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Oral history interview with Edna M. Lindemann, 1994 Dec. 1

Lindemann, Edna M., 1915-2006

Art teacher


Collection Information

Size: 2 sound files (1 hr., 21 min.), digital, wma; 33 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 21 min.

Summary: An interview with Edna Lindemann conducted 1994 Dec. 1, by Robert Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Lindemann's home, West Falls, N.Y.
Lindemann discusses her childhood in Buffalo as the daughter of Nason and Carl Meibohm, who established an art gallery, frame shop, and art supply store early in the 20th century. She remembers living above the shop and summers spent in the country in the house that is now her residence. She talks about the effect of growing up surrounded by Stickley furniture, leaded glass, and Roycroft objects and the importance of the family's church, the conservative Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
Lindemann remembers her love of school, although there was no art instruction until high school where she was strongly influenced by Marie Colburn, a serious painter who summered in the art colony of Rockport, Mass. She recalls the encouragement of both Colburn and of Henry Jacobs, supervisor of art instruction in the Buffalo public schools, to pursue her art interests. Lindemann recalls the necessity during the Depression of combining technical instruction at the Albright Art School (diploma, 1936) with vocational training in art education at the State University of N.Y., at Buffalo (B.S., 1936). She talks about her early teaching positions in local public schools.

Biographical/Historical Note

Edna Lindemann (1915-2006) was an art instructor from Buffalo, N.Y.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art 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 administrators.

Language Note

English .


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.



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Edna Lindemann on December 1, 1994. The interview took place in Lindemann's home in West Falls, New York, and was conducted by Robert F. Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —interview with Edna Lindemann at her home in West Falls, New York. It's Robert Brown, the interviewer.

[Audio Break.]

Robert F. Brown:  December 1, 1994. I thought we'd start out, Edna, talking about your childhood, family background, that sort of thing. You were born in Buffalo.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  In Buffalo, New York, yes.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And your family were—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  My family lived in Buffalo and my mother had come from St. Louis, my father from Toledo, Ohio.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Okay. What had brought them here? Do you—did you ever know this?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  My father came as the son of a parochial school teacher. And my mother, her father—came with her parents, of course. Her father came to work on the grain elevators in Buffalo.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, yeah. What was your father's family name?



EDNA LINDEMANN:  M-E-I-B-O-H-M. And he became an art dealer in Buffalo, one of seven at the time at the turn of the century.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What—about when did he begin here?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, he established his own shop just about 1901. It was 1901. I'm—not that—I wasn't there, but that's 50 years—wait a minute. We have here—I have a clipping: July 1956.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So he apparently established the business about 19[0]6. Where was it in—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  On Connecticut Street, the west side of Buffalo. Now it would identify, probably, with Kleinhans Music Hall, about four blocks from Kleinhans Music Hall.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], which was built years later, of course.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, what did he—did he specialize in certain things, or—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  It was picture framing and more prints than original work. [00:02:05] But he also carried pottery, like—ah.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What? Contemporary pottery?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Contemporary at that time. Not that he did a great deal of that. He didn't continue with too many later on. Fulper Pottery was one of the—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Fulper. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —lines that he had. And this—he was interested, I think, in the craft's revival movement. My parents, you might say, courted Pan-American year. Now we're going back to the 1901 that I spoke of.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. The great exposition of Buffalo.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. And I only learned in—quite recently that the—our—today, our historical society, which was the original Pan-American building that was permanently built, had, as its—major exhibition, uh, craft's furniture, Stickley Roycroft furniture. And we had that in our home. I was brought up with that sort of furniture, and the leaded glass windows that went with it, and all the rest.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, what background had your father brought to this interest in this business when he came from Toledo? Do you recall?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I don't know if he had any—he had it in Toledo. He developed that here in Buffalo, and I'm not sure that he had any other than being an apprentice to a Mr. Robb [ph], who is one of his predecessors. And he—Robb [ph] had an art store at the other end of Connecticut Street. And Dad moved towards Niagara Street on Connecticut and started his own shop. And he moved from w—he finally built his own place. He was moved—he built the shop with an apartment above, a few doors—uh, well, no. [00:04:07] It was next door to the place that he had rented originally.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, really? And the family lived in the apartment—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —above the shop?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  So you—your early years were spent—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  On Connecticut Street, there.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —right above the shop.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Except that, I think, probably the second year that they had this building, they purchased this property in West Falls, where we now are, as a summer home, because I have three older brothers, and they wanted the children to get out of the city.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, your mother, what was her name before she was married?



