Oral History Interview with Miriam Woolfolk

Kentucky Historical Society


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0:25 - Early arts exposure / family

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Keywords: china painting; drawing; family; L and N Railroad; L&N Railroad; Long Fellow school; Louisville; painting; Saint Valentine's Day; Speed Museum; Valentine's Day; watercolor; woodworker

4:00 - Early arts education / Joining the Lexington Art League

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Keywords: Alma Lehnert; education; Lexington Art League; Lucy Deeks; painting; sculpture; silk screen; watercolor; woodwork

6:37 - Explaining some of her pieces of art

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Keywords: book binding; book making; Elmer's Glue; Frankfort (KY); Haiku; Jay Hill Hammond; Kentucky State Poetry Society; Lexington Art League; Miniature, Painters, Sculptors, Engravers Society; Miniatures Society of Washington D.C.; Paper Punch Mosaic; Parkinson's disease; quilting; Seasons (title); Second Presbyterian Church; Smithsonian; watercolor; Whippoorwill Press

13:05 - Reason to create / Member of multiple art groups

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Keywords: Berea (KY); Boone Tavern; Dr. Robert Kinnard; Henry Clay High School; Jim Smith; Kentucky State Poetry Society; Kentucky Watercolor Society; Lexington Art League; Louisville (KY)

17:43 - Early Lexington Art League / first outdoor art show

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Keywords: Art Department at University of Kentucky; art fair; art show; Augusta (KY); Doctor's Park; Elsie Kennedy; exhibit; Jane Bolotin; Jim Foose; Lexington (KY); Marysville (KY); potter; Tate's Creek; Theresa Newhoff; watercolor; Winchester (KY)

25:52 - Encouragement to create art

27:03 - Making connections with other artists in the Lexington Art League / Community engagement with the arts

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Keywords: Berea (KY); Lexington Art League; Lilian Boyer; Living Arts and Science Center; print maker

30:34 - President of Lexington Art League / exhibit in France /artists met while being in the League

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Keywords: Anita Young; Arturo Sandoval; Bluegrass Artists Association; Bluegrass Fair; exhibit; Jim Gray; Jim Young; Kentucky State Poetry Society; Lavon Williams; Loudon House; Newsletter; Paris, France; sculptor; Sheepdog Trials; Susan Goldstein; Tennessee; watercolor

39:43 - Changing climate of arts and craft culture in Kentucky / arts education in the Commonwealth

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Keywords: education; Governor's Awards; Guild Train; Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen; Phyllis George

43:38 - Importance of arts education in schools

44:34 - Miniature boxes made from leftover material / book making


WILLIHNGANZ: This is Greg Willihnganz, interviewing Mariam Woolfolk at Susan Goldstein’s house in Lexington, Kentucky, for the Kentucky Craft History and Education Association. It is August 20, 2008.

WILLIHNGANZ: Mariam…can you tell us sort of, you know, summary statement if you will, the type of work that you’ve done over the years…the type of artistic craft work that you’ve been involved with?

WOOLFOLK: A lot of different things, I guess…drawing, painting. Not so much sculpture, but I think I’ve tried a little bit of everything, and find that watercolor painting was my favorite, and oh, I can’t …I can’t put my finger on one thing, because there’s so many.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now are these things you learned as you grew up? Did you…were you born in Kentucky? Did you grow up here?

WOOLFOLK: I was born in Louisville on Valentine’s Day in 1926, and valentine has kinda stayed with me I think, the motif, the idea of heart and soul. My mother embroidered. My dad, who worked for the L & M Railroad, had a workshop in the basement, and although he wasn’t home a lot, he loved to create things on a lathe and a jigsaw, and he had a wonderful workbench. And, I would spend time with him down there. And my aunts and her sisters, my mom’s sisters, all did china painting when they were young, so it…it just kinda…I guess it’s ingrown, and it…it’s hard to say where it began. When I was in the second grade, and I’ve said this before, I had a poem, a little poem in the school newspaper. I went to Longfellow in Louisville, which is no longer there, and they put it in the school newspaper, and that I guess really made me feel good. And, I wanted to write more poems, and I still do. But then, I remember in the 5th or 6th grade having…we had art almost every day in the Louisville schools. We didn’t have it up here in Lexington when we moved here, so my children didn’t get that. But, I remember having a piece put in with another…other exhibitors at Longfellow School. It was elementary, and we hung our work at the Speed Museum in Louisville, which was my favorite place to go, and I think that was probably the first exhibit. And then, I remember picking up little…during the depression years you reused everything, and I used to save colored candy wrappers, cellophane. And one time, I made a black outline of a stained-glass window, and then pasted the cellophane behind it, and I gave it to my 6th grade teacher. And, she was so impressed she hung it on the…put it on the window. And that just made my day. I mean, you know, it’s always been in there…the creative spirit, I suppose.

