From the Archives, Spring 08

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Jon Bunce ’59

In the visual and performing arts, as in no other field, children learn with their hands—and their whole bodies. The arts train students in all the skills that underlie the philosophy of experiential education, including problem-solving, analysis, risk-taking, and learning to coordinate the eyes, brain, and hands. Children love being in art classes, where they experience the flow of creativity.

In this photo we see Jon Bunce, who graduated from Catlin-Hillside in 1955, totally absorbed in his sculpture work, not even noticing the photographer taking his picture. Jon thinks he must have been in the 3rd or 4th grade, and he remembers what he was making out of red clay: a plesiosaur, an aquatic marine reptile of the Mesozoic era. The odd-looking spray bottle was probably either for a glaze or for water, to keep the clay moist. “I’m sure the project was of my own choosing,” says Jon, whose father was an artist and who grew up in a house where art-making was the norm. Another memorable art project for Jon was making enameled earrings, starting from pennies that were pounded flat. Art classes during that era were held in the Art Shack, a wooden outbuilding full of enticing art equipment that was connected by a breezeway to the main Catlin-Hillside building.

“I have good memories of 4th grade shop class in 1949–50,” says Jon. “It was Manvel Schauffler’s first year there, just out of Black Mountain College. For our class project he worked with us on building a flat-bottomed boat with wheels. We spent lots of time sanding the wood so it was smooth, and caulking it so it wouldn’t leak. And then we sailed it on Lake Oswego!” “Schauff was the best teacher I ever had, even in secondary school. He connected with students well and stuck up for principles like fairness,” he recalls. One of the days Jon will never forget was the day in 1953 or 1954 when a kidnapper came into Catlin-Hillside and started firing a gun in the hallway. Jon was in Schauff’s class right then and remembers him ordering the students to duck. The kidnapper shot through the door and wounded Schauff; the next day Schauff’s photo appeared in the Oregonian with the caption, “Hero.”

Today the arts permeate Jon’s life. He is a professional musician, having performed and toured for years as a guitarist, and has been concentrating lately on composing music.

Because creativity is a critical component of a 21st-century education, Catlin Gabel is focusing on the visual and performing arts in future master planning. Right now the present facilities for the arts are bursting at the seams, so the school has begun to dream of and design a new creative arts center. Look for new developments in the next issue of the Caller.