Interview with Philis Alvic Part I

Kentucky Historical Society

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0:09 - Tour of studio / weaving demonstration

6:35 - Using computer technology in loom weaving / sample exchange group

9:54 - Explaining her looms / her style of weaving

16:32 - Settling down in Kentucky / creating an artistic career for herself

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Keywords: Appalachian Craft Revival; Hambidge Center; Kentucky Arts Council; Lady of the Lake; Mary Hambidge; North Georgia; Walter Scott; weaving

22:48 - Explaining her weaving style / Mary Hambidge series

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Keywords: Mary Hambidge center; North Georgia; weaving

30:12 - Rwandan baskets

34:37 - Early exposure to the arts / education in the arts

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Keywords: Admiral Rickover; art classes; education; Junior School at the Art Institute of Chicago

41:41 - Developing her career in Western Kentucky / Writing a weaving column

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Keywords: art education; North shore Weaver's Guild; Notes from a Pattern Weaver; writing

45:24 - Murray University programs, concerts and talks

47:03 - Emily Wolfson / KY Guild of Artists and Craftsmen

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Keywords: Clara Eagle; Emily Wolfson; Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen

52:47 - Guild Train / Art Fairs

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Keywords: art fair; Emily Wolfson; Guild Train; Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen; L and N Railroad; Richard Bellando

59:17 - Standards Committee (quality in design and craftsmanship)

0:00



WILLIHNGANZ: Why don’t you tell us a little bit; first, let’s just take a walking tour of this amazing workshop.

ALVIC: Okay, of this amazing studio. Well, you know one dreams of one’s ideal space. When we moved into the house originally my husband said, ‘Oh, the room we have for the studio isn’t big enough,’ and I said, ‘Well, I didn’t know an artist that ever thought their studio was big enough.’ ‘So why don’t we live in it a while and decide what I wanted and needed.’ Well, when we thought of adding onto the house, my oldest son, that’s a sculptor asked if he could build it. But we really didn’t, you know, I said, ‘Yes’ very readily. And then my husband said, ‘Well, are you sure?’ And I said, 1:00‘Well, everybody I knew that had built something talked about all the fights they had had with builders.’ And I said, ‘I have had a lot of experience fighting with this child and I might actually win one.’ But it worked out that we didn’t really fight. We managed to cooperate and both put ideas into it so that it’s this wonderful room with lots of light in it and gives me scope for creativity in many departments as a weaver. And also as a writer because it’s very important when writing to be able to look out a window. I work with yarn that’s already spun and dyed. I don’t have any personal 2:00relationships with small furry animals or that sort of thing and color is very, very important in my work. So I’ve always liked to have the yarn that I use out and visible. And I previously had the yarn in these laundry baskets up on shelves, but my son also built these storage units that go underneath the windows and still let me see everything. I may comment here that even though I have hundreds of pounds of yarn here, there is never enough. There is always that color I wished I had. Moving on around the room I have three large looms 3:00that are up and functioning now. My thought was that depending on how I felt on a particular day, rotate from loom to loom but that doesn’t seem to be the way I work. I kind of focus on one at a time and then finish up those projects and then go on to the next one. And the looms do slightly different things so that’s the reason to have several of them. And two of them are now attached to computers. It’s not as easy as pushing a button and I still use two arms and two legs in the weaving. It just helps with the pattern. But even that is after I spend a lot of time programming in the pattern and things. I can also demonstrate if you like.

4:00

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, why don’t you?

