Educator, Arts administrator
Active in San Francisco, Calif.
Size: Transcript: 11 p.
Collection Summary: Interview of Sheila Cogan conducted 1972 July, by Barry Schwartz, for the Archives of American Art.
Cogan discusses the arts scene in San Francisco, especially the rise of the Street Artists Guild; her work with the Richmond Arts Center; and the beginnings of video art at the National Center for Experimental Television in San Francisco.
Biographical/Historical Note: Sheila Cogan (1942- ) was an educator and art administrator.
This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
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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 Sheila Cogan, 1972 July, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Interview with Sheila Cogan
Conducted by Barry Schwartz
in San Francisco, California
The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Sheila Cogan in July 1972. The interview took place in San Francisco, California, and was conducted by Barry Schwartz for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Sheila Cogan and Barry Schwartz have reviewed the transcript and have made corrections and emendations. The reader should bear in mind that he or she is reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
SHEILA COGAN: I was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in museums. About five years ago, maybe half a dozen years ago, I came to realize that the art museum was no longer a viable institution, and I came to realize that a great deal of energy had to be put into bringing the arts into the community, and so I spent a lot of energy trying to do that, and in odd ways, really. I worked for the Recreation Department in Berkeley for three years putting together a cultural arts program for kids through the public schools. I saw a new phenomenon occurring here that I was aware was not really happening in other parts of the country: that for the first time I witnessed the growth of a kind of political movement in which highly individualistic, freaky, young artisans, artists, photographers, and musicians were coming together for a common cause; they were really coming together to fight city hall.
And they had a reason. I don't know whether this is happening in other cities. Well, maybe you can tell me, is it happening in New York?
BARRY SCHWARTZ: Well, had you heard of the Arts Workers Coalition?
MS. COGAN: No.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Well, for a while in New York, we had a very vigorous movement, very vigorous.
MS. COGAN: Is that what you were alluding to in our conversation? Good!
MR. SCHWARTZ: I have an enormous amount of information on it. I'll send you some information.
MS. COGAN: Yes, I need it. It will become very much part of the book that I'm writing.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What was happening with these people here? I mean, what was their objective?
MS. COGAN: Well, how did it happen? Basically, in order to make a living in the perilous economic times in which we exist, they were taking their work out to the street and selling it-pots, leather, pipes, paintings, photographs, whatever they do.
MR. SCHWARTZ: In stalls?
MS. COGAN: No. Just taking their wares and setting up a little blanket on the street corner and doing their thing. There were certain areas of the city which, because there is a lot of heavy foot traffic, were better as selling places than others. Among them were Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square and Union Square, because there's a tremendous amount of tourist and foot traffic through there. They were getting into hassles, because there existed an assumption that street peddlers must be licensed, but when the artisans would approach the Police Department in order to obtain a peddler's license, they would be turned down. Then a rare thing occurred. Well, to backtrack for a moment, there was nothing in the city code which indicated that street peddlers must be licensed: there is no statement in any city ordinance covering this. Okay. But, nonetheless, it had been assumed for years and years that peddlers be licensed.
MR. SCHWARTZ: A police assumption?
MS. COGAN: Yes. Right. Peddlers were defined as people who sold manufactured goods or farm produce. For the first time, young people who made their own wares for sale were attempting to do the same thing, only to find that they were coming up against a blank wall. A lot of them were arrested, their goods were confiscated and they were put in jail. So, as a result of that hassle, that pressure, they banded together-in the beginning I think there were 10 or maybe fewer-into an organization called "The Street Artists Guild" to fight the arrests. They got a young lawyer who believed very strongly in the constitutionality of their case who decided to work, for very little money with them, just some kind of nominal fee. Now, this whole movement has been growing for over the last year and a half. I find it absolutely fascinating from both a legal and sociological point of view because they are, as I say, a group of highly individualistic, very often inarticulate, individuals who have gotten together to do probably what the New York group is doing, or attempting to do-to fight city hall. And they're winning. That's the amazing thing! They're actually winning! During the last big Christmas season there were lots and lots of street artists out on the street around the big department stores down on Union Square. The mayor actually put a moratorium on arresting them because they couldn't possibly be arrested during the Christmas holidays, so he placed a moratorium on arrests. But after a certain date, they could no longer sell in those places. But as of now, none of the street artists have set themselves up to be arrested deliberately, you know, in order to create a legal case. But the current status of that thing is kind of fascinating. It's going in two directions: firstly, the mayor has designated four areas of the city-not ones that the street artists wanted, unfortunately-as places where they could sell their wares unhassled. But, they have to adhere to certain standards; they cannot have more than 11 artists on a certain block, and they have to set up ten feet apart, and all kinds of rules like that. Now they're at the point where they're attempting to find people who can serve as a licensing board for the street artists. They've gone to the San Francisco Art Commission, which up until now has been a kind of do-nothing body. I guess its legal obligation is to pass on new architectural proposals, and so forth, but considering the kinds of new buildings being approved is indicative. So they've gotten one of the art commissioners, a guy named Ray Taliaferro, a black man, newly appointed, who supports their point of view on the Art Commission. They're still fighting for their ultimate goal, for the city to provide them with a place where their wares can be sold, comparable to the Farmers' Market. That's kind of where they are at present.
