Donations needed to fund art for Oak Harbor High School

This “W” sculpture in the courtyard of Oak Harbor High School is the school’s major piece of professional art. A campaign by a past high school teacher may change that. - File photo
This “W” sculpture in the courtyard of Oak Harbor High School is the school’s major piece of professional art. A campaign by a past high school teacher may change that.
— image credit: File photo

When the opportunity to receive $21,800 for public art at Oak Harbor High School arose, one Oak Harbor artist and former teacher is determined to get that funding.

In order to qualify for this money from the Washington State Arts Commission, Richard Nash needs to raise $9,600 in donations from the community. The $21,800 was set aside for the high school as part of the Art in Public Places program. The money was generated by one-half of 1 percent of the state funds provided for new construction at the high school.

“I wanted to make sure that the school district didn’t let the opportunity go by,” Nash said. If Oak Harbor doesn’t qualify for the $21,800, it will be returned to the State Art Collection and be used by other schools.

Earlier this year, the Oak Harbor School Board voted to pursue the funding. Nash volunteered to take on the project because he realized the school’s budget is too tight to afford the $9,600.

The money will be collected through donations made to the Oak Harbor Education Foundation earmarked for this project. Donations are 100 percent tax deductible and donators will receive a thank you letter that doubles as a receipt, Nash said.

If Nash can’t collect the $9,600, the donations can be returned.

“We’ll (Nash and volunteers) try to contact a lot of the businesses in town over the next couple of weeks, hopefully all of them, to give them information,” Nash said. Individuals who would like to donate can call him directly at 360-675-4856.

If Nash can raise the money, the next step will be selecting a committee of no more than seven members who will meet to choose the location of the art in the school, the type of art and the artist from the State’s Public Art Roster. The artwork can be anything from stained glass to sculpture, Nash said, but thanks to community input, it will be unique to Oak Harbor.

Enriching the community

Nash taught in Oak Harbor schools from 1972 to 2002. His art can be viewed in four galleries. As an art teacher, Nash said he felt art was always well-supported in the Oak Harbor School District, which isn’t true of most school districts.

“As an artist, art is really important to me,” Nash said.

Public art creates an atmosphere and enriches lives, Nash said. North Whidbey Middle School has a piece of art from the Washington State Arts Commission: a large sculpture of a pile of books covered in quotes.

The public art in downtown Oak Harbor is a prime example of creating a rich atmosphere in the community, Nash said, mentioning the “Stumbling Ducks” and the mermaid statue, among others.

“It’s pretty much proven that if you have offerings like that it’s going to develop another level of interest in the city and what the town has to offer,” Nash said, adding that public art can also be a tourist attraction.

Nash said he’d like to see a similar progression happen in the schools. Currently, Oak Harbor High School has a large “W” sculpture in the courtyard and a veterans memorial at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

“It’s really nice to get some public art to go along with what’s happening in downtown. I want that trend to continue,” Nash said.


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