WILLIHNGANZ: Did you get in your art classes a lot of exposure to different types of media?

WOOLFOLK: My art classes in…we could elect art beginning in the 9th grade at Highland Junior High School, which I did. And, Elma Lehnert…L-E-H-N-E-R-T…I believe, was our art instructor, and she used to bring prints of the impressionist artists, the French and different ones for us to identify. We had tests on identifying ‘The Blue Boy’, and this and that. And then, when I went into senior high school at Atherton, which was for girls at that time, I also elected art. And, Lucy Deekes was my teacher, and I loved Lucy. She taught us everything, from portrait painting and oils, to sculpture to…I remember we had to do a piece of sculpture, and we didn’t do watercolor. I didn’t do watercolor until later years, but yes--yes we got a pretty good education.

WILLIHNGANZ: Did you, outside of high school, did you have any other art classes, or art experience, or training?

WOOLFOLK: No, no, not really.

WILLIHNGANZ: When you look at the things you do right now, do you see a progression in terms of what you started out doing and developed. How it took you into other areas?

WOOLFOLK: I guess it wasn’t until I joined the Lexington Art League in the early 60’s, and was taking night class in watercolor painting, that I began to work with some other mediums. And, joining the Art League put me in contact with so many other artists, and we shared…we shared at our meetings…we…that…that’s where I picked up a lot of it, I think. And, I did take a silk screen class at the University at night. I did take a woodworking class , and various things, because my interests went everywhere, and I didn’t really settle down. I don’t think I’m settled down yet. I still love to experiment.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. Perhaps you could show us some of the pieces that you brought with you today.

WOOLFOLK: Well. When I was…I was president of the Kentucky State Poetry Society in 1985, and somewhere about that time, I guess, I met Jay Hill Hammond who was…he owned Whippoorwill Press in Frankfort, and he wanted to do a miniature book. And, he knew that I did some Haiku, so he decided we would do a book together. And, I made all the covers by hand, over two hundred of them, and he printed my little poems on a hand press…the Whippoorwill Press.

WILLIHNGANZ: Maybe you could share with us any poems?

WOOLFOLK: And, it had some little drawings in it, but this is called, ‘Seasons’, and I think…well, there is one, there is one in the Museum of Haiku Literature in Tokyo, Japan, believe it or not, and some in the University collection. There’s one over here at UK. Oh, they have a miniature case of books. There’s one over there in the King Library. And then, oh, as I say, I got into watercolor, and I kept getting smaller and smaller. And, I got into the Miniature Society of the Washington D.C. Miniature Society. Its called the Miniature Painters-Sculptures-Engravers Society…about 1980 something…and these two paintings in…most of the exhibits over the years…they have an annual international exhibit. And then, in recent years, they’ve started a world exhibition of miniature painters, miniature painters from all over the world. And in 19…let’s see, four years ago, in 2004, the Washington D.C. Society was the sponsor for the world show, and we had it at the Smithsonian in the, what do they call it? The international gallery…and these two were in that show: So, I felt very pleased, and happy to have them in there. And, I think I was the only Kentuckian, which is a little unusual , I think. This…shall I tell them about this? Okay, can you, can you see this.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah. Just give it a sec.

WOOLFOLK: This is what I call a paper punch mosaic. And no, I never saw anybody else do it. It is something I made up. You take a paper punch and punch out all different colors. Most of mine are saved in different bottles of different colors, and they come from Christmas card envelopes…red and green…newsletters all around the outside where there’s not any printing. And, you find different colors. And then what I do is sketch a design on here, something very light, and I begin to paste one at a time with Elmer’s glue across. Sometimes I’ll work across the bottom, sometimes across the middle, and try to get the colors to blend, and this is one of the results. My church, Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, has a collection of several larger pieces than this, because they are religious in meaning, and I didn’t know what to do with them when I moved to a small condo. So, I gave them to my church. That’s why they have them. Do you want me to talk about this?