MR. SCHWARTZ: How many people were involved in the street coalition?
MS. COGAN: To begin with, about eight or 10, and now the organization has grown enormously. The meetings are attended by close to a hundred people. However, the coordinating committee, those who are doing the work, consists of about five individuals who live together and share a telephone and a house.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Did they make any overtures to establish an art organization for support or assistance?
MS. COGAN: No. No, they did it on their own. The one thing that surprises me though is the fact that the business community when approached about it-as they were during the Christmas selling season-not one has come out against the street artists, or made a strong statement against them. They can't! But the one guy who they really have on their side is the mayor. That's amazing. [Joseph] Alioto is a unique character. I didn't vote for him in the last election. I think he's going to lose his case in Washington State. So the street artists are still in the process. That's why I'm kind of amazed that the New York thing that you mentioned grew and died in only two years.
MR. SCHWARTZ: I'll tell you more about that later. There's quite a story about it.
MS. COGAN: Yes, I bet.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Have there been any other offshoot activities resulting from this thing? In other words, has it grown any? Have there been any other implications?
MS. COGAN: Well, their court case was very interesting. They lost. It's now being appealed. I haven't checked the court records. I didn't attend any of the trial hearings, but I will. However, they lost their case. Actually another kind of phenomenon that I find interesting is that the visual arts people, those who are working in crafts, the craftsmen, and the musicians are together in this. In the beginning, the street musicians were kind of a separate body. But in order to form a common front they have banded together. I guess they're all approaching the same public. So that I find fascinating. Right now nobody is being arrested, and that's probably a good thing. The other thing that's coming out of this-and you mentioned it a minute ago-about an establishment-type thing. Within about the last two weeks, the mayor has announced that a new body is being formed to represent the artists in a kind of advisory capacity to him. On it will be one representative of each of the city-supported art organizations-the DeYoung [Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco], the Museum of Modern Art, the art commission, the symphony orchestra, the opera-all those which receive city money as part of their ongoing operation. And there is to be one representative-at-large, but that representative-at-large has not yet been chosen. I'm really curious about who it's going to be. You know, he could easily go to any of the local schools or art institutions to find someone who could sit on that advisory board, but I would be fascinated if he indeed chose someone from the community, and it would really be neat if it wound up being somebody from the Guild or from among the street artists.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Does the Guild have any other objectives besides being able to sell their wares without harassment?
MS. COGAN: No, because some other issues are being handled elsewhere. Do you know about Project Artaud and Project One and Project Two? Well, that's a separate and unique idea that's also growing. Within the last year or so a couple of things have happened in this community which are really neat. Some warehouses that had been used for storage and parking lots have stood vacant for a long period of time. A group of people got together and took over those facilities. One of them is called Project Artaud. Then there's Project One and now Project Two is growing. Basically the intention is to use these spaces which, you know, are enormous, to put it to use by artists and art groups for studios which will be rented at extremely nominal fees, something like six cents a square foot. Presumably the people who are putting these things together cannot live in the facility, but I know a lot of people who do. Project Artaud is down there on Alabama Street. Project One I've never visited. The phenomenal success of them, both from a financial and political point, has been so extraordinary that they're expanding. They're taking over another warehouse. Just recently, within the last two weeks, they had a meeting to organize Project Two.
