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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Labor of love: Former student creates Web tribute to late artist Stephen Naegle

By Liz Lawyer

October 24, 2006 | A book in the lower level of USU's Merrill-Cazier Library is dedicated, "In Memoriam, Stephen Naegle." The dedication describes the author's shock at hearing of her friend's death in a car accident in 1981, a year before the book was published.

The book, "Masters of Western Art," also contains a few of Naegle's watercolors and a biography of the Utah-born painter. It's a book Bruce Dickey was thrilled to get his hands on.

Dickey remembers he was shocked to learn several years after the accident that his friend and former teacher had been killed. As a fine arts student at Arkansas Polytechnic College where Naegle taught, he and Naegle had grown close, going out painting and hunting arrowheads together.

"Stephen really liked Indian artifacts," Dickey said. "Though to my knowledge, we never found an arrowhead."

Dickey, 54, was a young college student when he knew Naegle, but he still remembers the impression he made on him.

"Any adult you spend time with, especially if he's interesting, will make an impact on you [when you're young]," Dickey said, drifting into reminiscences about his old professor. "He thought deeply. When he spoke it made an impact. There were a lot of lulls in the conversation because he didn't want to chit-chat. When he spoke it had meaning."

But Dickey said he was surprised when he tried searching for his old instructor's work online. There was hardly anything to be found.

"When I started going online it shocked me that someone so famous -- and he really wasn't -- and someone so talented -- and he really was -- would have so little about him," Dickey said.

So Dickey took on the monumental task of archiving Naegle's works. Now scattered across the country with no indication of who owns them or where they may be, the job of finding them is not simple.

"I don't know where it'll go, even. But it seemed a great shame for an artist to not have any credit for his work," he said.

Naegle's wife, Montana, still hasn't recovered from the loss of her husband 25 years later, and Dickey said she wasn't able to help him in his search. As he's dug for Naegles, though old friends, colleagues and students of Naegle's have come out of the woodwork.

"I've met some fine folks," Dickey said.

Dickey began working on a Web site dedicated to Naegle's memory. The site has now grown to include dozens of Naegle's works, as well as personal anecdotes submitted by friends, a timeline of his life and myths about other works Dickey is tracking down, including a fabled "Naegle booklet" supposedly compiled around the time of his death.

A painter's life

Naegle was born in 1938 and grew up in Toquerville in southern Utah. Gaell Lindstrom, one of Naegle's professors in college, said that from a young age his student had enjoyed art. The timeline on Dickey's site says he started filling his desk with pencil drawings in the first grade and made his first painting in eighth grade.

Naegle entered junior college at the College of Southern Utah in 1957. In 1960 he started school at USU, but dropped out, expecting to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. After two years stationed at Sandia Army Base in New Mexico, he got married Montana Armstrong and returned to USU. In 1963 he finished his Master's of Fine Arts.

During the 60s and 70s the Naegles moved to Arkansas, where Stephen taught at Arkansas Polytechnic College and met Dickey, and then back west to Wyoming, where they spent the rest of their lives together. Montana still lives in Casper, Wyo., where her husband taught college classes from 1973 to 1979.

The car accident that killed Naegle happened June 16, 1981, as he was returning from a family reunion.

Dickey's site has evolved into a tribute to more than just Naegle's paintings. He said that people he has contacted in the process of his search are often enthusiastic about participating and remember Naegle fondly. Among the people who have helped him on his way are Lindstrom, who taught at the College of Southern Utah, Naegle's son, Craig, and several of Naegle's former students.

"He was a very good student," Lindstrom said. "The fact that this man Dickey is trying to make a collection of Stephen's art is not surprising to me."

On Naegle's trail

Over the past year, paintings have trickled in. Dickey has documented 78 paintings on the site now. Some have images accompanying their descriptions, some only have a hopeful date of acquisition based on conversations with owners.

One thrilling find, Dickey said, was when an old friend of Naegle's had one of his paintings he had given her reframed. On the back of the painting, "The Mill," dated 1963, the framers found another painting, "Wash Day in Albuquerque." Such discoveries have become favorite stories as Dickey's search has spread across the country, to southern Utah, Naegle's birthplace, to Arkansas, where he taught painting, and to Casper, Wyo., the place he made his hometown.

But the search hasn't been all successful. One former student of Naegle's showed a triumphant Dickey more than 100 slides of Dickey's artwork, only to decide not to share them on the Web site. Dickey's suspicion: "He has his finger in the dike. He wanted to try and make a profit off of it, I think." Dickey's site is completely non-profit.

"This will make the search easier for some other researcher someday," he said.

"Five Naegles. Wow!"

Dickey's search led him back to USU, where Naegle received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1963. In reading about the requirements for a master's student, Dickey found that any painting by a master's student that had merit could be retained by the school. Following this lead, he discovered that the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art had in its possession five of the artist's paintings. His excitement was apparent in an e-mail: "Five Naegles. Wow!"

Anticipation mounting at finding such a large cache of works, Dickey contacted the museum, only to "hit a brick wall." The pieces had never been photographed, and photography would cost Dickey $70 per painting.

It's yet another bump in the road. One glimmer of hope: the paintings can be viewed for free if it's for a"scholarly purpose." Dickey, still trying to get his foot in the museum door, is hopeful.

"They're not going anywhere," he said.

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