Artist Ted Neth’s legacy lives on in the Tri-Cities – in his artwork and influence at Columbia Basin College over 51 years of teaching and leadership.
Neth recently passed away at the age of 84.
He worked as a designer and illustrator at General Electric and later Battelle Northwest, before joining CBC as a visual arts teacher in 1968. He has taught graphic design, drawing and sculpture to thousands of people. students.
He became an instructional director when the college’s Performing Arts Center was completed in 1971, with Neth contributing to its design. He then told the Tri-City Herald that the square building was “a fortress for creativity.”
He was also instrumental in the development of its programs, according to CBC.
He launched the Winter Art Show, the Summer Showcase and the CBC sponsored tours in Europe. He has supported the creation of Jazz Unlimited, the touring children’s theater group The Blue Ladder Players, and the community talk series.
He retired as dean in 1998, but continued to teach art appreciation at the college until 2019.
“I have always been more of an art educator,” he said in his retirement announcement. “For me, it’s very exciting to take young people and encourage them to grow and develop artistically.”
He also helped develop the CBC Fitness Center and its nuclear technology, computer-aided drawing, and hazardous materials education programs.
He left behind a body of work that included designing a configuration for reactor rods in nuclear power plants, said CBC professor Ginny Quinley. The project used his university education in art and physics.
His art expressed ideas based on abstraction by simplifying natural and man-made forms, according to information compiled by CBC.
“Its goal was to develop a deeper understanding of natural structures and human relationships with nature,” according to CBC.
He designed and created most of the winning trophies for the Columbia Cup seaplane races for nearly 30 years, as well as the annual design for the Tri-Cities Wine Festival award.
One of his most visible works in the Tri-Cities is the 1967 metal sculpture titled “Reaching” which he created while working as the head of the Battelle-Northwest model store.
It was originally a fountain for the Uptown Mall and has since moved to Community First Bank on Jadwin Avenue in Richland.
His three-dimensional works can also be seen inside the Kennewick Sterling restaurant, in the lobby of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, and in buildings in the City of Richland. He also created the geese at Marineland Plaza in Kennewick.
“Ted was very interested in making CBC accessible to the community,” said Polo Coronado, director of studies at CBC when Neth was a director.
“He was instrumental in bringing the beauty of visual art to campus with the help of the student body,” Coronado said at the time.