MR. SCHWARTZ: By coincidence when I was here a year ago, in April, I met a fellow named Reed Beardsley-I don't know if you know him-he was just moving towards this, too. It didn't have a name then but he was talking about that. His idea at that time was to create a lot of studio spaces and have a gallery and have all the artists working.
MS. COGAN: Yes. Actually visiting Project Artaud is really a mind-blower because not only are there various freaky kinds of organizations doing their thing in that space, but they also have a couple of free schools which use it, who rent space there, and a dancers' co-op, and so forth. They rent space within the facility and then redesign it for their own purposes. And it's really happening.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Are women artists very involved in this too?
MS. COGAN: Women are part of all these various ongoing things.
MR. SCHWARTZ: The reason I raised the question is that right now there is a tremendous amount of turmoil in New York about discrimination against women artists. Is that the case out here that women artists have a difficult time getting a gallery?
MS. COGAN: Yes. I would say that whatever the women artists in New York are saying I'm sure is universal. Yes, sure. And as far as I know, there are no overtures; nothing has eased up; it's still the same.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What role does the California Arts Council play in terms of that? Would you comment on that?
MS. COGAN: None! None whatsoever! The arts council is poorly funded. They have sponsored several traveling exhibitions which have been moved from one community to another. Also they have put together two exhibits, one of landscape artists, another of, oh, I can't even remember, which were housed in banks in various communities. So they've really done very little. They have no impact whatsoever on art in the state as a whole. And, you know, it has a lot to do with geography, with the fact that politics in the southern part of the state are very much different from politics which occur here. So it can honestly be said that most of what occurs is really grassroots; it really grows from the community. That's really fascinating. It doesn't start at the top and filter down. It really starts at the bottom and goes up.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What resources exist to support grassroots culture? Is there any patronage?
MS. COGAN: No. Most of the money still goes to established organizations. As I mentioned earlier, there are three foundations in this area that support most of the cultural organizations. It goes to buildings, it goes to institutions; it doesn't go to groups or individuals. That's really the case. Now there's the N.A.P. [Neighborhood Arts Program.] I don't know if there's anything similar to it in New York or not.
MR. SCHWARTZ: I know about its function.
MS. COGAN: Well, the Neighborhood Arts Program began as a city-sponsored thing. It's an offshoot of the Art Commission. Basically it serves as an umbrella organization. Many of the especially ethnic arts groups, like Casa Espana, which is the Spanish cultural organization; and Black Light Explosion Company, which is a black performing group; the Telegraph Hill Art Association, which is made up mostly of residents in that area, have come together into it, in order to receive funds anyway, through the Neighborhood Arts Program.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What's the financial resource for the Neighborhood Arts Program?
MS. COGAN: It comes from three sources: the National Endowment-believe it or not; number two, the city; and number three are private foundations. Zellerbach and San Francisco Foundation have been the major sources of support up until now. Unfortunately, I have a great deal of criticism about the Neighborhood Arts Program.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What's the nature of your criticism?
MS. COGAN: Well-where do I start? I was interested in finding out what was really happening at Neighborhood Arts after a year or two of its existence. So last spring I volunteered some time there. I went into the office and pushed papers and stamped things and just kind of hung in for about five months. I was there regularly two days a week. I helped write their annual report and some proposals they were putting together for foundations. And I found that there was a great deal of internal struggle between the administration and the staff; a lot of energy was wasted on that. And, secondly, I found, much to my horror, that although they had an annual budget-at least for last year-of over $90,000, that more than half of it was going for administrative expenses. And in ridiculous ways! The wastage was absolutely horrifying! For instance, when I came in, I found that they were buying their stationery and envelopes retail, when, since they had some nominal ties to the city, they could have been purchasing these items through the city and obtaining them from the city warehouse. And, you know, they do a tremendous amount of mailing weekly. So I found there was a tremendous amount of wastage. I also found that the program funds, that is, the amount of money actually reaching the community, actually going to organizations for program purposes, was less than that which was going to the office staff. And that horrifies me. That just horrifies me. And once again, it's this matter that you raised concerning accountability. The Neighborhood Arts Program is a stepchild. And although there is an Arts Commissioner to whom the staff reports directly, there was really very little concern on the part of any governing agency for, you know, the way the money was being spent.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Did you raise some of your criticism?