ALVIC: If you like an example of a weaver in a loom, we can do that one too. This unit does make a little noise. Okay, that’s the last row I row. Oh, okay. With weaving, there’s a whole language that goes along with it. The 5:00weaving machine is a loom I throw a shuttle that has a bobbin in it with the yarn that I put across. The pattern is built up one row at a time and I do what is known as loom controlled weaving. In other words, this part of the loom which are the harnesses, bring up groups of threads and by doing different groups I can get these very intricate patterns. An interesting historical footnote that all of us weavers like to point out is the loom was actually some 6:00of the major thinking that went into computers. Particularly, the Jacquard loom and how it controlled threads. In fact, Jacquard cards that control a roll of weaving look amazingly like those old punch cards that many of us will remember the computers used to work on. The computer ….it controls the order that the threads come up to form the pattern. Now this information doesn’t get into the computer by magic. I put it in you know in a rather laborious way. So I 7:00sometimes feel like what end am I spending my time at. But the other looms that I have had treadles underneath the loom that controlled rising the harnesses and I got very frustrated because I didn’t have enough feet. And although I could get underneath and adjust little pegs to have several groups of threads come up at a time because I was getting more and more elaborate ideas for patterns I felt I was spending more time underneath the loom. So this way is definitely preferable and I still though use the large loom over there for my major panels because it actually is better equipment to do with that type of weaving than to 8:00use this computer. So I’m not using the computer to do what I had been doing previously faster or more efficiently. I’m doing what I did previously and then expanding into other areas. The up and down threads on a loom that are threaded through heddles on harnesses, that’s these threads, are called the ‘warp’. The ones that go across are called the ‘weft’. So this particular warp was put on the loom for a sample exchange group that I’m a member of. Each year this group of weavers called, ‘The Sixteen’ exchanges samples usually around a certain pattern that we’re all very creative with. 9:00This thread structure is called, ‘Crackle’. We have one member in Australia, one in the Netherlands and a couple in Canada, so we’re really an international group that we have fun in. So there is around twenty people in the group; so when the samples come, it’s like these Christmas presents from all over the world with all of these wonderful patterns. And then they give detailed directions so we know how they came up with these particular patterns. The name ‘The Sixteen’ comes from - we all do patterns that have sixteen harnesses. Most weavers in the world are content with four and some very 10:00wonderful weavers use a loom that’s really no more than a frame. A loom, this one has a lot of apparatus associated with it, but the basic function of the loom is to keep the warp threads at equal tension. And so for a tapestry loom, it can be very, very simple because it’s how the weaver manipulates the threads that make the pattern, where with me it’s the loom that does it. With this loom I step on pedals underneath that bring up groups of threads. This is a block weave so some of the threads are controlled just in groups. With my weaving, the major pieces that are on the wall behind me, it’s essentially how 11:00I control those blocks of threads that come up, that and create the different patterns. The closest thing to explaining the way I design is filling in squares on graph paper and then I can set up a square on the graph paper to correspond with the threads on the loom. And this particular loom will let me weave a very wide piece. One is limited by the width of the loom although there are cleaver ways that you can essentially weave double loom and open up things. 12:00Weavers are problem solvers. We like to figure out things and work things out. We’re very different from other people in the needle arts: knitter’s even quilters. They tend to like to follow things that they already see, you know, follow other peoples patterns. A weaver never wants to do that. You look at other peoples patterns for ideas but we like to figure out things and put things together in our own way. Most weavers are not using weaving for a totally creative decorative end like I do. They make things. They make things that are 13:00useful in the environment such as, rugs or clothing. Or well, think of the textiles you have in your house. At one time, they were all made by a weaver or sometimes even the woman of the house, if she was skilled enough to weave. So most of the weavers will do functional things, where I went to an art school. And mid way through I was in a weaving class and realized that weaving dealt more specifically with the things I was interested in, which was color and texture and a controlled form. As a painter I would always set up problems for 14:00myself to solve. And I always felt more comfortable in from painting-to-painting taking very small creative step that I wanted to keep certain things the same so that I would know what was causing something to happen. So that I could make it happen again. Well, weaving focused more on these particular interests. Now it took me a while to kind of realize that I wanted to devote the rest of my life to weaving rather than to painting, but I had sufficiently done that by the time I was out of school. And it helped that there was a scholarship available for a weaving student. So