By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Bret Harte High School art teacher Ken Bruchs says he knew when he was in fourth grade what he wanted to do.
The third of four children two girls and two boys he grew up in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula, drawing and painting.
Nearby Carmel was an art haven in those days and Bruchs (pronounced brooks) took all the art classes he could in school. His talent was noticed, and in seventh grade, the school enrolled him in a program for gifted students. Through the program, he took special art classes during the school year and went to art camp in the summer.
Carmel artist Virginia Hannon took Bruchs and three other gifted students under her wing when he was in high school. He was painting hard-edged acrylics by then, and spent every Saturday in her Carmel studio.
But as the years passed, young Bruchs also developed a deep love of music, playing his guitar with Strictly Sound and other Monterey-area bands. Eric Clapton was the musician he tried most to emulate.
And by the time he crossed the stage to get his high school diploma, he was a little uncertain about what to do with his life: art or music?
He decided to take spend a year traveling and see if he could find the answer.
"I spun the globe and put my finger down on Israel," he said. "So I went to Israel and traveled there for a year."
He wandered with his guitar and sketchpad, worked for a while picking and packing fruit and vegetables, and simply traveled throughout the country.
"In that year, I decided that everybody and his brother played the guitar and I couldn't see supporting a family with it, so I aimed at art," he said. "This is where I was meant to be."
With that conviction, he headed home. He attended Monterey Peninsula College, Mount Angel College in Oregon and graduated from California State University at Long Beach.