Bremerton Sun (1950's) Articles Concerning the Mosaic
By Caroline Hartse
The Bremerton Sun articles concerning the mosaic focus on the fund raisers done by the community and Hank Blass in order to secure monies and materials for the creation of the mosaic. The articles (1955 and 1956) reveal that the mosaic was truly a community project. The role women played in raising funds and collecting materials for the mosaic cannot be underestimated. Hank Blass dedicated many years to its design and creation and he turned to the community for support and help. The community responded generously. The articles reveal that the Kiwanis Club, especially the Music and Art Foundation, headed by Mrs. J. Harvey Leach and Mrs. Elmer Gruwell, conducted drives for colored class and china for the mosaic. Local stores agreed to set out collection boxes so that women (noted in the article “many housewives”) could conveniently donate pieces of glass and china if they found going to the college to drop off the glass to be difficult. In order to help raise funds, the clubwomen held a tea, and on two different occasions presented Hank Blass with checks, donating funds to help with the costs of the mosaic. One of the articles “Clubwomen to Assist with Giant Mosaic Mural at Olympic College” includes a photograph of Hank Blass with Miss Jackie Adkins, former Washington Sate Centennial Queen. The Bremerton Sun also reported that Blass was featured on KING-TV channel 5 in November1955. Blass discussed the importance of art to students and the use of art in one’s home, in community activities, and in business and industry. Part of the television show was to feature a section on the mosaic. As the article notes and aptly summarizes, “Many Bremerton residents have assisted with the mural, both with gifts of money and with contributions of materials, such as colored glass, for its execution.” (November 14, 1955) This involvement of the community cannot be overlooked when documenting the mosaic. The mosaic is a creation of not only Hank Blass, but the community itself. The community members are also creators and owners of the mosaic.
Bremerton Sun (1950's) Articles Concerning the Background of Harrison Blass
By Matt Scheer
Of the articles found in the Bremerton Sun concerning Olympic College and the mosaic, only two of them had any mention of Harrison Blass. They are entitled, “One Man Art Shows Now on at Olympic College,” and “Bainbridge Island One-Man Show Scheduled for Blass”. Both obviously have a common theme, the one-man art show.
“One Man Art Shows Now on at Olympic College” describes a feature that Mr. Blass developed at Olympic College that featured the art of one individual for a two week period in the student lounge. After their time was up the next of ten blossoming artists would take their place. “Bainbridge Island One-Man Show Scheduled for Blass” was about an art show that the Bainbridge Island Arts and Crafts association put on featuring Mr. Blass’ work. This included twenty-seven paintings, water colors, oils, and sketches. Also on display were tiles from the Science Building mosaic.
Both of the articles show that Mr. Blass intended the artwork of his students and himself to be seen and cherished, but the one featuring his own art work raised another issue. The tiles that make up the mosaic are very heavy and most of them only show a very small part of the broad picture. For Blass to display a full object in his mosaic he would have had to bring several pieces and find a way to safely mount these pieces. This must have been a huge undertaking. Mr. Blass must have been particularly proud of this beautiful mosaic that he created. It very well could have been his crowning achievement as an artist. It certainly did take a great deal of time to create, now who are we to decide its fate?
Summary of Recent Kitsap Sun Articles
By Emily Ford
Recent articles about Olympic College’s mosaic, The Progression of Man, offer education about the history of the piece and the big decision its waiting on about its future. An article from The Olympian and another from the Kitsap Sun begin by introducing Dianne Moore, a librarian at Olympic College who had the idea to preserve the mosaic that’s on the Science building scheduled to be torn down in the summer of 2007. The issues around saving the mosaic include how to save it, what to do with it, and where the money will come from. While covering the history of the mosaic, the articles seem to be supporting saving the mosaic simply because there is so much behind it. The mosaic was finished after much planning and work went into it at the end of the 1950’s. The artist was Hank Blass, the first art instructor at OC, who did other murals in Mexico and at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, making the mosaic part of an international collection. Blass made the mosaic from pieces of glass and tile that came in by the bucket-loads from the local beaches thanks to community members, mostly children. Each bucket was bought for ten cents, an offer that former secretary of state Ralph Munro took up when he was around the age of twelve. While Blass was the only one allowed to place any of the mosaic’s pieces, he did have many students and community members help him, who now support the persevering of the mosaic greatly. The mosaic featuring God giving man the power of the atom, among other images, is still waiting on the decision of its future. The removal of a square foot piece earlier resulted in cracking the square piece down the middle, but it has been concluded that mosaic can be removed and saved. Some ideas for a future display of the mosaic are; keeping the wall it is on up and building the new structure around it or to incase it in the ground as part of a walk way with a clear coat over it to keep it safe. No matter what the outcome of the historical mosaic, these articles did well for bringing the issue to attention to the community and hopefully creating support for its future.