I kind of took that 15:00scholarship and became a weaver mostly because I hadn’t expected to get a full tuition scholarship. I even had partial ones before that and so the windfall of money that I had from the scholarship I bought a loom. Well when you have a loom, you’re a weaver. Arriving in Kentucky was one of those things that kind of happened to me. I was following a husband who had a new job. He was employed by Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky and I found myself in 16:00the far western end of Kentucky trying to develop a career. Well this was not easy, you know. I had three small children at the time and trying to weave and things. But one of the things that I hit on because I couldn’t do the normal career path that a lot of artists or weavers would have done because I was so far away from everything else. So I decided to, in effect, curate my own exhibitions. And one of the things that I did I thought , well, to try and engage people instead of talking about weaving and how cleaver I was, in that 17:00direction I thought people were more engaged through language. So I decided, well, I’ll do a series of hangings around a piece of literature. I first thought of Shakespeare because doesn’t everybody and then I thought, no, people’s visual images for that would be in their own heads already. I wanted to put the visual images. So I wanted something famous that most people had heard of, but nobody had read lately or maybe at all, but they had heard of. So after surveying a lot of different pieces I decided on Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake. And it was even set in Scotland so there were nice even textile illusions to that. And I did twenty of these hanging panels around Sir Walter 18:00Scott’s Lady of the Lake poem that were keys to different passages in the poetry. And this did work very well. It was exhibited in lots and lots of places and so but after Lady of the Lake, I of course, I continued working. My next series had to do with Mary Hambidge and the Rabun Weavers of Rabun Gap, Georgia. Mary Hambidge’s place that she worked and lived in north Georgia is now an artist colony. Well through the benefit of a small grant from the 19:00Kentucky Arts Council I went to the Hambidge Center for a couple of weeks. I fell in love with the place in the mountains. It was wonderful! Well, the director said to me, ‘You know the woman that founded this place was a weaver.’ Well I said, ‘Well I thought there was something about that building with all the looms in it.’ You know, okay, joke. But he then said, ‘That there were a couple of trunks full of her weaving.’ Well my eyes lit up and scurried over to look at all of this. Well I came back to Kentucky and on a trip to Lexington walked into the Humanities Council and said, ‘Will you give me money to go study a woman in Georgia?’ And they said, ‘Well you know you have to write a grant and why would Kentuckians be interested in her’ and a few questions like that. And I ended up going back there to study about 20:00her and her weaving. Well that led into then studying about the Appalachian Craft Revival and weavers in Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and the entire Southern Appalachian Region that finally culminated in a book. This is one from the Mary Hambidge series and with my weaving, and I relate them a lot to a 22:0021:00particular time and place. And I see something particular in the environment that I want to call other people’s attention to. And so with Mary Hambidge’s log cabin, it was set in the middle of this intense lushness of the north Georgia forest. So to try and get that intensity of greens and say you know, this is what she surrounded herself with. That was one of the things that I was going for and the again the rigidness of the house structure but then the 24:0023:00variety of unpredictability of then things around it. I do weaving that, like I say, is controlled entirely by the loom. Where many people look at the weavings or look at pictures of them particularly and think I’ve used a tapestry technique where I’ve used a discontinuance weft which means a thread that doesn’t go all the way across. And it allows for a lot of subtle manipulation of threads and colors and that’s where you get the medieval tapestries with the intricate pictures. Well I’m limited to things at right angles that I can get the illusion of curves by having small little steps up. 25:00Like in some of the other ones if again, if I have enough blocks to kind of make it look like it curves, but mostly with things at right angles so to bring in different feelings with the colors I use, with the textures of the different yarns to give a richness to the surface. With the piece on the end I’ve actually woven different strips that I’ve appliquéd or sewn on top. So I did the base weaving and then did the strips on top but the strips on top show. 26:00Really it’s more obvious how I combine different groups of threads to make patterns especially when you can see a pattern like this where they are little stair steps going up and then those are combined to make a block around. But I originally started copying patterns from other needle arts, from cross stitch, from different embroidery, because they use graph paper to do designs too. But then I got so good at filling in little squares, that many times now I can’t even tell whether they were ones I appropriated or was inspired by someplace 27:00else or actually created myself. I used to buy graph paper, by the ream and fill it up with you know hundreds of little designs. I now have a computer program that is the graph paper but instead I’m clicking on little boxes to fill in them instead of filling them in with a pen.

