Painter, Printmaker, Teacher
Active in Portland, Or.
Size: Transcript: 81 p.
Format: Originally recorded on 4 sound cassettes. Reformated in 2010 as 8 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hrs., 12 min.
Collection Summary: An interview of LaVerne Krause conducted 1983 Apr. 17-Aug. 18, by Marian W. Kolisch, for the Archives of American Art's Northwest Oral History Project, at the artist's studio, in Portland, Or. Krause speaks of her youth and family background; her education at the University of Oregon; the difficulties in being a parent while trying to pursue an art career; developing her own style and avoiding trends; her economic and personal difficulties; her travels to the Southwest, Europe, and Norway; her involvement in civic and art activities; and the public's changing tastes in art. She recalls Louis Bunce.
Biographical/Historical Note: LaVerne Krause (1924-1987) was a painter, printmaker, and educator from Portland, Or.
This interview is part of the Archives' Northwest Oral History Project, begun in 1982 to document the Northwest artistic community through interviews with painters, sculptors, craftsmen, educators, curators, and others, in Oregon, Washington and Montana.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
How to Use this Interview
- A transcript of this interview appears below.
- The transcript of this interview is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with LaVerne Krause, 1983 Apr. 17-Aug. 18, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
- For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with LaVerne Krause, 1983 Apr. 17-Aug. 18, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Interview with LaVerne Krause
Conducted by Marian Kolisch
At the Artist's studio in Portland, Oregon
April 17 & 25 and August 18, 1983
The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with LaVerne Krause on April 17 & 25 and August 18, 1983. The interview took place in Portland, Oregon, and was conducted by Marian Kolisch for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
DATE: APRIL 17, 1983
[Tape 1; side A]
MARIAN KOLISCH: If we want to start, we can begin talking about your birthdate and when and where, if you're comfortable with starting there.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. I was born here in Portland, Oregon, and on July21, 1924. And I was at six-- I was born out of wedlock. My parents that raised me adopted me when I was six weeks old, and I was raised in a family that was Norwegian, but my blood lines probably include some German. Although I never knew my father, I knew his name. Anyway, my parents that raised me had never had any children, and so they decided that they would adopt me, so that they were sort of like great aunt and uncle...
MARIAN KOLISCH: You mean they were...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...in terms of relationship, the actual relationship.
MARIAN KOLISCH: They actually were.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, they were related to me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Were they actually your aunt and uncle?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Great aunt and uncle.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Great aunt and uncle.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: They were in their forties. My father was about 48; my mother was 44, I think, when I was born. So it was like being raised by grandparents, you see, and being an only child. First we lived in Portland for a year, and then we moved to the country. And I think that the country-- I lived there until I was nine-- had a lot of influence on me in terms of landscape.
MARIAN KOLISCH: What do you mean by country? Do you mean outside of Portland, or...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean, outside of Portland, out toward, between, half way between Oregon City and Molalla. You know where Lee Kelly lives?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, well in that general area. I lived a little farther out than Kelly towards Molalla, but that general kind of landscape, little rolling hills and so on.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And there wasn't much there then.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No, and it was just a farm that we lived on, you know. It wasn't a big farm either; it was just about nine acres. I went to a one-room school for three years. Then in 1933, the height of the Depression, my father was raising chickens and selling eggs in town, and we just didn't have enough money. We had food all the time, but we just didn't have any money for anything. He managed to get a job here in Portland for a place that he had worked at before, as a warehouseman, Whathams and Company, a wholesale grocer. So then we moved...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Whathams?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Whathams.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, I remember.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, and Company. So then we moved to Multnomah, and I went from this one-room school to a large school with several hundred kids. It was quite a shock. I remember being very shy.
MARIAN KOLISCH: What grade were you then?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I was in the fourth grade when this happened.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Fourth grade.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The fourth and fifth grade. I was always the resident artist all through school. In fact, according to my mother, I started drawing when I was real little, and I still have some of those drawings, as a matter of fact. My mother saved them.
MARIAN KOLISCH: They must have been good.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, not having brothers or sisters, and living in the country, I probably spent a lot of time by myself. My father was very indulgent with me. I had a wonderful childhood in some ways. In terms of imagination, he always went along with... I used to tell stories and there was a lot of active, imaginative kinds of things. I had a wonderful childhood that way, I think, early childhood, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You never felt suppressed by them.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No! Not at all. No, I think they were very, well, indulgent, I guess. That early period, I especially remember as being very nice, and being out in the country, and having a dog, and that kind of thing. And so, then we moved again. We moved into Sellwood, and so... Sellwood district is in the southeast Portland. My father still owned this farm that we had left. He had rented it out to some people that weren't taking care of it. He decided it had to be, that he had to go back, which is what happens when you have property, I guess. So he decided he had to move there. He continued to work in town, all during the period I was in high school. And so he drove that distance, which is, I don't know, 20, 30, I guess it must be more like 30miles, every day. And, I went to high school out there. But I wasn't so keen on that. That was my parents' idea. By this time, I, I'd already started to enjoy the city and I wasn't so keen on, on the farm the second time around. I didn't like it out there. But in the meantime, I was always an artist. And I was [merely] the resident artist. I don't ever remember a time when I wasn't making art. But I didn't know much about what I was doing, of course, as... I mean I did color books; I did everything that any normal kid would do.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But when you say you were the resident artist, in the schools you went to?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That means that everyone considered you to be...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I mean, I did a lot of art, and I think that, like in grade school, in the small situation, I can remember making things on tablets and gluing them together and they would put them up at the front of the room, you know, up above the chalkboard, and there would be this long thing, with all the cowboys and Indians and the pioneers and their wagons and, you know, all that kind of stuff. (laughs) And then in high school, I took art all four years; it was mostly like making posters, and... I did a lot of different kinds of things in high school. I played in the band, played the trumpet, and...
MARIAN KOLISCH: You did?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, and I was acting in the, you know, I was acting in the plays. I did a lot of things. I was in the honor society and, you know, I just, I enjoyed school very much. And the kind of art I was doing then was, as I say, more or less, you know, just making things. Posters was mostly what I remember and working... Oh, on the school yearbook and on the school paper, doing little ads, you know. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Were the art teachers then, teaching any history of art, or just sort of...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Umm, I remember them taking us to the art museum. And, in fact, even my mother did that. I didn't ever take the children's classes unfortunately. I suppose we couldn't afford it. But she did used to take me to the art museum. And I can kind of remember things, like I remember the [lace] collection they used to have, and those scarabs, of course. They would make an impression on a child, wouldn't they, those scarabs?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, they would.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: They're still there, you know. (laughs) So those are the kind of things I remember. And then when I was in high school, I remember, we came in because they had this huge French show, and I could always kick myself in some ways, because about all I could remember were those big pointillist paintings. I couldn't remember the Cezannes and all the good stuff. You know? (laughs) That had been here. I mean, I knew it had been here too, and yet [I was] just a kid; I didn't have the proper training, of course, in high school, really. Although, a very nice thing happened to me in high school, because of course I used to think it was going to be the end of the world, graduating from high school. I had no foggy notion what I was going to do. And so my high school principal called me in and... Molalla is a, was a fairly small school. I think the population, high school-wise, was about 400 or something. Seventy-five in the senior class, I think, or something like that. So anyway, he called me in and said, "What are you going to do?" (laughs) And so, "I don't know, you know." And he said, "Well," he said, "You know, I think you'd make a good teacher," and he said, "If you are interested, you go home and talk it over with your parents, and if you're interested I'd like to recommend you for a scholarship at the University of Oregon. And you could study art down there."
MARIAN KOLISCH: Fantastic.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so I went home and talked to my parents about this. My father was getting ready to retire. We had no money, of course, as usual. But they said, "Well, why don't you compete for it, and then if you get it we'll try to help you a little bit, the first year." And so that was how that came about. And then of course when I got to the University of Oregon, I said I wanted to study commercial art. Well, I was so naive I didn't even know they didn't have commercial art down there. They just stick you into drawing and painting, you know!
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see. Was your scholarship an art scholarship, specifically?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No, it wasn't; it was just a scholarship to the University of Oregon.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But [obviously] your...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It was a tuition fee scholarship. It paid for my tuition. And
they're still awarding those. But in the meantime, we found out about coops.
We went to a meeting in Oregon City that summer, I remember, and we found out
that there was such a thing as coops, where you lived inexpensively, and they
had... It was cheaper than the dorms and by far, of course, cheaper than fraternities,
sororities; that would have been out of the question for me. So anyway, it was
inexpensive living. You helped with chores about six hours a week around the
place, but there were cooks there, and you had room and board. They still have
coops at the university, in fact. Well, anyway, that was an excellent thing.
And I lived there all four years. And I worked in the summer. The war was on.
I graduated in '38. No, '38 in grade school; '42, I graduated [from high school]
in '42, so the war was on.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, and the first summer I just picked berries and hops, my usual menage of things that one did out there. But the summer, the second summer, I got a job in the shipyards. And so the next three years I worked in the shipyards every summer. I stayed at home with my folks out in Oregon City. They moved in to Oregon City by this time. And so I would get rides into town. I worked over here at Commercial Ironworks.
MARIAN KOLISCH: The shipyards here at...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, Commercial Ironworks.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Not Kaiser. What did you do in the shipyards?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Ha-ha! For the first two years I was a scaler, which is really incredibly dirty, was just about the bottom of the pit. But in those days the wages were good!
MARIAN KOLISCH: I know.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: On the campus I was getting 35 and 40cents an hour, but working on the shipyards I got $1.05 an hour for this lousy job.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's the reason I asked you, because I also worked in the shipyards. (laughter)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I was just at the bottom of the heap. I didn't have any welding skills or anything, so that's what I got to do. But it was all right, you know, it was okay.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It was a good job.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah. And it worked out fine. And so then, the last year, my senior year in school, I decided I just didn't want to do that anymore, and I would rather get a different kind of job. And so I got a job doing the blueprint-- I took a cut in pay, but I ran the blueprint machines.
MARIAN KOLISCH: At the university?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so then I was-- No, at the shipyards.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I worked over here in northwest, Poole-MacDonagle, I think it was. I was running blueprint machines and so, you know, I was sort of around the guys that were doing the drafting and stuff.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And that was a little better, you know. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Even though it was less pay.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Even though it was less pay. And then I got some more scholarship help that year. I got, I think-- I don't remember, you know, at this stage, the names of all the different scholarships I got. But I got some more scholarship help that year. And it actually worked out real well for me, that part. And so then, by that time too, the war was over. I graduated in 1946. And in the meantime, I got married. I graduated one week and got married the next.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh, my goodness.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I didn't waste any time there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So when did you meet your husband now?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well now, my husband...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Was that while you were at school?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: This was all very romantic. This [is where] my romanticism comes in. My husband and I had gone to grade school together, and we started corresponding during the war. And so then he was, he was in Guadalcanal. And he got hurt, though he wasn't hurt in action. He was hit in the eye with a baseball, before the war was over. (laughs) It's all very humorous, but it wasn't humorous for him, the poor man.
MARIAN KOLISCH: No.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: He lost the sight in one eye as a result of this.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh, my God. This is overseas?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. And he was hospitalized. It was a quite a serious injury really, in spite of the way it was done, mainly, so that brought him back. So he came home the spring of '45, and then of course the war ended. The war ended in the summer of '45. Is that right?
MARIAN KOLISCH: I was thinking it was '44, but '45 I guess is right. '41 was...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I think the European war ended first, didn't it?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, that's right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Now I remember that. I was working in the shipyards when those bombs dropped, that Hiroshima stuff, yes. I was in the shipyards, and I think he was back, and I think that was '45. Because, I'm sure I'm right, because '45-'46 was the year that we both went to school, and he was a freshman, of course, and I was a senior. And he was at U of O, also living in a coop, and on the GI bill. And we got married that summer. And he continued at school. He was and is an accountant. And he stayed in school for-- well, my oldest son born in Eugene-- he was still in school then, and then when I became pregnant with Darcia-- that was, she was born in '49, so it was '48, I guess, '48, late '48 or early '49, we moved up here.
MARIAN KOLISCH: To Portland.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, and he started working for National Biscuit, which is where he had worked in high school, before the war.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so anyway, that...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Could we, as long you've stopped for a minute, LaVerne, I wonder if we should go on with rest of your marriage, or could we go back to a little bit of the education. Or would you rather do that later?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I don't care. (laughs) Whichever way.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, I meant to ask you if-- you said you did not go to any classes at the museum art school during your...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Not as a child. I did later, though.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Later.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But this...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: What happened-- Okay, let's talk about my education. I went to, I sort of alluded to it, and then jumped into marriage. But anyway, that's sort of the way I did too, I mean, actually. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I went to the U of O those four years and I just really loved it. I mean, I studied drawing and painting. And in those days there were three professors there who were the, they sort of alternated classes, so I studied all four years with Andy Vincent, who's still living, and Dave McCosh, who just died a year ago, and Jack Wilkinson, who of course has been dead since 1976.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Those were all painters.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: So anyway, those were my three-- Yeah, they were all painting professors. Now, I also studied a little sculpture, a little ceramics, and I studied architectural design. I had a couple of years of that.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And I found out, of course, that I was not good at those three-dimensional things. I studied them long enough to find out I was lousy at them. My skills lay in the business of painting. And I thought I had a, I really still think, I had a wonderful education there, with those people.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. Did you have to take drawing, like life drawing and composition and...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh yes. I took drawing. I took drawing, painting, and composition all four years, and I studied with each of those men, because they had the schedule worked out in such a way that you were taking from one one year and one the next year, and it sort of alternated. And, of course, the school was so much smaller than it is today. And so that kind of situation worked out just great. Yes, I did! I studied with all three of them, and of course I feel that I learned an awful lot from each one of them, really.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You don't feel that one of them influenced you..?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh well, I always had a favorite. I think my most favorite teacher, of course, was Jack Wilkinson. I learned more from him and I was closer to him, and I remained close. I mean, we became personal friends; not only did we keep in touch with each other after I graduated, I periodically kept in touch with him, really, more so than the others. He is the one, in fact, that hired me, you know, and that's how I got my job in Eugene. Although, like all things, we weren't seeing each other all the time, or anything, but there was some contact all along. And so that's how that came about. And so I found them to be-- you see, each one of them [was a] practicing artist. That seemed awfully important. And they had an interesting attitude, I think, toward landscape. They each have done landscape. My big influence was the landscape I think, which of course I've also kept up. But, you know, I mean it seems like that influence is important in all three of them.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Probably during the whole four years you were still centered on, on landscape.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I worked from the figure. Of course you can't go to an academic school and not work from the figure. So I was working from the figure a lot.
[Break in taping]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I even took art history from Jack Wilkinson. It was before they had made a separate, well in fact they didn't have departments at U of O then, and they didn't have an art historian. And so Jack used to teach the art history. And, then after Wally Ballinger came, of course, he took over those duties. But I was just in that period so that Jack was my teacher (chuckles) of art history. And that was kind of wonderful.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I wanted to ask you while you're thinking for a second.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: About the museum?
MARIAN KOLISCH: I wanted to ask you if you were very disappointed when you found there was no commercial art course, because you'd had your heart sort of, your mind set on it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh no. No I wasn't, because I immediately fell in love with what they were teaching. My first year, in English comp, I wrote my-- we used to have to do these term paper things-- I wrote my term paper on Cezanne. I immediately found out, you know, about all these wonderful artists and I just fell in love with the whole thing. I know that my creative writing teacher-- well, it wasn't creative writing; it was just English comp-- was sort of, I remember her taking a special interest in me. She thought my writing was quite interesting. And in fact even after I went back to Eugene to teach, she was still around there, and I would run into her occasionally. I haven't seen her lately, but anyway, a few years ago I did see her a couple times, so... Yeah, the school was much smaller than it is today, and I feel I had a terrific education down there.
So then when I got married, I was full of optimism that everything was going to go beautifully and I was just going to go ahead and paint. And I did continue to study after I was out, and I think I had some intention of going on for a masters too. But I was going to take some time out. Well, of course instead of going back to school, I was pregnant, we had babies, and I wanted to do that too, so that wasn't exactly something I didn't want to do, so that was good. I did continue with my work, but it became difficult in some ways, because I was so much more isolated. And I always warned my students about that, though I don't think my teachers warned me about it very much. But the isolation that happens after you get out of school is rather severe, and it is a very big testing time. And I think I was probably an unusual person because I would just continue doing it. I would get very upset with myself and feel very depressed and everything, and then I would say, "LaVerne, you're an artist. You've been trained to do this, you really must do some." And I would feel better. I'm rather compulsive about making art, and I'm really quite miserable if I'm not doing it. And so I would have to go in and do it. And I never stayed away from it more than, let's say, six weeks; that is as far away as I ever got. You know, I was always...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Even when your children were very little?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh yeah, I mean, all that time. One of my-- in fact, I mean to, if I haven't given it to her, I mean to give it to her-- I did a painting just before my daughter was born that was in 1949. It was in the exhibition at the art museum. Because after Tom Colt came, you know, they had this sudden change and they started having juried exhibitions.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me, I have to identify Tom Colt. He was the director of the museum...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Tom Colt was the director of the art museum.
MARIAN KOLISCH: For the Portland Art Museum, that was about...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Portland Art Museum, and I don't know what date he came, but
I know this show was in '49, because that's when Darcy was born. And that painting--
there were only 49 paintings in that show. It was one of these highly selective
ones, like they have up there now.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Incidentally, of course, I'm not in the one now.
MARIAN KOLISCH: [Too bad.]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But I got in this one as a young artist fresh out of school, more or less. Oh, I'd only been out of school three years. And I hadn't shown anywhere. And I hadn't done anything. You know, I'd just been having babies and painting. And part of the time I'd even been living in Eugene. I was now up in Portland, and I painted the painting about a week before she was born, and it got in. As a result of that, I-- it was 1951 that my isolation was-- what would you say, when you're not isolated any more?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, you're beginning to branch out, and you're...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I met some artists, is what happened! You know, I met Jack McLarty, and, and George Johansen, and Manual Izquierdo, and Louis Bunce.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I met them all. In 1951.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Okay, now, how did you go about... Just a minute, your husband's name was...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I'm sorry. Labrecht Gerhard Krause.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So then when you came up here, you began meeting these other artists while you were still married or after your divorce?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I was still married. And in fact the way I got to meet them was... They formed an artists' membership, and that was also Tom Colt's idea. Up until Tom Colt came, they had just been having sort of free-for-all exhibitions. Nobody was jurying them. And then they had a little group called the guild, and the guild-- Rachael was a part of the guild.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Rachael Griffin?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, Rachael and, oh, Fred Littman, and most of the museum people, they all belonged to this guild, and it was an artists' guild, and they used to have exhibitions in the art museum. And the director before Tom Colt, I think his name was Davis. Anyway, I think the town was small and the community, art community, was small, and it was all kind of friendly, at least on the surface.
