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Historic Knight Library: Art & Architecture

Guide to the art and architecture of the 1937 historic Knight Library, University of Oregon, Eugene.

ARTHUR CLOUGH (1891-1977)

Art Clough was the principal designer and carver of two wood triptychs, Oregon Vistas (descriptions: east wall and west wall, Paulson Reading Room) and the two companion pieces, Release of Youth from Depression Conditions (descriptions: east wall and west wall, Paulson Reading Room

Harry Herbert Arthur Herbert Clough was born on September 9, 1891, in Hudson, Wisconsin, to David and Anna Clough.  The family settled in Whatcom County, Washington. 

Clough was a teacher in Whatcom County before moving to Eugene, Oregon, in 1924. Dating from his first year in Eugene is a work which was commissioned by George Giustina, one of the founders of the Giustina Brothers Lumber Company.  It was Giustina’s idea that the piece depict the need for conservation and the need for a ‘tree farm’ program.  The work presents an awakening giant representing the state of Oregon with elements of Oregon’s natural environment surrounding him.  The work was displayed in lumber conventions for several years and according to Clough, “it got the lumbermen talking about the need for reforestation and timber management.”  In the mid-1920s, Clough teamed with his brother-in-law Roscoe McClure to form the Grey Gypsy Craftsmen which included at some time Jim de Broeckert.  In 1925, Clough, G. G. Spurgeon, and Angus Harbrick incorporated the Echo Hollow Lumber Company.

Clough’s carving of Paul Bunyan and his ox Babe received much attention at the 1930 Eugene Forest Show.  A contemporary Oregonian article described the artist’s process as being inspired by the Japanese “sugi” process, probably referring to the technique of Shou-sugi-ban (art of carved cedar) in which wood is cut with one utensil, and is scorched for aesthetic and preservation effects, and not sanded.  Clough’s Oregon Vista panels in the Paulson Reading Room display this technique.

In April 1934 began work on the first set of Oregon Vistas panels which were on display the following August at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. The article states that the panels were on loan from the university and were planned for the new library, an indication that the library’s plans were in the works even though funding was not in place until June 1935.  Ellis Lawrence obviously considered these works early on as a focal point of a reading room in the new building.

Eugene Vocational School was established in 1938 in response to high unemployment.  Its purpose was to provide trade education and training to high school students and unemployed adults. Clough was a strong advocate for establishing the school and taught creative design until his retirement in 1956.  The school became Lane Community College. 

Art Clough died on November 9, 1977, in Eugene, Oregon.

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Butler, David. Fourth and Madison : A History of the Eugene Vocational School 1938-1965. Eugene, Or.]: Lane Community College, 1976

“CCC and Pioneers to Be Linked in Carved Murals at University.” Sunday Oregonian, October 6, 1935, p. 7.

O'Connell, Kenneth.  "Stories Carved in Cedar." Oregon Quarterly 92 no. 4 (Summer 2014): 32-37. Scholars Bank, ;

“Paul Bunyan and Great Ox Carved in State Red Cedar; Art Clough of McKenzie River Vallely Produces Super-Logger and Babe for Display at Eugene Forest Fair.” Sunday Oregonian, March 30, 1930, p. 5.

“Rare Exhibit Promised; Wood Carvings Will Be Shown at Fair; Unusual Displaly to Be Installed in New Building at State Exposition.” Oregonian August 29, 1934, 15.

“Three carvers worked four months to draw into wood 105 human figures, 11 wild creatures, 19 pack animals, oxen and hourses, and, of course, the forest setting.”

“Two Firms Incorporate; Lumber Companies File Articles.’ Morning Oregonian, March 9, 1925, 7.

University of Oregon. Library. University of Oregon Library, Dedicated October 23, 1937. Oregon State Board of Higher Education. Oregon State System of Higher Education Leaflet Series ; No. 122. October 1, 1937. Eugene, Or, 1937.

Wyant, Dan. “Slumbering Figure Carved on Cedar Slab Awakened Need for Reforestation.” Eugene Register-Guard, Octobre 21, 1966, B1.