MS. COGAN: Oh, sure. Unfortunately, I was looked on as an outsider. So I found that little of what I said was being heard.
MR. SCHWARTZ: I suppose it's not atypical?
MS. COGAN: No. There are a lot of reasons for it. Part of it revolved around the internal staff struggles that were occurring. The other part revolved around the real lack of accountability. The Art Commission had fired the first Neighborhood Arts Program coordinator and there was a great deal of hassle, a lot of which appeared in the newspapers. Hearings were held and the woman was ousted. A new man, a fellow by the name of Steve Goldstein, was hired. Steve proved to be a totally inadequate administrator; there is no question of it: he just was not capable of fulfilling the responsibility. So within the first month or so of his reign, someone mentioned to him, well, my brother, my cousin, my friend isn't working now and he would be delighted to come in and give you some help. So Steve gratefully accepted these offers. Then Eric Reuther showed up. So last spring a struggle occurred between Eric and Steve. The end result was that Eric, without ever receiving the official endorsement of the Art Commission or the commissioner to whom the organization reports, then took over.
MR. SCHWARTZ: You were saying you teach at-
MS. COGAN: Yes. I was teaching a class last semester at San Francisco State. The course was called "The Economic Basis of the Arts," which is a course that is required as part of the curriculum for a graduate degree in interdisciplinary studies in creative arts. Everybody has to take it. Actually it was a challenge to me in ways that I couldn't have imagined when I first took it on. I had quite a job convincing my students that dealing with that subject was of immediate importance to them.
MR. SCHWARTZ: How did a course like that ever come to be?
MS. COGAN: Well, the catalogue description says that it deals with the legal and business aspects of funding the arts in society. I really don't know how it was initiated. Up until the time that I took it on, the course had become a weekly discussion group. I decided that something more should grow out of it. And, amazingly enough, during that semester it did. I wanted to begin with a gut level issue, and that was my first contact with the Street Artists Guild. I had heard of them through newspaper reports and so forth. I made a few telephone calls and had a couple of the people most involved with initiating the organization come in and talk to my class. Then when it came time to make a decision about writing my thesis, I decided that that's what I would do: I would write a book on the growth and development of the Street Artists Guild from the historical, legal, and sociological aspects, and find out what's happening in other communities that might be comparable. That's why I'm interested in your New York thing. I really think that something will come out of it. So, basically I approached the course so as to deal firstly with local funding, then state funding, and national funding-the obvious way of dividing the topic into the subject matter areas. I had one of the directors of a local foundation which supports the arts-the San Francisco Foundation-speak to the students. He told them exactly what his foundation looks for in grant proposals and how to write a grant proposal. That's what I had my students do as their required paper for the course: write a grant proposal. I thought it would be good experience for them. As part of the schools' administrative staff, there is a funding officer and I had him take a look at the papers the students produced and make comments and criticism. I returned the papers to the students to do with what they liked. I don't know if anybody ever got any funding as a result. It would be interesting to find out if they did.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What's your interest in all this? This thesis is for what purpose?
MS. COGAN: An M.A.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Is this just your own personal interest in these kinds of things?
MS. COGAN: Yes, because, like some of the other San Franciscans you met on your last visit, I'm extremely pragmatic. I know that art doesn't happen in a vacuum nor without money. I had an experience a couple of years ago while trying to obtain funds for a program I was interested in, and so it developed from there. I realize now that this may be a unique direction to go in my graduate work, especially since my undergraduate degree is in painting and my vocational interest has always been in the museum field.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Do you see this as a possible new kind of career?
MS. COGAN: Oh, of course! No question of it! I'm still into visual arts and into music. But as a way of making art happen in the community I know that that's the direction I have to go, that I want to go. As a matter of fact, I had a very nice thing happen just last night. Last spring I did some private consulting. I worked with one of the local arts organizations called the Richmond Art Center. It's in the city of Richmond which is right next door to Berkeley. And we just got our grant!
MR. SCHWARTZ: So your consultancy paid off.