MARIAN KOLISCH: On the surface. (chuckles)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: In private it was probably the usual battles, but on the surface it looked friendly enough. It was sort of small. And, I think Tom, in a way, came from the east, and he sort of decided that Portland ought to have a little more action in the art scene. (laughs) And so he started these new things. He did a lot of interesting things. One of them was to have a jury come in and pick the show...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Were the shows...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...that didn't know the people. That's the whole theory behind juries anyway, is that you don't know the people so you just pick the work.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And, you know, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. But anyway, that's the idea. And he also started this artists' membership. And it was the idea that if you got in that show then you could become a member of the museum, and it would help the museum, but it would also be a way of the artists getting together.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Okay. And so that worked fine, to a certain point. But then, Artists Equity started showing up. Now, Artists Equity also was coming to the fore about this same time.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's national, right?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That was a national organization. Now Artists Equity had, on the national level I think, a long history of various artists' organizations. I think that various artists' problems that would come up, that there was always some means; I think they called them artists' unions before. And then of course when the WPA was on, everybody felt that was pretty important. And then of course, during the war, it disappeared again. And so I think there was efforts nationally to have an organization so that there could be some united effort to get better conditions for artists. That was the idea of it. Well, anyway, these two ideas sort of came together. I was asked to become a part of artists' membership first, and then Artists Equity. And of course, the people, like Mike Russo came here. Mike and Sally [Russo--Ed.] came here after the war, I think, immediately after. They were originally from Yale, both of them, and then they had been at Colorado Springs for a while. And then they came out here. I know they were living in Vanport, when the Vanport flood occurred in 1948. So I know that they were here. And I think that Mike was probably active in getting Artists Equity organized out here. And Louis [Bunce--Ed.] had worked on the project, and so on. Well, so, anyway, these two organizations were important in my getting to know the artists. And, another thing that happened was that a professor of mine, whom I had studied with-- Bertram Jessup-- was teaching an aesthetics course up here, and they asked me if I'd like to have a scholarship for it. And "Gee," I thought, "this is neat." And so I got to go to that.
MARIAN KOLISCH: In Portland.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, here in Portland. And so then I started being down there in the evening, and I found out that they had classes on drawing from the model and stuff, and so that's how I got acquainted with those people and started taking evening classes there. And just became a part of the artists' group, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see, I see.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Which was neat. Manuel was still a student, even.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh really?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: He's a little younger than I am. He's about four years younger than me, I think, something like that.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So now you're living in Portland while going to some of these classes at the Portland Art Museum School.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, we're living in Portland; we're living out in Sellwood again. We have a little house out there, and I'm...
MARIAN KOLISCH: How did you feel, LaVerne, trying to keep up with your children and still do as much, put as much time as you needed to in your work?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: (giggles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's a tough thing for most artists.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah. My children's names and dates are: Max Martin was born in August 27, 1947, in Eugene. And then Darcia Elaine, my daughter, was born April 2, 1949. And then Jay Gunner, my youngest son, was born October 2, 1952.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That was in Portland where you...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, both of them were born in Portland.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Darcia also.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Darcia and Jay were born in Portland. So we lived here-- my husband remember is working at Nabisco.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Nabisco has a little branch in Eugene. And in 1954 they decided
that he should become the office manager down there. When you work for a national
company like that, they just sort of push you around, as you probably know.
Move you around at will. And so, anyway, we moved to Eugene at that point. And
we were down there for two years. I wasn't very happy living in Eugene, as being
a part of the town instead of a part of the university, the way I had been the
first time. And so that wasn't a very happy part of my life. I don't know what
all was wrong with it, but it wasn't a very good time in some ways. In the meantime,
though, I had continued to be active in Artists Equity, and 1954 was the year
that I got to go back east. My mother was still living, so she took care of
my kids and I was gone for two weeks. I
was the president of the Oregon chapter of Artists Equity, and I got to go to the national meetings in Boston! And they paid my way, and it was just a wonderful experience. I was thirty-- let's see, '54. I was 32years old, and I just had all these kids. (chuckles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: You were chosen by...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Was I, or 30? Yeah I was 30.
[Tape 1; side B]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...faculty.
MARIAN KOLISCH: When you were 30...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: When I was 30, yeah.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Thirty, um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, the issues that we were concerned about at that time were that artists, that artists-- They were having this famous artists' school, where you could pay money and it was a correspondence school in art, and you could pay money and someone sitting up in someplace in Connecticut was going to look at this "art" that you sent in, review it, and send it back to you. And of course, the academic people out here in the west, and probably in a lot of parts of the country, were just horrified by this. They thought it was just awful, and a rip-off, and so on. And it probably was, as a matter of fact, because I don't think that's any way to teach art. And so we were quite up in arms about it because one of our national board members, if not the president of Artists Equity, was involved in getting money from this. Well, lo and behold, they were getting quite a huge sum of money for sort of lending their name to this menage. It's since faded and gone away, but at that time it was sort of a cause.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Big thing.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. And we were all concerned about it. One of the reasons I got elected was, I've always been, I mean when their little confrontations with Tom Colt or whatever [occurred--Ed.], people always sort of sicked me on to people. (laughs) Because I've always been able to speak up, and I was able to speak up. And so I did bring this issue into the national thing. Nothing much was done about it; I've never been that effective, but at least I could open my mouth and ask about it at any rate. And so, anyway, that was one reason I think I was elected, and plus I think these colleagues of mine knew that I'd never made a trip to the east coast and wouldn't this be a neat way that she could go. And they knew I didn't have a cent to my name, which was true, and so that... I probably never would have gotten back there, certainly at that time, because we were so poor. And so that part was really great, because what I did was, I took two weeks and went first to Chicago and then to Washington, D.C., and then I went to Philadelphia, and then to New York. Byron Gardner and Delores were living there at that time, and I stayed with them, and we just had a wonderful time. And the Chiltons were back there too, and we just had a great time. Of course, I wore everybody out because I guess even at that age, I was so hungry to look at art.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Had to see everything.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And that's all I wanted to do. I just...zoom, you know, I was just looking at stuff. And I've always sort of had this kind of energy, I think. I mean, I just seem to really suck it up, you know.
The last place I went to was Boston. I'll never forget going to Boston in March, you know, going into that Fenway Court, and here it is, that fabulous thing, is just full of flowers, and there was snow on the ground.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Uh huh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And then this beautiful Italian courtyard with hanging baskets of flowers. I could not believe it; it was so exciting. And one of the most important and most memorable things about that trip, I think, was the Degas paintings. I always thought of Degas as a man who did a lot of little girls in tutus.
MARIAN KOLISCH: In tutus, uh huh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, and pastels and stuff, and here were these gorgeous portraits of his. And so portraiture and the way he painted just, I mean, he had a tremendous impact on me. I will never forget that. There was this heightened kind of colors. There's a study, in reds, of a woman holding a fan, a kind of back-lit color-- that's in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Every time I go there I see that painting, and it's absolutely beautiful. And that was the thing that stuck with me the most from that trip, though of course I saw a whole lot of things. And I have notebooks.
I'm in the process, in fact, of hunting for a notebook on Turner. I took the bus from here to San Francisco in 1963, with my son, who at that time was about 10 or 11years old, and saw a great show of Turner watercolors. And I'm hunting for my notebook from that trip. I have probably all my notebooks. I don't think anything has happened to any of those. I just have to find them.
MARIAN KOLISCH: When you say a notebook, LaVerne, do you mean if you go to see a show, you carry with you something and you make a sketch? Or...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Um hmm, yeah.
MARIAN KOLISCH: ...notes on your impressions?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I do all of the above. I write things. I make sketches. I make copies. Since 1954 I've been carrying this little set of watercolors which I use a lot. But I also use a pen with ink in it, and a combination of those two things. And if I go to lectures, I take notes. So that I have some means of getting down what is happening in front of me, visually and otherwise. And making copies. In fact, I don't just do them in my travels. I have always felt that copying was one way of getting information about what an artist was working on. I suggest that to my students to a certain extent too. I think it's a good way to find out what the artist was working on and how the thing hangs together. Plus, when I'm traveling, it's very important because then I have something to look back at. And I can refer to... You saw me catch a sketch there that I was interested in.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I was referring it to that Sanders. I'm sure that Sanders photograph is related to that painting. Now if I were an art historian, I would like to track that down, that Otto Dix and that August Sander painting and photograph are related. I just know they are, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And it would be fun to try to, you know, get it...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Figure out how.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Figure out how and what the relationship was. I suppose that's what's so intriguing about art history for historians, is this very thing of trying to put the things together. But for an artist it's interesting too. 'Cause you sort of like to know how the motivation goes. I mean that's why I'm always, I guess, reading about artists and not only looking, but all my holidays are busman's holidays. I mean, I just sort of live totally immersed in it.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, some people say to try to stay apart-- at least I hear this in photography; I don't know if it's true in teaching painting-- but you should not be too much around another person's art so that you won't be derivative.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think it's good to be influenced, myself. I would never take that tack, personally, because I think that we all come from something else. There is no such thing as being "original," quote, unquote. That part worries me very little actually, because I think that the most important thing for an artist to do, it seems to me, is to be a perpetual student, if you will, and perpetually open and receptive so that you can take up new material. Now I'm not saying that every movement that comes along is going to be of interest to you. The earth movement or conceptual art has never interested me very much. I couldn't get involved in it. But I think when I was young it took me a long time to see something. For instance, when abstract expressionism came, burst on the scene, I wasn't ready for it. And I didn't get anything out of it at first. But in a few years, it began to clear up to me, that actually there was something there for me to use. And I got quite excited about it. And I remember my astonishment when David Smith first did those big things. I thought, "What is he doing? He's going back. He's picking up cubism." I was puzzled by that, but I think later I understood it better. And so I've matured, myself, I think I understand it better. I think that there are ideas in the total field of art that are worth exam, reexamining, and have been perpetually reexamined, when you start looking at the history. Surrealism is certainly not just a 20th-century idea; it goes way back. Now there's a lot more research on that. I mean you do see the threads of it. I think people are much more aware now that it isn't just a 20th-century idea, that it does go back to people like Bosch, and Brueghel, and so on.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So you can learn from every single style that comes along.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I think yes. It's not that you just become a chameleon and just absorb, though, whatever is coming at you. I don't think it's quite that way. I just think that being open doesn't mean you sacrifice your own inner opinion or central core. It's just to not let that atrophy. I think as an artist that's what we're talking about. We have opinions, and we're very opinionated people, in fact, artists are, but we need to be. I think we need to have some notion, but I think we also need to be open. That's why I think artists make a point of travel, to go look at things. Now some people say we've got to bring the art here. Well, that's partly it, but I think, on the other hand, there is no substitution for being able to go somewhere else and see it too. So that both things need to happen. Both things happening means that you get a fresh eye, you get a new look at something. The central issue that you're working with just gets strengthened too. I've never been in the avant-garde or the mainstream. I don't think I've been in them because I've never thought that that was the most important aspect of art. Doing the latest thing hasn't interested me much at any time. One of my teachers was probably quite influential in that, Jack Wilkinson. And, you know, he used to say, "By the time something's been done in New York and it filters out to Portland or Eugene, it's already old." You might as well not even worry about it. I mean, you might as well just go ahead and do things that come more from your own experience. Learning to credit your own experience was one of the most valuable things, I think, that he taught me. He felt that that was the way things became genuine. I understand what he means by that so thoroughly that I feel that's the way I operate. I'm first of all concerned about how I'm responding to a situation and then I sort of let the chips fall after that.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean if somebody thinks that I look like Monet, well, then they have to think so. I don't think I'm looking like Monet that much. Or if I once looked like Monet, I've now absorbed what I learned from Monet to the point that now I think I look like me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But it's you.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Because if you don't, it's, it's phony anyway.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It's not speaking from what you really feel.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. And this is the other thing that I thought was so interesting about Jack. He was doing a lot of very formalist and abstract kinds of things, long before formalism came along. And so then by the time it came along, he was off into another kind of mode again. That's sometimes the way artists work. They try one thing, and then they go on to another thing. And I think that was true of Picasso. Since my life has coincided with Picasso's, you know, for a good number of years, anyway, I can certainly remember how the attitudes toward Picasso have continued to shift.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh yes, yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And grow. I remember when he took up ceramics everybody just about went bananas. They just howled. Everybody thought, "This guy has done the final blow to art. He has sold us all out." Because there he was in that clay, you know, and everybody was really mad about it. And yet he was already completely beyond anyone else in terms of wealth, and I think in terms of ability. I use him as a teaching example a lot, because in the field of printmaking he's really an interesting and innovative artist.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: He had the ability, I think, to just go in and do things. And he personally could continue in spite of his tremendous wealth; he was never thrown by it. He was perfectly capable of continuing to work, and he probably had great moments of, you know, loneliness and insecurity, like everyone else. I just assume that about the man. But, you know, I think that as things settle down, he's certainly going to be one of the greatest artists of all time. I think that's what's going to happen.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's what's going to be.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: He will represent the 20th century in a way that, perhaps, a lot of other people just aren't going to be there. So, it's interesting. Because I think you see that on the local level as well as the national level. I think you see people who are doing something momentarily, and it's very exciting momentarily, but if there's not a solid foundation, to continue to feed off, the momentary thing is going to go away. Especially the way our society tends to move. We're a very fickle society, you know. The hula hoop is in one week, it's something else, believe me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see. That's right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And you know, and if you're still trying to do something with a hula hoop and everybody else is somewhere else, I suppose it's quite disconcerting. But if you're doing something that wasn't ever as popular as a hula hoop, and nobody's paid any attention to it anyway, that's just, someone I think. In Europe where art has been around for so much longer, I think they're just a little more relaxed about art, including the artists.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Because, and it was a great experience for me to actually go there and work, even if I did work in the provinces up in Norway's provinces. Living in Norway is similar to living in-- Norway to Paris is like Eugene or Portland to New York. (laughs) I mean it's about the same kind of thing, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But I think the attitude was so much nicer there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, I think your point about us being relaxed is the whole difference. They're not so eagerly trying to be the last word.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That's right. They don't worry about it. The artists are not worrying about it. And of course, I think every artist in America gets a little bit bugged out by that. No matter how much you try not to, even I have been at times in my life freaked out about it. And worrying about it. It just permeates our culture too much, I'm afraid.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Do you think some of it may be that certain artists, at times anyway, have to sell work just to exist. Do you think they sometimes feel the need to change or adjust to a popular trend just to sell?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I don't know what it is. I don't know exactly. I think it's more of a cultural problem in the nature of Hollywood on in the nature of popularization of things. And I think it has to do with our country being an amalgam from so many cultures.
MARIAN KOLISCH: [Right].
LAVERNE KRAUSE: For one thing, and of course totally, for instance, ignoring our own native population. I was just on the American Indian education panel this week, which was very nice. They invited me to speak, with two of my American Indian students. And, you know, I was sort of aware that they really want to emphasize education in their culture, so that they can integrate into the culture. They're still concerned about that. I learned a lot. Representatives from all the tribes spoke about their aims. They're interested in having their image be one of seeking an education and wishing to be a part of things, and yet not losing their own identity. Keeping their roots. I think that's so important, that's so valid.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Very valid.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And, I told them that when I studied art in the forties that nobody ever told me that we did anything important in America in terms of art. I said all of my education had to do with Europe, with the French artists and Italian artists; those are the ones I learned about. And we were just embarrassed about what was done over here. And they said, "Well, do you mean the Native American?" I said, "I mean the whole thing! Nobody said anything about American artists, and I have since learned that we have quite a heritage of good art right here in this country, including the Native American, which I have begun to study." Of course I've been very interested in Indians; I'm wearing a lot of their things: my cap and so on.
MARIAN KOLISCH: For a long time.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, right. I'm really interested in it, you know. And I think that maybe that roots business [probably referring to Alex Haley's book and television series called Roots--Ed.]-- that's sort of a cliche word in some ways, but that is an idea that we have to have. I think it was always a very embarrassing idea, that you didn't have any good American art.
Really, the abstract expressionist movement is the first movement that has had an international impact. It was the first time that anybody, and you know, that goes back. I'd say that is founded on the notion that we had the WPA, and that everybody that was an artist could be employed as an artist. And I think that we've drawn back from that now. We're away from that again, you see, and we're probably going to slip backwards if... Although I don't know. Maybe the National Endowment [for the Arts] will slowly learn how to make use of this resource and really do things. It hasn't even been in, what, barely 15 years now.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Not too long, no.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: So it hasn't been in very long, and it takes some time to get those things stabilized, I think.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And unfortunately, it depends a lot on the administration too, who's being appointed.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I know. And so much of the money gets spent, unfortunately I think, in the bureaucracy of the thing instead of on the, you know, maybe going...
MARIAN KOLISCH: To help...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean at least it seems that way. I don't know, I'm not up on it enough.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, it does...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...in a detailed way. And I think they have taken the tack-- and it's probably a good one-- that there should be [something--Ed.] for all. I don't know how they apportion it, but so much is spent apparently on traditional things, like the symphony and the art museum. And then they save money for experimental things, like PCVA [Portland Center for the Visual Arts] or, you know, _____ gallery.
MARIAN KOLISCH: The smaller beginning...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Or some of these more experimental things. And that has its
good and bad effects, I think. You know, naturally, some experimental things
don't work! But that's the nature of the thing.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: If you're going to have experiments, some of them will fail. So, it's probably that aspect that's been good, you know. I mean, sometimes you think well maybe they should spend it all on the stables aspect. But I don't know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: One thing I wish they would do more with is, I think there needs to be more opportunities for young artists to have workshops and things-- places where they can go and work and enjoy facilities that they wouldn't be able to...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Particularly right after graduating from school, because...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Um hmm, right. Right at that time is the most crucial time in an artist's life.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Henry Hopkins, I think [he has a neat museum] in San Francisco, has said, once when he was up here, that this is one of the most critical needs right now. There is no way for an artist to get started. He hasn't the money to go buy himself the necessary things when he's first starting.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I know. I think it's a hard time for young people to survive because of the fact that they've had some attention while they were students and then they drop out of this sort of cocoon, and then they're on their own, and unless there's something happening, why it's so discouraging. It is discouraging, no matter who you are.
MARIAN KOLISCH: How do you get into the market and begin to be known? Did you feel that when you began to meet some of these other artists in Portland, that's when you could have your work seen? How did you begin to have your work seen?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, well, I was a very, I guess it's sort of ridiculous to say it now, but I was a very shy person, in college and when I was younger. And, in fact, I think I still have a considerable amount of that, because shyness actually is a problem with me. It doesn't seem that way in some cases, but I think I still have some of that. But anyway, well there just were none; there just wasn't anything going on, you know. Now of course I wasn't even worrying about commercial kinds of things. At that point, I was just trying to make some art.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You just wanted to paint?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I knew I didn't know how to draw, for instance. When I got out of school, I knew I didn't know how to draw. I needed to work on that and that's what I would work on. That was one of the things I was working on. Now I was still using the palette knife and I was dependent on it. And I knew that wasn't a very good thing. I'd become dependent on it because I could get such clean color with it. But the palette knife was a much more limiting object to be painting with than a brush. And so I had to spend time learning how to make the brushes work for me and do the things I wanted them to do. So I felt that I wasn't up to where I ought to be in terms of education. So I wasn't, I don't think I was like-- young people today are a little more aggressive than I was, anxious to have shows and out there beating around the bushes and stuff. I wasn't that way at all. Of course there weren't any galleries. Louis Bunce and his wife-- his first wife, Eda-- had that gallery called the the Kharouba Gallery. Now I don't know what year they started it, but I know what year I showed in it, and that was 1951. And I was in a four-woman show. It was LaVonne Lucas, and Yole Tolag, who was Fred Littman's mother, and me, and Amanda Snyder!
MARIAN KOLISCH: I see.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so we had a four-person show. I remember Louie and Eda came out to my house, out in Sellwood, and picked out the things. And so that was my first show.
MARIAN KOLISCH: In '51?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: In '51.
MARIAN KOLISCH: What was the name of the gallery?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It was called the Kharouba. And then after they stopped running it, Don Sorenson ran it for a while.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And I think he still called it that. And it was in the basement, between 10th and 11th on Morrison. Basement and main floor. It was just a small space, but the shows, as I remember, were down in the basement. It was upstairs. Can't remember how that went, exactly.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I don't think I ever saw it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, then another place that had shows was an eating establishment which is on Southwest Park, and I had a show there too. What was the name of that place? It had a woman's name.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Adele's.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That's it! Adele's, yes.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah, I remember.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Adele's. My really first one-man or one-person show was there. And that was quite exciting and that probably was in 1952 or '3, '52, maybe. Because in 1952, I did have a show in the summer in the museum.
