Nestled into a small modest space at the Washington State Fairgrounds is a delightful, community treasure, the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage & Art Center. Fred Oldfield was born in Alfalfa, Washington in 1918 and grew up on the Yakima Indian Reservation. Fred was 17 when he created his first drawing. While in the Army, he got excited about painting and began to think he might make a living as an artist. After the war, he attended an art school in Seattle. His increasing skills led to painting murals on walls in Alaska, Canada and throughout the Northwest.
The Fred Oldfield Western Heritage & Art Center was founded in 2002 to showcase Fred’s paintings, the history of the Western lifestyle and advance Western art. The Center’s vision is to provide an affordable, creative outlet in multi-art disciplines where Fred’s history, passion, and love of art will live on in all generations.
Besides Fred’s paintings on display at the Art Center there are hundreds of artifacts depicting Washington State history in the early 1900s. There are recreations of a pioneer cabin, general store, livery stable, and a chuck wagon. The Center also presents one of the most extensive Native American artifacts collections in the Pacific Northwest. On display are baskets, beadwork, carvings, and arrowheads.
Since the Center’s inception Fred taught art classes on-site with a special emphasis on children. Up to the time of his death, just shy of 99 years of age, you could find him still down at the Center with brush in hand working with the kids. Besides teaching them to paint, he also regaled them with stories about his days on the range and around the campfire. His love of life and vision for the future encouraged children to explore their internal creative spirits. The Center continues his vision by offering numerous art classes to youth and adults throughout the school year and special art camps during the summer.
The Fred Oldfield Western Heritage & Art Center has a goal of incorporating a full roster of performance classes. To that end, in 2022 a few dance classes were introduced. However, to protect the dancers’ bodies from the hard concrete floors, especially adults, suitable flooring is necessary. To purchase this flooring, staff approached the Cheney Foundation. With the arts programming cutbacks in schools, having a place that offers a growing arts education program at a reasonable cost is crucial and important.
To learn more visit fredoldfieldcenter.org