Report: Ranger Roundup 1952-1953
The research I did on the mosaic was from the Ranger Roundup articles. I am writing this report on the years 1952. I have found some information in the articles but not as much in the years that I checked while collecting data (which were later years). Our group worked in finding information about the mosaic or related subjects. The article I am discussing is about the Math/Science building and the art professor who created the mosaic. The Math/Science building was built in 1953. During this time the art professor started to create the design for the mosaic. The Math/Science building was made out of concrete. The mosaic was created on the Math/Science building. Part of the mosaic was made out of concrete. The art professor who created the mosaic was Mr. H. V. Blass. Blass created many projects for the students during his time at Olympic College. “Mr. Blass has been teaching painting, design, lettering, laboratory illustrations, drawing, and stage craft.” (P. 3, 1953 Ranger Roundup). As I have found in the Ranger Roundup, Blass had put a request in the local newspaper (Bremerton Sun) that he wanted glass bottles from around the community for the mosaic. The glass bottles were for the building of the mosaic. A local group, the Kiwanis club, donated $750 toward the mosaic. The early 1950s articles show the many contributions Blass made to Olympic College.
Ranger Roundup Articles 1956-1959
By Ronald Harper
From February of 1956 to November of 1959, several issues of the Ranger Roundup, Olympic College’s campus newspaper, printed articles written by student reporters related to the construction and progress of the large mural (mosaic) on the side of the Science building on campus. Other articles outlined the progress of a campus revitalization project designed to replace or retrofit several campus buildings and other structures. This revitalization project had an impact on the completion of the mural. These articles lend insight into the activities and issues surrounding the mural and the Science building in the final years of the project. This is a brief synopsis and a general interpretation of the content of those articles. The interpretation is a closer look at the thematic and technical elements of the project and their impact on the history of the campus and student body as recounted in the articles in the Ranger Roundup.
The Spring 2007 Anthropology 205 “Introduction to Archaeology” students at Olympic College researched over a decade of issues of the college newspaper the Ranger Roundup at the newspaper’s campus archives. This was part of a much broader effort to compose a complete research design before the construction of a new Science building in late 2007. The impetus behind the research design is to document and catalogue this modern-day artifact and its associated history in an effort to preserve its cultural heritage for people to recall in the future. The research design and all associated data will be preserved electronically. The student researchers found that from February 10, 1956 to November 6, 1959 the newspaper printed nine articles related to either the mural (five articles) or the construction/condition of new/existing buildings that impacted the progress on the mural (four articles). Following is a brief synopsis of each article:
February 10, 1956
“Art Department in Need of Colored Glass”
Mr. H.V. Blass, currently in the process of constructing a giant mosaic mural on the exterior of the Science building, is in need of “colored bits of glass and/or pieces of ceramic pottery ware, especially the latter.” Mr. Blass indicated that progress on the mural was “good.” Mr. Blass asked for “black, brown, red, and orange” bits of glass, and asked that they be left with either him, or with other on-campus designees. The article goes on to state that the mural will be 385 sq. ft. and that 38-43 sq. ft. had been completed by the date of publication (Art 4).
May 24, 1957
“Mural Going up on Science Building”
This article explains that the Art Department had begun the process of placing the mosaic tiles on the exterior of the Science building. The article claims that a local community group paid for the mural with a $750.00 donation. The article states that “The mural is a mosaic which depicts the development of man and the earth through the ages . . . (with) the hand of God and the hand of man holding the sign of the atom.” And that Mr. Blass intends on creating another mural for the Social Science building, continuing “the story” (Mural 3)
October 17, 1957
“OC’s Building’s Declared Unfit”
The student body had been charged with “the fight for permanent facilities”, as the buildings on campus had deteriorated and were due for inspection the following week. The article challenges students, saying “Let’s not allow them to pass this off so lightly. Let’s do something about it.” It is an article calling on the student body to take responsibility for the campaign to either replace or repair the buildings on campus (OC’s 3,8)
November 22, 1957
“School Board Plans New Buildings”
According to this article, a month after the inspection of the buildings on campus by State authorities, the School Board drafted a “survey of needs” and would take up those issues at their first meeting of 1958, scheduled for early January. (School 5)
March 7, 1958
“What the Bond Issue Will Do for OC”, “A Statement from the Dean”, and “Murals to Decorate Every Future OC Building”
A bond issue related to the construction and maintenance of buildings on the college campus was expected to pass the following week. The bond issue called for a large campus revitalization project, complete with the maintenance and retrofitting of older buildings, and the construction of several new buildings. The article pointed out that the proposed measure included, among others, “the construction of a new modern building which will house the English department and the social sciences,” and that “the business and administration building will be remodeled and improved greatly” (What 1). The Dean of Olympic College, Dr. Frederick C. Kintzer , stated that “since there is more than 50 per cent of the college enrollment living in the voting area, (he) reasons that students enthusiasm toward getting votes will be a deciding factor in the success of the project at hand” (A Letter 1). Mr. Blass indicated in a separate article that the Art Department would place a mural on the social science building with a theme centered on “Man controlling fire, forging of metal, growth of civilization from caveman to present time.” He claimed that the Art Department would put a mural on the interior and exterior of every new building on campus. He also stated the mural currently under construction would be finished by graduation day, 1958 (Murals 4).