MARIAN KOLISCH: A one-woman show?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, uh huh.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: They started having these artists of Oregon shows, and I remember that I had one then. And I had another one in '58, that was just before my mother died. I remember taking her to see the show. And she died in September of 1958, so...
MARIAN KOLISCH: You really went quite fast once you started having work seen, didn't you?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Ohhh.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I mean with...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I had shows, yes. I didn't sell much, though. I didn't-- Oh, Vincent Price came through and bought a drawing, I remember. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh, ah hah!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: From some drawing show or some kind of show when I was in the museum. And that was quite nice, that was exciting. And, oh, we had a hard time in those days because really the banks and all this kind of activity that we've had in the sixties and seventies was not going on at all!
MARIAN KOLISCH: Didn't have that, no.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I can remember this. Through Artists Equity, I guess it was Artists Equity, or Artists Membership, or both. Anyway, the U.S. Bank wanted us to have some work in their lunchroom. And so we got busy-- this was probably around '54, '55, in there somewhere-- and we all got busy, and we'd put things in, and somebody went down and hung the show, and it was there for six months. Nothing was ever sold. And then we were asked to take it back out. And so that's how things went in those days. That was more or less what went on all the time.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Businesses were not exactly supporting...or buying.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: There was very little purchasing of art in those days.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Uh huh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It wasn't until-- I think things began to change in 1959. Because in 1959 we had what was known as the Oregon Centennial, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the state!
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so they set aside some money and they decided that they would do a few things with art. Well, in '57, '58-- I was living in Portland again. We'd left Eugene, and I was living up here. I went half time to the museum school, as soon as my son Jay got into the kindergarten, so that must have been about '58. And then my mother died too, so, yeah, '58, I think '59 was the year that I went full time, or half time, to the museum school. Well, it was decided to have this printmaker's fair, and I was asked to organize, get the materials together. It was decided they would have demonstrations by artists, that they would take the docents from the museum-- Isabelle, Isabella Chappell was very active in that. She got the docents organized, the volunteers to come to sell the prints. And we got all the printmakers turned on making prints. I was in charge of getting artists to demonstrate, and ordering all the materials. And we got the museum school to donate a press, and Mike and Sally [Russo] donated their litho press. And I had the job of just getting, you know, buying the inks and the paper. The equipment was to be donated, was to be purchased by the state.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Had you already started making prints then?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, well, I started making prints, I started making wood-- Well, see I studied lithography in school. That was the only formal study I'd had. Then I started making woodcuts at home, with Manuel. Manuel said, "Why don't you make woodcuts, LaVerne? You'd love it." And so I did that, and then I took silkscreen from Louie down in night classes.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Manuel Izquierdo and Louie Bunce?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. And so anyway, then we had a workshop in etching in 1956, and I just loved it. And that was sponsored by Artists Equity. And there were about twelve of us, and the people that didn't know how [were] taught [by] the people that did: Bill Givler, George [Johansen] and Manuel and Jack and Louie, all of us, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And we were in there stirring around, and it was a lot of fun; it was great. But that was my first experience with etching. Then I guess I took a little more. I might have taken a night class, it seemed like, at the museum school. By this time, though, I was making prints. I was working at home and stuff, or at the school, or both, whatever I could do. Yeah, we had a hundred days of the fair, and we had a demonstration every day, so there were a hundred demonstrations of printing. And we sold a lot of prints during that fair too. So that whole thing turned out to be very positive.
[Tape 2; side A]
MARIAN KOLISCH: The demonstrations went on for a hundred days.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right, and we had sold a lot of prints. So anyway, we had all this equipment together, and we had the communal paper and inks left over, so we decided to get a room downtown and put this equipment in it and pay, I think $30 a year, each of us a year. There were about twelve or so of us, you know. And so we had ourselves a studio. We were in the Selling-Hirsch Building, and this Mrs. Jennings loaned a truck, and we moved everything in there, and we went to work. That was in '60, '59-60. The fall of '59 the fair was over, I guess. Anyway, 1960 and '61, we were still able to keep it going. By '62, people were either using it or they weren't. A lot of people dropped out; they didn't want to continue to pay for something that they weren't using. So I got sort of stuck with the place, because I had been using it, and I liked it. I liked having a studio outside of my home. And so I started teaching classes in there. I just sort of took it over, is what happened.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh. Classes in printmaking?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I put out a little sign, and I would teach any kind of printmaking people wanted to study. (laughs) And so I just had little classes and people would come in. They were never very large, but it was some income for me and helped me pay the rent. Ken Shores came, and Clifford Gleason, and Rene Rickebaugh was down there once... Agand, you know, he was still in high school. And then I had some people come in from McMinnville. There's a college out there that didn't have any printmaking at the time, and so they came in and studied with me. It was all right. It was kind of fun. In the meantime, I also had a show of my own work there. This is something else I want to talk about is my gallery experience. Now right around '59, while this printmaker's fair was going on, I also met Keith Baker, and he was a hairdresser at Charles and Larry's, and he used to put paintings in there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I remember.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: You remember that?
MARIAN KOLISCH: I certainly do.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I remember him very well.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I had painted a painting which I called Urban Renewal, which was of some buildings right across from the auditorium; it was that south auditorium site, which of course at this point has been totally...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Wiped out.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...you know, wiped out. Well, I made this painting and I called it Urban Renewal because that area was slated to go and I loved the old buildings, and I had been doing things with that kind of architecture in the fifties. Incidentally, I did a commissioned wallpaper thing; that was with Lou Crutcher, and was for the remodeling of the building. So anyway, I had an interest in Victorian architecture, and so Mrs. Wiley bought that painting, from Charles and Larry, because she always went there and had Keith do her hair. And so, that was how I met Mrs. Wiley. Mrs. Wiley, Mrs. Stan Wiley, has about 25 or 30 things of mine; she has a lot of my work. But that was how I met her was through Keith. And she, you know, wasn't one of the people that... I guess what I wanted to say was I was so surprised that someone would buy this Urban Renewal thing, but her sister had grown up in this building, or something. You know, Mrs. Wiley is older than I am by a number of years. And so she had a history, you see, of this building that I didn't know anything about. And so that was how that happened, and I thought it was very interesting.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: So Keith Baker, then, was my first dealer, and he had a gallery in Portland for maybe a couple of years. By the fall of '60, maybe, not even two years, maybe a year-and-a-half, by the fall of '61, though, both the Fountain Gallery and the Image Gallery opened simultaneously. And because I had met Arlene only once, but I knew the McLartys [Barbara and Jack] better, through the school connection, and I was teaching at the school...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me, now Arlene is the one who had the Fountain, and the McLartys had the Image.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Arlene Schnitzer has the Fountain Gallery, and then the Image, of course, is still owned by the McLartys. And a lot of the academics at the school, the museum art school that is, were in the Image Gallery to begin with, though many of them have now, of course, moved over to the Fountain. Anyway, I had a show in the Image in March of 1962. And then in the fall of '62, I think it was, or '63, Barbara and I had a disagreement because I had a show at the Westshore and she didn't think that I should be showing anywhere except her gallery. I explained to her that I was showing prints and that I didn't think that prints should be exclusive in any one place; I was really scrambling to make a living. I was divorced in 1960, and I was living with my three children, and, and I had child support, but I had only a part-time job at the art museum, and then whatever I could sell. So that economically I was in a bind.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You were teaching part time at the museum school...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I was really just teaching children's classes. I only made $100 a month at that. And so whatever I could scramble around and sell was pretty much what was going on. I didn't have a car. We were living in the northwest. My mother had died. I took the house that she had and with that I had a down payment to buy that house over there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Could I add that this is the time when you were known as the "Duchess of Hoyt Place"?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Duchess of Hoyt, yes. I used to give lots of parties. And I really enjoyed it up there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You had a lot of chance for...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I was a character, wasn't I?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah. You were... (laughs)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I had my adolescence, actually, in this period. (laughs) I always say that. After I was divorced in 1960, I sort of kicked up my heels for about three years, and lived it up.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Had a good time with a lot of new friends.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I had a gorgeous time. I really had a good time. It's true. I sort of was a bit excessive about a few things. But I had a good time. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: (chuckles) I think it was well deserved.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And I had some wonderful parties there; that's true. They were a lot of fun. It was just the time-- I think I needed that, because, you see, I was only 21 when I got married, and so I was very young, and I really was such a sobersides in school, you know. Even in college I was very...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh were you?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh yes, I was a teetotaller. I am a teetotaller again, as a matter fact, but I was then too. And I was just, you know, I was just really narrow minded and everything else. I didn't really have much. In some ways I was awfully focused and narrow minded when I was young. And so I didn't do much of anything, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You were pretty unsure of your--
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I had to live it up. I had a very conservative background.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Childhood, yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Sure, my parents were religious and I was very cautious and everything. And so maybe I needed a period of what I call adolescence, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Sure.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Sort of living it up. And so I did. I had that, and for whatever...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Whatever it added. It may have added something to your...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I was running around with Milton Wilson and I had a couple of ill-fated romances in that period-- which were probably maturing experiences I needed to have-- but they were ill-fated, let's face it. (laughter) And then of course, you know, I broke my back, and so I really had it, that sort of did it. I mean that sobered me up. I had to really sort of look at life a little more soberly after that.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I didn't know that.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I recovered from that, but it was a rather tough experience at the time. But anyway...
MARIAN KOLISCH: It must have taken quite a while...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Independently speaking, after I left the Image, then I had a show of my own in this studio that I mentioned.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: You know, the Selling-Hirsch studio. And Jack Eyerly was just absolutely marvelous. Lot of friends pitched in and helped me, and I did everything myself. I made my announcement and got my lists organized, you know, and I got my musician friends to play music, and we had food, and we just did a one-day thing. I got lots of people to come and buy things, and I had it in November. I was very pleased at the positive response, and of course the money. But the thing that was neat about it, I think, was that I learned what a lot of work that is, to do your own show. And so I think I had a new appreciation for what a gallery does for you. Sometimes artists don't understand very well [where] all this huge percentage-- anywhere from 33 to 50 percent-- goes? What is it for? And I think if you experience...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Which the galleries take...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, the galleries take this much as commission and unless you've experienced all of that yourself, I think you don't quite understand what it's all for. A lot of artists complain about it, and they're not as appreciative as they would be if they'd just go ahead and have a show. I thought the experience for me was excellent, and it really did teach me what is involved. I was pleased at the outcome of course, but I also could see that maybe that wasn't what I wanted to do every minute of my life, you know, staging my own shows always with all the attendant problems. So in 1964, I won a prize in Seattle, and it was a Ford Foundation purchase prize. It was a very nice one, and Arlene [Schnitzer] invited me-- Louis [Bunce] won one, and Lee Kelly, and somebody else. There was a fourth person who I can't remember. But anyway, she invited us to exhibit at the Fountain.
MARIAN KOLISCH: This was the old Fountain Gallery?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: This was the old Fountain. The Fountain had been in existence since 1961, and it was downtown, I believe it was, I can't remember whether it was... No, it was in the second location. The very first location was street level. But the second-- I can't remember which building, but it was street level, I remember that, and then it wasn't too long till she moved up to the second floor in the building...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Opposite the Multnomah Hotel.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...opposite the Multnomah Hotel, exactly. So I believe she was in that location by the time I joined. So at that time she said that we would just try it out. There was no obligation on either side. We would just try it out. Arlene and I have always gotten along really well, and so I've been in the gallery ever since and it's been a long and very good association for me. And a very important one, because then in the fall of 1965, I was contacted by my former teacher, Jack Wilkinson, who wanted to know if I'd be interested in teaching etching at the university, because they were interested in expanding their print department. I was scheduled to give a lecture, which Rachael Griffin had invited me to give as a part of a series they were doing on prints at the art museum. It was going to be called the "Long Life of the Woodcut." So Jack invited me to go to Eugene and give this lecture, and then I came in as a visiting assistant professor, in Eugene, starting in January of 1966. In the meantime, I was in the Gordon Woodside Gallery in Seattle, and I had a show there in 1965. At that time he had a branch in San Francisco, and I sold a painting or two there. And then, in '64, I made a trip down to Los Angeles with Louis Bunce, and I got in a gallery down there, called Adele [Bonnair's]. But she was never able to sell anything of mine, so that just never went anywhere. She had my work for, I guess one or two years, maybe two, and she sent it back because she never sold anything. So that was too bad. I have some prints in a little gallery in Idlewild, California, but that's all that I've done. That is, in terms of that. Because, see, one of my aims had been, I envisioned that it would be neat if I could have work in all the west coast cities and have galleries I could just, you know, sort of supply. This was before I had the teaching job, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: This was while I was still trying to figure out how in the world I could make a living. I mean, as an artist it's very difficult to get any security or anything going. It's always such a struggle. So anyway, that was one of my ideas, which never really bore fruit. I think unless you live in the city, or, are very much a part of the avant-garde or something [you don't have security--Ed.]. But you have to remember that I've not been part of that. I've not been trying to do work that was the latest. I've merely been trying to do good work, so that on one hand it will attract... Some people are very attracted by it and get involved in it; other people say "No, no, this isn't, you know, this isn't chic. This isn't in. Forget it." You always have these contradictions anyway, but, you know, they can operate for you and, of course, in other cases, against you. As far as the gallery goes, I think that business of being in one is, as it turns out for me, has been very, very important, because I would never have been able to have the contacts and do the selling job that the Fountain Gallery has been able to do for me, you know, to represent me and so on. So I have felt really good about that contact, and really very lucky because, as you can see, I didn't have to go out and solicit it, either; it sort of came to me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah, that's a very nice...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And in some ways that was nice.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It's a very nice feeling, especially when it's the most prestigious gallery there is!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, it's turned out to be that, yes. That part's been lucky too.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And of course that's partly due to the fact that I think Arlene has been willing to invest in it, and that we have all managed to stay together, even after that huge fire, which was such a tragedy. We've all still been able to hang in there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Can you tell me about that a little bit, LaVerne. You don't need to go into a lot of detail, but that fire happened in the second location, when they were down on Third or Fourth, whichever it is. Remember the year?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. I remember exactly. (chuckles ruefully) It was February 5, 1977. And I had just been in San Francisco-- or no; I'd been in Los Angeles, to College Arts Association meetings, and I came home, and I was up early in the morning dressing, to go to school, and I heard that the Hughes Building in Portland had had a fire. And of course, I knew the Hughes Building was the Fountain. Well, you know, I couldn't imagine how bad it was, or anything. But then of course I got the news, and of course it was really bad. I lost 18 paintings, 50 prints, and about 12 watercolors, I think. It was a total of 80 pieces anyway. Twelve watercolors and a few drawings. So 80 pieces all together.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's really devastating.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And the value of them was about $11,000. I added it up, but I never got any insurance from it. And not even my own insurance, which I had been carrying. Now of course, the Fountain had notified all of us that she was no longer going to be carrying insurance for us, and that we would have to do it at our own risk-- that is, carry our own, if we wanted to have any. She sent registered letters, so of course we were all notified, and we knew there wouldn't be any insurance for us in that sense. On the other hand, of course, my insurance company was very, I thought, uncooperative too. And my situation was compounded by the fact that about a year before this happened, someone, a car had been supposedly set into gear and run up against my house. I mean, it literally did run into my house, and hit my studio in Eugene, and tore a hole in it.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Really.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so my insurance company had to bear this loss, you know, I mean, they paid for that. I think it cost, oh, I don't know, $3,500 or something; it was quite expensive because there were paintings in there and things that got ruined, and one painting had to be relined. It was not all my work either; it was things that I own. And so anyway, this little hole ripped in the house and so on, so there was an awful lot of work involved. And so that insurance company, you see, dropped me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh, my God.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so then my insurance company, my local agent, was to get
me another insurance company, and in the meantime they had new rules. I mean,
they're very slippery, you know, the insurance companies. And so anyway, the
upshot was I didn't get any money.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh my, [LaVerne].
LAVERNE KRAUSE: My daughter was just getting ready, you know, I mean she was just starting her practice, and we just didn't have any means to deal with all this. So, I was a loser in that literal sense. However, about this depression that I went into-- I had an awful time. I had a very bad depression after the fire. It seemed to be hard to get over.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right, right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It felt like a personal blow of some kind, or maybe that's the way I took it. I had a hard time getting over it. But one of the most positive things that I could do was teach-- and I had a hard time down at school. I had some students who were completely unable to understand, some graduate students who started complaining, and wanted to get me fired, or impeached, and I went into a great period of severe depression too. But the thing that got me over it was that the following summer I got a research grant, and I started working on this book that I made, this portfolio of prints. I started it that summer and I completed it the next summer. That was '77, the summer of '77-78, I worked on this book, and I made all these portraits. And that was really a very cleansing and healing thing. So I finally got over this situation where, you know, I was having a lot of problems trying to...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Were you able to figure out yourself to do that, or did you have somebody lead you into that kind of?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, what happened was that, see, I had done these portfolios before. And I sort of had it in mind that I might do one on my friends. Then after the fire, it sort of made me think, "Gee whiz, you know, I mean I know all these people, and I"-- not that I did everybody from the Fountain or anything; I used people in Eugene too. But I mean, "I know all these people," and it just seemed an appropriate kind of thing to do, to bring them together into a book. And what I thought they looked like. Yeah, and that kind of thing. And I think physically, you know, that's been my learning experience, of how to deal with depression. I've had a lot of problems with it and, well, you know, in my wild days, I thought drinking was an answer, but that isn't an answer. I learned that the hard way. And so, I just had to learn how to cope.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You think it was better [for your working out]...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I think having a specific thing that you want to do is very important, and then having a focus, see. And a project of that sort does that for you. I had already had that experience because I'd made two portfolios before. The one that I made in Norway on sabbatical leave was like that. I mean, I really became very focused. I worked every day, and I was that specific thing. And so in art it seems like a good thing to have a focus, and then the portfolios are also a finite thing. I would complete them. They're in some ways better than just making prints where you have plates, and you don't complete the editions.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It can go on and on.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, it goes on and on, and where's the end of it? I'm sort of in that position most of the time, regarding my prints. I don't print the whole edition at once, and so I always have a lot of plates lying around, and I either have prints of them or I don't. And I just print a few at a time, and it's all kind of chaotic. But this [portfolio--Ed.] thing becomes more cohesive, and you say this is how many I'm going to make and then when you get them printed you don't print any more and it's all kind of complete.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so for that reason I think it was a good thing for me to do. Yeah, and then just having a physical focus helps, I think, to get over the mental wounds, if you will, and...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Although sometimes it's even harder to make yourself do that work, I think, when you're so depressed. It certainly is the cure if you can make yourself...work.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I went to a wonderful lecture the other night, by the way. Rollo May spoke and I thought he had some really interesting things to say about the importance, for instance, of anxiety. He said that anxiety was really an important thing, and that there wasn't any way that you could escape it. I think he had four things that he talked about that way. He felt that anxiety was the thing that made you focus. It's sort of what I'm saying too. It's not that you're ever going to be free from problems or freed from anxiety, if you will; I mean, because it's human beings; it's a part of what's available in life. And so instead of seeking to escape from it, he said what is important is to recognize it and to turn it around and get it going for you. I think this is what I'm saying essentially too. You're not going to escape from these things. I used to wonder, I remember I was always an admirer of [Lipchitz], and I remember, I heard that he had a studio fire and I always thought, "Gee, that must be such an awful thing to have happen to an artist." And then of course pretty soon one experiences it too. And then you realize how awful it is, and it is awful. There isn't any question about it, it is. Because if you are fond of what you've made...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And there were certain paintings that I was so fond of that I thought I would repaint them. And I even went so far as to order canvases and bars and things the same size. But I haven't actually repainted any of them. I had had another loss, about six months before, that also disturbed me very much, and in fact still disturbs me very much, and that was that someone down at school got into my place and stole 17 or 18 of my small plates. They didn't seem to take them because they wanted to print them, and I don't think they knew what they were taking; they just got into my things and took them. And I found that really disturbing. I did try to make a couple of those over again, but of course a lot of them I couldn't do again. I couldn't repeat them and I don't know that I was very successful in repeating the two that I tried. So I'm not sure that that's a good idea; I think once things are gone, they're gone, and there really probably is no way that you can come back to them. One of the paintings that I missed a lot was a diptych that I had in grays. I went through a little period of painting in black and white and gray and silver. Not black and white as high contrast, but in very close-valued kinds of things. A little different than a lot of this brilliant color that I've been doing. Periodically I have felt the need for getting the values extremely close, and working in some kind of very close range. That was what I had done in this diptych, and I always thought it was a very-- I liked the painting a lot; but it was gone.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And it was gone?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Um hmm. But I have a painting, which I'm in the process of selling to Dick Pollen, who's the director of the art museum in Eugene. He sort of talked me out of this painting and is buying it from me, but it was painted in that same time, and it's that same kind of idea: black, white, and gray. I more or less felt good about having him buy it because I'm pretty sure he'll probably give it to the museum down there, and so it'll have a home. I'm pleased about that, because that painting was in a show in Seattle in the early seventies. It was painted in '69. And I had a very important, I thought I had a very important show around 1969, by the way. I made a big breakthrough in terms of my work about that time. I don't think anybody else noticed it very much, but I think it was a really important time. What happened was I went to Seattle, and I saw a show up there called Serial Imagery. It was put together by Coplans, the fellow that used to be at Pasadena, before that museum changed hands. Anyway, this show was called Serial Imagery, and it had people in it like Jawlensky, Monet, with the Haystacks, and Mondrian, and then, let's see, where's my mind? Well, some of these contemporary Americans: Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella.