MS. COGAN: Yes, my work for them paid off. I had received a fee with no guarantees. After doing some interviewing and other kinds of research, I produced a proposal for them and advised them on how to handle it. I told them where to send it and to whom, what they could expect, and so forth. Nothing happened for months! Then I was away during the summer. When I returned I contacted Ernie Kim, the Director of the Richmond Art Center. I found that one foundation had turned us down cold; I had thought that was our best prospect. So I advised them to keep plugging, and last night I got a call that they got money from Zellerbach. And I'm really thrilled! So the effort and time and money they paid me wasn't all for naught.
MR. SCHWARTZ: What kind of a project is that?
MS. COGAN: It's for community outreach. The Richmond Art Center is a kind of interesting phenomenon. It grew during the war when there were tremendous influxes of people who worked in the shipyards in Richmond. The building that was constructed then is maintained by the city. They found over the last few years that the community has been changing, that there's been a tremendous growth in minority residents who have not been taking advantage of the facilities there, which are really tremendous. There are professional studios for ceramics, for jewelry, for painting. They created an orchestra and so forth. The minority groups, which are mostly blacks and Chicanos, have not been taking advantage of the facilities, despite the fact that the building is right in the heart of an essentially black community. So the new director wanted to develop a program to reach out in two ways: money to support existing ethnic organizations, and another sum to bring people into the Center. So at least they've got a beginning.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Have you followed developments at Oakland at all?
MS. COGAN: Yes, a little.
MR. SCHWARTZ: How would you characterize the present state of museum development?
MS. COGAN: Well, there was a bit of a hassle about that last spring. They've got this beautiful building, and the minority community in Oakland was very incensed that they had very little representation either on the staff or on the board. So they actually required that a black be hired; and there was-they got a black woman who is into arts policy.
MR. SCHWARTZ: When was that? Last spring?
MS. COGAN: Yes.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Do you know the name of the woman?
MS. COGAN: No.
MR. SCHWARTZ: It wouldn't be Julia Hare?
MS. COGAN: Yes. Do you know her?
MR. SCHWARTZ: Yes
MS. COGAN: She is the one.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Well, there have been a lot of changes since then, actually?
MS. COGAN: Yes. I was away for a few months. And then it took me a while to get my feet back on the ground again.
MR. SCHWARTZ: That was quite a scene there.
MS. COGAN: Yes, it was, yes. What I did over the summer was kind of an extraordinary thing. A bunch of-well, 16 musicians and two dogs, bought a 1947 Chevy school bus, a camper, and made contacts all over the country at colleges and coffee houses and folk festivals. We did a 10-week tour. That was really an extraordinary experience.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Wow! How did that come about?
MS. COGAN: One guy had an idea to buy a bus and load a bunch of musicians on it and visit the major folk festivals in the East. That was our initial plan. And then we needed some way of paying for it. So we contacted friends and relatives all over the country. We set up an actual tour. We played 10 colleges campuses and three major folk festivals. We would have been at a fourth [festival] but it was cancelled. We played at, oh, about half a dozen coffee houses in various parts of the country. It was an extraordinary experience. It really took me a while to get my feet back on the ground afterward, let me tell you. I t was really a cyclical kind of experience, not only from a musical point of view, you know, sharing music with other musicians in various parts of the country, but a group living experience as well. That was really extraordinary. But one of the things that I discovered in making that trip is that there are lots of interesting communes that have been growing over the past few years that are interesting in ways that, you know, were kind of fascinating to me because they've gotten together to do creative things. There are groups of people who share creative interests in common. That was fascinating. There's one in upper New York State near Saratoga Springs that calls itself the Farkle Family and they're into producing records and pre-taped programs for college campus radio stations and things of that nature; they call their company ZBS. That was fascinating. There's another group of musicians that are getting together because they share common problems in dealing with record producers and managers and so forth so they've decided to pool their energies. They call themselves Wildflowers. Wildflowers is centered in Saratoga. As a matter of fact, they're thinking of doing a similar thing here. In Seattle there are a couple of communes which are into that in a similar way. There's one that calls itself the Bull Pit that's outside Seattle in a little town called Kirkland. They're basically a bunch of musicians who live communally. They support themselves through a pizza parlor and it's damned good pizza, by the way! So, you know, that gave us a really a fascinating look into what's happening in other parts of the country as a sidelight to our trip.
MR. SCHWARTZ: To go from communes to something more prosaic, I see you're wearing a badge that says, "Sheila Cogan, Volunteer, C.A.A." What is that about?
