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Spring 2005 | Volume 28, Number 1 | Alumni

Engaging Artists

Medallion Awards Go to Three Gifted Alumni

One paints Alaska landscapes of such wild intensity that the viewer inwardly flinches from the aching cold. Another loves jazzy colors and music that moves.

Byron Birdsall and his wife, Billie

To a third, the world is the supplier of raw materials for painting, sculpting, and confronting the “sightlessness” many people bring to their human existence.

Alumni artists Byron Birdsall ’59, Jackie Hansen Brooks ’57, and Squire Broel ’92 are not only accomplished professionals, but they are also recipients of Medallion Awards bestowed by Seattle Pacific University during Homecoming 2005. “These are alumni who live and breathe the SPU vision,” says Alumni Director Doug Taylor, who presented the awards at the President’s Luncheon on February 5. “Their artistry engages, provokes, and rattles the senses. Viewers come away challenged, uplifted — and perhaps changed. We wanted to recognize their service to Seattle Pacific, the community, and their profession.”

An ex-fireman and former teacher, Birdsall has become a preeminent Alaskan watercolorist. His award-winning paintings of frozen landscapes and haunting nightscapes are for many collectors the quintessential expression of “the last frontier.” He received inspiration for his work in travels throughout Alaska, India, Italy, and Japan, and is strongly influenced by Japanese wood-block printing. He is also a noted painter of religious icons produced in acrylics, pearls, rhinestones, and gold leaf.

Since his first solo exhibition in 1967, Birdsall has had more than 50 one-man shows and in 1992 provided the artwork for a U.S. postage stamp. American Artist featured his work and “hung” one of his paintings on the magazine’s cover. Birdsall originals are part of a great number of prestigious private and corporate collections including those held by Alaska Airlines, British Petroleum, and the Russian Orthodox Church of Alaska. Each painting, he says, tries to engage the culture and make the world better. “With every brush stroke, I try to remember that 100 years from now, all that will be left is the art.”

Jackie Brooks

Jackie Brooks’ paintings often explore the subjects of music and musicians, a reflection of her long experience as a violinist with chamber groups and symphony orchestras. As a Christian wanting to be open about the reality of living with Parkinson’s Disease, she developed a bold, assertive style characterized by intense colors and strong emotions.

A lecturer, teacher, and signature member of six watercolor societies, Brooks has exhibited in Europe, her home state of South Dakota, and as part of a group exhibition by women painters in Ireland. In 1988, her critically acclaimed exhibition in Nicosia, Cyprus, was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. Her work has appeared in more than 80 national and international competitions, winning awards in over half. Her paintings have also been featured in numerous publications, including Watercolor Magic and The Artist’s Magazine. In March 2005, Brooks had a major solo exhibition at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle.

Squire Broel

The youngest of the three artists, Squire Broel has had one-person exhibitions at galleries in Seattle; Yakima, Washington; and Portland, Oregon. A recent show of his paintings and sculpture called “Hopes, Fears, and Dreams From a Dark Year” was featured at the Walla Walla Foundry, where he worked and honed his skills as a bronze sculptor. His art was also included in the American exhibition “Outward Bound” that for two years traveled to national museums in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam and included
work by such noted artists as Christo, and Squeak Carnwath.

To create a piece, Broel will work in whatever media are at his disposal, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, bronze, glass, wood, cardboard — even glue, nails, rocks, and dirt. He once fashioned 80 hand-blown globes for a single sculpture in glass and steel. “I create visual opportunities for people to slow down and consider their lives,” says Broel. His message is one of “hope” to a world that often seems hopeless.“My personal faith is such that it drives my living, drives my creating,” he explains.

Artwork by each of the Medallion Award recipients can be viewed on the Web. To see Birdsall’s creations, visit; to see Brooks’ paintings, visit Broel’s art is displayed at


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Back-Cover Art [New]
Response's popular back-cover
art makes its online debut with a painting by an SPU adjunct professor of art.

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