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CWU Alumni Brighten the Country and Community with Art


Most people who have lived in Ellensburg know of the colorful house with art displayed in the yard that’s located across from the police station, on 1st and Pearl Street. What many don’t know is the story behind the colorful home, named Dick & Jane’s Spot.

Jane Orleman and Richard (Dick) Elliott met in Ellensburg and fell in love at first sight. They both graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 with bachelor degrees in art.

Their love for art eventually resulted in the creation of Dick & Jane’s Spot, an outdoor attraction full of different art pieces, paintings, and reflectors, that has brightened the Ellensburg community for 40 years and is dedicated to the philosophy that "one hearty laugh is worth ten trips to the doctor.”

Orleman creates new art for the Spot, as did Elliott until he passed away in 2008. Though Elliott is no longer creating new art pieces, the art he created over the course of his lifetime lives on, not only at Dick & Jane’s Spot, but all over thecountry. Elliott’s art installations are located in cities including Seattle, Denver, and Minneapolis, among many others.

In 2000, CWU honored Elliott as a Distinguished Alumni in the School of Arts and Humanities. In 2008, he received both the Governor's Award in the Arts in Olympia, WA, and the Americans for the Arts Recognition for Innovation in Public Art in Philadelphia, PA.

Though his achievements were impressive, Orleman remembers him by saying, “He had fun in life, and that was his top accomplishment.”

Over the past five decades, Elliott and Orleman hired hundreds of CWU students, many of whom were art students, to work for their janitorial company, Spot Janitorial, and alongside them at Dick & Jane’s Spot as studio assistants.

“Hiring art students was more about collaborating than mentoring,” said Orleman. “We all shared a love for art. It wasn’t about teaching them, instead, we worked together.”

Elliott and Orleman’s relationship with CWU and its students prompted Monica Miller, executive director of Gallery One Visual Arts Center, to suggest inviting “Spot Artists” to have a concurrent art exhibit upstairs during Elliott’s upcoming exhibition at Gallery One.

Elliott’s exhibit is called Catching the Light and will be featured at Gallery One from June 7-29. Upstairs, at the Eveleth Green Gallery, many alumni that once worked for Elliott and Orleman will be showcasing their art as a way to bring the art of Elliott and the former CWU students back together for the public to enjoy.

May 2019

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