EDNA LINDEMANN:  N-A-S-O-N. And she was a milliner. A milliner, and of course, she worked very easily with her hands and created not only magnificent hats in those days, but also, sewed all our clothes, made the boys' suits, the whole business, the whole nine yards, as they say. She did a little bit in the business, too, in the sense that, when special orders came in that required sewing to a background, or making a special mat, covering mats, these were handiworks that Mother did.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Hmm. Well, the—you said that most of what they sold were prints or reproductions, to some degree?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  But they were presented and purchased as rather nice objects to have on a wall in a home.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Is that right? So they—frames and so forth?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. And remember, he was a framer, that he did—incidentally, he was ambidextrous, so—and he joined the frame with both hands. He wouldn't use a hammer, either hand, or both hands.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And then, would he do the decoration? Any decoration on the frame, or—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Not very much. The corners, especially. But it was a real craft's production when he did it because there were corners on the back, supporting corners. [00:06:08] A lot of these work went—works in that time went into the public schools. Well, private schools, too. But it's interesting today. I think we forget that there was art—artwork—quotation marks—reproductions of famous paintings in the corridors and in the classrooms, even in the auditorium of various schools.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Were many of the prints they sold then of quite well-known works?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  It would be European works?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes, and some American, but I remember particularly European.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Hmm. So your—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The household names, shall we say.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So your earliest memories would be right there at the business, right?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. And when I think of American now, I think of—there were Mary Cassatts. It's interesting. I haven't thought for a long time what all the pictures were. But, yes there were Remingtons. Sure, what would attract young people at that time? And they were not just—they weren't the contemporaries, but pretty near. [Laughs.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, did you, even as a small child, take a hand in the shop, or—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I used to love being there. And I guess I did more cleaning up than I did anything else, straightening the pile of paper, or doing this and that, and around the store.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Was your interest—did—were you pretty interested in what you—what was in the shop?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. Yes. And even though I have—my brothers helped more in the shop and I helped Mother more with the cooking and taking care of the house because she would have to often go in to help. [00:08:00] But Mother was very sensitive to all of this, too, and, I think, had a—you might say a good home teaching course for me, and shared with me her delights in things in the shop. In fact, I have a piece here, a Madonna. I'm not—an Italian Madonna is the best I can say, in an hand-carved frame. It was something that she loved so very much and just handled it of—it was in a case in the shop. Some of those smaller things that were especially valuable, because of the frame, or whatever, were in cases. Well, she gave that to me, later years. And I think my brothers acquired things that way that teased our interest and developed our taste.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So you were quite close to your mother.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  And your father, as well?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Were they—you were—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —quite a close-knit—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, yes. Yes, we were.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And your father, you s—mentioned, was a photographer, or a—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  He was a photographer at the Pan-American. He and a Ray Townsend edited a book or two, for the Pan-American, of photographs.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Did he keep up the photography interests later, do you recall?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  No. Only that he had his camera in the—what do you call it? The—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Hood—[inaudible]—the tripod.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, he would—the tripod—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah, yeah.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —is what I was thinking. It was a big camera. And took family pictures. We have a lot of those. I don't.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  My brothers have acquired most of those.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, what l—after you were a very small child, what lay beyond the family in the shop? Where—can you describe things that particularly attracted your interest in the city as a fairly young child?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Of course, you were off to school pretty soon, but—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  In elementary school, I didn't get into art in school, except I think I was always very conscious of the pictures in my school.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. [00:10:00]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And I must say that in the schools that I attended, and I believe in most of the public schools, they used to do picture studies. The classes would make studies of the pictures in their room. In other words, you had to learn about the artist, and what he painted, and why he painted it, and so forth, and so on. So we did all of that.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  You ask about buildings—other interests in the city. I think that early on—my parents were both visually minded. And early on, through their visual acumen, and calling it to our attention to things, I learned to appreciate the architecture of the city and be intrigued with the houses. And, of course, Buffalo is particularly blessed with a rich heritage in its architecture. Our Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, historically, is a beautiful sight to behold. Today, it's been compromised a great deal. But as a child, I remember at Christmas time, we were—it was a great treat to get in the car and drive up and down Delaware Avenue to see the Christmas lights and pageantry. Very different from today, but I would say, perhaps, more elegantly done and less commercial. Just—well, the various mansions would be beautifully taken care of.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, now, you were in the city and you've been describing city life. But you also, from your earliest—practically your earliest memories, were out here in West Falls.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  And would—did that play quite a, uh, important role in your early life and your brothers'? [00:12:02]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  It's made the strongest impression on me, I guess, because I'm still here. [They laugh.] But, uh, the—even the trip from Buffalo out here was made by automobile, for the most time, although there's a railroad very nearby, as you know. And I only remember a couple of trips on that railroad. But we only came out once a week, or Dad did. We came out at the end of school and stayed until the beginning of school.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So all summer, you were here.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  We were here all summer. But that trip between—what—Connecticut Street, Buffalo, which is west side of Buffalo, and we're on the southeast side—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Southeast side. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —uh, took me through Buffalo, and I learned the buildings, and the responses of my family to them, and the intrigue. And we passed—every time we went, the Frank Lloyd Wright Larkin Factory—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, yes.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —and the administration building.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And, I must say, I couldn't wait to get in it. And I did. [Laughs.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, you did?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  It was a wonderful experience, but I heard lots about it from my parents, and about the organ that was played during the noontime break, and so on, so it was a great desire on my part. I had a great desire to see it.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So did you—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  In fact, I took a class, even, from Buffalo State College to visit it, when it was being transformed. And, of course, it was torn down then.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Were you pretty impressed in—when you got in it?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, yes. Yes.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What would your—what would you say your reaction was?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The spaciousness, but this is interesting, in retrospect, to think about it. [00:14:00] It had a great well in the middle, but so did our J.N. Adams department store and Adam Meldrum's.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Which was what?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The department store.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Another department store. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  They—in those days, and typical, you had a—I'm not sure about Macy's, but I know I saw it in [New York City], even, when I got there, um, to visit and go to school. There were still department stores that had the well, which, of course, was taken out after tragic fires in one place or another.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  But it was too—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So the Larkin followed that convention of—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  This, yes. And, you see—in the Larkin Administration Building, they had the top administrators on the first floor. Well, I say top. The—probably, the top administrators had the private offices, but the secondary to the top. And then, you had a variety of offices on the different floors above. I think it was about six stories high, as I recall, six or seven. The organ was up on the top floor.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Hmm. I recall the old photographs of it show a sea of people on the ground floor—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —working at their typewriters or desks. And must've been a pretty impressive sight.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Then why do you think your family decided to come out here, to have this as their summer place and—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —weekends? Because you were—you came through some—much rural countryside, once you left Buffalo?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I had a grandfather—my father's father was a parochial school teacher, I think I mentioned that. And he retired very early. And just why, I'm at a loss to know. But anyway, he did. And he—his backyard and the backyard of our establishment, shall I call it, on Connecticut Street joined. Well, anyway, Grandpa decided to move out into the rural area. [00:16:03] And so he took a train, which—and the train borders his property at some distance down here. And he acquired this pl—put a down payment on a place in Colden, which is a town about eight, 10 miles up the pike, here. And then he went back home and he had second thoughts on it because it seemed there were some cider vats on the property, and he had an awful nightmare that one of my brothers fell in. So he decided he wanted to cancel. So my father went with him to see the property. And the man that had—was selling it was with him. And he said—well, Dad had to agree there was no—my grandfather wouldn't have it otherwise. But the seller would not give my grandfather his money back. So, as they were going back on the train, they passed this place where the man was building—the seller was building a small cottage for his daughter. And he said, "By the way, my daughter doesn't want it. There it is. If you want to buy that instead, I'll transfer the money." And that's what they did. But my grandfather only came here to visit. My dad took it over, because they thought it was more important that the children get out of the city. And in those days—remember, we're going back to the concept now of, well, it was a—live for your lungs, for your health. You should have the country air. This was part of Elbert Hubbard's concept in East Aurora, which is just—