WOOLFOLK: The Art League. The Lexington Art League has, of course, continuing exhibits. And last year, we decided to do a recycling exhibit to show things that can be made from recycled materials, or from bits and pieces and scraps. And so, I…for years I had worked on this quilt. Oh, and it’s full bed size, but it’s all made with tiny little pieces of material, and some of it has labels on it, and there was a label that said, ‘When this you see, remember me’. And, I expect my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember me when they see this. But, it took, as I say, years to construct. A lot of it was done at the time when my late husband had Parkinson’s disease, and I would sit with him and sew, and while he watched television or read. So, mother used to say I had the patience of Job. And, a lot of other people have told me that, so I guess this must prove it . Anyways, it was fun. It was hung at the Art League in the downstairs gallery, and there were a couple of ladies that came by, and they said it blew our minds…so.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now. Have your artistic creations basically been for your own expression, or have they been a source of income for you, or?

WOOLFOLK: Well, a little bit of both. But I…I don’t sell a lot anymore. I don’t try to…I never considered it a business. It was always just pure joy, and the love of exhibiting with my friends, so no.

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell me some of the different art associations and organizations that you’ve belonged to?

WOOLFOLK: I was a charter member of the Kentucky Watercolor Society, which is based in Louisville. And, I still belong to it. And, I have been in several of their juried exhibits. I don’t exhibit much anymore, but I think the Watercolor Society…I didn’t have this close a relationship with the people there that I have had with the Lexington Art League. Besides…I mentioned partly before. I will tell you that I’m also a member of the Kentucky State Poetry Society. And, I have been president of the Kentucky State Poetry Society. In 1985, when we were looking for a place to have our annual meetings, I chose Berea. And we went to Boone Tavern, and spent our weekend there. And, of course, it was surrounded by craft shops. And that was one of the things that some of the people have told me that they remember most from here…poetry weekends…was Berea, and all those wonderful crafts. So, maybe I introduced them to Kentucky Crafts, I don’t know , a lady from Indiana, particularly. But then, the Art League. I went through some years by myself. Four years of trying to raise four kids by myself. And, I decided to take a night painting class at Henry Clay, the old Henry Clay High School, with Jim Smith, who is no longer with us. But Jim was very well known. He’d been a teacher there for years. And he said one night, ‘Why don’t you join the Lexington Art League’. And I said, ‘What is it?’ And, he explained to me that it had begun in 1957 with just a handful of people. They had their first outdoor show around the courthouse, here in Lexington, and later they would exhibit at places…wherever they could find a window to put their stuff, and which included clothing stores, and everything else. And, they didn’t have a home. And then, in the early 60’s, Dr. Gerlach, Dr. Sigmund Gerlach who worked…he was a radiologist at Doctors’ Park on Limestone in Lexington, he offered, he and Dr. Robert Kennard offered their wall space to the Art League to have a home. And that was where we first got started. And, I learned about it shortly after that, because I went to work for Dr. Kennard as a secretary/bookkeeper /receptionist…whatever. And that opened up a whole new world. Even though I had the four children, they were old enough that I was able to do my thing, too. And oh, I just fell in love with all of the things that we did, the programs that we had. And, I worked as treasurer, and publicity, and vice-president, and you name it, before I became president in our bicentennial year. That was a challenge. And, oh, I don’t know. I…I just belonged to a lot of different things, and they all seemed to kinda coalesce together.

WILLIHNGANZ: What was the League like when you joined it?

WOOLFOLK: The what?

WILLIHNGANZ: The League, the Art League.

WOOLFOLK: When I joined it there, we had no newsletter. And I, as I say, we met at Doctors Park after hours. We would push the reception furniture together in a circle, and I mean the doctors let us do this. And, we would have our programs. And then, we would have a demonstration or something like that, and Jim Foose was one of the first that I remember. He was…he’s retired from the Art Department at the University of Kentucky. Jim does some beautiful things. But, at that time, he was into watercolor washes. And, I guess, maybe that was one of the first reasons that I took up watercolor. And, we had demonstrations on matt cutting and putting frames together, those metal frames that everybody used there, and that was what we were supposed to use when we had an exhibit on our walls. And just, I don’t know, I mean it…it was just a group that got together. And, it was a pretty big group, because it wasn’t just Lexington. It was outlying, Winchester, different places, close enough that people could come and go to the meeting.

