Meet San Diego's Busiest Art Teacher Joe Nyiri

A Story That Will Inspire You

By Courtney Daly-Pavone February 7, 2019

Joe Nyiri has taught art for sixty years to 250,000 students, and he's not done yet! 

Joe Nyiri is a talented, award winning artist who has made a successful career selling art, with hundreds of exhibitions at galleries and museums. How did I meet Joe? In a art class at the La Jolla Library.  Joe is the real deal, teaching art to elementary school age children in a non-competitive setting. That's what gravitated my young child to his class, the freedom to create, and be an individual.

"I tell kids I’m not more intelligent than you but I’m constantly looking around.  You need to look up at the sky, down low, roots, trees, animals.  Most artists see more look and draw," said Joe. 

Nyiri  was nominated San Diego Unified District Teacher of the Year 1982, has been listed in Marquis Who's Who, he was even interviewed for KPBS about his art, but he is most proud of his work teaching children at Grant Elementary, Mission Bay High School, San Diego Public Libraries, and The San Diego Zoo Kaiser Kids Program

The Birth of an Artist

Joe Nyiri has dyslexia, and he suffered academically as a child because of it. "In 4th grade I was dyslexic they thought I had a behavior problem, so they would let me draw.  I had to go to a psychologist they thought I had mental problems, they saw I just mixed numbers," said Nyiri.  To complicate matters, English was not his first language. "I spoke Danish, Hungarian and enough English to go to first grade." 

To help Nyiri with his artistic gift, the school made an exception, and let him take art lessons during school hours at a local museum. Nyiri states, " I would walk to the museum in Racine Wisconsin for art lessons." It was there Nyiri honed his skills, developing a talent that would sustain him the rest of his life. Joe admits "I still can’t spell and I have two masters degrees," but Nyiri has a gift on the canvas and in the classroom just ask any of his students who are all on the road to success along with him.

For More Information Visit: 

See Joe Nyiri's Van Gogh Exhibit @ The Pacific Beach Taylor Library Gallery June 2019

 See Joe's special on KPBS

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