October 3, 1958
“CAMPUS GRIPE What about the Mosaic?”
Students returning to campus for the fall quarter of 1958 were “muttering” about the fact that “the unusual masterpiece” (Mr. Blass’ mural on the side of the Science building), as pictured in the article, had not been completed at the end of spring. Art student Earl Hansen explained the process of creating the square foot tiles was a long one, and had delayed the completion of the project. He explained the creation of the tiles in detail, as outlined below:
1. Overall design planned and scaled
2. Working from the center outward, each square foot panel is planned
3. Glass chunks are cut
4. Bits of glass are fitted together
5. Cement grouting is poured on to the layout
6. The dried panel is polished
7. The panel is added to the wall
The article ends with the statement that “another modern mural may make this campus truly outstanding” (Campus 1).
October 24, 1958
“Mural Suggested by Dr. Elias”
“The idea to place a mural . . . was first suggested by Dr. Elias,” this article begins by saying. The author makes further attempts at fleshing out the thematic elements of the mural. “The subject matter had to be provocative,” the student reporter writes earnestly, “In the center the hand of the Creator (sic) and the hand of man hold the atomic symbol.” The mural is perplexingly divided into two “sides”, one “organic” and the other “inorganic.” The “organic” side depicts creatures from the animal kingdom, including “ameba” (sic), men, women, and their associated tools, including fire and metal. “Modern times” are represented in the background, again presumably by skyscrapers, etc. The “inorganic” depicts ancient deities and their associated myths, including such figures as Zeus and Diana “placing the moon in the heavens” alongside a less ancient, monotheistic god-concept figure (i.e., “god”). The article ends by detailing the process by which a single tile is crafted, as follows (Mural Suggested 4,10):
1. Glass bits mounted on plate glass using dental wax
2. Sides are dammed and the glass is covered with cement
3. The hardened cement object is soaked in hot water to soften the dental wax
4. The glass is removed, attached to the cement block (tile)
5. The tile is grouted with cement paste to smooth the cracks between pieces
6. It is stored until a section of tiles are ready to be mounted
There are several themes or issues in the content of the nine preceding articles that provide some insight into the way the student body/faculty/staff interpreted the mural project during the late 1950s. They include concerns about the condition of buildings on campus and the resulting revitalization project, concerns about the long delay in completing the mural, and interest in the thematic elements of the mural and the process by which it was being constructed. In response, the artists and administrators addressed some core issues. These included asking the students to participate in, and then providing the resources for, the design and execution of the campus revitalization project. As well, the artists were careful to elucidate on the difficulties encountered in finding materials and funds, and the protracted length of time required to cast the tiles and have them mounted. Overall, the community was very enthusiastic about the artwork and the revitalization of the campus. However, the articles address some specific questions about the thematic elements of the mural, as well as the plans for future murals, indicating that there was some interest about these issues within the community. In addition, the student reporters record plans for future murals and their associated themes in, as mentioned before, a perplexing, and not entirely impartial, manner. Future murals mentioned for the remaining new buildings were never designed and consensus on the individual thematic elements was never reached, with a general definition of its meaning only loosely defined.
A great amount of support was leant by the student body, faculty, and many administrators to the design and completion of the revitalization project, much to their credit. New facilities still in use today provided a professional, safe, affordable, and effective educational environment, for them and for their families. Campus-goers still enjoy the results of this successful late 1950’s bond measure today, in 2007.