WILLIHNGANZ: How many people were in the organization?

WOOLFOLK: Oh. I don’t know. We didn’t have…we didn’t have a…probably less than a hundred then. We didn’t have a booklet then. We didn’t put out a booklet until after, I think, Jane Boliton was our president at that time. And, Jane was a potter, and I have one of her pots here. She called it a weed pot, and you put one little weed in there. But, I loved it, because it had different designs on it. So, we didn’t just have artists, visual artists. We had potters, and a little bit…little bit of everything, crafts and…oh, I think it was during her administration as president. Of course, that was long before you had directors and all of that, that she had us put out a membership booklet which Dr. Gerlach…he had a printing press in the basement at the Doctors Park…and he printed up our first membership books. And then, we began to grow. And, we had our first outdoor show in the parking lot at Doctors Park…we had an indoor showing.

WILLIHNGANZ: Can we stop…start recording. You were talking about the first show that you did out in the doctor’s parking lot. And, how many people did you have at that show?

WOOLFOLK: Well, are you talking about people who came to see us, or people who actually participated ?


WOOLFOLK: We had probably twenty or so…there was no such thing as a booth. At that time, you set up a stand or a table. Or, it was the same way with Woodland Park, their first shows. All we had was tables and chairs, and if it was raining, or it was sunny, you had an umbrella. And, there was no such thing as tents. But, we tried the outdoor parking lot idea to try and entice people in who went zooming out Nicholasville Road, you know. And, we had this big sign. And, we put it in front of the fire plugs - said ‘Art Show’. And, we did attract a few people that way. We got them into the parking lot, and they would come and see our art. This was before all of the outdoor art shows started. And, we did that for two years. And Bob May, I believe, was still chairman of that, and he got some, some good publicity on it. So, we did a little better the second year. We also had an indoor show inside of Doctors Park. But then, in 1975-76, when I came in as president, it was the bicentennial years. And, they asked me whether or not we could take our show downtown to Main Street, and have an art show on Main. And, that was the beginning of the 4th of July art shows, and we had quite a few exhibitors. And, people just loved it, and they would come down. And, the mayor wrote me a letter, and said he had never seen so many people downtown ever, until that day, when we had our art show. So, I mean we felt like we had really accomplished something. I used to participate in the…well, the outdoor art shows became a thing about that time. I went up to Augusta, Kentucky. I went to Maysville. I went over to Winchester, various places that would have shows, and it was fun. You just…you knew the people there, and we would sell, and we would feel very gratified that people liked what we did. So, that’s a sale back in the 1970’s - mid 1970’s.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now. When you joined the league, first joined it, were many of the founding members still active?

WOOLFOLK: No. Well some of ‘em…I think Elsie Kennedy, was the only one that I can remember right off, who was still working, had come over to Doctors Park. And she took us out on an outdoor painting trip down by a creek. She worked at the University, and she was in the Art Department over there. So, you know, these people just kept encouraging us, and we owed them a lot. We really do . I don’t know what happened to the rest of the original people. I didn’t know most of ‘em, but they weren’t too far back. I said Elsie Kennedy, but there was Theresa Neuhauf…Theresa taught art at the junior high school here on Tates Creek. And in fact, one of my daughters had art with her. And, Theresa painted the murals all around the restaurant ‘Upper Walls’ at Ashland and Main Street. And, I think they’re still there, one of those things that hasn’t been torn down. But, Theresa was president of the League while…after I came in, and she was just…she was just a special person. And, she had some wonderful programs for us. Some of them were on tape or something like that. But, I just feel I owe all of these people a great deal, and particularly my high school art teacher, Lucy Deekes.

WILLIHNGANZ: When you say you owe them a great deal, what did they give you?

WOOLFOLK: I guess the encouragement, and the feeling that I could do it, you know. That I could, that I could…for years, all that I did was bookkeeping and things of that sort, and was not encouraged to use my art until after a break up with my first husband. And, it…it was after that, that I found myself, I guess, so to speak, and just, that was me. That was just something that I always did and always wanted to do. I wanted to paint and draw and write…create.

WILLIHNGANZ: When you got into the Art l\League, did you make a lot of contacts with other writers and artists?