I have done a lot of work in my life and I will continue to do it now that I have this wonderful studio. Unfortunately my most current work is out in exhibition so I can’t show you the new direction that I’m going in. They have more to do with draped pieces of weaving. But I don’t think I will totally give up these large panels again, because I don’t think I’ve explored everything that I want to say with that type of weaving. So maybe 28:00someday they will even be the two thoughts combined. You know one doesn’t exactly where one is going creatively.

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell us about these pieces over here.

ALVIC: Okay. Well there are some here that are from the Lady of the Lake series. Oh, with doing a series like Lady of the Lake, I wanted to, oh, let us say, I was not opposed to selling them. And so I decided well if I sell one, I’ll make another one to go in its place. But of course it won’t be the same one, so it was twenty hangs but I did thirty all told that were in the 29:00series. The way that I unified them as a group was they all had rust colored borders. My Mary Hambidge series has pastel colored borders. So you can kind of tell when you see things what series they belong to by what the borders are. I then did kind of one that centered on some of my international travels. And so they’re in there too. But then in more recent years, I have gotten into more experimenting with different types of weave structures and doing things. And this hasn’t evolved into an actual series yet because I still feel I’m 30:00finding my way with that so.

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell me about all the stuff up on top.

ALVIC: Oh, well up on top hmm. There’s the basket from Rwanda. That was made by a company; its two sisters that have organized villages in Rwanda that are making their baskets. There are whole villages where the women make these baskets and the sisters design the designs on the outside and then they’re made in these. They go from very, very small ones. They could be the sort used as a Christmas tree ornament to these very large ones. In fact, this fall I was 31:00in their place of business, and they had huge baskets that sat on the floor that I would have loved to have brought back with me, but couldn’t figure out how to get it on the airplane [laugher]. It has been a real success story for Rwanda. They went to Rwanda after the Genocide and they had grown up in exile and came back to the country. Their parents were from Rwanda, and wanted to do something to help the people there. So they started organizing women to make 32:00crafts and the sisters would then market it. I was asked by an agency that got money from the USAID, which is our foreign aid money, to go to East Africa and talk to several companies that would then come to the U.S. and try and sell their products through a trade show. I did end up going to the trade show in New York with these companies and they were from all over East Africa. Well, even at that trade show the real success was Janet and the baskets from Rwanda when they were approached by Macy’s. And have had a long and very profitable 33:00relationship with Macy’s selling their products. And when I was there in Rwanda, they moved from a well, [Rwanda was considered a fairly decent size shop, but in retrospect is very small compared to what they have now] into a major complex, where they have a building that is probably twice the size of my studio that they have just for shipping. And another building where they’re training women and they were currently training sixty women when I was there to make the baskets. And essentially the women can then make a living for their families. And because so many of the men were killed even now they’re villages that are still predominantly women even more than ten years after the 34:00Genocide. So it’s a real economic benefit to the country.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, let’s begin again here.

ALVIC: Okay.

WILLIHNGANZ: And as I say, don’t worry if you sneeze or if you need to yawn or whatever, we can cut anything out and will.

ALVIC: Yes, well, yes.

WILLIHNGANZ: I’m recently discreet about that.

ALVIC: Okay.

WILLIHNGANZ: My goal here [unintelligible].

ALVIC: Okay. The object is not to embarrass the people.

WILLIHNGANZ: That would be accurate. That would be accurate. So tell me about a little bit about your history as a crafts person in terms of you know.