EDNA LINDEMANN:—six miles another way from here.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, Roycroft.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  So no doubt that this is the same era. [00:18:02] We're talking Roycroft development and this health kick of living in the country. So—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So this would be in the teens and '20s and this—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  This was before that. This had to be about 1910. Let's see. I think this property—wait a minute, I can be more precise. This property was acquired about 1913.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But you took to this life, this escape from the city? Or did you think of it as escape? Because you seemed to have a happy life in the city, as well.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, we had a place to put on plays. We've got woods here. I've got 10 acres of woods yet. I've added some onto this. But come on, as kids, we never knew where the boundary lines are. And, of course, other people's acres of woods adjoin here. As you can see, my nearest neighbor, we can hardly see the house, but through the threes, but we know there's one over there—what—several acres away.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. Yeah.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And the boys—[laughs]—by the boys, I mean my brothers.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Brothers.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Of course, I'm always tagging along. They built—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So you were the youngest?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. I was the baby sister.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  They built quite a few things in the woods?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, they built an aerial airway, a couple of them.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Laughs.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Remember, we're close enough to Niagara Falls to have been there once or twice. And this inspires youngsters to do things. So we had two different aerial railways and a roller coaster. That was Crystal Beach influence.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Laughs.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And, of course, they created the tennis court. And—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  You also—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —gave plays here, didn't you?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  You had a theater?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  We created a theater in the woods, dragged the summer furniture from around the house, up to the loge area. [00:20:01] Oh, and a big bridge across the gully. Of course, this is not flat land we're talking about.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yeah. We're on a slope. Yeah.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  A slope, and also, deep gullies. There's a falls up in the woods there that's about 80 to 100 feet high. So we're talking some depressions here. And one brother built a bridge across, so that people could go across the bridge to the bleachers, you might say, and you had—there was a path around and under the bridge, and across the creek on a very low bridge to the loge area, where the summer furniture was for Mother and her colleagues to sit.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Laughs.] And what kinds of plays did you give?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Or were you part of just the supporting crew?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, I was a feature actress. [They laugh.] We did something on the willow pattern plate because we've always had those dishes here, the willow pattern plate. I can't remember—they're somewhere.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  These were plays you and your brothers wrote?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  No. Uh, yes. I—I'm—I didn't write them.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  They did.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  They did. Yes.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  We had a cousin who was an art teacher already, out in Colorado. He came that summer, the first summer of the plays, and helped. I worked on scenery with him. You should ask what—on what did we work—how did we make the scenery. These were old awnings from the art shop in Buffalo.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, I see. Yes.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Remember the canvas awnings that went out over the sidewalk, and th—we used everything. The wood for the roller coaster was the wood that was from the boxes that contained the molding out of which my dad made frames for the pictures. [00:22:03] And we had a friend that brought this all out here on his truck, the Emerick Handy Company [ph]—[they laugh]—truck brought the things out, like, once or twice a year.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And then you no—you nail these boards together and—or your brothers did?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yeah. I wasn't in on that project. Those were pretty much boys' projects, the construction.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, did you have visitors here quite a lot? Would people come by?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Most every Sunday, friends from Buffalo would come out, and we had tremendous picnic suppers here. Oh, 25 to 50 was nothing.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  Not every Sunday, 50. Maybe it would go—but every Sunday it seemed there was someone here.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Would somebody—would they bring—excuse me—bring dishes or cook here?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yeah. Most of them brought lunch, supper. This was—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So your mother wasn't laboring for days beforehand?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  No. Mother would make the coffee, and then watermelon was a great thing. She would cut them like big lilies. Fancy watermelon. What else did we provide? It seems to me I made potato salad every summer—[they laugh]—until it was coming out of my ears. I got to peel the potatoes, and dice them, or whatever, slice them for the potato salad. I remember that as if I must've made gallons.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, the home was—uh, back in Buffalo, then, was time of school. And were your parents fairly strict with you and your brothers about being good students and that sort of thing?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. I would say it was expected. I don't recall that we had particularly—particularly had help with homework. I think mother helped me. Maybe the boys had—oh. My older brothers—yeah. So all of them are older, but I'm thinking of the eldest, the two boys that became ministers—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And their names were—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —particularly—Theodore and Richard. [24:06] They particularly received help from their grandfather who lived next door, because they had to take Latin and Greek, which is—no—neither of which are taught in the schools anymore, that I know of.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And that grandfather had been a teacher, himself.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right. That's right. As a parochial school teacher, he was—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  But this was a parochial school. This was a Lutheran parochial school, or—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  He had taught in—none of us went to parochial school. We—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But he had taught in a—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right. But he was very capable of helping in that direction.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Now, he was of—well, and your father's side were German background—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  My mother was English-Scotch-Irish. Her father, along with doing—working on the grain elevators, made instruments, musical instruments. And her sister was an organist. Interesting—in the Pan-American, during the Pan-American, 1901, her sister was quite young, and she was a student of Will Gompf. I never knew Will Gompf, but I know the name like I know my own. He was an outstanding musician, organist, teacher in Buffalo. And he was playing the organ when William McKinley was shot.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  And Aunt Ruby, Mother's sister, was seated right near him. Well, Mr. Gompf, it seemed, got very rattled and upset. And guess who—Aunt Ruby goes over, and takes over, and plays the organ. It—the show had to go on. And I guess only a youngster could do it. Isn't that—we've always been kind of proud of her, that she would do that. [They laugh.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Was she a generally pretty strong person, your aunt Ruby?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. She ended up in [New York City], playing the organ at the Roxy, and had her own musical group in New York City, an all-women's orchestra. [00:22:07]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Hmm. And she was known as Ruby Nason?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Nason. Right. Uh-huh [affirmative].