MARIAN KOLISCH: What did they mean by serial...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The whole notion behind Serial Imagery, which interested me was, and I really enjoyed that show-- Oh, and Joseph Albers was in it too-- was the notion that artists would take a theme and then just keep working on it. And of course, I think the most obvious example is Albers, who did Homage to the Square for about 20years, you know, and kept the same format. In other words, somewhat like square on square on square, and then he changed, you know, kept working, freed himself up from those compositional ideas, so that he could work on color, because his color shifts is really what he wanted to work on, obviously, in that series. Well, what had happened to me was that I started thinking about the landscape in terms of stripes. And so I could see an application there that was not-- I wasn't trying to be literal about that show in any way, or I wasn't trying to copy any of the people whose work I saw there, but it just somehow clicked in my mind that here was an idea that was very interesting. In fact it is true that you can begin to look at the landscape and begin to see a lot of striping and sort of horizontal, horizontality, and relate that to the canvases. And so I had a show at the Fountain in 1969, which was very much about that idea. Now I don't know that, see people don't view me a lot of times as a person who has ideas like that. I mean, you know how your reputation is so diffused by other people's opinion of who you are. Maybe my little adolescence up here made a lot of people irritated with me, or patronizing toward me, or something. I mean, I don't think that I was ever thought of as a person that was having ideas especially. (chuckles) So you know, that kind of thing gets lost in the shuffle. You see what I'm saying?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. But I think also because your colors were always very important, people began to think of you as a colorist.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Colorist, yeah. And I had reputations of various sorts, and of course the Monet influence, which I think rests in people's minds, and so you have all of these, you have this kind of myth to overcome too. I don't think I've had any trouble overcoming, within myself. But, I think in terms of what other people see in it, there has been considerable problems about it. So when I talk about what I was doing it won't sound maybe the same as what other people might say. But anyway, as time goes by, I really think that I had a very important breakthrough in that time, just as I had ten years earlier. I had had another very important breakthrough where I began to have my work out more and I began to sell things. Then, ten years later, I had another breakthrough really in terms of my own work and the importance of this horizontality. Now I think another thing that that opened up. About the same time, I started working in acrylics. One of my students was after me, not one, but a couple of my students. One of them lives in San Francicso and works as a freelance designer and I'm still very good friends with him. But he was quite instrumental in talking me into working with...
[Tape 2; side B]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Jerry McDonald is his name. [He] was after me to work with acrylics. He felt that I would probably like them and would benefit. So about 1967, I started working with them. At first it was just sort of, well, pick 'em up and drop 'em, and I'd go back to oil painting which was more familiar to me and where I felt I had more command of the medium. Every time I start a new medium-- I tend to work this way-- I pick it up and work a while and then I drop it and go to something that I feel more comfortable with. I think everyone works that way. So anyway, by '69 I think, and with the impact of this show too, I think that these acrylics started to get something going for me. Something began to happen. Acrylics freed me up a lot. You see, I'd been trained in a very traditional manner as a landscape painter coming in with the American scene painting, you know, Thomas Hart Benton, and then Cezanne, and all this very traditional thing, which I carried out for many years. Then abstract expressionism meant something to me-- I think it was that painting which is in the Portland Art Museum, which is called Steel Bridge [Krause's--Ed.]. That was a time when I began to see that the space could be loosened up. What abstract expressionism meant for me is that you could work within a narrow confine about a deep space situation, and you could actually have somewhat transparent layers of color, and you could, of course, vary the space. You could have this kind of thing happening. Well, I think that painting also is, of course, a mood painting. It represents water and night and bridges and, you know, and there's other symbolic meanings too.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Anyway, this '69 series that I did was about landscape. It had to do, I think, with the idea of working in a series but also with flattening out the space some more, and then trying to work, on the one hand, more freely and more clumsily in some way. I don't know if that's quite the right word, but certainly looser.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Less discipline.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, less little strokes. Big strokes. And then I became more conscious about edges, and of course Clifford Gleason is, I think, an artist who influenced me a lot about edges.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Would you define that, LaVerne, what you mean by edges?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: By the edges? Well, whenever you make a shape in a canvas it has to have edges. So in works of art we work with either shapes or lines, you see, or color edges; whatever you've got in there has edges. Now of course if you're doing realistic painting, it would be the edges of objects, I guess, versus the edges of the background.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Because I was working on raw linen, I began to leave the linen showing. And that's something I've carried out; I've continued to work with that idea, which is quite a departure, I think, from working on a white canvas. First of all you're working a tone down, you're working with a value that is neither white, nor pure dark. So you can have lighter values and you can have darker values, and then the edge gets more important [because] where you're not painting is just as important as where you are painting. So that's what I mean by edges. Now you see over here, in this painting, there's a whole lot of that happening. [gestures toward painting in studio, continues discussing that and others] Now this painting is incomplete, but one of the things that's out of whack right now is that some places are dark and other places are light. I mean, the values are not adjusted yet. I have to go over the whole painting before I can really start to come to terms with that, see. In other words, that blue-green is too intense there; it's just sort of popping out.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So when you're saying edges, between one color and the next.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, and...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Have to be defined and...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, one color or one passage. I mean, as you can see right now, I might think of that whole area in the bottom, that plowed field area, which is essentially made out of different kinds of paints, but there's a whole bunch of them there. Right?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But there's different edges. Does that make sense?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, so that you're not...
MARIAN KOLISCH: And that's interesting because you're working in stripes there, but they're both horizontal as well as diagonal.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, yeah. Right. Course, because that's another thing about nature, I've stopped being too literal about it; I mean, I'm not just working with horizontal ones now; I'm actually... See, as I've carried out with this and been able to get more experience with it, I'm beginning to see in nature situations where actually they're coming at each other from many different angles. But that is still an idea I'm working on very much, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And of course now there's an example of working just on a white canvas [points to another painting] with that idea, see.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Whereas here is the linen and a little more subtle.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Linen, yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I rather like the richness of linen because it, it has variety in its own right, and you can, you know, start manipulating that color so that you don't even know where one ends and the other begins. It's sort of an interesting idea that can happen.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It doesn't happen every time, but I mean some places it'll do that, just sort of, you know...
MARIAN KOLISCH: And you use it [the linen] as a positive color somtimes?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, exactly. That's what I mean, yeah. And it has a life of
its own, see, and in some ways I think it works better almost than white does,
although I use white too because of course I'm doing monoprints-- and
of course in watercolors-- there's a lot of correspondences. In watercolors
the problem is that it's sort of hard to paint wet in wet, and if you do it,
you've got to be careful. You can't put one color into the other without muddying
them, or letting the edges run together and then you get these funny little
fades and stuff, and so you have a tendency to have to leave space between
shapes. Now that's just a physical limitation, I think, of watercolor.
MARIAN KOLISCH: [That's right.]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Now some people, of course, go over their watercolors over a period of time. So they get at it that way, but of course I'm not so interested in that idea, because I personally am interested in spontaneity, and so going over and over things isn't exactly what I like to do. Though that too is an anachronism, because of course in paintings you do have to somewhat go over things.
MARIAN KOLISCH: What is the difference between working with oils and acrylics in that respect? Going back and going over?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I don't know, exactly. Everything I do is a little bit of a mystery, even to myself. I find that doesn't bother me, I mean, the mystery of art is all very much part of it.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think the thing that I'm liking less and less about oil is that when you put a color down, you sort of have to wait for it to dry. Things sort of blend into each other and stuff. And that can be used very positively of course. I mean, in other words, that idea is a good one too. I'm not trying to evaluate ideas here, exactly, but it's a more traditional idea, I guess is the way it sets in my mind. Now, other artists don't feel this way, I'm sure. But I'm just reporting how I feel. It seems that I get more tradition-bound as I use the medium, and so that's one reason why I like acrylic, because it seems that I can free myself and then I feel less tradition-bound. I can make these much more bold kind of shapes and then I can go back and I can get the colors to be really very subtle next to each other. And I don't know, somehow I just feel more comfortable with it and it seems to open up. I'm not sure that other people perceive it this way. Whether they're looking at my work or their own, I mean, they may not perceive this at all. That's sort of what I have come to feel about it.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So you'll probably stay with acrylics then more than either oil or...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, of course there's another thing. If I'm going to travel-- when I was in Norway in '73-74, I painted with acrylics because of course I knew I was going to come home and I could roll those up and ship them here by boat, which I did. I could hang them on the wall and stretch them. I did exactly the same thing when I went to Taos in in the summer of '81. I had the Wurlitzer Foundation award, and I had a residency down there and I just put some plastic on the studio wall, hung my canvas loosely there, painted on the acrylics, rolled them up, brought them home, stretched them, and then completed the paintings.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Essentially a lot of them were completed in Taos. But the final adjustments could be made then after they were stretched on the canvas. Very much a convenient way of doing things for travel, see.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean, I could roll them up, put them in the car, and so on. And they dry very fast, and even if I take stretch canvases with me-- as I did last summer when I went to the San Juans-- even those canvases can be put back in the car the same day and you don't have to worry about this fresh paint.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: So there's that aspect, which I think is important. Of course, I'm just assuming that acrylics are just as permanent as oil paints. All the information that we have today tells us that they are. So, I mean, I'm more or less going along on that.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I think that we have to be convinced of that, because they're used so universally. But are the values of the colors any different? I've always wondered.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, acrylics have, perhaps, a somewhat annoying limitation when you first start using them, and that is that they dry a shade lighter than when you paint them. And you have to get used to that, a little bit, but since every color does the same thing, it's a consistent thing at any rate. That is one thing that is different all right. But they have another advantage, of course, and that is that you can use them right on the canvas, though I find problems in stretching, especially linen. Now linen is hard to stretch, and so what I have been using is glue. Clyde Davis uses glue and so far we've felt that that's been okay, so... I don't know, all of these technical issues, I don't know how far we want to get into those. I'm not sure.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, it might be valuable for some of it. There are a couple things that you might forget to go back to. You mentioned going to Norway, you've mentioned a couple of times. How did that happen? What was that trip for?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Okay, well, at the university, I was first a visiting assistant, then I became an assistant professor in '67, I think. It was '68. And then in '69 I became an associate professor with tenure. So I got tenure then. Then by the fall of '73, I was eligible for sabbatical leave, and so I applied for it, and I made my first trip to Europe. I was 51years old, and I was really excited; it was really exciting to go over there. And I traveled for six weeks before I went up to Oslo.
MARIAN KOLISCH: [Not] just around Europe.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, yeah. I went first to London, then to Paris, and then I went to Zurich, Florence, Venice, Vienna, Munich, and Copenhagen. I had a great time.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Weren't you just overwhelmed, just thrilled?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, yeah, loved it! I just loved it. And I made lots of sketches. And I had this plan. See, I was working on the Deady and Villard portfolio. And I had met this woman, Anna Breivik, who had...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Anna Breivik.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Anna Breivik. She is the founder of Atelier Nord which is an artists' print workshop-- etching to be exact-- in Oslo. I had met her thanks to Gordon Gilkey bringing her to Oregon State while he was still there. And she had a little film about the place, and I thought, "Boy, if I ever get a sabbatical, that's where I'd like to go." So then, as my time was coming up, I wrote to her. I made arrangements and I was able to live in the-- the Norwegians have an apartment for foreign artists, which is available for two or three months at a time, and they let people apply for it and take turns. I had made my arrangements far enough in advance so that I was able to live there. I had to pay rent, of course, but at least I knew where I was going and I had a place. I had a place to work and I had a place to live, with a little studio. So that was all very nice. What I hadn't counted on was [getting--Ed.] sick over there. I was quite ill. I had, apparently, scarlet fever, so this travel became very hard, and so my first time in Norway, the first few weeks I had to recuperate. But I got over it, and then I was able to do some painting, and I was able to find a place to rent downtown. I got myself a little studio downtown after I moved out of the foreigners' apartment. And so that whole experience was real positive. The other thing that was so exciting about Norway is that I really went there to make prints. I wasn't exactly planning to paint. But the light was beautiful and it was so dramatic, and I wasn't counting on that. I mean, nobody can tell you things like that, you know. Nobody could tell me at all about that. And so the impact of that landscape became quite something. And I made a trip or two into the countryside and that was very important. And so I got a lot of sketching done, and I used my watercolor kit as usual to record my feelings and my impressions. And then I would paint in this studio that I had. I had an exhibition while I was there, and the library, the Deichmanske Bibliotek let me have an exhibition and they bought a print. I've been in several print shows over there, and I've had work purchased by people. They're quite interested in prints. I think prints sell better perhaps there than they do here. I know that work is sold quite well there. I was just in a show this last year, over there too.
MARIAN KOLISCH: On the prints.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, always print shows, uh huh.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You said that the light is so different there; that's something that I'd really love to have you talk about a little bit more. Why is light different; for instance, I know at different times of day, of course, but in one part of the country from another.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Versus another, yeah. Well, I don't know; I mean I don't know anything about it scientifically, but I know from observation that the-- Norway is very far north. It's parallel to Alaska, and so when I got there in August, it was still very light, till 9:30 or something at night, but the days began to get rapidly shorter. I noticed that fall came on earlier; it seemed like the most brilliant color of fall was in September. And then pretty soon it got cold and in the meantime the light had, the days shortened rapidly, you know, so that by winter [the days were] very, very short. And, of course snow began to fall in October, I think it was, and after that there was snow all the time. Snow lets out a lot of light. It reflects a lot of light. And so it seemed that sunrises and sunsets, since they were fairly close together-- like maybe sunrise would be 9:00 in the morning, and sunset about 4:00 in the afternoon, so you got them very close together. There's something about the light, while we had it, that was extremely dramatic. We're [in the Northwest] going to start having rather dramatic sunsets pretty soon-- in fact, I saw a beautiful one last week in Eugene-- because April, which is the month we're in right now, and May, maybe part of June, and sometimes a little bit of March, right in there is when we have this kind of light. But it seemed like in Norway they were having it in the winter. I don't know the explanation or anything; maybe it was just because that was the time I was there, but it just was very dramatic. And, you know, lots of dark clouds kind of scudding through the sky and everything, and lots of oranges and reds and very, very intense and beautiful things. Another place I experienced that was in New Mexico, in Taos.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right, right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The light in the sky down there-- Now of course that's 7,000 feet in the air, and it's, I mean, you've just never seen skies like you see down there; it's the openness for one thing, I guess, just the tremendous openness of the desert has something probably to do with that. They have fast rainstorms coming through too.
Even when I spent a summer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1970. I taught there one summer. That experience was interesting too because in that case I just remember how intense the greens were. In Louisiana, almost every afternoon they had a rainstorm. And it would never be cold or anything. We used to go swimming after we got done printing and teaching and stuff, and you might even be in the pool when this little rainstorm had come through. It wasn't anything, no big deal most of the time. But...
MARIAN KOLISCH: [Probably] part of that that was interesting is that the sky is always changing.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, if it's dramatic I think you notice it. Now we have a lot of this, like we're having this afternoon, just sort of basic.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Your basic gray.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, right. (chuckles)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And you know it's nice light and all, but it's not a very dramatic light. It's just more suffused, kind of. And I guess it's good for a lot of things, but...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Good for photography, but it's not exciting. (chuckles)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It probably allows you to have nice values, is that right?
MARIAN KOLISCH: But then not if you're doing landscapes because it's very boring; we call it bald white sky.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Uh huh.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But I've always heard that about the southwest also; in New Mexico and Arizona, the light is [brighter].
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, there seem to be so many nuances of light that are available to you visually, you know. Another thing about Norway that was interesting was-- I was studying the language while I was there and I studied it for a year before I went and so then I took a workshop on Edvard Munch-- that is, a seminar on him at the Munch Museum. And it was very interesting. Because one of the things we did was take what is called a "Sondag" tour or Sunday tour with the curator of the museum, who was teaching this course. It was open to the public so there were about a hundred people. And we tromped around the parks of Oslo up near where I was living and where Edvard Munch had lived, because he had given this property to the city of Oslo so that artists' houses could be built on it. They were artists' apartments; they weren't separate houses. But anyway, we saw this landscape, and he had black-and-white reproductions of some of Munch's paintings to relate where we were standing and what he had observed. And that was very interesting because we were able to actually pinpoint some of those images. Of course, the vegetation may have changed slightly, but essentially the fiord, the Oslo fiord, which occurs in The Scream and in Anxiety, many of those images of his, have that landscape in it. And so that's quite interesting.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: One of my paintings of Norway, of Oslo, is of the Oslo fiord; in fact, it's in the museum in Eugene now, thanks to Tom Hardy, who's given a hundred of his works to the university museum. He's a graduate of the UofO, and so... Anyway, it's still a very handsome gift of his to give so many paintings. And that painting of mine of the Oslo fiord is down there. I intend to give them the sketches that I used. I ran across them the other day. I think I mentioned to you I'm sort of hunting for my sketches of Turner, now that I'm taking this seminar on Turner.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right, right. You would like to be able to find those things.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Turner's another person that I have been influenced by a lot,
I think. His concept of working with sketches has been influential on me. I'm
not very interested in his paintings of classical themes, or anything
like that, but just the notion of those very fresh kind of little sketches that he made were, I think, influential on me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Did Munch influence you too?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I think so, yes, in terms of printmaking probably.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You'd been very aware of him before.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It's not so much-- Yeah, I wasn't aware of him, though, as a student. I wasn't aware of him till really in the fifties. You know, people didn't know much about Munch until the Museum of Modern Art circulated a show. I was quite excited since my family that raised me is Norwegian, you know. I was not aware of Norwegian artists until really into the fifties.