WOOLFOLK: Yes. Well, not writers there, but artists, yes. Lillian Boyer and I joined the Art League about the same time. She and her husband had come from California, and he I think was head of Dixie Cup Corporation. And Lillian did quite a bit of art work in California. She was a print maker primarily. And, we were friends for about forty years, I guess, but it was all through the Art League. I used to substitute teach for her over at the University, if she was unable to teach, and the Donovan Scholars who are the older people…some of them have never tried to paint in their lives, you know, but you encourage them, and they have a lot of fun at it. But, I would say she was…she was president of the Art League off and on probably seven years during our various ups and downs. And, she would take over and just smooth things out, because some times artists can get to be pretty nitty-gritty , and Lillian had a way of working with the people. And, we…we owe her a lot. She died several years ago. We miss her. So does that answer your question?

WILLIHNGANZ: It does. I’m wondering how the…the League and the other organizations, like the guilds and what not, affected the community of artists?

WOOLFOLK: A lot of them found lifetime work with it. I mean, they made their living at it. And, some of us just do it for fun and enjoyment, and we are happy when we sell a piece. But, it’s not something we depend on. Oh, I think the community has become terrifically aware of the arts in the past forty, fifty years, whereas, before that, well, art came from Europe. You go to a museum to see art. And then, you didn’t see original art. Quite often, it would be prints. So, when we began to find ourselves, I guess you would say it reflected, on the whole, community. And, I think that the Art League itself had done a great deal. I think the Berea Artists and Craftsmen have done a great deal to open up crafts to our community and the Watercolor Society. All of…all of these art groups, The Living Arts and Science Center downtown…they deal mostly with children, but they also have adult workshops. And, I’ve done…I’ve gone to some of their workshops. And, they have exhibits of both adults and children, but the children are kinda growing up with it there, and learning to appreciate, and learning to do…so.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now, you were the Art League president in 1970?

WOOLFOLK: 75-76 year.


WOOLFOLK: That was our Bicentennial year.

WILLIHNGANZ: Do you remember how many members you had at that point?

WOOLFOLK: Oh, no. I would have to have one of our books to be able to…several hundred, and I did the newsletter for, oh, about five years, I guess. We had a newsletter every month, that went out, that kept people pretty much up to date with what was happening…not only in the community, but different artists, if they won awards in something. I would try to let that be known, because I think that’s important. And then, I don’t know whether I should talk about this or not, but it was during my time as president, when I was also doing the newsletter, that I put in there that France, Paris, France, was asking for artists from America to show their work in Paris. And, we were supposed to send slides…a jury over there…of the man on the street, or artists or anything would judge those slides. So, I remember putting that in the newsletter. And, several people did send slides. As far as I know, I was the only one who got two accepted, and my husband said, ‘You’ve got to go’. And I said, ‘But, I don’t like to fly’. And he said, ‘But, I had a French grandfather’. So, I decided that was a great way to put my feet on French soil. And, I went to Paris during the exhibition, which was in…was not in the spring time, it was in December, and ended in January. And, Paris at that time was pretty cold. The river wasn’t iced over, but, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. It just so happens that the two paintings that were accepted…they were watercolors…small…I had done in a workshop in Tennessee. I had gone down to, let’s see, Jim Grey; he had a studio in Florida and a studio in Tennessee. We went up into the mountains in a Winnebago, a bunch of us from different states. And, he took us out and we painted. And, it was during that time that I came up with these two small paintings that later went to Paris, and one of them sold. So, all kinds of wonderful things have happened to me since I joined the Lexington Art League. I feel like I owe a lot to it. I owe a lot to the Kentucky State Poetry Society, because it’s encouraged me in my writing. I’ve done newsletters for them over the years, and I’ve edited Pegasus, their journal, for the last seventeen years. That, in itself, is a big job.

WILLIHNGANZ: I should think.

WOOLFOLK: So, I don’t know. Does that answer your question?

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, that’s fine. I’m wondering if you were a member of any of the other guilds, for instance the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.

WOOLFOLK: I never joined the Kentucky Guild. I went to a lot of their fairs and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I wasn’t a member of them.

WILLIHNGANZ: Or the Southern Highland Guild?