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, you mentioned in school, in elementary school, you had these little sessions where you had to write about the prints that were on your walls. But there was no other instruction in drawing or—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —anything like that?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  No. Nothing that I recall whatsoever. There was music. And this is interesting. In my next life, I hope to play an instrument, and sing, and dance. My f—grandfather, on Mother's side, incidentally, had taught dance at one point. Anyway, I never had a chance because Dad, as a good German Lutheran, you didn't do this. And the next thing, back to school, would you believe that the music teacher went along and listened to each of us? And you'd be a listener. She would tap you on the shoulder. I was made a listener in second or third grade. And that, I always regretted. I probably deserved it, but I'd like to try. I'm told, once in a while, I do all right. [They laugh.] That's when nobody's listening, except my—or was, when my husband, or so on.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, your grandfather, you mentioned, was a fairy strict Lutheranism. Was there, during—I don't know if you can know—recall at all, say, around the time of the First War, and so forth, were—do you recall any kind of feelings about Germans? You were very young, then, but—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Or was that really not the case in Buffalo, when Germany became—we went to war?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I'm well aware of what you're referring to. I have faint recollections, but I can't really say anything—I mean, put it into words. [00:28:03]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And your father never mentioned that sort of—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  All I can—I just remember, we were brought up, if we didn't like something that was on our plate, it was the suffering Armenians that we should be concerned about. Now, how they play into all of that—[laughs]—I don't know, but—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, it's simply the same time.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  [Laughs.] Right.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  The 19-teens, you know?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yeah. Right. That sort of thing carries over.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm [affirmative]. You've said that you began fairly early developing a sense—a taste in design and art. And maybe you can explain how—if you can recall how this came about. Was it prompted by a certain thing?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's an interesting question. Perhaps we all face that when you're—particularly when you're in the art field, how did—where did it start? I'm sure there's no particular date, no time. But being around it and hearing discussions of the paintings—I never thought of them as reproductions, frankly. It—in fact, it was very interesting to see the Sistine Madonna, and to see the different paintings in Europe, the size, as compared with I—I was sure it was a certain size because that's what I was brought up with. And it never bothered me that it wasn't the original. But there were little things that happened in the home. For instance, I can recall, my parents' crystal anniversary, only on this basis, that Mother wanted some compote, some—which you serve, fruit. And my grandmother's sister, one of the great aunts, went to buy these, and brought them for Dad to give Mother as one of his gifts. [00:30:00] And she just had such a crying spell. It was unbelievable. And I couldn't understand this. They were so cheap. They were bad design. They were just wrong. I have mother's compotes today that she settled for, and they are beautiful. They are beautiful. And I know mother's taste. I trusted her taste all along. She didn't have much to do with many times. We went through the Depression and the whole bit. But given a choice, she had what it took, and so did my dad, for the most part. And I think this has made a great diff—has influenced me and my brothers. It's very interesting to see—have seen the ministers, who had no training in this area at all, what they chose, given a chance, and to see the way they hang their pictures, or hung them [laughs]. It's a generally good taste. But then, I found this—well, my husband had no training in art, whatsoever. And given choices, he made some very fine choices, from my point of view, of having training. We call it training. I'm not sure it's training. I think it's exposure. And you begin to see or you don't see. But you need somebody to draw your attention to what makes—the fact that there's a choice, number one, and number two, why you choose one over the other.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And so this episode of the anniversary brought this really home, very forcibly.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  It certainly did. It certainly did. It's funny how I hang a lot on that. [00:32:00]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, you as yet to—you had had really no art training. I think in high school, though, you [coughs]—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  In high school—now, I wouldn't know why I decided, but I decided I was going to go into commercial art. I suppose, again, this was on the heels of the Depression.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  You—this was—would've been about when, you think?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, okay. I hate to speak of the dates now. We won't say when I was born, but [laughs] I graduated from elementary school in 1928. So we're going to high school 1928-29. And these are years where you don't [laughs]—you got to think of bread and butter. We were so poor at that time, the building didn't change and it was substantial real estate, so forth. But we certainly were on a very tight budget, you might say. And the boys—the oldest boy wanted to go to college and that sort of thing. And sure, the tuition was low, compared today, but he was going to private school because he was going into the ministry. And that's another whole story. But—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So your brothers had a—one brother, at least, had a vocation pretty early—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —to go into the ministry.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  So I want—I really wanted a vocation or an avocation that I could, uh, translate into money, and that would be practical. And I saw it as commercial art. And my father saw that—thought that we, all four of us, must go to the same high school. This was important. Well, if you knew the history of the high schools, or of education, in Buffalo, at the time, Masten Park High School—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Masten. [00:34:00] M-A-S-T-O-N?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  T-E-N. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Fo—it later became Fosdick-Masten. Pop Fosdick, the father of the Fosdick—of the church in New York. What—I can't name the church now. But anyway, he was the principal, dearly, dearly beloved. And while there were other schools, certainly of quality, Ted had gone there, Walter was going there, Richard was there, I had to go there. No matter that I had to walk about four miles each way. So that was it.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Why was it? You suppose they thought you should have the same experience?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, it was just that Pop Fosdick was such an idol.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Uh-huh [affirmative], as the principal.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  He didn't even care that Pop Fosdick died the year that I started [laughs] and it became Fosdick-Masten. I still had to go there because he didn't want any—I think this was more it. He didn't want us quibbling about loyalties to schools. There were more important things.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, we each went our own way in school. That's for sure. Uh, Walter was interested in athletics. Richard was interested in declamation contests and debate. I went for some of what Richard did, but I didn't go into the sports because once I got in the art studio of the high school, I stayed there for [laughs]—after school, as well as during all the classes I could take.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Can you describe, what was the curriculum? What was available in art at that time in high school?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  And that—what would that mean?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The course, design—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Copying [ph], or—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  No. Uh, you painted still lifes. It's interesting. It was still design, as far as my recollection. [00:36:00] You know, it's design one, two, three, four, but you took design one at least for a semester, and maybe two.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And you would work for s—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And also, art history. And we had a very good art history course. One of my—Walter had taken this, too. This was not from the same teacher that taught design. Interesting, that art history teacher did teach some design, but oh, Marie Colburn was the teacher that I favored. And she became a lifelong friend. She—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, the—who taught design.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Who taught design.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. And quite a good painter.




ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, but it—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Studied with—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Who taught art history? Do you recall that?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Ms. Diefenbach [ph].

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Diefenbach. Was that interesting to you and to your brother?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Very much so. And we made enormous notebooks, clippings, and so on. Of course, Walter and I, and—we took at different times, and not in the same class. But we had access to a lot of little reproductions. Remember, it isn't like today, where you have cameras and colored photographs. There was none of that. But we had, still, through dad's shop, and whatever literature and magazines he had, we had access to reproductions. And this was art history worldwide, I mean, from the Egyptians and whatever the primitive, right on down.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Would she come fairly near the present? Did she ever talk about, uh, contemporary artists?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Pretty—yes, in a—not local. There's a difference. [Laughs.] There's a difference.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  I mean, they weren't to be considered in a high school course.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Not as today. No. No. It's interesting.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  But your real love was, uh, what's—Colburn. What was her first name?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I. Marie. Marie Colburn.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Marie Colburn's courses—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Only the last year or two of our lives—of her life did I speak to her as Marie. [00:38:01] But, uh, even my husband and I went to visit her up at Rockport, where she painted.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, she would go there?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. She had been a student of Hibbard's up there, went there every summer. But we all went in after our last class. We all—a group of us. I could name those two that became close friends.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And would you—how much of your school day would be spent in design?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, I suppose it was just one period, that's the problem during the day, because, after all, we had all the rest to take, and whatever all the courses were. But then, it was afterwards that we'd pr—I'd go in at least for an hour and a half a day.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And then you'd get home very late—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Of course, the—yes. Another walk in snowstorms and what have you.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Laughs.] It was a long haul.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And brought a lot of things home to work on. Uh, school became very important.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. Was there much social life in those days at high school, or this was a—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, this is interesting. Because of my interest in art, and I guess, Marie Colburn's willingness to have us around—I used to think she kept us because she gave us so much work to do. Later in life, she said I kept her—I and my colleagues that, we forced her to not have a life. Very interesting. I'm not quite sure who led who there. But it was a merry path, and I don't think it was bad, but it wasn't where we brought goodies to eat, or any of this fast food business, or anything else.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  You were at work.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  You came in and worked, and quiet. No fussing around.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What did you work in? What medium? Did she start you out with—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  All different medium, but they were pretty much assigned product—projects. [00:40:03] I could show you a couple of things. Again, here I come with Mother's sensitivity, that she loved everything I brought home to look at. But then, she would be after me in those summers. "Now, why I don't you paint this flower?" I've got one in my little studio upstairs I could show you that I did here—it's like yesterday—in a favorite, little vase of hers, that—there was that immediate spin-off.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And you developed very—you were very close to your fellow art students at this time.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. Yes, indeed.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Were you still thinking of going on as a commercial artist, or was your mind changing a bit, being—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I still went on—well, I guess I'm—perhaps I've identified that I was going into commercial art almost too early. It certainly was there, but it was more pronounced when I went to art school. And the only reason I went to art school was—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Coughs.] Excuse me.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —I realized that I had to work pretty hard and get a scholarship. Remember, again, Depression times, and who's going to pay tuition for me to go to art school when Dad could use me behind the card counter in the art shop? And I got the scholarship from Masten Park High School to the art school that year.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  The Albright Art School.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. Right. So I went to art school. So did three or four of the other girls that were in the class there at Masten. And, of course, I had to work pretty hard to keep it up. And fortunately, I did, and I got a scholarship each year at art school, which allowed me to continue. [00:41:54] At the same time, Mr. Wilcox, who was head of the art school, and Mr. Harry Jacobs, who was supervisor of art in the Buffalo Public Schools, both saw to it that I got the scholarship, and I also got a job teaching at the art school, I think it was, I don't know, the second year I was there, for the Saturday morning classes. So this helped to pay my way.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And those Saturday morning classes were for—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Children.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  For the most part. Not—we're not talking about the professional art school now, but the children's classes. It was all children's classes, different ages. My last year, I was the head of the art school Saturday morning program and continued that for a few years.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yeah, so, you went—you've indicated here that you went to the Albright Art School about 1936. And you were, by then—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Let's—no. I graduated from high school, '32, and I graduated from the art school in '36.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, in '36. So you were four years there.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Excuse me. [Laughs.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Now, um, in high school, then, this was your overriding interest, was art? You had close friends. You mentioned that there were, uh, I guess very social clubs and groups. But were those fairly minor things? Were there sororities or something else?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I was in a sorority. And—a literary sorority with Drucilla Stangl [ph] was the advisor.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Drucilla.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  She is well known in this city, and also, up in Maine, where she retired. But Drucilla Stangl taught music. But this literary sorority was a group of gals at—many of them were in Marie—were Marie Colburn's students. [00:44:00] So we kind of had a little intermingling of the disciplines, here, of literary, music, and art. And it's kind of fun that it would come through a sorority. You can think of all things—again, sororities today. And I suppose it was more of a club.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Was it—it wasn't very secretive, or things like that, or—?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Not real—not particularly, huh?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Not—it wasn't to me, anyway. [Laughs.] I don't recall any great innuendos there.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  You said in your notes that church was—continued to be fairly important, I gather—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes, indeed.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —through adolescence.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. I also—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What form did that take? I mean, did it involve you in various commitments, formal commitments, and—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, early on, before I started to teach art school those first years in, um, college, I guess last—first years of high school, I started to teach Saturday morning classes at the church. This would be more than catechism classes, that they call it today. That was before I got the job at the art school.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What church was this in—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Calvary Lutheran Church, very near Masten Park High School, by the way, on that side of town. This was on the east side. I lived on the west.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So you and your brothers took the church and activities quite seriously.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right, and became very involved. At least Walter and I did. The two ministers—that's something else—they got off to school in Bronxville, New York, to the—to school. But Walter and I became very involved in the Walther League, as it was known—today it's just the youth group of the Lutheran Church. But this was a very satisfying and helpful experience to me because, again, we had the choice in those days of joining groups. [00:46:04] Well, much like AAUP, American Association of University Women—professions do today, have a variety of groups to align with. And I got into the arts, and [laughs] then I got into being program chairman, and so forth. And—

