College Adds To Palette Of Art Department

Westmont has created a new endowed faculty chair in the visual arts through the financial support of several friends of the college. The endowment, named the R. Anthony Askew chair, will support a new full-time professor who will also direct Reynolds Gallery.

Tony Askew chaired the Santa Barbara High School Department of Art for nine years before coming to Westmont in 1982. He retired from Westmont last year and has remained gallery director while teaching part time. Barbara Askew, who celebrates her 40th wedding anniversary with Tony in May, has been Westmont health services office manager for 25 years.

The Askews will be honored at a retirement reception Wednesday, April 23, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Westmont’s Magnolia Lawn. The public is invited to contribute letters which will be compiled into a book for the Askews. The reception is free and open to the public.

“Tony’s legacy in the art department is his vision,” says Susan Savage, chair of the art department. “For so many years he has worked hard behind the scenes to provide a reputable venue not only for enhancing and enriching the atmosphere of a liberal arts institution, but as a contributing influence in the Santa Barbara community as well.”

“Tony has done a remarkable job over the years of directing a gallery that is very small in size but able to show works of art at a consistently high level of quality,” says President Gayle Beebe. “It has amazed me what has been accomplished, and there is no question that the Santa Barbara art community has been impressed as well.”

The college launched a national search last fall for a professor to occupy the Askew chair the following year.

“This endowment affirms the importance of art in human lives,” Savage says. “Not only will it boost the educational capabilities of our department, it will continue the legacy of excellence that the Reynolds Gallery has sustained in our community.”

When Askew arrived at Westmont in 1982 there was no art department, and only one other art instructor. There was one classroom for art and no physical presence of art on campus.

In 1984 Askew co-created Arts Ascent, a summer camp for children, to raise funds for the art department. He then formed the Arts Council from a core group of the children’s parents.

He was able to raise $500,000 from the community and secured grants from the Times Mirror Company and the Ahmanson Foundation to create Reynolds Gallery. Now, 20 year later, the college has successfully raised the money for the new Adams Center for the Visual Arts as part of the campus Master Plan.

“It will be a dream come true,” Askew says. “I am thrilled with the latest designs placing the art center closer to the heart of campus and facing the historic Kerrwood gardens.”

“It would be impossible to fully express our appreciation for the high quality of work that Tony has done,” says Beebe. “A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to create such a distinguished gallery program. The same is true of his teaching and his relations with students as well as with colleagues.”

Askew graduated from the UC Santa Barbara and earned his M.A. at CSU Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited in London, England, and Oslo and Trondheim, Norway. He has taught at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico for the past 14 summers.