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Love in the arts: How two professors found each other in school

Kim+and+Terri+Bauer+have+been+married+35+years.+
Kim and Terri Bauer have been married 35 years.

Kim and Terri Bauer have been married 35 years.

Claudia Hernandez

Claudia Hernandez

Kim and Terri Bauer have been married 35 years.

Paulette Villa, Contributor

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Not a day goes by in Kim Bauer’s print making class where he does not mention his wife, Terri.

The 35-year-old relationship of art lecturers, Kim Brian Bauer, an associate  professor in printmaking, and Therese (Terri) Bauer, an advisor and senior professor in drawing, has been witnessed by UTEP’s art department for generations since the late 1980s.

“I am only familiar with Terri because she is our counselor,” said Lorena Fierro, a senior studio art major, while working in the printmaking studio. “I realized they were dating when I saw them going out for lunch every day.”

When it comes to their relationship, the Bauers are often considered role models by students, who ask them for advice on how to maintain a relationship with someone sharing the same passions.

“They see how well we get along and that we enjoy each other’s company, and some of them ask us to ‘adopt them,’” Terri said while laughing.

Their story began at East Lansing, Michigan, where they both attended Michigan State University for their undergraduate degrees in fine arts. Both had professors and friends in common, but did not cross paths, since Kim graduated in 1978 and Terri in 1980.

“When I was trying to decide where to go to graduate school, a professor at Michigan State goes ‘you know, Kim Bauer went to Eastern Michigan and they treated him really good, they gave him a lot of money,’ and I thought, okay, well that’s good,” Terri said.

Meanwhile, Kim worked as a part-time printmaking teacher at Eastern Michigan University, and met Terri for the first time while offering a tour of the printmaking room for her and his future mother-in-law.

“He was so nice to me and my mom that day, really pleasant and fun and everything. So, it was a good impression,” Terri said.

Before meeting for the tour, Terri felt she already knew Kim, since she had positive feedback through her best friend, who knew him since Michigan State.

“I told her when we started going out,” Terri said. “She goes, ‘oh yeah, I was wondering,(laughs) you know, that’s nice that happened.’”

Afterwards, both shared an office when Terri started teaching part time, which let them get to know each other better.

“Quiet, studious, pretty,” Kim said of his first impressions of Terri.

For their first date, Kim describes going to K-Mart in his white Firebird and buying five ham and cheese sandwiches for a dollar.

“She only ate two and I was very happy (Terri laughs) because I was very hungry,”  Kim said. “Our first movie was ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ she was cool with that, and I thought ‘ah she’s a fun kid’.”

After graduation, Terri and Kim worked as gallery directors for five years in different galleries in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then got engaged.

“I was working with the Ann Arbor Association and a jeweler was down the street, I had very little money and the diamond was microscopic,” Kim said.

Terri disputed his word, saying the ring was beautiful, and that what made it special was that he picked it out himself.

“I always tell my students she likes donuts more than diamonds, I can afford her on an artist’s budget,” Kim said.

Kim was raised on a navy bean farm, at the outskirts of Michigan, while Terri grew up miles away in Lansing, the capital of Michigan.

“She’s got a little bit of the country on her for a city girl, she’s got the best of both worlds,” said Kim regarding the things he loved most about her. “Very patient, very understanding with my mood swings. As artists, we’re always on an emotional rollercoaster.”

On the other hand, Terri stated the things she loves the most about Kim.

“He’s very loving, very affectionate, super funny, always hugging me and telling me wonderful things. I feel so fortunate, and he’s great with my family,” Terri said. “He’s really good to my dad. I had one brother who had a lot of issues, Kim became like his other brother, that means a lot to me. That shows me a lot about him as a person that is willing to do that.”

Two years later, after getting married, the Bauers moved to El Paso. In 1989, Kim was offered a temporary position for a year as sabbatical replacement for a professor at UTEP. Both were later hired—Terri as a part-time instructor and Kim as a  tenure-track professor.

“Administration has been good to us, the faculty are excellent to work with, and so are the students,” Kim said. “We’ve been at other institutions that have been less collegial.”

In their 29 years working at UTEP together, besides being professors, the Bauers also invite artists to be featured on campus for students and the community.

“We share ideas, talk about assignments that were given and how they might benefit other areas within the department, we really enjoy our job,” Kim said. 

In 2016, the couple held a joint exhibition at El Paso Museum of Art  called “Process and Poetry: The Graphics of Kim and Therese Bauer.” Besides giving each other some feedback, both consider giving each other space while making their art as part of a good relationship

“I don’t feel like either of us have huge egos about our work,” Terri said. “We’re both just making it for ourselves in a way, what it means to us personally, and that’s what’s important.”

The hobbies and activities the couple enjoys most are visiting contemporary museums, from science to history, and going outdoors to lakes and rock climbing. Kim and Terri do not celebrate Valentine’s Day often, due to their busy schedules during the semester, but they celebrate their anniversary in June.

Terri says it’s always very low-key.

“Yeah, we don’t go out to eat, we make something at home,” Kim said. “Terri likes pasta, so I make pastas.”

As a couple who share similar professions and the same work environment, they consider what makes their relationship strong is to be genuine with each other and always value their time and their long-term relationship.

“Sometimes you need your space and sometimes you need to cuddle,” Kim said. “It’s going to be like the stock market, it goes up and down, up and down.”

Terri says that no mater what the day brings, to always be kind to each other.

“You just look at the bigger picture and realize it’s just a little blip, you know, and all that time together,” Terri said.

Even if they don’t like to give out a lot of advice to others, because they consider that each couple has a different chemistry and their own way work, they believe being unselfish is the most important value in their relationship.

“He always puts me first and I don’t know if I am that way with him,” Terri said.

“I think you are,” said Kim.

Terri said that what’s important to remember is that when you are in a relationship, you can’t always have thing your way.

“If I was going to give advice to somebody, remember you’re in a relationship, be like Kim, and hug the other person first,” she said.

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Love in the arts: How two professors found each other in school