But Beckmann would have influenced me too, in terms of prints, Max Beckmann. Now we have a very beautiful Beckmann in our collection here. We had a different one. They made a trade at one time. It's the one with the figures tied to the windmill. It was the one that was after the war, or during the war, I suppose. Because he was in Holland. He was exiled in Holland when Hitler rose to power. And, yeah, I've been influenced by Beckmann in terms of woodcut, because of that very dramatic...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Style.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...portraiture, particularly the portraiture, I think. And Kirschner, Kirschner is another one that I've been strongly influenced by, because I think he's so important in terms of woodcut. Now as far as symbolism or something like that, that's not my way of expressing myself I don't think. I'm not heavily into [symbolism--Ed.], whereas I think certainly Munch, and maybe Beckman, well, certainly Beckman too, are symbolists. They have either personal symbolism or there's a striving for some universal symbol for things. I think my own philosophy about that would be that if your work is unified enough and simple enough that it has that kind of universality; but I don't assign symbols as such. I mean, I wouldn't be able to do that, I don't think.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And that's different from concepts. You said you were being recently concerned with Turner's concepts.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Um hmm. Yeah, well, I guess what I'm interested in with him-- identify with him I guess is what it is-- he too was interested in light. And then another one is Rembrandt, of course. Rembrandt was also very interested in light. Now, I've never tried to paint any of this kind of brown soft stuff, which you see happening in Rembrandts, particularly in his paintings. I've often wondered if they really looked like that at the time that he did them or if that's something that happened to them later, in terms of varnishes and whatnot. But, but certainly the prints. I'm really more interested in Rembrandt in terms of his prints-- and Goya. Goya's another one. The second print I ever made, an etching, was a copy of a Goya. I thought I could learn a lot-- and did-- about how he put the thing together in terms of how he used the burin, and the point-- I just did a straight-line etching. I'm not an engraver. That's one thing I can't do. I aort of quasi introduce it to my students, but I'm not at all an engraver. The brush is another instrument that I think is tremendously important, and I've really spent a lot of time trying to learn to use a brush well. I took Chinese calligraphy at one time. I've taken Chinese painting at the university. I took Chinese calligraphy up here. The brush seems to be one of the most incredibly expressive and fluid instruments. And of course, Edvard Munch used a brush a great deal in his prints, drawing on the block, and drawing his lithos with a brush. Poussin's another one that's influenced me in terms of his brush drawing. Poussin was introduced to me as a student, as a very important artist because of his abilities in composition.
MARIAN KOLISCH: He was important, for composition?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: For composition, yes. I didn't understand why he was important, but my teachers had stressed him and so therefore I looked at him a lot. And his drawings, I think, were especially influential. I made some copies. Now I think this idea of making copies was something that I learned from my teachers. Dave McCosh was my painting teacher in my freshman year, and I remember that we made copies. I made a copy of [the] Cezanne, and a Beckmann, and that notion of working and having respect for other artists from the past was really quite ingrained in me. I found it to be a valuable means. I already mentioned the use of Goya, but in my desire to increase my abilities with the brush, I felt that this was the way to go about it. As a student I had used the palette knife, which was kind of interesting. In my painting, I found the palette knife to be a wonderful instrument because, of course, you could just wipe it clean with a little rag. And you would have instantly a new color. As a colorist, I liked right from the start to be able to have command of color, and I found the brush would always get muddy and therefore muddy up my colors. It took me a number of years before I could figure out a way of working so that the brush could convey pure color. What I turned to was using a different brush for each color. Instead of trying to paint a painting with one brush, I would paint one with a brush for the reds, a brush for the yellows, and a brush for the blues, that kind of thing. And that seemed to help. And finally, over the years, I was able to deal with that. It's not that one needs pure color for everything that you're going to paint. But it was just that feeling of command, and I think it took me quite a few years before I felt comfortable about that.
[Tape 3; side A]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The use of painting as the central thing that I was working on, I think, working with oil paintings, was an idea that I was trained with as a student and continued to work with. But after I graduated I knew I didn't know how to draw. So in that period I felt I was really sort of working out my methods. And watercolor, I didn't have any confidence about watercolor. In fact, I always felt that the notion of technique, as applied to watercolor, meant that you did a lot of fancy things with sponges and you had lots of different ways of applying the paint. And I never felt very confident about any of that kind of thing. But I think after I saw a Turner exhibition in 1964, I really began to use watercolor more, just as a sketching medium for myself. Because I was already working a lot with the landscape. I found it a means of setting down my ideas and working very directly, and a very portable medium. In 1954 I had gotten a small set; it's called the Bijou Box Number Two, by Windsor and Newton, and I'm still carrying that same box, have it in my handbag all the time. Then I make little notebooks out of paper, you know, like T. H. Saunder's laid [a kind of paper--Ed.] is a good example and then I make these sketches. And those form a vast body, then, of work that I can refer to, and whenever I have a notion that I'd like to make another painting, I can just go through these sketchbooks and pick out something. So I feel like I have masses of work that I've almost never really touched. I see these, I see all of this sketching as sort of, it's been referred to as compulsive sketching, but I see it more like a musician would, in the sense that if you play an instrument you have to keep yourself in very good condition. Or if you're a runner, you have to keep yourself in condition. So I see myself as an artist who also needs to remain in good condition all the time. One of the ways I do that is when I go to exhibitions I tend to make copies-- and I never use them in any way. They're just a means of practice and trying to find out what another artist did. Just this past weekend I was in Seattle and I made quite a few copies, from the Munch show that I saw, and also the collection of Thyssen-Bornemisza [exhibitions at Seattle Art Museum, 1982--Ed.].
MARIAN KOLISCH: Edvard Munch?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Edvard Munch, yes. And of course, when I studied in Norway I took a seminar on him, and spent a lot of time in the Munch Museum there. He has also been, I think, influential on me in terms of printmaking. Not until 1975 did I have a watercolor show, as such; I had a show at the Fountain then, of watercolors that I'd made on a trip up into Canada. And for the first time I visited Idaho and Montana. I hadn't really visited there before and so that trip in 1975 provided quite an interesting group of landscapes that I did. And that was really the first time that I took watercolor seriously as a medium in its own right. And then in 1977, you see, I was already teaching printmaking a lot at the university. And a friend of mine, Euna Wilkinson, came out from New York to do a workshop in painting, and she said, "Hey, let's make monoprints. Everybody's doing them, and let's do some." And so I said, "Okay," and so that's how I got started making monoprints.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me, was she related to your teacher, Jack Wilkinson?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, uh huh. She's the widow of Jack. Jack had died in 1976 (I think it was, or was it '74 that he died? Gosh I can't remember), but anyway, she came out as visitor, and did a workshop. That was how we got started making monoprints and I found it to be quite, quite intriguing. Because, of course, I'd thought of monoprints as being black and white, and somehow it hadn't occurred to me that you could do them in color.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Could you describe what a monoprint is?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, the way we started out was just on etching plates. We just took a blank etching plate and painted on it with oil paints and brushes and turpentine and linseed oil. Well, come to find out, as we experimented more with it, it became obvious that really very soft brushes would be better. Chinese brushes and watercolor brushes really work better, even though you're using oil medium, because they leave less of a track. And so I've sort of developed [a new--Ed.] method, along with my friend, Bruce Witham, who's a neighbor and an artist that I really went to school with but still lives here in Eugene. He's been doing monoprints too, and he was the one that discovered that formica, white formica, would really be nice, because it would be like painting on a piece of white paper. Of course then you have dampened paper, and you run this formica plate, after you've painted your image on it, you run this thing through the press.
MARIAN KOLISCH: After it's dry?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No, it isn't dry. It has to be wet when you run it through. A monoprint has to be done in one sitting. See, it's unlike an oil painting-- or even acrylic painting-- where you can paint on it one day, leave it for days, and go back into it. The way we're doing monoprints, at any rate, we just simply do them in one sitting. When I work at Inkling [studio] in Portland I do one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and then I take a ghost, so one and the ghost. I always take a ghost. The ghost is the second print off the plate and the ink is always paler and sometimes they're really very beautiful, because the color will be more intense the first time that it's printed, but the second time it's printed the value changes and sometimes they're really very beautiful. So I always take a second one.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But no more than that? The first one is meant to be the real print.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The first one is the print, and then the second one is, like I say, a potluck. I haven't really been able to figure out how you might have a sure thing, always have the ghost come out good; I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe in a few more years I'll have it down, but at this point I certainly don't. But I'm very interested in monoprints because they've been another means of working spontaneously. I'm very interested in spontaneity in art, and I think that the idea of spontaneity goes so well with both watercolor and with monoprint. Both of these mediums are very demanding in the fact that you have to have total concentration. And you have to sort of go with what happens in them. I mean they're not mediums that you work back into very much. And I guess perhaps I like that kind of experience of being fully involved and at complete attention and then sort of taking whatever results you get.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You can really be decisive about it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right, decisiveness, yeah, I like that. I stress that a lot, in fact, in teaching it. And suggest to the students that this is a good way to get at that. Another thing that I think is important is the use of positive and negative space. In other words, when you're drawing in the positive space, you see the negative space. Now of course I think printmaking has been very helpful to me in that kind of thing. Because, for instance, in the making of sugar lift, which is also done with the brush, while you're drawing the positive space you should also be thinking about the negative space. And I've carried that over into my painting. I think that that's one thing that's happening, in my acrylic paintings, particularly, because in acrylic painting, the way I develop-- I started out in 1967, working with acrylics, and I found that leaving some raw linen showing was a very interesting way to work with them. After sort of fiddling around with them for a while, this is what I came up with. And so it's very much like what I'm doing in the monoprint where I'm leaving the positive space that I'm drawing, with the color-- I'm drawing with color--and the negative space is the linen itself. And I'm sort of interacting those two ideas. And of course in terms of color, the linen, instead of white ground, I'm working in a tone, because it's a beige, which is down in value.
And another attitude that I have found real intriguing is working with irridescent paint. Irridescent paint has a reflective idea. Now for many, many years I've incorporated silver-- not so much gold; I've used a little bit of gold, in fact one of my big paintings I did last summer has a lot of gold in it. So the idea of reflected light is that when you walk past a painting, it sort of beckons to you. In other words, the canvas itself has different capacities for reflected light. It's another way of studying light, in a way, isn't it? I'm thinking in terms of how light functions, you know. And it's not scientific at all. I'm not that way, but just in visual observation, you know?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me, but LaVerne, you're talking about light now and
color. A little while ago you said something about how people think of you often
as a colorist. When you were talking about color being so
important, does that mean you used to think of it as more important than form and composition?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think I'm one of those artists who feels that way, yes.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And you still do?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I think I still feel that way, yes. I think maybe there always needs to be obviously some structure upon which to organize a painting. And I think that over the years, I've become more adept at organizing space. I am very conscious of that. I think that I see that color can play a very strong role, and I'm not so sure that we always have to have any conventional structure, necessarily, available. I think there has to be structure, though; that's obvious of course. But...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Light becomes important to the color.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. Light and color and then emotional content. In other words, that's why I consider myself an expressionist, because I consider that color has psychological meaning and psychological value. I don't know if it's assigned in any universal way necessarily, but I think on the other hand, there are experiences that are very, very common, that I think that very many people have had. And that we can call upon those experiences in the way that we use color, and so that heightened color experiences are very common. Now the most uniformly common experience, I think, is the one of very early morning, just as day is breaking and, and then in the evening as the sun is setting. It's the most intriguing time of the day always for me, and what I've observed is that the values come closer and closer together and at the same time the color tends to intensify. It seems to be a very strong emotional experience, and I have always felt very poignant at that time. I'm not up in the morning always (chuckles) to catch that one. But in the evening, I do usually experience that. At certain times of the year, in certain kinds of landscape, it can be an extremely intense experience. And I think that it is rather a universal experience and I think people have always taken note of it, whether or not we've been able to do anything with it, you know...
MARIAN KOLISCH: [It does] seem like the values come closer together and yet the colors are intensifying. Does that make for hard edges?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure of what happens to the edges. I find myself dealing with edges a lot, and I think I was influenced with that by an artist that lived in Portland named Clifford Gleason. Because Clifford Gleason dealt with edges very beautifully. We often found, in Clifford's paintings, that there was a really interesting shift of tonality right at the edge. And it would often change scale. He would have kind of tiny little things happening. I sort of perceived that myself as an interesting idea, you know. A lot of times in my landscapes I think I've tried to work with that idea of how you work with an edge. I mean, I mentioned earlier of course, that whole business about the striping, as I saw that happening. Well, whether the edge is hard or soft, I'm not so sure. But I've tried all different sorts of things. I've almost worked with pointillism too. And I was very excited to see that pointillist painting of Severini's, the Italian, in Seattle in that Thyssen exhibition. There was a Severini painting, and it was very high keyed in values, light, you know? There were few value differences, so what you saw was the changes in color and it's just absolutely elegant painting. I was very surprised by it. I don't know a lot of his work and I've never seen a big exhibition of his. But that was an awfully interesting painting to me. I find myself learning all the time from other artists and other art. And I try to remain very open. I think that not only as a teacher but as a student I feel that I'm a perpetual student. And so that when I'm learning that's what I learn, the great... I feel art is a great encyclopedia that is available to all of us if we're interested in it and if we're willing to look at it. And I think I've had that in common with a lot of other artists. I think that most artists feel that way, that we see to it that we go to exhibitions, that we get a chance to look at art, that we travel, and that, if art comes into our vicinity, shall we say, that we make sure that we see it, and observe it, and so on. I don't think it's true that art comes from merely inspiration or merely from nature or whatever.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's why I think an encyclopedia is a wonderful word for it, because other artists, or some people I think, that feel that you can isolate yourself and produce great original work; but I think isolation is unproductive.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I guess that's true. I think one has to have some isolation so that you can get some work done. I mean, that kind of isolation. But it's necessary; I mean if you were just always doing something else you never would produce any work. So of course you have to have enough isolation so that you can actually sit down and make some art; but on the other hand I think that there needs to be sort of-- I think of myself as a pitcher (chuckles), as in water pitcher, you know. Where you empty yourself out and you fill yourself up. In other words, as you expand what you're doing, and you spend your ideas, and work your ideas out, then, at the same time-- or sequentially-- you need to be taking in new material, so that you'll have some more ideas with which to work. And so it seems like a cyclical kind of process that's always ongoing. And it's not that you ever really solve anything exactly. I just think it's a state of becoming, I think the philosophers call that, the state of becoming.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That you never really arrive. And I think that's very, that is my own stance toward things, that I never feel that I've arrived and I'm not interested in arrivistes of any kind. They don't show me much. I'm more interested in people that are just interested in ideas, and so keeping all of that in some kind of perspective seems really important, because that way, you can always be surprised and excited by new ideas. If you felt that you'd already seen everything then I think ennui sets in and that's a very unfortunate situation. I've never suffered from that. (chuckles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: There's no where to go.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Because I've always been interested. Yeah, there's no where to go, and it becomes a sort of cul-de-sac of some kind, and probably it is very debilitating; particularly I suppose if it afflicts an artist, I would think it would be very, very difficult. So I haven't suffered from that, and I probably never will, because I think that that is the issue, you know. Rather than worrying about things, whether I'm in or out, or whether things are in or out. It's more concern with just let's look at some ideas; let's look at some things and this will suggest things. In my teaching I use slides a lot and I talk about a lot of artists, and if I'm teaching, for instance, my etching class, I might show some paintings. And in my watercolor class, I might do oil paintings. And in woodcut class I might show some etchings. I mean, I don't limit myself in terms of what I'm going to show. And I think that real technique comes from quite a broad perspective toward things.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Do you think that you notice that you're showing more older work or contemporary work in these slides? What do you use more?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I use both. There are some kinds of contemporary art that I don't find useful in teaching. Some ideas in art, I think, are perhaps isolated from the mainstream and are just not good teaching material. I think that is something that, you know, it just depends. I try to have a broad mind about that kind of thing too. For instance I know that Van Gogh, I find him a very useful teaching artist, in spite of all the sort of hype that's been laid on the poor man about his suicide and his problems...
MARIAN KOLISCH: His personal life, um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...his personal life. I think as a teaching artist, he's magnificent because of the fact that he emphasized the tactile nature of painting so much, all of those little strokes that he used, and he was a great colorist. I don't know how many people really are aware of what an important colorist he is. I think this other aspect of him has been so overblown, and people have not been able to look at him with a really critical eye. But I think he's a very artist because of that, because he shows you some amazing situations in terms of color and also in terms of texture, you see, because he was so interested in texture. So that whether he is drawing-- his drawings are just as tactile as his paintings, you know. In his paintings he has used the paint very thickly, but it's very beautifully orchestrated in terms of tonalities and so on. But in his drawings, he really shows you every stroke. You can see how the thing was made. And I think for students this is a really important thing. Whereas someone who perhaps had a more polished style is a little harder to analyze. I mean, at least that's what I see. And so that's how I use him.
And another artist I use a lot is-- well, there are several of them. I mean I use American artists too. I have a history of American watercolor which I use. Because I think that when I was going to school in the forties, we were taught that the big scene was in Europe, and we were sort of embarrassed about American art. And I think that was a very unfortunate attitude, which I have been trying in my own teaching to erase, because I think that we have a very important heritage in American art, and it wasn't just started with the abstract expressionists at all; it goes into the 19th century and goes back to the beginning. Certainly in watercolor that's true. So I've developed a history of American watercolor; it's really quite interesting. And of course we got that from England. I mean, the English watercolor school is interesting too. So that, I just see that as being a rather important aspect of our art. Now I think our Native American art interests me very much too. I'm sort of a collector of that. I have baskets and beads, and (chuckles) I've gotten very interested in what our Native Americans have done. And I wasn't aware of that at all as a student. Nobody particularly...
MARIAN KOLISCH: _____
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I took a course called Primitive Art. I learned some things in there. That was an anthropology course. And I did get some exposure there. But I've really studied it a lot more since then, and you know, read about it a lot.
MARIAN KOLISCH: When you were talking about some of the techniques, do you think that some of the abstract art or pop art going on now is being produced by artists who don't really know their medium that well, haven't been taught the initial disciplines?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I don't know. I haven't really worried about that too much. Let's take pop art, for instance. Just trying to define pop art would take some time, I think, because of course I think it's controversial who is a member of that group and who isn't. So I think that that's what happens in every movement of art. There are some people who are really great and who sort of transcend the movement. And then there are other people who are sort of camp followers who pick up a movement because it's popular and go with it for a while, and then when it fades away, they find themselves sort of losing their audience, so to speak, and so then they pick another movement. Now some artists do that and of course it's complicated because you see someone like Picasso, who was able to change styles, you know, with his great gifts. He was able to do it. I don't think all artists are designed that though that they can pick up a style that readily. So sometimes I think it becomes more difficult.
Actually I think another problem that we have as Americans-- and it goes with our self-consciousness and our paranoia-- is this business of picking styles up and dropping them again. I'm not very interested in that actually. I feel, looking at art in the longer and broader context, looking at art at earlier centuries a great deal, as I do, and looking at earlier movements in the 20th century, and just looking at that total picture of art, I personally feel that it can be a problem to try to change styles, in terms of trying to remain avant-garde. I personally think that can get to be treacherous-- or would be treacherous for me. I move much more slowly. I've been very conservative, I suppose, in my moves. And yet I think that I have been able to create something that is my very own, as much as anyone can. Of course I think my influences were all very visible and everything, but it just doesn't worry me too much when things change, you know. That is, I feel like I could, if I want to, do portraits; or if I want to do still lifes, I guess I could do still lifes. I haven't particularly felt a need to do them, but I mean, I'm...
