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Clyde Wilbur Van Cleve ’55

A picture of Clyde Van Cleve

Clyde Wilbur Van Cleve ’55, March 6, 2015, on Vashon Island, Washington.

Born in Missouri, Clyde came to Reed to learn from Prof. Lloyd Reynolds [English & art 1929–69]. “The workshop [established by Lloyd] was kind of a haven, or a hideout place to escape the toughness of the academic world. It was not that I didn’t care for the academic work, but if you have a tendency or a desire to make an object, rather than manipulate an idea, there’s no real substitute for that. It was really the making of objects—whether they are letter forms or lines of type or broadsides or printed books—that had great appeal.”

Clyde earned a BA from Reed and a BFA from the Museum Art School (PNCA) in art, writing his thesis, “Colored Wood-Engraving as a Medium for Book Illustration,” with Prof. Reynolds. On the testimonial he created for the Heritage of Calligraphy exhibition at Reunions 2003, Clyde wrote that Ray DaBoll’s 1948 broadside, which asserts, “Disciplined freedom is the essence of it,” remained the brightest principle of the enlightenments that Reed and Reynolds provided him.

Clyde taught letter forms at Reed as an associate in graphic arts in 1967 and at the Museum Art School in 1966–75, and worked as a designer with Doug Lynch Associates before opening his own studio in Lake Oswego. He did calligraphic and print projects for Louisiana Pacific Corporation, First Interstate Bank, Willamette University, the University of Portland, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Arlington Club.

One of Clyde’s more visible projects—the logo he designed for TriMet—is still in use today, albeit in modified form.

“One of the pioneers of graphic design in Portland and the Pacific Northwest, and greatly admired in the field, Clyde had an innate talent for design,” says Robert J. Palladino, who taught calligraphy at Reed in 1969–84. “Students responded well to his teaching and improved as a result of his instruction and ideas. Clyde’s layout, form, and letters had relationship and were beautifully written, and Lloyd was very impressed with Clyde and intended for him to take over Reed’s graphic arts program.” Clyde was a good friend, says Robert, who always left him knowing more about the art they loved and shared.

Clyde and (Alice) Jane Clapperton ’59, MAT ’65, were married in 1957. Survivors include Alice and their two daughters and three grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2015

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