Letter to the Editor: College Lacking in Options to Learn the Arts


My name is Jim Stafford, and I have been involved in the arts all my life. From second grade on, it has been a major part of my life. I know that many of you out there experience this same feeling or drive.

The arts encompass the creative drive in so many of us. Esthetic design touches everything that we see and use. Yet, it is taken for granted so lightly. It is not taken seriously by many in our educational system, especially at the higher level. We could do so much more to enhance our lives in this area.

In 1955, I began formal art training at Centralia College under Bob Bauer. Bob poured his life into building a program and a facility at the college. The facility was small but adequate for the enrollment at the time. Later, the facility was demolished with no intention of replacement. Some art is still offered at Centralia College, but only a token of what it once was.

Millions of dollars have been spent on various facilities at the college with no arts consideration.

An administrative statement is that there is not enough interest.

I beg to differ. Several years ago, I offered night and weekend classes in sculpture and casting. I had people from as far away as Olympia and Raymond — more than I could handle. What would have happened if there were “first-class” facilities and “in-depth” offerings for those interested? As the saying goes, “if you build it, they will come.”

With a good facility and with equipment that has been offered the college, even a bachelor’s degree in the arts would be entirely feasible.

The college administration, the board, and even TransAlta have surely let us down in this area with no improvement in sight. We, the public, are certainly less for it.

Wouldn’t it be something if we had a state-of-the-art offering here? How about accredited courses in water color, oil painting and printmaking? How about a wide range of sculpture and 3D offerings including mold-making, metal casting, fabrication, stone and wood carving and even furnace and kiln design and building? How about pottery classes working in stoneware and porcelain? How about a quality jewelry making class? On and on it goes. With these offerings, who knows where it might lead?

I guess that I will always support the arts as I fully realize how it touches all our lives. When I see it slipping 70-plus years behind in technical and esthetic advancement, of our own making, it is so sad.

Question: Am I alone in this feeling or observations? Does anyone out there feel as I do? If so, say so!


James Stafford



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Jon Coulter

Lewis county is a hard scrabble place, and the students want an education that will improve their prospects and finances. There is no body of trust fund babies that could support an arts program. Second of all, Lewis county is a deeply conservative area, and the arts brings up spectres of Portland riots and Evergreen state college woke liberalism. Arts after bread, the body must be fed before the spirit can blossom.

Sunday, June 20