MARIAN KOLISCH: _____
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Certainly my central theme is landscape, and I've always worked with that. Now I think my landscape's changed a lot, over the years, of course.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Do you think since printmaking? Do you think that's affected your style?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, printmaking has changed me a lot. Yes. I think printmaking was very, very helpful because the severe limitations in printmaking, you see, are such that you have to sort of come to terms with them, and in the process you learn what limitations mean; it becomes more clear to you. Like for instance, I learned so much about the differences between two kinds of blues. When I would do wipe-run in the intaglio printing, I'd wipe the run plate with blue and then roll another kind of blue on the surface and you'd be amazed how they would separate from each other. You would just get this kind of wonderful tense thing happening. And it would just never occur to you to do that in painting. You just simply wouldn't do it, because in painting, you know, you put a little dab here and you put a little dab there, and you have a great deal more freedom as to how you tackle it. And so that's why I think that printmaking, with its severity of limitations, has really actually opened up a lot of things. And of course my personal style has always been, in printmaking, to use very simple color solutions, like just a couple of colors. I've never been one to make paintings in prints, whereas some people do that, but I just never have. Because I always think if I want to make a painting, I make a painting. And then I don't need to make a print. It's a silly sort of thing. (chuckles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: You want to talk about portraiture now? About the difference between portraiture and landscape or other...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I could talk about that some, yeah. I think that my idea of portraiture has been that personal observation or personal response to an individual was what I was about, and that I was not trying to make a likeness per se. In other words that I was able to observe something about the person that with all the distortion and out of proportion kind of things that I might do, that the directness of the materials and the way I used them would nevertheless reveal something about this person's character-- not just their appearance but their character.
MARIAN KOLISCH: _____.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I'm much more interested in some perception of a character of a person, that is, all of their aspects, not just their visual ones. And that, I think, is sort of a more complex problem than trying to make likenesses, or flatter people even.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's the key to caricature.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Portraiture, yeah, right. I don't...
MARIAN KOLISCH: _____ a portrait, you _____.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. And therefore, I suppose that I would never be very popular as a portraitist. I mean, I've never even tried to sell them or make money with them or anything, you know. I have sold a print or two occasionally or something, but I mean it's never been anything... Or I've had trades; somebody wanted me to do a portrait and I, on the basis of trading. And so mostly, I've been very independent, you know, that way. I've made mostly portraits of people that I wanted to make portraits of, family or close, close people. People that I have plenty of opportunity to observe.
MARIAN KOLISCH: To know.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And to know, yes. People I really knew, not just [those that] would sort of appear at my door one day or something. There's one exception to that, and that was when I decided to make a portfolio on Deady and Villard, which are the two old buildings on our campus, the two original buildings which are still standing, and this was Victorian architecture. And I had a research grant to do it, and I decided that would be my project for my first sabbatical leave, which I spent in Norway. And in the development of this project, in doing research for it, I decided that I would like to do portraits of the two architects, and then the two individuals that the buildings were named for. So I set myself the goal of finding old photographs of these people and then trying to do portraits of people that I'd never met.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's quite an assignment.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, in some ways it was, and, you know, it's sort of hard to gauge it in some ways too, because there isn't all that much to measure it against. But it was an interesting idea anyway.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Were these oil or prints?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: These were drypoints. Two drypoints and two etchings. And in the etchings I used a circular format. Another idea that I've worked with, periodically, is using a circular form, tondo, I guess people call it.
[Break in taping]
MARIAN KOLISCH: Let's start now to talk a little bit about the portfolio and how you got started with it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Okay. Wonderful. Well, my first experience with portfolios really was seeing the work of Baskins that Francis Newton owned. When I was going to school at the museum in 1957-58, that was the period...
[Tape 3; side B]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...that I met Lee Kelly. And so anyway, Newt brought his portfolios into the class.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me. Newt, as you will be saying from now on, is Francis Newton, who used to be the director of the Portland Art Museum.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. In fact this happened while he was still the curator there. Because this was in the late fifties. In 1960 he became the director. But anyway, his collection of portfolios was very inspirational to us, and I remember that Lee Kelly made a sculpture of a beetle from seeing this wonderful little book that he has called, I think it's Thirty Beetles or something, and it's a book of small etchings of beetles that was hand-printed by Leonard Baskin, and of course at his Gehenna Press, when he was working in Boston, not Boston...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Worchester?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, Worchester, Mass. Newt new Baskin personally and had visited his studio, and I think that's how he got interested in his work. So that was a big influence and then after I started teaching at the university I became aware of the fact that there were faculty research grants and with Newt's help it was the first time I applied for one, because I think he was just supportive, you know, and helpful in planting the idea that that might be a nice project to apply for.
Also I was interested in collaborations. So in the meantime I had been talking about this project with Vi Gale-- Vi Gale's a poet in Portland. While I was living in Portland of course I was good friends [with her--Ed.] and Kenneth O'Hanson and Bill Stafford and several poets; I used to go to their readings and sometimes go to their parties and so on. So I felt that this was a group of people that I would like to work with. And so Vi and I started talking collaboration and making a portfolio. It took us a couple years before we found the other members of the collaboration. We needed a topographer, and we found one: Charles Bigelow. And then Robin Rycraft; he was married at that time to Peggy Rycraft. And so the five of us got together after I received a grant, because I had no money to invest in anything like that at that time. So my part was the grant money, and then I had the summer off, the summer of 1970, I think it was, to work on the portfolio. Vi and I became partners. And we went to Jerry Robinson, and Jerry Robinson's another person that's been really supportive to artists. Gerald Robinson, of course, is a photographer...
MARIAN KOLISCH: And a lawyer.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And a lawyer, right. And he has always been very supportive, and has done a lot of trading with artists.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Very interesting to me, _____.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: He has quite a nice collection of art. And we made a trade with him. He took a portfolio and set up this little partnership for Vi and I. And so I put together an edition of 50 prints, with five artists' proofs. And the five artists' proofs went to each one of us in the collaboration. That partnership really was quite fruitful, because I think Vi is a better business person than I am, and so she was able to market these. And they're in libraries and in collections around the country. There are, I think, maybe only one or two of those left now, out of the50. So they all, they all went away. And of course my part was to have an exhibition, and of course my gallery, the Fountain, has always been very supportive, so all three of my portfolios that I published in the seventies were shown at the Fountain.
Another important supportive thing in my life, of course, is the Fountain. And I think that Arlene has always been very good; if we had something that we would like to exhibit, she's always been sympathetic and has worked it into the exhibition schedule. I've really felt complete support there. She never questioned whether these things were going to become saleable items or not; that was not ever an issue.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So that first portfolio was all sold?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, over the years. It probably took ten years for them to all go. But then the second one I did was on sabbatical leave while I was in Norway. That was the one on Deady and Villard.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Deady...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Deady is a building on the university campus, and Villard is also a building. And of course they were named after a couple of rather important figures in Oregon history and...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me. I think we talked about that last week.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Okay. Well, the main thing about that portfolio, I think, was that it was in celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the university. And of course since I was in Norway on sabbatical leave, I completed the portfolio there. I did some more prints. I had an exhibition at the Deichmanske Bibliotek, which is the library in Oslo. They bought a print from the exhibition and they were very nice. I enjoyed that exhibition experience a lot. Oslo has five daily newspapers; (chuckles) and each one of them came and interviewed and wrote articles, and of course I thought that was really nice-- I've always wished that we had more variety of press here and more interest in the arts.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And more coverage of what's going on.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, and more coverage. I think it's very unfortunate we don't have more criticism.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Both in Eugene and Portland that's true.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. We have some coverage, but it could certainly be richer and more complete, and particularly the part about criticism, which I think is just quite lacking and I don't know why exactly. Our culture doesn't seem to want it or something. Even in music, it doesn't seem to be appropriately covered, or theater.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Although certainly in New York the exhibits are usually pretty well reviewed.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, yeah. Right. I think New York, the big centers, I suppose Chicago does a better job too; I don't know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, back to the collaboration, though, you were saying why it was a good experience for you just to be working with other artists.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I think that we had the experience of being respectful for one another's capabilities, and bringing craftsmen and artists together seemed like a really, really good idea. The total function of the thing was what I was interested in, you know, the cohesiveness of it. And I think as an artist that sometimes it's really nice to be able to work with other people whose work you admire and respect.
I also feel strongly that, for instance, poets need to be included, because poetry is often just published all by itself in a book. Of course this idea is not new with me. I think many of the artists that I admire, like Picasso and Matisse, were very much involved in publishing. And so the idea is really a European one, but I think it's such a good one. Picasso always said that the poets need support, especially, because it is so difficult for them. And that's so true; they don't even have as many opportunities to exhibit and to sell and to be heard as visual artists do. And so I think it's very incumbent for artists in other fields to try and be supportive and look for opportunities and ways of doing this.
Well, I think that the published book, the Livre Deluxe, if you will, has a little different audience too, that it comes from a slighely different source in terms of who is interested in it. Now my books have gone-- the public library in Portland has bought them, and my library here at the university, their Oregon Collection has copies of them in their rare book room. And so, that is a slightly different outreach, you might say. Now the limitations that one has to develop in settling on what a project of this sort will include, I think, are also kind of interesting. And I thought I might talk about that just a little bit.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. Good.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Each time that I have made a portfolio, I've have to sort of think in terms of what should go into it, and try to [do something other than] just make a bunch of pictures and then stick 'em in a book. But rather think in terms of what would be appropriate, how the things would go together. Now my collaboration with Vi Gale worked out in the following way: I read her poems and they made visual images to me. It was a very important point with me that I not illustrate her poems. I didn't want to be placed in that position because I don't feel like I am an illustrator. I wanted rather to be on a more equal footing, you know. And so, as her poems suggested visual imagery to me, I wrote down key words and so on. Then I prepared a flock of plates and went to the coast-- we chose the title Clouded Sea later, actually, after we had it more put together. She chose ten poems and I had ten prints. And we sort of did our choosing together-- But I made a lot of plates and took them to the beach with me and I worked quite directly. I had some of the imagery in mind. For instance, she had something called "Horsetail," but I didn't want to do a horsetail. [the plant horsetail (Equisetum)--Ed.]
MARIAN KOLISCH: A horsetail.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No, I just did some beach grass.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Whatever suggested an emotional thing.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...which is more relief... Right. An emotional thing. More cohesive, so that I didn't feel in any way restricted. Because I think that the sense of freedom that one must have is very important in making good serious art. I mean, you just don't want a restriction on yourself that will inhibit you in some way. And so that's how I handled that.
Now in making Deady and Villard [Portfolio], though, that was a historical
thing, and I collaborated with Marion Ross, who is professor emeritus of architectural
history in our school. And it was really his suggestion that I do that portfolio,
because he knew of my interest in Victorian architecture, you know; I had done
things in Portland of the old buildings in downtown Portland. It was kind of
with that in mind that he encouraged me to choose that theme, and then he wrote
the text. And of course that required more research between the archives in
our library and what is available in Portland at the Historical Society.
And I decided to show Deady and Villard, the two buildings. I showed them one in winter and one in summer, and one portrait as the building was in the past and then one as it is today, so that I had the set of four. Then I found pictures of the two architects.
MARIAN KOLISCH: In Oslo?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No, I had to do the research before I went to Oslo.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You found them here, _____ first.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I took all that material with me, though. Some of the plates
were not complete when I left. I already had the plates chosen, and I had all
the paper torn here, because this is where I had the help; I had all
this material shipped to me, and so while I was traveling in Europe, that stuff was on the boat coming over. I had to pay duty on it too, of course-- my tools and everything were just shipped to me. I bought my inks over there. But that was a nice positive experience because I found the colors that I bought in Norway to be the same; the standardization of color, I thought was kind of an interesting point.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Interesting, um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I was using blue and green, of course, and so on, and I found some German inks in Norway that I just loved. They were metallic colors, and then that was when I started working with metallic things. One of the images in that book does use metallic ink. I made a drypoint and rolled ink on. And so that was really interesting. And then of course I shipped a lot of that ink back with me, because I liked it so much.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's interesting.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, but the standardization of color I thought was really an important point. So I guess, you know, it shows that you can travel. I know a lot of artists have just traveled and they haven't made any art when they've been other places. But I've found that I could do that, and I thought that was pretty nice. In fact, the whole idea of being somewhere else and being able to just sort of settle in and work there was a very positive experience for me. I did it in New York. I did it in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1970. And then I did it again in Oslo and also in...
MARIAN KOLISCH: In Taos.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...in Taos, yeah. I worked each place. And I found that I could really enjoy that. And of course there's a certain kind of concentration that occurs; because you don't know people, you're not inundated maybe with social things, and so you can really just sort of settle down and just do a lot of work. It's very pleasurable for me, actually; I enjoyed it each time.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Different experience from working at home, where you're surrounded by...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: When you have the demands of one sort or another. You're sort of freed from that actually, and I think it helps the concentration.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You were going to talk a little bit about the limitations of the work in the portfolio, the doubling.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah. I would talk about that in relation to the last portfolio I completed, which was called Portraits: Friends, Artists. One of the limitations that I went with was that I was doing artists pretty much my age and older. And I made a limitation of having known them for 15years or more. I still had a lot of people that I wanted to portray, so I had to make an additional limitation. So what I decided to do was put two people on a plate. I doubled those in several different ways. One of the things I did was to make two separate plates but print them on a single piece of paper. And in one case I made four images for wood engravings and printed those on a piece of paper, and the relationship would carry through in some way. In that one it happened that they were all sculptors-- two were teachers and two were students. And so I was thinking in terms, not only of visual relationships, but maybe relationships that go out beyond the page itself. And then in one case I did a three-quarter view and a profile-- that was Jack and Euna Wilkinson.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Husband and wife.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I was showing, with her profile, how she really deferred to him. I thought of it that way; I don't know if other people could see that. And then I used dark and light to bring out their forms.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And you had a whole family in one.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah. The family one. I liked that one very much. That was kind of an unusual opportunity, and that's the Russo family. Mike Russo and his wife, Sally Haley, and his then daughter-in-law is in the picture: Bonny Allen, who's also a painter. And then the two Russo boys are musicians. (chuckles) So I slipped musicians in there. ...and there's a couple of dogs in there too. Mary Davis and her dog, and of course the [print of] Russo's dog is in there. I guess it would have been nice if I'd had more images of that kind. I liked the inclusiveness of it. But my own archives there's only so much to them, I guess; I was working from old photographs that I had and old announcements. Various images and a lot of the people that I did in the portraits didn't pose for me.
I was reading about Edvard Munch recently, and apparently he did that too. He didn't actually make sketches when the person was in front of him, but he did what he remembered of them, when he got around to doing the portrait. That's sort of interesting.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Without a photograph?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I guess. Although I don't know about that. I'm not sure because after all the camera was around in his day, so he may have had photos. But he didn't actually work from the person sitting in front of him, and I did that quite a bit too, actually.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Do you just keep the image in your mind of how the person looks?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think you get a hold of what it is you want to say about the person. I remember specifically for instance in the case of [Gordon] Gilkey there was a real interesting announcement that had had been printed of pictures of him, every few years. Showing him as a young man and how he aged. It was a very interesting announcement, sort of repeating his image. And so I had that and it was really very, very helpful, because I think in making a sort of an amalgam of what I think he looked like, I had more information about him in a way than I had about a lot of other people because I had this whole sequential imagery that someone else had put together as a poster for one of his exhibtions in Corvallis. It was a very, very helpful thing to have. And I think that I made a very good portrait of him-- thanks to that, you see.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's a marvelous, marvelous portrait, because you could take out just what you wanted.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right, it just gave you information. I think visual information is something that we gather in slightly different ways, depending on who we are as artists, don't you agree?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, absolutely.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: You know, I mean, I think you with your camera, now you have a different way perhaps of gathering information, you see, than I do. [Kolisch is a photographer]
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, that's true. I think that you do take out of different images the thing you want to remember, or that is important to you.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It's the thing that strikes you, don't you think?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, that's the motivation behind what you make, what gets you first.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Could I ask you to say something here: You said that when making a portrait there's a certain kind of character that occurs in the face. It's not necessarily a pretty face or somebody who happens to have gotten themselves all put together just right. But it's the person inside that you're trying to show.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right, right. And I think that comes through. I talk about this with my students quite often, in terms of the face. Now the face is not always symmetrical, for instance. That's one thing. And the eye, right and left, is not always the same. There are all these different kinds of symmetry. Maybe the nose has shift in it, and the way the bags under the eyes are organized, and the proportions of the face.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Are not organized. (chuckles)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I mean it's just incredible the things that make for individual character. I don't know if it's really true, but they seem to relate to what the person's like too.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah. And plus, as you said, if you know the person as a friend those are the ones you want to do, you want to make portraits of, not your enemies. As you said that with another interview.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. That was from that poem, which is included in the portraits, which Kenneth O'Hanson wrote. It says there's more to life than poetry, and it's always your friends you've got to watch out for. Your enemies can take care of themselves. (both chuckle) And that has been so true. So often, in my life, and in fact I went on to say in that interview you just referred to that I thought that I would prefer to always do portraits of friends, people whom I was close to, whom I felt admiration for, and so on. I mean, I might make an enemy by making a portrait of them (laughter); but I don't think that necessarily would happen. I think mostly I would try to make portraits of people that I felt I had a deeper relationship with than just that they wouldn't get mad over what I did to them in a portrait.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But I didn't ask the artists too often what they thought of the image. I started to, and I found that that was a mistake, too. Because I think people carry a self-image that might be slightly different than how I saw them.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And therefore I didn't want to disturb that too much. So I didn't ask people too much what they thought I was doing to them. (laughs) I tried it a little bit with one person. I did a portrait; I asked him what he thought, and he didn't like it. So I did another one, and it was worse than the first one. So I went back to the first one, because I thought now that's the way I see this person. And I don't think I'm going to listen to what he thinks he looks like. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: It's very, very inhibiting, yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And that taught me a lesson, so after that I didn't ask anybody. I just didn't ask them at all. And in fact, you know, I just went ahead and had the exhibition and went ahead and did the portfolio, and to this day I don't know what some of them think, but that's all right. I don't need to know, because of course it was what I wanted to do, rather than what they thought.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I completely agree, yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The portfolio itself exists then as a sort of document and sort of tribute. It's really a tribute to the people in this state that I feel have been making very positive contributions. I guess it's been questioned; a lot of people don't agree with the people I chose and so on.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh, but this is your personal choice.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It's just like choosing an exhibition, isn't it? I mean, you never get everybody.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And of course there were people-- Clifford Gleason died during the period that I did this portfolio, and I felt badly not having included him. I did do a beautiful portrait of him earlier, but it was a lithograph, and I didn't have any way of reproducing it, because these were all woodcuts and etchings. And so I just couldn't include it. I tried to make some later portraits of him, but he was already quite ill with cancer, and I didn't feel as good about them and so I just sort of had to abandon that. He's a very important figure, though, in the Northwest, I feel, as an influence and as an artist. And so I regret having to, but it was just kind of a physical thing. I couldn't quite get him in there.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, of course a thing like that is your own [decision]
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And then some younger artists. Now I really have it in mind that, you know, once my health gets completely mended, that I may do another set of portraits. I'm not sure just what the limitations will be this time, but there are some younger artists that I have been close to now for quite a while that I would like to perhaps work on, so it's probably true that I will do another set some way.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh, I hope so. You really must. Well, maybe we should talk about some of the people that you have thought were important in the art community. You've mentioned a couple.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I felt so strongly, of course, about Newt, but I also wanted to talk about Louis Bunce, because I feel he's a very important figure, and to delineate that a little more. Now, in my portfolio, I used a metallic violet color, because I felt that he had that royal quality as a person.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And also as, you know, kind of isolating him away from everyone else in some way too. It seemed a kind of an appropriate thing. So that's what I did. But that has to do with the fact that he has been so supportive of younger artists, younger than himself. He has always made himself available to young people and has been just a fountain of enthusiasm about art. Spending time with Louie means that you're going to be talking about art. And you're going to be looking at art, and you're going to be involved with it. Of course he was a teacher for many years. But not only his teaching; I think it was beyond that. It was more, really becoming very close to people and being supportive. He was very helpful to me. He was helpful to me in getting in galleries in Seattle and Los Angeles. I just observed how supportive he's been to so many artists. And you always felt that if you were around Louie that you were going to be talking about art and you were going to be able to have enthusiasm about it. He always had very broad tastes, you know; in other words he likes lots of different kinds of art besides the kind he makes himself.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And that idea was very important I think. I've always felt that that was something that I would like to continue. And I think I have done that too. I'm very interested in younger people's work and willing to support it and look at it and buy it. I mean I've collected what I can and just to be around [my students].