[END OF TRACK AAA_lindem94_5163_r.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —summer, or to camp, summer camp, experiences. And that's how I met O.P. Kretzmann. He came to western New York to our Camp Pioneer. And I got to national conventions, and so on. He later became chancellor of Valparaiso University, so—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —in Indiana.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. So the—you know, people of understanding of—broad interest can help young people along a great deal. And I think he helped to focus my attention on the social, the individual needs of students and really prepared me to go on with graduate work. And I think it was really through O.P. that I went to Northwestern University—chose that. And then it—after Northwestern, I went to Cranbrook, and that was Harry Jacobs, the former—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Supervisor of art.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —supervisor of art in Buffalo, in the public schools. This was during World War II. And I was interested in going from Northwestern to Columbia for my doctorate. I started there one summer and found that anybody and everybody that I wanted to work with was going off to war.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. Yeah.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And he came along and he said, "Edna, why don't you try this?" And he showed me this on Cranbrook, and Saarinen was the head of it, and Saarinen had just designed Kleinhans Music Hall.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. That's about 1940 or so, here in Buffalo.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. So the church groups, I mean, it was a fairly—quite a highly educated denomination, wasn't it? I mean, these were people who—as you said earlier, breadth of experience, as well. [00:02:00]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, I got in not just on—with the local congregational view of it. But I became district—some coordinator of the educational program, which led me into administration and which got me into the national level before I got through. And this provides a scope. I know that—well, I had a conference up here in the woods, here in West Falls. We had our meals down at the local, little church at the foot of the hill here. The local United Church. And we had—golly. Let's see. Kretzmann wasn't here. Teiss [ph] was here from Seattle, Washington, and one of our leaders at this session that we had here. And these were people from all over. Some of them stayed here at the house, but others were put up in Buffalo or stayed in a hotel somewhere around, but we had it right here because, I guess, by this time, I wanted my woods to—I wanted to share my woods with the rest of the world. [Laughs.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah, this was the, uh, Lutheran church, uh, the Missouri Synod?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  So you found that this was a very enlarging experience, as well as—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —helping you to care for other people, right? And—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —which carried over very nicely into the teaching you were doing on—in Saturdays—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —when you were at the Albright.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Was there ever any sense when you—by going to art school, you were sort of violating the higher calling at all? No, it was—in your family, they were very pleased, I would suppose, by that, were they?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  It's interesting, Bob. I don't think my parents, either one of them, ever asked or suggested to any of my brothers or to me, that we follow a calling in the church. I think we just mixed with people that we liked, and we answered to the message, if you will. [00:04:04] And the message to me was not Missouri Synod Lutheran. The message to me was that there is a divine being and that we're all here for a purpose, and let's find that, and move along with it, and that this world, well, can go into Burchfield pretty soon because—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. If fit into—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —met him through the Lutheran church, too.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  I don't know that you're aware of that.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  No, I didn't know that.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Would that have been in the '40s or so, or—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —a bit later. Maybe we should—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —save that.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  But you were—when you were at Albright, you also took courses in education, I gather, at the—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —state college, state university.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The Albright—again, this was Mr. Jacobs helping me. He came to see my father.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  He'd gotten to know you were when you were a student of Ms. Colburn's—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —at the high school.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. And he took an interest—that's all—in helping students. You know, you ask how many supervisors of a discipline in a fairly large city—Buffalo was larger then than it is now—how many supervisors would take an interest in individuals, but he did. So—and I am so grateful to these people. Anyway.

[Audio Break.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I got to—I got to the art school not only because of the scholarship, but because of Mr. Jacobs' assistance with my dad. My dad was not particularly anxious for me to go to college. [00:06:00] There was plenty to be done around the shop and the store. And there was need. Again, I emphasize Depression. Depression years, and you can't afford to hire people, and you got to make a go of it, okay? So Jacobs said, "But, now, look it, Mr. Meibohm." And Jacobs knew my dad because Dad was framing all these pictures for the public schools, you know, and Jacobs was in on helping the teachers and the facul—principals select the works. And he said, "Look, there's a new course opening this very year between the Albright Art School and the University of Buffalo. They will give a degree at the University of Buffalo. The art school gives only a diploma. If she's as good as we think she might be, she should have a degree. And she's working hard. Give her a try." So my dad agreed for one year. Now you can understand the pressure I had. And I had to pay tuition to go to UB beyond art school. And remember, I had the scholarship to the art school. Well, all the—about three or four of these girls, two of them from Masten and a couple of the others at the art school, we got together. Natalie, [laughs] one of them, had a car. And we each paid our 15 cents—I think that's all it was—to go from the art school out to UB for our classes. We were all together the first year. Then, later on, we diversified, but we had to diversify within the time limits of the offering. Sorry. What a wonderful thing it—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —a great deal of pressure.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, what a great thing it'd be to select what you want to do. [00:07:59] But it had to be within the timeframe that Natalie was driving, and also, within the timeframe of when our classes were offered at the art school. Now, of course, they—that was up to the management, shall we say. They had to work that out. But I did go for four years, and I was able to get a degree, as well, and worked like the dickens to get the scholarship, and that I've said.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  How did—what did the art education curriculum consist of? Or were there certain things that are memorable about it?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The basics that we, perhaps, all know of those years. Oh, dear. What did they call it? Antique class, which meant drawing from the cast.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Oh, you're not—you're speaking now of the Albright. The Al—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The Albright Art School. Isn't—I thought you said the—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  I'd asked about art education, but tell—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —just tell a little bit about the Albright curriculum.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, this was—excuse me. This is art education. The antique class, design class, painting. Paint—antique was with Florence Julia Bach, a marvelous artist.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  B-A-C-H. Mr. Carpenter was the design class. I don't know what Carp had really designed, but [laughs] you know, this was commercial design, making ads for the Saturday Evening Post, or whatever. That was design.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  That didn't appeal to you too much—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, I had did my damndest in that one, too. Uh, painting was with Mr. Wilcox, who was the head of the school.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  His first name was—?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Urquhart. Right.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  We have a Wilcox Mansion on Delaware Avenue, which, today, is the—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So, Wilcox was of a dis—one of the leading Buffalo families, then—[00:10:03]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. And it was to the Wilcox Mans—or at the Wilcox Mansion that Roosevelt was inaugurated following McKinley's death, here in Buffalo. Well, anyway, Urquhart Wilcox, I think, was the son of that family.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Was he a pretty—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Or brother, a younger brother. No?

