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,