MARIAN KOLISCH: So you don't try to say, "This is a style that I don't care for; therefore you should change it."
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, well, I don't do that at all. I feel that, in teaching, as a matter of fact, the business of what work looks like, it seems that many styles should be available. And sometimes that gets frustrating to other people. Within my classroom I've had people come in from elsewhere. They've come from a school with a dominant style, and they come into our school and they see all these different kinds of styles going on, and it's very disturbing sometimes. They wonder what's going on, and they can't get used to it, and so on. But my own idea has been that I don't particularly want to see people just imitating me. And I think that that is probably not a terribly productive thing.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I never felt obligated to imitate my teachers.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Now I think as you're influenced your work will look like somebody that you're admiring. Now that part goes on, of course. You remember the business of Gorky. He looks so much like Picasso because he just loved Picasso. He was trying to understand Picasso. I think that kind of thing happens and I think it's good, you know. In my own development, my way of doing that is just to out and out make copies of stuff that I was interested in.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's a learning [procedure].
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, I was learning, and then they're just copies. I don't think of them as anything that I'm going to pedal.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah. (both chuckle) As your art. Certainly, over his period of painting, Louie has done lots and lots of different styles.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. He's changed his style a lot. And I think that maybe the 20th century has had something to do with that, because of course we saw Picasso doing that a lot. And I think everybody has changed. I don't know, it's rather hard to talk about your own changes. I think somebody else will have to go in and look at my work, maybe some day, and see what those changes are. It's a little bit harder for me to talk about my own changes than it is to look at somebody else's, and say, "Oh yes; there's a change!"
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And I think that's just a sort of a natural thing, because I think as developments go, you see yourself making slow shifts, you know. And then there's something very cohesive, even through all these stylistic changes that you see. For instance, in a body of work like Louie's-- and he's had a retrospective so we've been able to see a body of work over a long period of time-- you can see a certain continuity; it's always a Bunce. I mean, you don't have a problem recognizing that it's a Bunce, no matter which style that he happens to be working in. Do you see what I'm saying?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Or which subject, for instance, or whatever. It's very interesting lately, now, that he's doing portraits. Now isn't that interesting?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Very.
[Tape 4; side A]
MARIAN KOLISCH: We will continue where we left from before, talking about Louie Bunce.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. Unfortunately, Louie died on June 11, 1983. And a very nice memorial was held for him at the art museum; about 350 people came. About his work I would say now that it's come to a close, I was just mentioning the fact that he was working on portraits. His last couple of years he had been making portraits and exhibiting them. He had a show of them in Seattle. And his last work that was shown in May, was a five-color lithograph that he did at North Lights Editions. And since he left no will of course his work is in probate now. His only son Jon is a musician, lives in Portland.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. He had no other children?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No. Jon was the only son, and since there was no will it'll have to go through probate and so there's no selling of his work at the moment. His work is frozen, for the moment. There was a very nice show of his work on view recently in the art museum, quite a few things that were owned by the museum but have come in to the collection and also things that I think were loaned specifically for this exhibition.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Do you know how he happened to start doing portraits, LaVerne? Because the last I saw was the big retrospective and he'd gone through so many different areas of interest.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I don't know exactly. I don't know, myself, why he started. They were mostly portraits of people that he saw in bars or around, you know, in his haunts. (chuckles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: They weren't especially portraits of artists! They were just people that he'd kind of met, I think, and were part of his visual world, I guess you might say, and so on. Louie was always one who liked to, you know, when he felt the impulse to do something else, he just went ahead and did it. I don't think he worried about style much, in that sense.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Though I've heard people say, especially after that great big
retrospective that the museum had, that he was, oh, sort of tempted to go along
with the trend and change styles just according to what was happening in the
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I think that would be a fair thing to say, yes. I imagine that he was very, very sensitive to what was going on, and he always, all through his life, traveled. He lived in New York a number of times, and he always went there to see what was happening. I think he was very much interested that way. Yes; that's probably true that some of his changes allied themselves with what was going on in the larger picture. [That] would be true. His later work, too, involved landscape; I see landscape actually, though, permeating all through his work, because even the most abstract things seemed to have references to landscape.
Those are kind of cloudy issues, I guess, because some artists feel rather strongly that if they're working abstractly, they don't want people to know what the references are. So it always gets sort of controversial if you try to attribute something to someone's work, and you see other things in it. However, I think that this is part and parcel of what happens in art, that one does bring your own feelings and your own references to it.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It seems to me that Louie did not-- well, maybe I didn't see this in his work-- but he didn't bring a very great sense of fun into his paintings. And I was going to ask you if in your physical makeup, your flair for style and fun, do you think that comes into your painting?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I don't know. Those are kind of hard questions, aren't they? Because I think that sometimes what you might call your personality is one kind of thing, and of course I've always had a lot of crazy aspects to my personality; there's just no doubt about it. In terms of my work though, I always think I'm just very high-serious and really quite moody in terms of my work. Now there are very rare occasions, I think, when there's any wit or humor in my art. But there's lots of wit and humor in me as a person.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah, exactly.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean that just seems to be it. And I don't know how to explain that especially. It's just that I don't have personally any means of coping with, you know, puns or jokes or any of that kind of stuff. It's just really not in my art at all.
And I guess, and in fact, it's not in my personality either. Mostly what I suppose is in my personality is a certain form of eccentricity, which I think I just inherited. My mother was very eccentric too. I mean, I think my mother that raised me was just quite eccentric in her attitudes and things. And so I've carried that out, I guess.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, it's a separate part of you, probably; you don't need to use it in your work, because you have enough chance to express it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I feel like art is all of a piece, anyway. You know, I mean
like the way I do things in terms of my house, or how I have things in my visual
surroundings, I mean, there's lots of art. My life seems to be just all of a
piece, and these various places that I work and teach in all get to be filled,
sort of, art-wise. Lots of stuff. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah. (chuckles)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I guess I just like stuff too, you know. I have still life collections; I've had a couple of those, just stuff to work from visually. I gave one of them to Mike Hearns. Now I don't do still lifes anymore, except when I teach watercolor. Lately, somebody gave me a bouquet of flowers. Well, I went ahead and made a painting of them. I mean it's just a characteristic thing that I would do. It's not that I'm doing flowers as such anymore. It's just that they were beautiful. I just respond to my environment. I think that's what that's about, and I think that would be true equally then of Louie, is that he sort of responds to his environment. I think that's characteristic of an artist.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: He was so much fun to be with, wasn't he?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. He could be very serious and intense, or he could be joyful, but it always included art.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, it was there. One other person I think we ought to talk about is Francis Newton.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And his role in my life, maybe, and also certainly the important role he's played in fostering an interest in art. He's another person who's had a high-serious interest in art. He came to the museum in 1953.
MARIAN KOLISCH: As director?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: No. He was the curator at that time. And Tom Colt was the director and hired him. He had been working in Worchester, Massachusetts, at the museum there, and so Tom hired him and he came out here. And one of the first shows that he had was a show of Leonard Baskin's work, because he was a personal friend of Leonard Baskin, having met him when he was working in Massachusetts. And he also developed a collection of Baskins. And when I went back to school-- in 1957-58 I went to school at the museum school half time-- Newt invited us students to his office and showed us his collection of Baskin books and portfolios. And that was a very influential thing on me. And Lee Kelly was in that class; that's how I met Lee.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Lee Kelly's the sculptor from Portland.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The sculptor, yes. And he was influenced by those things too. In fact, he made a little sculpture of a beetle. There's a very beautiful little Baskin book that was only put out in an edition of30. And Newt has one of them. It's called Horn Beetles and it has these beautiful little beetle etchings. And they're printed in different colors, and that book was so impressive and was such an influence. Then, later on, in the-- see, this was '58, so we sort of got together on the Governor's Council, and we didn't start going together really until after I was teaching in Eugene, so around '66, fall of '66. I had spent the summer in New York, and when I got back then we started really going together, becoming friends and so on. So anyway, he was very influential on me.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Francis Newton was the director of the museum at the time you're talking about?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, he became the director in 1960; from 1960 to '75 he was the director of the Portland Art Museum. And during that period there was an artists' organization, of the museum, what was it called? Oregon Artists, I guess. No, that's not right. What's the name of it?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Artists Membership.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Anyway, it used to suggest exhibitions of Oregon artists. It's abandoned now; it doesn't exist as an organization any more. But at that time it did. Tom Colt started it as a part of the museum, just as he started the Oregon Arts Alliance. He had the Oregon Artists [Membership]. But this was the artists who got into the annuals. You remember how the Artists of Oregon was always an annual?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: The first one was in 1949, and they had a juried show, and I happened to get into that one and I was in all of them, up until about 1975. I always seemed to manage to get in. But then, since then I haven't been able to get in. (laughter) My luck ran out as far as juries go.
But anyway, Newt was, I think, very supportive of Oregon artists, and he has a fine personal collection of his own. He was also supportive in the sense that there was a whole series: they developed a series of Oregon artist's exhibitions and they've put out little catalogs for them. I had one in 1973. And the plan was that they were going to put them in a book. They were going to make a, you know, like a little box that they would all fit in, when this series was completed. Well, of course, what happens in these kind of things is that the series never got completed, unfortunately, and so it never did get boxed. And then, you know, after they changed directors in 1975, why that whole plan was scotched and nothing ever happened to that, unfortunately, because I think that would have been kind of nice, to have it together as a unit.
MARIAN KOLISCH: A nice idea.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And, so the policies have sort of changed in more recent years. And of course-- I think it has something to do also with growth. There's just an awful lot more artists now practicing in the state than there were perhaps in the fifties. And, and even the early sixties. I mean, it has sort of multiplied, hasn't it, Marian?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean, you just have a lot more artists. And so of course
the thing might change.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Plus the way the board is set up at the museum and administration has changed, more than once since then.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right. But anyway, I see Newt as being a very central figure and much beloved by the artists always. I think the artists locally did appreciate him too and were supportive. When he retired, you know, there was a big party given for him. There was a sort of a format set up and it was suggested, if people wanted to, to give him works of art, and he has a beautiful collection of things that people gave him at that time. They were all in a certain size. And someone was commissioned to build this little case, a wooden case with little legs and things and they all fit into that. And so that's really nice.
Since his retirement, he's continued to buy art; it's just been really important to him. His teacher is an amazing woman too. He was born in Butte, Montana, and he went to school in Moscow, Idaho. His family lived there. And his aunt...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Excuse me. His teacher you were mentioning.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Mary Kirkwood is her name. She graduated from the University of Oregon. In fact in the archives at Oregon we have a very beautiful painting of [hers, her] done around, I guess about 1929 or '30. She's still practicing and she's retired from the University of Idaho, but she was a very important influence on a number of her students, you know. Anyway, Newt was one of them. And it was through her auspices that he went to study at the Royal Academy in Sweden. She encouraged him to do that. And so I think it was his junior year in school or something, he spent the whole year over there studying-- or was it after he'd gotten his bachelor's? Maybe. I don't know. Anyway, I think the connections are kind of interesting, because she's continued to practice and just last year he went over to a retrospective of hers at the University of Idaho, and he bought a couple of the paintings and has them hanging up in his living room now. She's largely a portrait painter. And she does very nice ones. But it's so nice that she's this active, because she's well up in her seventies.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I was going to say, at least...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think she's in her eighties by now. Newt's 70!
MARIAN KOLISCH: Was that where he developed his interest in Edvard Munch?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, that was through his year in Sweden. He became aware of his work, and in fact, he wrote his master's thesis on Munch. After he came back from Sweden, he got a master's at the University of Idaho. He did the research largely, I suppose, through correspondence in Europe, because there wasn't much on Munch. There hadn't been many shows in America at all, in that period. It wasn't really until 1949, or something like that, I think that the Museum of Modern Art had a show of his. That was the first show of Munch in America, really. So they weren't that aware of him in this country, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It's changed now.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It certainly has changed, yes. We're currently having that very nice print show at the museum. Newt and I just gave a talk about that, week before last, on Sunday; gave a gallery tour, essentially, on Munch prints. And he also organized a show of Karl Frederick Hill. No, Josephson, Ernst Josephson. He always wanted to organize a Karl Frederick Hill. Those are a couple of other European artists that are well known in Scandinavia but not here. The Josephson show toured this country, but the Hill one was never accomplished.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, I'm glad to know that he's still actively collecting. Do you have anything else to say about the art of collecting?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, of course I like the idea. I always encourage my students to collect and to trade. Because I think trading has been a wonderful thing for artists. I think trading in general is a wonderful thing. I mean, it doesn't just have to be art. Examples that I can give from my own trading is that when I was in the Image Gallery, a man wanted a painting and I said, "Well, what do you have?" And I needed a new set of steps. And so his son and he came over and built me a new set of steps and that became a big portion of it; it wasn't pay for the whole painting, but it was part of it. And that was just wonderful, because he was in turn-- apparently; I've never been out to his house-- he added on a section to the wall so he could put this painting in, because it was quite big. It was 48 by 72 inches. And the other thing he wanted me to do, which I never did, was to take a hike up to the top of Mount Hood. He said that there were vistas up there that were just like this painting of mine, and he really wanted me to do that. (laughs) But I'm not a mountain climber. I just couldn't deal with that so I never did carry out that part.
Another trade I had was a wonderful one with Mel Christman, who owned the Gay Nineties. The Gay Nineties was on Park Avenue. It was a wine and beer bar, and then hamburgers and pizzas. Mel like my work, so I had a couple of paintings in trade, and it was just wonderful. My kids just loved it, you know, because we lived up there on 22nd and Hoyt and they could come downtown, and they could go in there in the daytime, you see. And of course kids couldn't be in there at night, but I mean in the daytime they could go in and have lunch there and have hamburgers. Oh, they loved it.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You probably had credit for about 500! (laughs)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I don't know-- Yeah, I used to treat my friends all the time. And it was just wonderful! It was really a wonderful trade. I don't know who came out winners, but I know I was very happy with the arrangement. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Let's see. What else? Well, I had my hair done for a long time, because Keith Baker wanted me to do a portrait of his mother, which I did, and so for that trade I got involved in having my hair done, but of course I didn't last very long at that. I mean, sitting in front of a hair dryer for half the day isn't my speed. (laughs) And then I just let my hair grow out and of course I don't mess with it any more. (laughs) But I went through a period of that, (giggles) with this trade and all.
MARIAN KOLISCH: LaVerne, how do you handle the trades if someone who is also an artist would like to trade something of yours for something of theirs, and you're not particularly fond of their art.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think what I would do is, if it were something that I didn't mind that they should have, I guess I would just take their piece and perhaps I wouldn't hang it up. I suppose that'd be what I'd do. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's a little awkward.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I had a very humorous thing happen to me lately. My ex-husband is remarried, and I thought that they should have some of these portraits that I've been doing. We'd just had this family wedding, you know, and they've been out here. So I gave them some of these prints. Well, I got a call from my ex-husband's wife and she told me that she didn't want the one of Max, my son. (giggles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: She explained to me that she thought he looked like he was using drugs and... (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Of course the portrait was done in the seventies I just was flabbergasted by all of it, because of course, it may be true... He said he was using drugs at one time. I don't think the portrait is especially that, but anyway, she doesn't like the portrait; I certainly got that message. And I said, "Well, that's just fine." I said, "I'll take it back." (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Isn't that crazy? I should think your husband might have wanted it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Isn't that crazy? Well, he apparently isn't saying anything on the subject, but anyway, she did say that she thought I should do a portrait of Max and his wife Carol. Well, of course he's changed a lot in these years. And he does look different now. He does look a bit more raffish. This is when he was in college at the University of Chicago. And so... (laughs) I don't know, but I just thought the whole thing was rather hilarious. (giggles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Ridiculous.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But this is what happens to you in art, you know. People do try to tell you what to do. I mean, there's a certain amount of that. This happened to be a relative, but this happens with customers too. I mean, people do treat art occasionally, I think, as a means of getting at you. I mean, they see this as a way of telling you what their tastes are, and why don't you do it the way they see it. This is essentially what she's saying to me, is why don't I do it this way, you know. And of course I had just completed a portrait of Darcia and her intended, I called it, because of course they weren't married at that time. That is an interesting portrait I'm very happy with. And of course she's probably right. I should do a portrait now, of Max and Carol. And I probably will, you know. It's just that I haven't gotten the vision of what to do with them yet, or something.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You're not ready yet.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean art is a very peculiar thing, I guess. It does go kind of intuitively, and on whims and what not, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Certainly, and it should be at your choice of time, I think, rather than having someone tell you.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That's right, but that sometimes becomes difficult. It's like that business of... Marian, maybe you have had this happen to you, although of course it's a little easier with photographs, because at least you have a negative and you could print another one. Prints are that way too. But I mean in the case of single objects like paintings, people will come to you and say they just love this one, and why don't you do another one?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Just like it?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Just like it. Yes, because they would like to have one. It's very hard for people to understand that you can't do another one. I mean, that you can't do it; it's not that you won't do it, but it's that you can't do it. Because I am incapable of painting another painting exactly like the one. For instance, when the Fountain fire occurred and all those paintings burned. In fact, I was telling Tom Vaughan [Director of Oregon Historical Society--Ed.] last night, since he bought that painting of the Columbia River Gorge. I had a big gorgeous painting of the Gorge that burned up. And, you know, it's sort of poignant for me, because, in a way, I know that was a beautiful painting, and I'm very sorry it burned up. But, I have never been able to just set myself down and do another one like it. It's gone, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Because there was another painting that I had, a diptych, a gray diptych, I liked a lot-- I don't know if anyone else liked it, but I liked it a lot. And I was thinking, "Oh, my gosh. I really want to repaint that." And I even had the stretcher bars stretched up to the size and everything, but I've never done it. I still haven't done it. I think your mind goes on; I'm in a different time frame-- obviously-- and I don't think I can go back and do those things, much as I would like to. You know, even mentally I would like to do it. Even as I sit here talking about it, I would like to have those paintings. But I just guess I can't do it, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: As you say, you're thinking differently.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: You're thinking visually differently, even though when my work is seen as a body, I mean, well, you're going to say, "Well, that's a Krause, and that's a Krause," yes. But, I just think there's something about the way you work and the way you do things that changes over time.
MARIAN KOLISCH: It's bound to, or else you wouldn't be maturing.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, right. That's right.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I thought maybe we could mention some of the things that were a little bit outside of your artwork, like the committees and councils that you've served on. You've been so active in a lot of civic things. There was one, the Governor's Planning Council.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, we mentioned because [Newt] was on it, and that's really how we got together. And of course I should really say about Newt how supportive he's been. I mean, it's a very important thing psychologically in one's life to have a person be supportive that really expects you to work as an artist, that arranges your life so that you can work. I mean, he'll have dinner ready for me when I come home from the studio. He's totally supportive. Now that I think is probably the greatest experience for me in my lifetime. I have not had another person be so supportive. And I must say that it's great!
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: It's absolutely great, because I think for an artist to have someone really understand and care in that complete sense, that really doesn't take you away from your work, is probably the most valuable experience that I've had. And perhaps I don't even appreciate it myself, as much as I should. You know how it is on a day-to-day basis, you forget maybe how important that is, because you have it! Right?
MARIAN KOLISCH: It's not just a physical part of living?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But I can remember when I didn't have that, and when I didn't have that kind of psychological support. And then life was very difficult, you know. Very frustrating.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. And you do appreciate it and also keeping you convinced of your worth.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, even my mother and father, well meaning as they were, you know; my gosh, they used to say, "Well, now, you've just got to do some other things. You've got to take care of the house, and you've got to do the laundry, and you've got to can all these 30quarts of peaches, and..." (laughs) You know, "And then you can do your art on the side." I used to get that all the time. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: And that's just not workable.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: But I was so stubborn, you know. I kept doing that art anyway. Even if I didn't have much encouragement. I didn't have a public; nobody was paying any attention, but I would go ahead and do it anyway.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Fortunately you did, LaVerne.