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Was a good teacher?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. He—to me, he was a good teacher. But very soon—and, of course, I'm prejudiced. He was very kind to me. And anyway, Mr. Wilcox is the one who saw that I started with the children's classes there at the art school. And when I was at UB, we had to write a relational paper. That is, relating our work at the university, our classes there, and our classes at the art school. And my senior year, like all the rest, I wrote that paper. And fortunately, the head of the department, the dean, hired me to be in charge of senior relational papers from then on. Until I joined the staff of another college, I did that. So I was always working an extra job to get by. But back to the educational program, I'm saying these art courses were the educational program, except Mr. Jacobs, who was supervisor of art in Buffalo, taught an art education course—


EDNA LINDEMANN:  Methods and techniques, at the art school. And so that's the education we got there. But at UB, we got the education with, like, education 101, as we would call it today, et cetera—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Is it sort of—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —with their faculty in the School of Education. [00:12:02]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And was that historical, partly, and—or—?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Methods?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Methods and techniques. And you had supervision of student teaching, and so on. And, again—now I have to go back to Mr. Jacobs. I had started out at the art school, thinking I was going to do commercial course. But it was right with Mr. Jacobs persuading my dad to get the degree that I got over into education, thinking, well, why can't—there's—isn't that much difference in the programs. Mr. Carpenter's class was the commercial art. Except I suppose and—he would've sent us out to some local concern. For instance, there was a man who produced Christmas cards in Buffalo. He was on the board of the art school. I cannot say his name. But he asked me to come down and meet him, which I did, and I designed a few Christmas cards for him, too. But I never pursued the commercial part. What else it would've taken me to, I don't know.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  But on the other hand, you came to like art education?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  What was it, do you suppose, that attracted you to that?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, I suppose it was my experience in the church. And I'd like to say the church with a capital C. Let's forget the denominational thing. That, hopefully, interest in people and students, what can you do with your life? I'm not sure I've done it, but that was my intention.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So you were pretty involved and very much pleased that you'd taken this course.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  I mean, that you were pursuing this career.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And I guess I got fairly close to some of my instructors because I remember I illustrated the dissertation for my senior education teacher, one of Dean Cummings' assistants. [00:14:09] And I also, then, in a science course I did, I illustrated the freshwater jellyfish for the [laughs] science project. So I got I got involved with the people—men and women along the way, and—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Were these teachers pretty widely acquainted? I mean—came from a variety of backgrounds—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —these art education teachers?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Yes. This was a professional staff. Now, today—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  European, and John Dewey ideas, and so forth?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, definitely. Definitely. And, you know, from the church's standpoint, straight on their way to hell. Excuse me. [Laughs.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. Oh, yeah.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. Oh, yes. We got into the controversies, if you will, of the time, of the philosophical controversy.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Over, what, how to—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, you—John Dewey, today, we think he isn't controversial. He was at his time.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  At that time.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Very much so.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Hmm. Do you recall some of the things that, uh, people looked askance at that you were learning?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  I'm sorry I can't be really specific offhand. On the other hand, I do remember the individual lifestyles of two or three of the professors were pretty surprising. And I'm always grateful that some of them invited me to their home, which gave me the privilege of observing their lifestyles. And in retrospect, I find that students that I had out here, I always—I tried for a number of years to have my class out here once a year. Now, as you know, it's some distance from Buffalo. But, you know, that comes back from students, if I meet them. [00:16:01] "Oh, don't you remember me? Remember when I was at your house?" And this and that. And they remember the color of—well, there are no curtains, but they remember the color of this or that. It's amazing. These—I think sharing yourself—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And these—some of these teachers at the university did. I mean, they were very open and broad-minded.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. Yeah.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The dean had us to his house. You know, how many deans do that today? I don't know.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And the dean's name was—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Dean Carliss [ph] Cummings.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Carliss Cummings.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, you finished that program in the same year you finished your work at the Albright Art School, 1936—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —I think. Did you, then, think—were you going to go in to teach in a school—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —or had you a plan.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —well, we—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —prospects?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  We had to take the examinations for the City of Buffalo if I wanted to teach in the city, and this is where I lived. I had no reason to go elsewhere. We had to take the examination. And fortunately, I passed highest. So I got the first job, and there weren't too many of them.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  No. I wouldn't think there were then.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And I got a real prize, School 78 with Florence Pritchard [ph].

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Principal?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Uh, yes. Brand new school. The teacher had retired. And that was lovely. [Laughs.] I enjoyed it.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  And this was an area noted for good students and good teachers?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, it was a fairly new area. It's interesting. Today, it has changed dramatically. It's over on the east side, Kensington area. The Kensington throughway that you're acquainted with, probably, Route 90, or 30—what is it?

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Thirty-three.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Thirty-three.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Goes right through the front yard of the school, you might say, today. [00:18:03] It's—I remember it as a very quiet neighborhood of another sort. Anyway, that's where I started out. And I remember it with great affection. The teachers were all very helpful. I think I should tell you, I was there—what—five, six years, seven years, maybe, at the most. And gradually, which, I guess became the pattern of my life—[laughs]—and living, it became too small. And I realized I couldn't do all the things in the art room they provided. Now, mind you, this was a very new school when I went there. And, you know, you really weren't supposed to criticize any of it, but this grew on me. Later years, or after I'd been there three, four years, I wanted to do more. So I saved the work of the students, and everybody had exhibitions in May or June to show off what children had done. And it was very difficult to get people to these shows, like Harry Jacobs from downtown, or the city fathers, or the parents, and whoever. So I pulled one that we had an exhibition in September. And I had the place so crowded. They were doing clay in this area, and painting over here, and doing this here, and so on. And there was no place to work. And I remember Mr. Jacobs and two or three others, the principal, standing there, looking at the things. And I—you know, "It's so crowded," you know, he said, "Obviously." "But if only you would pull—tear the wall down between this room and the next room. [00:19:59] You see, there is an empty room over here that could be used."