WOOLFOLK: No, no, no. Actually, what I told you is about the extent, the Watercolor Society and the Art League. Oh, I did belong to what they called, oh, was it, it was another art group, but it encompassed a few more counties probably, and it eventually faded…folded up. And, but we did do the…at the Sheik [unintelligible] trials we used to sit out in the barn, one of the empty barns, and set up our exhibits there. And, that was kinda a yearly thing. That was a Bluegrass Artists Association. It was a little bit bigger in scope than the Lexington Art League, but we have members from all over, so.

WILLIHNGANZ: You were part of the Bluegrass Artists Association?


WILLIHNGANZ: How long was that?’

WOOLFOLK: Oh, I guess anywhere from five to ten years. I can’t remember now, because it’s been a long while since they disbanded. I don’t know exactly what the problem was, or why they had to disband, but they had about $600 left over in their fund, and they gave it to the Lexington Art League, because a lot of us were members of both organizations, so, but that was…that was a fun one too. They also helped with the state…was it state fair…Bluegrass Fair? I guess. And, we would have an exhibit there that was judged, and all of that, but they’re…they’re not doing that anymore. So, Jim Young was very involved in that, and his wife Anita Young. The late Anita Young belonged to both organizations, and Anita was one of our early Art League members. Let’s see. This has also put me in touch with people like LaVon Williams, who is a sculptor- painter. He does wood sculpture. And he’s…I forget where the exhibit is now, but LaVon is…was a UK sports man, but he also loved art. And, I think art was more a part of his life than the sports was. There are just so many people I had just enjoyed knowing.

WILLIHNGANZ: How did you meet Susan?

WOOLFOLK: Susan was one of our sorta early members, not as early as we’re talking about, but Susan had several jobs in the Art League. She…oh, I’m trying to think. Some of the fundraising kinds of things; she was on committees, hanging committees and what not. We had a lot of committees. We did not have a director all those years until we moved to Loudon House. And, we did get a director, which eliminated some of the jobs that the rest of us had to do, although we still have a president and vice-president, and so on, but the director does a lot of the work now.

WILLIHNGANZ: But, Susan used to participate in our Woodland Fairs. Woodland Arts and Crafts Fairs, with her work, and of course she’s very active in…in the art world, and deserves to be. She does beautiful work.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yes, she does.

WOOLFOLK: I…I think of her as one of our younger members, but then everybody’s younger than I.

WILLIHNGANZ: It always seems that way. I’ve…I’ve interviewed folks that are older than you, believe me.

WOOLFOLK: Oh, really?


WOOLFOLK: Arturo Sandoval, for instance. I was gallery chairman down at the Lexington Public…the old Lexington Public Library, which is now the Carnegie Center, when Arturo first moved to Lexington. I think I helped him hang his first exhibit out there. I don’t know whether he remembers that or not, but he did such big work, and we had to go out…oh, I don’t remember where it was. It was out near Spindletop. We had to have a place where he could hang something really big, you know, because that’s…that’s what he does. And, I enjoyed knowing Arturo. There are just so many.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now, you’ve seen a lot of transitions in the whole crafts art areas in this state. Can you tell me sorta what the…the warp and the weft of it has been over the years? It seems to me, you know, the…the Kentucky Guild was started in 1960, which was about the time you were getting involved with the Art League. And they had the craft train that they put together, which for about a period of seven years or so, took…took craft work to remote locations. And…and there seemed to be a general upsurge in terms of interest. And then, when Phyllis George became very active in her role, she inspired a lot of funding to go toward the arts [Woolfolk-right]. In recent years, I’m not sure that’s true, or does it have the support it might have, although I look at the Artisans Center. I gotta tell you I’m pretty impressed. So I’m wondering what you’ve seen over the years?

WOOLFOLK: Well, they didn’t used to have, for instance, the awards in Frankfort, the Governors Awards, and things like that for arts and crafts and what not, and I think that’s been just in recent years. Of course, there are, like scholarship things, for the arts now, that didn’t used to be. And, when you consider that crafts was a necessary thing back in the pioneer day. You know, they made everything, wooden bowls, and all of these things. They were utility things that had to be made, and now we don’t consider them. Now, it’s more of a thing, a decoration. A lot of it is, but we still have a lot of useful items being created by crafters. And, as I say, growing up in the Great Depression, we reused everything that we could. And, now we call it recycling. And, I still recycle. So there’s just been a lot of changes over the years, and, as you say, the community has become more aware of us and what we do.

