons out of my bedroom to my little brother Dillon. I remember trying to teach him how to draw a giraffe. Yeah, it was horrible,” he laughed. Dillion Wheelock, a couple years younger than Cody, is also a visual artist. He currently teaches at the 402 as well.

When asked the question: When did you officially get serious about art? Cody answered the 402 with, “When I was twelve-years-old I got a book for Christmas. It was by Lee Hammond. It was something like ‘How to Draw Realistic Portraits’ or something like that. It basically showed you how to use a blending tool as well as the value scale. I remember I did a portrait of a football coach. It turned out great. I had never tried drawing anything realistic up until this point.” Finding this successful moment in his art, Cody told the 402 that this moment really encouraged him to pursue the arts. “I started taking things more seriously after this point and then when I was about 14 or 15-years-old I started selling little portraits here or there. People would give me pictures and I would copy them and give them back. I did that through high school. I would say in college I learned more about traditional painting and drawing techniques.”

Cody decided to transfer to University of Nebraska Lincoln after attending Doane College for a year. “I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelors Degree in Art Education. This past year I finished up my masters through Boston University.” Although Cody told the 402 that he learned a lot about teaching and art while in school, he found himself researching on his own time. He still finds himself to this very day studying the masters in the art world.

“I would have loved to have gone to one of the classical art schools where you basically learn the same techniques that the masters used. That’s my kind of style.”

Cody remembered one of the first projects he did as a freshman in college. He had to draw a self portrait. “I was very confident because I had drawn so many portraits in highschool and I had sold them to people,” described Cody. Little did he know that drawing from a photograph and from real life were two very different things. When his professor gave him a mirror and told him to draw, the outcome was far from what he had expected. “It was frustrating and humiliating,” described Cody. After that moment however, Cody stopped drawing from photographs and now only works from real life.

Having never visiting an art history museum, Cody’s aunt took him to the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City during his first year at college. “I remember going right after my first art history class and looking around the museum being like, ‘Is that a real Monet?!’ It was amazing.” Cody told the 402 that both of these experiences, working from life as well as learning about art history, were pivotal moments in his artistic career. These are types of moments he wants to bring to his classroom.

While attending college, Cody taught some at the Lux Center. Although he enjoys working in the school system, Cody loves the freedom that non-profits and other organizations bring to the table when it comes to teaching. This structor allows him, as the teacher, to really focus on what the student wants and needs as a growing artist.

“I would love to give each student the knowledge that what they are doing is legit. Art is a part of a larger thing that is legitimate. Art isn’t just a summer craft that doesn’t take much thought. I want to instill in them responsibility and ownership in their art.”