ALVIC: Okay. Well I’ve alluded to a little before; again it’s how far back you want to go. You know my parents had a good friend that was an artist, so I 35:00was around creative people when I was growing up. And she, you know, supposedly said to my mother when I was very young, ‘That girl has a good sense of color’, which has always been one of my really strong suits. And so I grew up drawing. I grew up with crayons. I mean a new box of crayons was, you know, the signal of all that. I always loved the arts and so my parents being very child centered individuals, signed me up for classes at the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago. So I went to classes when I was very young and then 36:00continuously from age ten on. And when I was in high school I became a work-study person for the Junior School, which was really very nice. I covered tuition from my class by helping the teacher put out materials and clean up afterwards. And the woman, who assigned those particular things, liked me a lot, so she assigned me to high school classes. So, it was really like I was getting two classes for free every Saturday. And then I also did six week sessions during the summer. So I had a whole lot of art in my growing up years. But then, because I’m the age that I am, there was Admiral Rickover. And Admiral Rickover told people my age that it was our duty to study math and 37:00science, because the Russians had put up sputnik and they were obviously winning something. So I had planned to go and study math in college. And one day my mother said to me who really never gave, you know, overt advice, you know, usually she would, said ‘I think you would be much happier going to the Art Institute and studying than studying math.’ It was like, oh, that was what I needed to hear and I said, ‘Mother, I think you’re right.’ And so with all the arrogance of youth, I devoted one Sunday afternoon to either accumulating or doing the necessary entrance requirements to get in. Well, it 38:00was only when I was there with my fellow classmates, did I realize other students had spent months compiling their portfolio. And I just kind of put it together. But then again, since I had grown up kind of in their Junior School, I couldn’t conceive them not wanting me as a student. Well, going to a professional art school is very different than going to a regular college, because you major in art, you minor in art and all of your electives are in art. We did only the basic minimum requirements for the state of Illinois to get a degree. And it meant that once a week, I walked half a mile to the University of Chicago downtown center that had a contract with the Art Institute to fulfill this requirement. But again, being a child of my time, I had to have a job 39:00coming out of school. I knew I would have to be making some money. So again females my age you became nurses, or secretaries, or teachers, so being a teacher - so I took art education. Well art education at a professional art school is kind of different than art education at a regular college, because we had to have a ‘B’ average to get into art education. So that meant we were the better students [laugher]. And also one wonderful thing that worked definitely in my favor, was you didn’t have to meet some of the requirements were, like a major in painting or a major in sculpture. So it allowed me to 40:00experiment more with the types of classes I took. And so I was predominantly a painting major, but they said take a craft and it was like, oh, I had taken sculpture and found out I didn’t think three dimensionally very well. So I thought weaving that would and I had grown up around textiles. My mother was a very accomplished seamstress and my father was in the cloth slipcover business. So I grew up in a household with textiles around all the time, so it seemed very natural. In a way, I had to overcome some of my own prejudices. As you know painting is a real art and a craft wasn’t, but I thought well if I used the 41:00craft, I could make art. And then there was also I really, really enjoyed the act of weaving. There is something about the rhythm that your body gets into. And so, was it all right to do something that wasn’t enjoyed that much? Well as I said earlier, getting a scholarship for my fourth year from the North Shore Weavers Guild was the thing that definitely decided me on being a weaver. And they had to go to the North Shore Weavers Guild and say, would they accept 42:00somebody in art education, because really I wasn’t a weaving major, I was an art ed major. And they said, ‘Oh, yes, they would’ because they thought, ‘Oh, she would go out and teach other people to weave.’ Well, I have done some teaching of weaving but mostly I’ve done weaving. So they at least got one good weaver out of it and maybe I have inspired a few others along the way. At one point I thought maybe I did want to go into college teaching of weaving, but by the time I got around to thinking of getting credentials, a master’s degree and that sort of thing, most of the college jobs had been taken up by my contemporaries. And like I said, I wasn’t too sad, because I really wanted to 43:00weave. But then trying to develop a career from far Western Kentucky had certain interesting ramifications in my life which has really led to a much fuller life. Trying to promote myself and my weaving without much capital to invest into it. I started writing about my work and found out I could get them published in weaving magazines with a couple of nice colored pictures of my work. It was like, ‘Oh, this is great!’ So I became writing a lot about weaving and about techniques. And I do a very technical type of weaving, so I got things published. And then you know my husband calls it, ‘Being chatty.’ He says, ‘I’m very good at this.’ And I was talking to an 44:00editor and I had parlayed one article into three, because of the length for the magazine. And then I said, when I was sending in the final one, I said, ‘In fact my husband says I have enough ideas for a column.’ So on my fortieth birthday the editor called to discuss the name of my column. So it took the edge off of getting older.