WILLIHNGANZ: Do you think there’s more support for the arts now than there has been in the past?

WOOLFOLK: Oh, I think so, I think so.

WILLIHNGANZ: What role do you see the arts playing in education, and has that been growing or declining or…?

WOOLFOLK: That I don’t know. When I was…some years back, when I was an early Art League member, there was no art in the schools here in Lexington. We had one teacher, one or two teachers who would go from school to school, and do some art lessons. And, they didn’t have any regular classes. And so, I was asked during a PTA meeting or something, if I would come in and show the children art works that were created by people in the community, which I did. And, I went to Dixie Elementary School, and talked with, I guess, probably 700 kids in one day, showing each class oil paintings, this kind of work, that kind of work. And, I borrowed most of it from different people. Not my own, but they were fascinated. And, they kept some of this work up for a week or so, and the parents were pleased with it. And, we have more art in the schools than we used to, thank goodness, because I think kids need it, so.

WILLIHNGANZ: What do you think art does for kids?

WOOLFOLK: Well. I think it helps them know that they can do something themselves and not just rely on store bought stuff. People who…well we have an exhibit over at church right now. Some Alzheimer’s patients have done some paintings, anything from putting ink on there and blowing it, to make a design, to painting, but it seems to do the same thing for them as it does a child. You’re creating something, you’re doing it yourself, and there’s just joy in it.

WILIHGANZ: Do you have a lot of your artwork in your home?

WOOLFOLK: Unfortunately, I live in a small space, and so my walls are full of my stuff, and my shelves are full of stuff. Now, when my children come, they say, ‘Mom. It’s like going to a museum’ . But, I enjoy looking at it and creating. I still…I still do some things. As I say, my hands don’t work too well for watercolors, and things, but…oh, this is part of my recycling program, you might call it. I make these little boxes. A lot of people know me for these little boxes, but they have seashells on top of ‘em. And, this one has rocks from the Islewood River, like a snake. As I say, these are made out of scraps. Everything’s made out of scraps, and its fun. Anything to do with…

WILIHGANZ: What do you make the boxes out of?

WOOLFOLK: Oh junk mail mostly, scraps; whatever I find that doesn’t have writing on it.

WILIHGANZ: That’s terrific.

WOOLFOLK: This one is probably a brown envelope, and it makes a good background for my little snake on there. And, oh. Then, of course, in the book part, I went to a book making workshop, where we made covers. And, these are journals that--that we created. Did just like real books, but then, just for fun, I make these out of cereal boxes and Kleenex boxes, and you name it, and then, use leftover paper that’s not written on, because I get so many poems. And, they don’t take up a whole page, and I hate to throw that half a page away, and so that’s what these pages are made out of. They’re little black books, and I call ‘em scrap stuff. And they’re for workshop autographs, memories, holidays, family dinners, punch lines to remember, mini poems and you name it . I don’t know whether you’re interested in that kind of thing or not, but that’s just made up stuff that I thoroughly enjoy.

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell us about these, two. Tell us about these, two.

WOOLFOLK: These shells. Well. The little boxes I usually buy, but I love seashells, and ever since I was a little girl and Daddy used to take us to Florida…Pensacola, various places…I would collect sea shells. And, I still have a lot of them. And, I like to decorate with them. And then, this one is just a little jar, and I decorated the lid with seashells, and they’re just…they’re just another one of my loves…it’s hard to imagine not creating. I have a corner that I sit in, where I make my little boxes and paint. And, I live in a one bedroom condo where you don’t have a lot of room, but…and I’m afraid it’s full of my stuff, but it is also full of other peoples’ stuff, too, which I enjoy [Both laughing].

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, that’s terrific [hard to understand, laughing]. Okay. Well, I think that’s probably all we need to do for today. Thank you so much for your time.

WOOLFOLK: I’m sorry.

WILLIHNGANZ: Don’t be sorry. It was wonderful.

WOOLFOLK: I don’t feel like you got anything that you really need.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh. I think we did just fine. We did just fine.

WOOLFOLK: Oh. I’m…I’m…I’m not a crafter specifically, so that was the reason I was a little bit awed when I was asked.

WILLIHNGANZ: I’d say you’ve done a great deal of crafts.

[End of Interview]

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