The mural was plagued with production delays, to which art projects of all sorts are prone. This was especially true in the 1950’s, where artists and their staff were without the conveniences of modern technology that is in use today, and helps streamline the creative processes of artists in many industries. Regardless of the technical difficulties, the mural was clearly one to two years past schedule when it was finally completed in 1959, and students had begun to complain about its unfinished state a full one and a half years before then. The frustration with the thematic elements is evident, as well.
The concept of the fusion between the dominant monotheistic god-concept “god” and the atom is in juxtaposition to the “inorganic”/”organic” interpretation of the mural presented, at a later date, by the enthusiastic reporter that took note as the project progressed. The mural’s decidedly Judeo-Christian orientation was directly encompassed in explanations of the thematic elements, with a hint of tussle between religiosity and reason evident in the later interpretation of 1958. In any event, even though the “unusual masterpiece” (Campus 1) rested on a state-funded educational institution, the argument or protracted discussion as to its actual meaning appears to have been minimal.
With all the frustration surrounding the dilapidated conditions of the campus infrastructure during the early 1950’s, the end of WWII and a wary eye on Southeast Asia, local Bremerton residents lived in an unusually stressful, active period in 20th century America. Besides the recent atrocities in Europe, Russia, and Africa and the threat of communist expansion in Asia and the Caribbean, the Cold War was fully underway. And Bremerton was quickly becoming one of the most bristling naval bases on the globe. For an intellectual or anyone else who found oneself in an educational setting like the Washington northwest’s Olympic College, it must have felt as a rewarding gift, and students, faculty, the community, and administrators were determined to protect it, and to nurture the institution that encompassed it. It worked diligently to produce productive members of society that were interested in their own communities, the country, and the world at large, charging students and employees to take up the cause for revitalization. We can detect the solidarity and common goals of people everywhere in this jumbled mass of issues and aspirations. In the music and film of the late 50’s and 60’s, in the overwhelming global support for equality and human rights as Dr. King single handedly redirected the psyche of the entire nation to that cause, and in our soft, patient hope for peace and prosperity both here and across Europe. Humanity embraced the new and embraced change, for peace, respect for life, and in deference to our rich global heritage. The mural portrays this in many ways.
This particular report, to be added to the larger-scoped research-design, was an attempt at synopsizing and loosely interpreting the articles reprinted in the Ranger Roundup, Olympic College’s campus newspaper (now dubbed, The Olympian). All of this is derived of a general view of the history of the mural and without the availability of data regarding the general cultural paradigms or ideology of the region during the time period. There are mountains of other data that must be fit together with this small subset to get a complete view of the mural and mosaics, and their full context within the regional historical record. And as the mural barrels toward an uncertain future, that complete picture comprises its past, wholly static and digitized for people that want to know more about it -then. A new building is scheduled to replace the Science building at the end of 2007. Will the mural be removed? Destroyed? Relocated? Will it be physically preserved in any way? Nobody knows right now. But you will. And you have an amateur, but fully complete research design at your disposal, so that you can build your own picture of the murals very interesting, if not a bit “nebulous” (Mural Suggested 10), cultural heritage.
“Art Department in Need of Colored Glass.” Ranger Roundup 8.15 (February 10, 1956): 4
“CAMPUS GRIPE What about the Mosaic?” Ranger Roundup 12:2 (October 3, 1958): 1
“Mr. Blass Finishes Five-Year Project.” Ranger Roundup 13:6 (November 6, 1959): 5
“Mural Going Up on Science Building.” Ranger Roundup 10:26 (May 24, 1957): 3
“Mural Suggested by Dr. Elias.” Ranger Roundup 12:4 (October 24, 1958): 4,10
“Murals to Decorate Every Future OC Building.” Ranger Roundup 11:17 (March 7, 1958): 4
“OC’s Buildings Declared Unfit.” Ranger Roundup 11:4 (October 17, 1957): 3,8
“School Board Plans New Building.” Ranger Roundup 11:8 (November 22, 1957): 5
“What the Bond Issue Will Do.” Ranger Roundup 11:17 (March 7, 1958): 1
“A Statement from the Dean.” Ranger Roundup 11:17 (March 7, 1958): 1
“Murals to Decorate Every Future OC Building.” Ranger Roundup 11:17 (March 7, 1958): 4
Ranger Roundup (1960-1963)
By Joli Lund
In the article titled “H.V. Blass Exhibits In One Man Shows” dated April 5, 1963, in the college’s paper named The Ranger, it gives us a little more information on the man who created the mosaic on the outside of the Math/Science building. It lets students and faculty know that Blass had been creating many pieces of work that would be displayed in a one man show and that the works could also be purchased. They varied from pieces of work made from oil and watercolor, to collograph and drawings. This was important to know more about the designer and creator of the mosaic so we could possibly interpret the meanings of the mosaic better. We can compare it to his other works to see if there is a certain theme, and we can know a little more about the designer in a personal way. Although the article did not mention the mosaic, it is important to understand the artist behind it, and this article helps us in that way.
