Campus: Humboldt State University -- February 25, 2005

Westfalls' Fine Art Enriches HSU

With works by 17th-century Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, 18th- and 19th-century Japanese master Hokusai Katsushika and French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, whose career spanned into the 20th century, an impressive collection of fine art was recently given to Humboldt State University by Eureka businessman Les Westfall.

Gathered primarily by Westfall's late wife, Mid, the collection of two dozen works is valued at more than $33,000. The Westfalls, married for 60 years before Mid's death a year ago, traveled extensively. While Les conducted business for his stevedore company in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and elsewhere, Mid often visited galleries and returned with fine works of art.

"She got started in 1971, when I was going back to Washington, D.C., to testify before a Congressional committee," said Les Westfall. "There's no particularly consistent theme. She just enjoyed the galleries, enjoyed the pictures and started bringing them back."

The collection includes Rembrandt's "David in Prayer," Renoir's bronze "Medallion de Coco," Hokusai's "Life Studies," Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's "Le Rire" and "Floral Still Life," a 1961 painting by local artist Floyd Bettiga. Also among the works are woodblocks, color lithographs and etchings.

Some of the pieces were recently shown on campus in a Reese Bullen Gallery exhibit of the university's permanent collection. Other works acquired by Mid Westfall have been donated to College of the Redwoods and the Morris Graves Art Museum in Eureka. Many still grace the walls of the Westfall home.

According to Betsy Boone, chair of HSU's Department of Art, the university's Mid and Les Westfall Collection is now in storage, but not hidden from students.

"The collection's educational value is immense, as these works provide the students in our Museum & Gallery Practices program with the opportunity to research and catalog these original works of art," said Boone. "Once that is completed, the works will become part of the university's permanent collection, portions of which are always on display in the Library and Siemens Hall."

Westfall served for 11 years on Humboldt State's community advisory board, offering insights to former university presidents Cornelius Siemens and Alistair McCrone. He also served on the board of an HSU scholarship committee for 20 years.

According to Burt Nordstrom, HSU's interim vice president of university advancement, "The gift of this collection continues the Westfalls' decades-long legacy of generosity and service to Humboldt State and to our local community. It's always been from their hearts, and the university is deeply appreciative.

"That they have now entrusted Humboldt with this treasure -- which they gathered and maintained with much personal care over the years - demonstrates a profound respect for the performance and promise of the university's art program," said Nordstrom. "And, when you take in the breadth and beauty of the collection, it is also a bit humbling."

HSU Source Contacts:
Betsy Boone, Chair, Department of Art, (707) 826-5798,
Sanderson Morgan, Professor, Reese Bullen Gallery Director, (707) 826-5802,

HSU Media Contact:
Sean Kearns, Public Information Officer, (707) 826-5151,

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