MS. COGAN: Oh. Well, you know, I needed a badge to get into some of the sessions. So that's it. You know, I had never heard of the C.A.A. [College Art Association] and nothing of the N.A.A. [National Art Association]. Peter Pix suggested that if I put in some volunteer time here at the conference, I could get into the sessions without having to pay the registration fee. And I thought that sounded pretty good, so that's what I decided to do. And basically to meet people like you. For the first time really I don't feel so isolated knowing that there are people in other communities who share the interests that I do: and that is basically-how does one summarize it? Kind of serving as a catalyst to help people-artists-do their thing better.
MR. SCHWARTZ: I think of it as a cultural activist.
MS. COGAN: Cultural activist-that's not bad. Cultural activist-I like that. Well, if you use "catalyst" and "cultural activist," you use sort of the same letters of the alphabet, don't they?
MR. SCHWARTZ: Right.
MS. COGAN: I think there's a growing recognition that we need it [cultural activism]. Last spring there was a meeting held at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Some of the staff and board of directors felt a widening gap between themselves and the community at large, so it was announced in the newspaper that a meeting would be held on a Sunday in April and anyone who was interested could attend. Unfortunately, I didn't attend. But there were many reports and lots of conversations after that meeting took place. It was a community forum. People were called on to express their feelings about the worth of the Museum and its programs and so forth. One of the most telling statements that came from that conference, that was widely circulated afterwards, was the remark of a woman who stood up and said, "If art is going to reach out into the community then we really should hang paintings in laundromats." And she's right. She's really right. A lot of people had a great deal to say about the vehemence of that expression, but she is absolutely right. So as a result of that meeting the Museum put together a proposal. They just got some money to hire someone to be a community worker. And I think that's great. This may be the first in this area but I'm sure that other organizations who learn that there is monetary support for that kind of movement will then put together their own proposals and begin moving in that direction. So it's very much of a change, from the elitist point of view of another century and another era, to the democratization of cultural institutions.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Do you teach still?
MS. COGAN: No. I'm into photography and sculpture now.
MR. SCHWARTZ: You see, I would argue that there's a career here and that it's not one that you can be certified for by a school; it has to be through experience, etc. But there's a fantastic career and one for which there are too few people now devoting their energies to training.
MS. COGAN: Well, I'm praying that's the case. But the major emphasis, as it has been over the last 10 years, on integration in this society makes it tough for a white woman. I would say that's the primary thing that I've got going against me. If I were indeed a member of a minority group, I'd find it easier. But there are too many middle class white women who have been willing to take second place serving as docents and guides and being on women's boards and one thing and another, that when I walk in I'm just viewed as another member of that group. And changing that view is really hard. So those women in New York who are making the case for the fact that there is so little representation of women artists in museum collections and so forth, really know where it's at; I mean how many Georgia O'Keeffes are there? So, yes, I agree with you, and my experience has told me that I've got a steep hill to climb, and there are a few of them in San Francisco-a few steep hills in this city. Right now I'm among the fortunate-my husband [Michael Cogan] pays the rent and puts food on the table and that makes it a little bit easier for me.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Hmm. Well, it gives you an opportunity, I suppose.
MS. COGAN: Yes. He works for KQED-TV which is the local NET [National Educational Television] outlet. And [he] feels that same way about engineering as I do, about culturalitis.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Is anything interesting happening in video itself?
MS. COGAN: Oh, wow!
MR. SCHWARTZ: Tell me.
MS. COGAN: Surely! You wouldn't believe! We have the National Center for Experimental Television here-
MR. SCHWARTZ: Yes.
MS. COGAN: -which is really an extraordinary thing. You really should visit them while you're here. They're down on Third and Bryant, right down the street from KQED which is at Fourth and Bryant. The National Center is under the direction of a man named Bryce Howard. What they're doing is really fascinating because they're working directly with video as a medium. In other words, they're not using television as a means of broadcasting but they're working directly with the electronic medium to produce visual images. Some of the things they've done are just mind benders! Really neat! Really neat stuff! They've got a staff of engineers and artists who are working together at the Center. They're all salaried; I think their money comes from the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] or something like that, to do that thing. And, yes, video-wise there really are some neat things that are coming on the scene.
[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 Sheila Cogan, 1972 July, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.