A restored work of art stands on its own again in Baker Center

Fluno's tile table
Fluno’s tile table as seen from the top. First row, left to right: Richard Rasmussen, Leo Humphrey, Reginald Green, Robert Burgess and Philip Pope. Second row, left to right: Stanley Plummer, Miriam Wagenschein, Thomas Howells, Charles Armstrong and Fredric Santler. Third row, left to right: Thurman Poston, Paul Jackson, Chester Maxey, Russell Nash and William Hutchings. Fourth row, left to right: Arthur Rempel, David Stevens, Kenneth Schilling, Richard Clem and Jerry Fogarty. Fifth row, left to right: Robert Fluno, Ronald Sires, Margaret Grube, John Shepherd and Rodney Alexander.

In 1953, Jackson Martindell, the founder of the American Institute of Management, visited Whitman to perform an audit of college leadership.

He commissioned Ruth Fluno, a local artist and a Whitman art instructor, to create this tile table featuring caricatures of President Chester Maxey and well-known faculty members of the time. Martindell then donated the table to the college, and it resided in the Olin Hall faculty lounge.

As the years passed, the popularity and the value of Fluno’s work grew. It was feared that the unique table would be damaged, so the legs were removed, and it was converted into a wall hanging. It then hung in the Office of Alumni Relations for 30 years.

When Alumni Relations moved to Baker Center last year, the goal was to have furniture and decorations that fit in with the period when the stately house was built. The Fluno piece didn’t fit. So, it was converted back into a table designed to match the rest of the furniture.

Vertical or horizontal, Fluno’s playful work of art has always been popular with alumni who knew the people depicted in the caricatures.