Winston Russell Hewitt (1922- 2006) may have been the founding chair of the modern languages department at CSU Dominguez Hills, where he taught French literature from 1966 to 1982, but art was his true passion; he ultimately retired from teaching in order to devote his life to painting. After his death in 2006, executors of the Winston Russell Hewitt Foundation chose to honor his passion for art and love of CSU Dominguez Hills with the creation of the Winston Hewitt Art Scholarship.
This semester, six students became the first recipients of the $200,000 scholarship, one of the largest established at the university, and on Nov. 10, they were recognized at an opening reception for “Winston Hewitt: A Retrospective Exhibition of his Paintings and Prints,” now showing through Dec. 8 in the University Art Gallery. The student recipients were Brian Banuelos, Alyssa Congdon, Brenda Estrada, Diana Homayonfar-Shahedi, Jessica Portillo, and Jose Romero.
At the Nov. 10 reception, President Mildred García thanked the trustees of Hewitt’s estate and charged the scholarship recipients with living life with the same pursuit of “authentic interests” that Hewitt demonstrated through pursuing his love of oil painting.
“As [students] look at one of our faculty members who created his beautiful art and contributed to [the university], it will inspire them to go in the same direction and express themselves,” she said. “He was a renaissance man in that he was a language faculty member who later became an artist, and left this for us to appreciate and show that you really can have multiple careers and ways of viewing the world.”
The Winston Hewitt Estate has generously donated the brilliantly colored landscapes in the exhibit to University Library, which will put them on permanent display once the exhibit ends.
Professor of art Gilah Yelin Hirsch met Hewitt upon arriving as a new faculty member at CSU Dominguez Hills in 1973. Although the language professor was on his way to retirement, he and Hirsch forged a 30-year friendship that grew from her professional critiques of his work as a painter.
“We are ever grateful to Winston’s foresight, vision, and generosity in supporting and facilitating the education of one of the very few things that all cultures worldwide hold sacred: the absolute and profound need for the expression of the human spirit through the creative process, that which we have come to recognize as art,” said Hirsch.
Estrada spoke on behalf of her fellow students and thanked the trustees of the scholarship for their support.
“With our commitment and dedication to our passion as artists,” she said, “we hope that our artwork in the future will be deemed praiseworthy and reflect positively on the honor bestowed on us by the Winston Hewitt Scholarship.”
Charles Winborne, a trustee of the Hewitt Estate, addressed the audience in the gallery and recalled his first visit to Hewitt’s studio and how he was impressed by the range of the painter’s work and commitment to his craft.
“I realized not only from looking at the art but by the words he was using, that he was involved in a life task that was extraordinary… and a good model for any of us who are doing anything we love and have passion for,” said Winborne.
“Winston Hewitt: A Retrospective Exhibition of his Paintings and Prints,” is sponsored by the Instructionally Related Activities Committee of the Associated Students, Inc., and the Winston Russell Hewitt Estate.
For preview images of art in the exhibit, click here. The University Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday; admission is free.
For more information about Winston Hewitt and his work, visit www.winstonhewitt.org.
For more information about the University Art Gallery at CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.