[Tape 4; side B]
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, I was just going to say that in spite of the time you've given to making art, you've always found time to give to the community by being on these various committees and councils.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I've had a philosophy. I think my early experience with Artists Equity was very important there. That was, that was organized-- Mike and Louie and maybe Manuel [Izquierdo], I think, were early sponsors. Certainly Mike Russo was essential in organizing it. And so it started in, I think, '49 in Portland, and I was right in there, as a beginner. It was a national organization, and it had roots, really, in the older Artists Union, I think, and in the post-WPA days, that is, nationally that's when Artists Equity got started. Now the attitude of Artists Equity was that artists needed to band together to see if they couldn't improve their economic conditions, which have continually been dismal. (chuckles)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And so it's founded on a very idealistic premise, and that's perhaps why it has never become a great flowing organization, because it's rather an idealistic premise that it's based on. But I think it's a very important one, and I certainly took it to heart and I still believe in it very strongly. We believe that as professionals we have the right and the obligation to see ourselves as professionals and to continue to practice as professionals. And so with that in mind, we never were an exhibiting organization; we were never a club, you know, some kind of an exclusive item. Although to other people, sometimes, it seemed that we were exclusive, but I think those were just other people looking at us. I don't think we were exclusive.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Could any artists join?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, although we did have requirements that people be serious, professional, practicing, and be perhaps out of school, let's say, you know, not still students and so on. So that kind of thing. And of course that's where the arguments always start, because of course people have one attitude toward it, or sometimes I think that maybe that was where the arguments would come, because of course some people would think they were fully qualified and ready to be considered professionals and maybe other people didn't think so. So there were some rules about having exhibitions and so on, but we couldn't be very strong with those because there weren't any galleries. You know in the fifties in Portland, other than the Kharouba, the wonderful Kharouba that Louie and Eda Bunce had, there weren't any galleries.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That was a gallery?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. The Kharouba was a gallery, yes. I'm not sure when it started, but it was in existence when I came on the scene in '49, and I had a show there with three other women in 1951. I think it continued to about '54 or '55 and then Don Sorenson had it for a while. And then it died, about '56 maybe. And then I think we were without anything until '61 when the Image and the Fountain opened at the same time, in the...
MARIAN KOLISCH: _____.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yeah, right. And then of course I was on Artists Equity, at that time. I was the president from '54 to '56, and I got a chance to go to the national meetings in Boston. And I think Louie was there; he was living in New York too, for that period, I think. Anyway, then I went to the meeting in Boston. And it was just a great experience. I saw so much art, fabulous. And anyway, we were concerned about artists being-- well, it was kind of a curious thing, I guess, now-- but there were some people on the board that had been representing this famous artists' school. What it was was that you would make art and then you would send it in to this place; it was teaching art by correspondence school.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Oh. (laughs)
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Hah! What a crazy thing, you know. And these board members, if you please, were getting a hefty chunk of money for getting together a couple or three times a year, and supposedly putting their seal or stamp on this art, you know. And so of course there was some factory in Connecticut where people were actually looking at the art, writing up these criticisms, sending it back to these poor people. Well, that whole thing went by the board. But I mean, it was alarming because of course the people who taught in school-- I wasn't teaching school myself at this time-- but the people that were teaching like at the museum school and so on were all worried about this, because they could just visualize this sort of ruining the art schools. (laughs)
MARIAN KOLISCH: Certainly.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And, yeah, they would put advertisements in all these Sunday supplements, and all this kind of stuff. And so it was going for a while. Anyway, I was back there to speak up about this (laughs) and tell them what we-- it was a ridiculous thing they were doing! Well, it all took care of itself eventually. I made my speech and all that, but those Easterners, I mean, my lord, they don't like listening to Westerners anyway. (laughs) I don't think I made much of a dent. (laughs) Though I did get up and say my piece! (giggles uproariously)
MARIAN KOLISCH: You must have, LaVerne, because they made you national president later on!
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I don't think I did much good then either. Oh, I almost got myself impeached during that period, because (laughs)... I always have thought, you know, that artists ought to get together. That was one of the important reasons I sort of hung in here with Artists Equity as long as I have. I am very idealistic. I really think artists ought to get together and make a strong organization. So during my regime, why there was another organization that was, I suppose, more radical left, or something, and (laughs) I wanted to get together with them. Well, by this time the rest of Artists Equity, what's left of it, is very, very conservative. And so they just had a fit, you know. (laughs) They were ready to impeach me. So, you just have to give up, because you realize that people are just not going to be able to get together. They want to have these little nests and...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Separate...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That's it, I guess. Separate entities, which don't work out that well. Artists Equity has continued to persevere, though. There are some good people in the east, who live in the Washington, D.C., area, and they have been effective, I think, to a certain extent in lobbying and so on, because some bills have gotten through. After all, the big one that got through, of course, was the National Endowment, believe me. I think that was a very important piece of legislation.
Now Artists Equity has stood for a great many things that we have seen accomplished in this state. One of them is the One Percent for Art. Now that wouldn't have happened. Artists Equity was talking about that, back in those early days. And we went on campaigns. We saved those murals in the Rincon Annex post office. Those were Anton Refrigier murals in San Francisco. That was a campaign that went on about '54. Very important, because those murals would have been torn down. Anton Refrigier is the well known American muralist. And it was during the McCarthy era, that someone noticed in this flag of-- he had many panels, I forget how many, about 13, maybe-- and in one of the panels, in the founding of the United Nations, which occurred in San Francisco, he had placed the Russian flag above the American flag. Could you believe it? And so in this hysteria that we had in that period, somebody was complaining about this.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Certainly.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And then another complaint was that the Chinese were shown building the railroads. Well, some prominent woman, whose grandfather had been instrumental in the building of the railroad, said, "Well, that's the way it was! This is true! Railroads were built by the Chinese coolies." His research was accurate, you know. Well, anyway, there was a great froo-frah, and finally there were enough people with common sense-- important people, like this woman who was important socially in San Francisco-- and with the furor that Artists Equity made, it was stopped. I mean they just quit saying that they were going to get rid of these murals.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So they did save them.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. And so this was the kind of functions, I think, that were valuable, you know. One of the presidents was John Rude, who was a sculptor. He was from the Minneapolis area. He was very helpful, because he saw, he was quite a business person; I think he had quite good income himself and he was idealistic. It takes those two ingredients really to help this artists' organization. And so he was helpful because he kept pointing out, you know, the importance of artists having relationships with architects and getting in on the ground floor, trying to have this One Percent for Art, having it built into the contracts that buildings should have some public art in them, and all this kind of thing.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And having it legislated.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And getting it legislated, right. Philadelphia played a big role in that, because I think they were one of the first ones to get that in. There's been a strong group in Philadelphia all along. Now in New York, there've been been other problems. One of the New York chapters sort of seceded for a while. I don't know, because they got into this business of getting to be a club, more. And so that aspect of it, unfortunately, took over in New York and that was not good. Now another thing that's happened a lot with artists' organizations has been that as artists became more secure and became more wealthy and more able to make their own arrangements and their own deals, they've been less interested in helping other artists. But that has not entirely been true, I mean, there have been many instances when they have continued. Now this John Rude I mentioned, but Louise Nevelson was also a national president of Artists Equity and was very helpful, and in 1964, I remember, I think at her own expense, she brought people together in Denver, where I was able to meet her. She played a strong role at that time, because again I think it always comes out of this conviction that artists need to...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Be supportive.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: ...to, you know, be supportive of one another, and try to get some of these legislations across that would be very helpful. And of course, you probably know, Louise Nevelson's life was certainly-- I mean, she was pretty near 60 before she received her recognition and her international acclaim. She's continued to be tremendously creative and she's up in her eighties now, and she's still doing, just going beautifully. So that's really kind of great, I think.
And I think that we've had a good effect in this state. For instance, we have even passed the bill which is so needed nationally. It was passed, not in this legislature, but the last legislature. Richard Bullock was very supportive of that-- he's a former student of mine from the museum art school; I had him in children's classes-- but anyway, the [Oregon] legislation that says that works of art may be given to public institutions at their full market value. Now the [U.S.] Tax Reform Act of 1970, which I think had something to do with those damned papers of Nixon's; there were apparently abuses of various sorts. That Tax Reform Act says that artists, if artists give works of art to public institutions-- or private ones, but to institutions-- that they may have a tax claim for only the cost of the materials. Nothing for your labor, nothing to do with the value of the work; only the cost that it took for you to produce that piece. Well, those costs usually are only 30percent, let's say, of the value.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Or even less.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Or even less, right, because of course, it's the real value of something [that matters]. And that's a very unfortunate law. It's unfortunate in two directions, you see, because it doesn't help the museums. The museums were benefitting from this other situation. Now museums are not going to take works of art unless they want them, so that this law does not do anything about all of those issues; after all, you could be making art and if they didn't want it, why, forget it!
MARIAN KOLISCH: Is the law that exists now?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes, nationally it exists. In every legislature, there's bills introduced, because there's quite a few people in the country aware that it's very unfair to artists, and there've been many efforts to get rid of it, but it has never gotten through. All these years now, thirteen years, we've just never had gotten it through.
But it is the law here in the state of Oregon. For instance, last year I gave a copy of my Portraits: Friends, Artists to the museum in Eugene, the UofO museum. They didn't have a copy and they wanted to have it, and so I gave it to them, and I could take that $500 then, off my state income tax.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. Which is the true value of it.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes. That's the value. Now, of course, I think the thing is worth a lot more than that, but... (chuckles) We're talking about what the market value is.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: See, the other thing about this law which I think makes it very fair is that it's not that it's going to, you know, erase all of your income tax. It doesn't say that artists are now not going to pay any income tax. That would never happen because, of course, no matter how popular you were, you would never be giving away that many works; maybe once or twice a year, you'd give something to a museum. I mean it's not going to change too much. It's just that it makes it more attractive for an artist to give his work to a museum, and it makes it like you got something for it, you see. That's what I think is fair about it is you got something for it. Why should you give something to the museum and then have nothing in return for it? I mean that's ridiculous.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes, whereas other people have tax deductions. It makes it more compatible.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Yes! A collector can buy your piece and give it to the museum.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And take the tax deduction.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Now of course some people have worked that out. In other words, people have made some kind of deal and gotten somebody else to give it to the museum. That can be done. But I mean, why should the artist have to make a deal? Why shouldn't you be able to give it, you see?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yeah, just as a compatible _____.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And it would be nice for the museum now. The museum in Eugene, who's working toward quite a collection of Northwest artists. Virginia Hazeltine has given them a large collection which she put together, but they are also collecting. I think that I'm going to give them quite a few things some day, but I've been waiting around for this law to change; I'd like to see it be some tax advantage to me. Now of course I do have a collection of prints that are by other people, the things that I bought. Now those, I'll probably give when I retire. That's more or less my goal.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Do you think it's changed anything since the National Endowment for the Arts has come into the picture?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Well, I think the National Endowment is a very important thing. I think that we are very johnny-come-lately in the United States, you know. Most European countries have laws like this. I think the Canadian law is good and has been in operation longer than ours and in some ways works better than ours. I think there are naturally some things about the National Endowment that I don't think are what I would like to see happen. But nevertheless, I think it's an awfully important thing, because of course it's providing money now so that there are some fellowships available for artists. It has provided money so that One Percent programs can be helped. It's helped to put public art out in many places and in public buildings. And it's doing things like creating special exhibitions that we would never get to see, probably. I don't think there's enough going on. I mean, all the things... And there is some support now for our theater and our symphonies...
MARIAN KOLISCH: Right, and for projects which otherwise would never get done.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Exactly. Now the critical aspect of it for my tastes is that I don't think they're helping individual artists enough yet. Now they were very wary of helping individual artists. They were afraid that that would be destructive to the total program. And on the other hand, they had a period of experimentation, and some of these "Open" galleries and really far out things have been supported too. And that's good! I think that was good. Even if you don't agree with the kinds of things they've done. PCVA [Portland Center for the Visual Arts--Ed.] is a very good and important example, I think, of a very positive program. That one is still going. They had one in Eugene for a while called Open Gallery and he did some interesting things, but then of course, I don't know, CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act--Ed.] grants were helpful in keeping it going for a while, and then when that money ran out, it just sort of folded. But CETA grants have come and gone, as you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Um hmm.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: That particular program they absolutely zilched out, as soon as Reagan got in. So a lot of those kind of programs had to get dropped. The National Endowment is doing all right. I like the program and I think the state art commissions have been helpful. Now I don't always agree with everything they've done, but I think in an early period like this-- after all, we've only had it since 1967, so we're only talking about 15years, and that isn't very many years. I mean, you've got to have a lot of experimentation and so on. What I would like to see is-- and I've said this to the state art commission at a meeting they had this spring-- I would like to see them give out more grants, but modest ones. I think they should give out small amounts. I don't believe in giving $25,000 to anybody. I think they should just give small amounts...
MARIAN KOLISCH: To individual artists?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Um hmm. But give lots more of them. Because that way they'll help more people. There's so many artists, and it would be a modest stipend of $2,000 or $2,500. Those kind of grants, I think, are the best. That's more or less the kind that they've been giving within the state, anyway, and I think that's better. They give ten or twelve of those a year, and then those ten or twelve people get a chance to do something. There's no use giving $25,000, because it's not going to be an income-producing thing for you. And by the time you have the reputation to receive a $25,000 one, you've already got your economics straightened out anyway.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I guess that's true.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean why give them that much money, you see, that's what I say. Just a modest amount gives a person a chance to travel, to do something. Now this is what they do in Europe, and in the Norwegian ones, which I'm familiar with-- and they've been doing those all the way back to when Edvard Munch was getting them-- they dole out anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, or $2,500, something like that. It's a very modest amount of money, but those Norwegians do wonderful things with it. They go study in Europe, and they live on that, they live very simply, you know. No royal role.
MARIAN KOLISCH: No, but they can travel or...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And I don't think that's necessary [i.e., large amounts of money].
MARIAN KOLISCH: And you think it's not abused in the European system the way I think sometimes here, the same person is apt to get grant after grant after grant. Instead of having it spread out.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I don't know. From what I could observe in Norway-- and I was only there six months-- was that they seem to be able to identify who the artists were. They seemed to be able to give them a small amount. And, pretty much, they were using that well. They were practicing artists; they weren't taking the money and then running off to Acapulco or anything.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: They were just there making their art, you know, and living simply, making it go as far as it could possibly go. So they seemed to have a means of identifying who the artists are in their community. I think we have a little more trouble with that in America, for some reason. We don't seem to want to be able to identify our artists. I just think that's a part of being new, too. I mean, if you're an artist in Europe, it's accepted, nobody worries about it, it's okay. Here, somehow you have to justify.
MARIAN KOLISCH: You have to prove...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: You have to prove yourself. You have to justify it all the time. You know, that's part of our being young and naive as a country, I think.
MARIAN KOLISCH: I think so. And some of the conservative...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: On the subject of art, we've made our money. Listen, America's been settled by people that made their money on all kinds of schemes and God knows what. You know, the old boys put that money together, and then they just suddenly become very conservative, and they don't want to listen to what might be interesting, you know.
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's right. They're just another...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Of a cultural nature. But they all want to have some culture! God knows, everybody gets real nervous in America if you mention that we're sort of not cultured. That just drives everybody nuts. (laughter) I thought a wonderful line was from this play I saw about Louise Nevelson. Apparently she said this: she said that her relatives were the kind that "love Beethoven, but God help you if you were Beethoven." (laughter) Isn't that wonderful?
MARIAN KOLISCH: That's marvelous. That's great. You know, it's like the politician who comes from a capitalist family and then wants to become a leftist politician that does not give to the poor.
Oh dear, well, now have we...? We haven't mentioned the Society for Historic Preservation. You were on that...
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh, I'm just a member of that. Historic preservation has come a long way since I joined it, I'm pleased to say. That comes out of my interest in Victorian buildings, and just in general of having a sense of our past and our heritage. I've always loved Portland and, having really grown up in Portland, can remember of course when the iron fronts were all down on First Avenue. I still miss the Portland Hotel; I thought it was a crime when they tore it down. So I've always been in favor of keeping our past and understanding what it was. And so I guess I've been a part of that movement ever since it started. And of course things have changed a lot, because now you can go to the UofO and, when you're taking architecture, if you want to, you can specialize in historic preservation; just in the last two or three years that's come in as a major. And so there is a whole movement now, and of course the whole practice of architecture has changed too, a lot. Because, you know, this international style was so strong for a while, and modern buildings were it. But now as you can see, an example, with the Graves building [Portland Building, designed by Michael Graves], we're coming back, we're coming around, we're looking at other kinds of building now, and we're thinking... And so much has been done, I think, with using the older buildings and remodeling and trying to understand what it was we had. I think that Europeans have been ahead of us with that, you know. They have a more cohesive attitude all along.
MARIAN KOLISCH: Yes. Preserving.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I mean, Italians-- and the Germans, good heavens, look how many times they've had to rebuild. But they tend to rebuild and understand what it was before so that-- not that they don't change; I think they do-- but that just seems a better understanding a lot of times.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And they don't throw out all the old.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Not always. Some of the destruction that's going on in cities-- New York too-- I suppose it's everywhere.
Even preservation can get out of hand now sometimes. I know there's been an argument in Eugene about an old fraternity downtown. I guess it was just kind of an abandoned building and probably started to bother people, abandoned building downtown, you know, and not having anyone in it, and just kind of boarded up. They suddenly got into this thing about whether or not it was a historic building and whether or not they could get some money, you see, to revamp it, and so on. And of course there's quite a big argument because some people say, "Well, it may be old but it's not a very interesting building, and why don't we just get rid of it?" And then other people say, "Oh no. This is one of the first fraternities, and we should have it." And I don't know how it's going to end. Because in a way it isn't all that great a building. There are probably some other nice ones that already have been torn down.
MARIAN KOLISCH: So should we save every old building?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Right, I mean, you see, it still becomes an aesthetic issue, doesn't it?
MARIAN KOLISCH: Well, LaVerne, when you're talking about the change in attitudes now, about saving all this instead of getting rid of it all, that sounds to me like postmodernism, which I guess is happening in art as well as architecture.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: Oh yes.
MARIAN KOLISCH: But how do you account for the changing tastes and mores in the arts? Do you think it's people's...?
LAVERNE KRAUSE: I think it's very complex. I think that we have a a total climate at any given time that is what we call art. And then we have what feeds off of that; there's a whole system of things. I mean we have the museums, and we have the galleries, and then we have collectors, we have people who want to be involved in art, and all of these. And then of course we have the artists, the people that make the stuff.
MARIAN KOLISCH: And the dealers.
LAVERNE KRAUSE: And the dealers, the museum people, and big collectors-- I mean people who are nationally known. Now they are related in another way to the media, and the media, of course, are the people who publish books, and the people who publish magazines, and then those people who write, the critics, and and maybe some newspaper critics, like certainly the New York Times, and that kind of thing. These are all the aspects of art, and I think that at any given time, all of these people are involved in some way in promoting as well as a continuity of the thing. And certainly I suppose if you were a dealer, you would be very concerned that your people were being properly seen. And some of them have gotten into the publishing thing. Incidentally, in Art in America for the summer, there's a very interesting article about art publishing in relation to art. It's quite interesting because it brings up quite a few of these issues. They were pointing out, for instance, that the Museum of Modern Art has been publishing from the start.
END OF INTERVIEW
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with LaVerne Krause, 1983 Apr. 17-Aug. 18, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.