WILLIHNGANZ: What did you call it?

ALVIC: ‘Notes of a Pattern Weaver’, a nice literary illusion then. And so I wrote the column for a couple of years for that magazine and then they changed their focus. But another magazine, I was also writing for, was very happy to pick up the column. So it went on for another couple of years until that 45:00magazine ceased to exist. But all of a sudden I had writing credentials, so when I applied for a Humanities Grant, all of a sudden, I could list you know all of my magazine publications. Also living in Murray, Kentucky, because it’s so isolated, that university provides a lot of things because they realize they’re students that come from the local area have not been exposed to a lot. So most of these things were also free, which was nice. And I realized very early that it was better not to discriminate. If there was something happening, you just go. So the English department had a wonderful series of poets and writers that would come to talk. And they had nice little 46:00receptions afterwards, so I’d go and interact with the poets. I’d go to the foreign film society that showed lots of wonderful films. The Civic Music had regular concerts from acts that were happy to have a fill in day in Murray, Kentucky on Tuesday or Thursday, when they were doing major cities on the weekends. Of course, some of them had signed the contracts before they actually realized how hard it was to get to Murray. But so I was seeing people with you know many times international reputations. So there was a lot more going on there than one would have thought in the way of stimulation. And there was also 47:00Emily Wilson. I would not be alive today if it was not for Emily. She had such a profound influence on my life when I was living in Murray and still continues to today. Rarely, I think in this life do we meet somebody where our minds just seem to be running in the same sort of track. I often feel sorry for other people that are around Emily and I, when we are together, because we talk in such shorthand. And because we know how the other person will think and react to something. Well Emily also made sure that within a month of living in the 48:00state of Kentucky that I was a member of the Kentucky Guild and of Artists and Craftsman. When I moved in it was February first and I started asking if anybody knew anybody with a loom or that was a weaver. Well Emily’s name was mentioned to me and I called her up and we perhaps talked for an hour or so the first conversation. And she said, ‘Well, have you thought of joining the Kentucky Guild.’ And I said, ‘Oh, yes, I had even gotten the papers for it, but it was past the deadline for submitting for the jury that was to take place in March.’ And she said, ‘Don’t worry about that.’ And so I didn’t know who I had encountered at that point. But Emily fixed it up so that the 49:00deadline was waived and it could be waived because the jury was in Murray. So all I had to do was take over my things to the art building, where the jury was meeting. Well, Emily in the ways that she worked, also within the next few months, had me on the Standards Committee for the Kentucky Guild. And she also, over the years, has filled in considerable history of the Guild, because she was one of those early, early founding members. I also learned of the influence of Clara Eagle that was the head of the Art Department at Murray that made it into 50:00the best Art Department in the state of Kentucky, reputation that has lived on for many years after the passing of Clara. And Clara in fact, told Emily that she was going to be active in the Guild [laugher] that was the way Clara ran her department. Emily is a weaver and a water-colorist primarily. And a lot of our views on art are amazingly similar even though we came from very, very different backgrounds. She grew up in Henderson, Kentucky. I grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She went to Newcomb College at Tulane and then to Louisiana State for 51:00her master’s degree. I have a bachelor’s in art education from the Art Institute of Chicago. But like I say, we think in very, very similar ways even though our backgrounds are very different. And Emily was married to Alfred Wolfson who is head of the Biology Department at Murray State. And it used to bother him that in the visual field that we couldn’t have a set of verifiable standards that we could tell other people. It was like Emily and I knew what they were, because we knew them visually. And most artists are very, very bad 52:00at talking about even their own work, because they don’t make that leap from the visual world into the world of speech. And most of the people in the society have a very poor knowledge of the visual world, so we often feel like well; we can hardly talk to each other, let alone to anybody else. So when you meet somebody that you know understands where you are, it’s really quite wonderful and reassuring and you know really rare and I was fortunate enough to have done that.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now what year did you actually join the Guild?