There was a picture of the construction of the Science building taken from an unknown area. It looks as though it is taken from where the library is now, and it shows the mosaic surrounded by construction. Though there are no articles to go along with the picture, we can study how the college was built and how the mosaic was worked around. We can possibly get clues on how to take down the mosaic and preserve it. The photograph also gives clues on how to work around the piece and be able to build around the mosaic.
In the article title “Art Department Begins Japanese Garden This Week” dated April 28, 1961, the article gives more information on a garden that was once on the campus. Blass, the creator of the mosaic, was also in charge of building a Japanese garden. It included many choice rocks, shrubs, and sand to create a sense of peace and calmness. Though it is not in front of the mosaic, it is important to know the history of it and also important to see if other art pieces were intended to compliment the campus. This article gives more history about Blass.
The last article titled “Dedication Ceremonies Held” dated May 20, 1960, included pictures from May 15, 1960, and showed people from the Bremerton community on campus. The articles also discussed a tour being held that showed art pieces at the college and also the mosaic. Mrs. Ray Aardahl, the president of the Ladies Kiwanis was head of the dedication tribute to the mosaic. This was an important event because it let people at the time know about the mosaic and how much time and effort went into it. It has been nearly 50 years since this public dedication, and it seems as though people have forgotten about the mosaic’s meaning in the community. By reminding people of this dedication and remembering the work that went into it, people can realize its importance to the community help fight to keep it safe.
Ranger Roundup (1960-1964)
By Tyler Brown
On page five of the April 8, 1960 edition of Olympic College’s Ranger Roundup newspaper (Vol. 13, No.19), there is a very small write-up regarding the mosaic on the science building. This short piece was written to inform students and staff about a “spring cleaning” that was about to occur. The cleaning was to be done using an acid solution, and soon after, the entire mosaic was to be trimmed with copper. The article also mentions that when the cleaning was finished, the landscaping work on the area in front of the mosaic would commence.
This article is important because it mentions how the mosaic was cleaned, and points out the point in time in which the copper trimming was added to it. Also, the article discusses the landscape work that would soon follow the cleaning work of the mosaic.
The May 20, 1960 edition of the newspaper (Vol. 13, No. 25) showed a picture of the mural, as well as a title at the top of the page that read “Dedication Issue,” as this issue of the newspaper was about the mosaic’s dedication ceremony. The story of the dedication begins on page two. The article analyzes the meaning behind the mural, and describes the various parts to aid people in their understanding of the mural.
The article does a very good job of explaining the importance of the meaning of the mural, rather than just how it looks. It’s very important that people understand the artist’s reasoning behind the construction of the mural, as well as admiring the exquisite craftsmanship shown by the mosaic.
Also in the same edition of the Ranger Roundup, there is an article regarding the construction and landscaping work that was done in front of the Art building. Mr. Blass himself (the artist of the mural) designed the Japanese garden that was to be built in the immediate area in front of the Art building. Blass decided to build a Japanese style garden rather than an English style garden, because of the fact that a Japanese garden was intended to reflect nature with artistic feeling. This garden made for very good company on the campus because it was both simple and intricate in design, and it created a peaceful atmosphere for anyone who stopped to take a look.
This article is important because it tells readers that the garden would be finished by the time of the dedication ceremony. Also, it explains the artist’s reasoning for creating the garden the way it was created. Just as before, it is very important to understand an artist’s reasoning for what they create.
In the January 17, 1964 issue of the newspaper, there is a very small article mentioning the artist’s name. The article does not have anything to do with the construction or design of the mosaic, but does talk about a separate project that Mr. Blass had created. The project was a Polynesian sculpture for an apartment complex in Bremerton. Apparently he was also designing some landscaping for the complex as well as the sculpture.
This article is important because it shows us that Mr. Blass did more for the world of art than just the mosaic on the Olympic College wall. He was surely an artist at heart, and a teacher by trade.