ALVIC: Oh, well that’s easy because I came to Kentucky in February 1, 1976. And so I was a Guild member in ‘76.

53:00

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, they actually started in ‘60 or ‘61 yeah.

ALVIC: Sixty well, it’s pinning down the actual years; there were several kind of starting points. There was the starting of the train.

WILLIHNGANZ: Right.

ALVIC: And Emily was very involved in the train and logistics for the train and it moving around also, putting together an exhibition that was on the train. I don’t know whether she told you about the clever panels that they had designed to display the art work.

WILLIHNGANZ: I don’t believe she did.

ALVIC: Oh, well it was clever. They wrote to famous artists around the country and asked for the loan of the piece and they wrote to my teacher. So Emily felt 54:00that was another connection that we had. Else Regensteiner who was my teacher at the Art Institute loaned them a piece, because they didn’t have money to buy pieces, so that it traveled around. And then the train, they also had crafts people to demonstrate. It as part of the art experience and it became harder and harder to schedule places for the train to go, because the railroads were cutting back. And it was because one of the early founders husband worked for the L & N that they were able to do this at all. And they had been funded by the state government, the Department of Commerce and they were going to pull 55:00the funding because the train wasn’t going to go anymore. So they said, ‘Well, let us try and start a fair to see if we can generate some money to keep the organization going.’ And so this is part of what I got from Emily, was that history and she was the president at the time they put together the first fair. And so she worked very closely with Rick Bellando in getting that to be a reality. And Emily had some kind of family crisis and actually didn’t make it to the first fair, but went to many subsequent fairs after that.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now that would have been in the sixties [unintelligible].

ALVIC: Yeah, in the late sixties.

56:00

WILLIHNGANZ: Were they still doing the train when you joined the Guild?

ALVIC: No, the train was long gone so and they had the fair, the fair was well established by the time I joined.

WILLIHNGANZ: Were they doing one fair a year or two?

ALVIC: They were doing by the time I came in ‘76, they were doing two fairs a year. And it was out at the Indian Fort and you know it was quite a production by then. They had the cute little tents with the kind of circus canopies on them and so it had a nice unified look. It was in this nicely wooded area. It was definitely an event to come to. And those were in the days before, you 57:00know, every collection of half-a-dozen houses had their own crafts fair. They were not that prevalent and the Guild had quite a reputation then for the high standards and so there were large crowds with it. And from Emily I got it was very important that the Guild was a Guild for the whole state. Now of course Emily was coming from far Western Kentucky, but that was for the whole state especially too. That the Guild from its very inception took in traditional 58:00crafts-people working within a tradition as well as, the college trained art student crafts person. Well and artist, unlike a lot of the crafts organizations, Kentucky was for artists and craftsman. So there has always been this nice mix of, we don’t separate out crafts, you know, we consider the creative visual arts together. And there was always this mixing and helping of people that came out of very rural backgrounds in Kentucky, to help them market their products. So the Guild did a lot in education and a lot in providing 59:00markets for people, a lot in working with crafts people to help them market their products. A lot in fact through the standards committee when somebody was rejected it didn’t mean they were told to go away and never come back. We told them go away and do these things, you know, with a little bit more attention, then may-be next time you’ll get in. And so there was definitely the history of people in the Guild that had tried many times to get in and had finally succeeded in bringing their work up to that quality both in design and in craftsmanship, because we rated them in those two categories. And sometimes it was saying, well you’ve submitted a range of products; we think this 60:00particular product shows the most potential. Work on doing this one in more depth then, with different varieties and we think that will be a better product for you. With the Guild, the education meant not only for the members, but the Guild has always felt they were educating an audience too. They were educating the future consumers. So the fairs would go on Friday, so that school groups could be bussed in to have an experience at the fair. Some of the teachers did 61:00an excellent job of preparing those students for the fair and that the students would come with lists of questions to ask people And so that they would really get an in-depth feeling. Part of the fairs have always been, I was talking, about craftspeople demonstrating.

[End of Interview Part I]