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Laughs.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And that would do it. By September, the next year, the wall was down, and it became a prototype for the City of Buffalo, for schools of that general design, that they provided the double classroom, double—what was a classroom—double room and put in an extra sink.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So simple, practical things like that had not been thought through that carefully, and you proved to the authorities that they were needed.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That was fun because that—I got the blessing for several teachers for a while.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Laughs.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Then I went on to teach in high school. But I remember that as a particularly satisfying experience at 78.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Well, you would do—in summers, I guess it was—in 1939, you went to Northwestern.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  For what purpose? Why did you select that school? Was it a—?


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Two questions. [Laughs.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's all right. I—first of all, I decided I've got to see outside of Buffalo. And, uh—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Because you really had hard—hadn't traveled—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  —at that point.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. Right. And I had begun to hear about Frank Lloyd Wright. Remember, I had passed his—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  His Larkin Factory—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  [Cross talk.] Yes. Not only that, but other buildings of his on Soldiers Place, there in Buffalo, another building, and also the Martin House. So I began to know a little bit about Wright, and I realized that, at Northwestern, we had the, quotation marks, official Wright biographer. And I was interested in art history. And what else did they offer? [00:22:00]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  In a summer program.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Sculpture. Sculpture with Peterpaul Ott. I had forgotten what else that I was particularly doing there at Northwestern. There wasn't the education. I was getting the first real professional art experience. I should tell you that, shortly after I graduated from the art school, at the most, two years—this would have to be verified, but roughly speaking, this is it—the people, the board of the Albright-Knox, ran the school. I suppose they had a committee of the board doing it. But they met. I was involved in this meeting because—they had a special meeting, I should say, with Mr. Wilcox and the staff regarding what are we doing about contemporary art. And I'm sad to say, I'm—nobody that attended that is proud of the session because they really dropped Mr. Wilcox—in other words, crucified him—because they brought in—they—it was done under the guise of, here's a meeting and report. And they told him in front of the rest of us that it wasn't satisfactory and they were going to bring in somebody else, which they did. And I continued to work, then, under the somebody else, which was fine. This was—oh, may as well report it—Philip Elliott and his wife, Ginny Cuthbert—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Uh-huh [affirmative]. So they came—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  —who are fine artists and did a tremendous job. [00:24:01] All I'm saying, it was a very sad day the way it was handled. And I know the people who did it were very sorry they did it that way. It turned out unhappily. But it changed from traditional to contemporary overnight.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Overnight. Just about when was that? About 1930 or so?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  About—no. Let's see. I said I graduated in '36. It would be earlier than that. It would be 1938. I think it's before '40.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And was this partly the result—the Albright board had brought in other consultants? Or were some of them sophisticated contemporary art collectors and—?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  All of that.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  A little of all of it.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Yeah. Because people like Conger Goodyear had come from Buffalo.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  And he was involved—


ROBERT F. BROWN:  He was totally [New York City], perhaps, by then, but—in the Museum of Modern Art.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  He may have been. I don't—I—he was not one of the people at the meeting, I'll tell you, and I just as leave not mention those names because they regretted it. And I can only sympathize. You know, we have good intentions, and unfortunately, we don't always have the equipment for doing it the way we would like to see it done, or don't think it through. I'm sure it's happened in many places, and we've all had touches of it in our own lives.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So Mr. Wilcox was, in effect, put out to pasture.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  And it killed him.


EDNA LINDEMANN:  I mean, he died not long—not too long after. It was a very, very tragic thing. Not sad, tragic.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  For you, though, it fostered a curiosity about contemporary art, and you mentioned that was something, when you went from Northwestern—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  [00:26:02] I'm unclear whether I had already gone to Northwestern or not. I was curious. I knew right away that I wanted to go the next summer. And I'm sure that—not '36, I didn't, but '37, I'm sure I started at Northwestern.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Uh-huh [affirmative]. And you went—what was it like when you got there, the city?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Strange expression. I was the only damn yankee in the crowd. That's the way they put it. I couldn't believe it. Northwestern on the North Shore of Chicago, that it was people from the South, I got acquainted, loved them all very much. Um, people from the far West, from Texas, I remember. I cannot—I'm sorry—remember the name of the man, the official biographer, and I like him so much.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  [Inaudible.]

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Anyway, we had this—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  On Frank Lloyd Wright.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  It was a symposium on Frank Lloyd Wright. And these were all senior professors that had come, and me, the little kid from Buffalo. And it was such an honor and a privilege. I knew Wright's work from here. And this man had me write my paper on the work that Burt—that Wright did in Buffalo. I ended up doing my master's thesis on the wrong Mr. Wright, but that's getting ahead of the story, because—well, I'll just say this: I chose that title because I became, I guess, almost infatuated with Wright's work. It was too much. It was adulation. And when you get to that point—I said to this man, "I got to start finding things that are wrong." [00:28:00] He kind of—very shy man. He said, "Well, do it. I don't think you're going to find anything." [They laugh.] In other words, you can see I wasn't getting any help. I was getting so encouraged to enjoy him. So, every time—and I was the guy in the class who—the rest of them wanted to talk about it. I wanted to see what Wright had done out there. And so we went up to Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Racine, and so on, to see what—and met the man, Wright.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  What was it like meeting Wright?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Well, it was very brief. He came out in his white satin pajamas and met us, and was so busy, and angry to be annoyed, although our professor had made arrangements ahead in every detail, and the hotel arrangements, and so on. And we all thought we'd just—you know, we didn't have to shake hands, just say hello. I can always see him just standing. "Well, I've got other things to do." And he went off in a huff with somebody. And we were free, though, to see everything.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  You can wander in and out?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, we went—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  In the house and studio?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Everything. Yes. In the house. And I—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Did it impress you?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Not his housekeeping. [They laugh.] Isn't that funny? Here, you know Wright furniture, Frank Lloyd Wright's furniture? You probably know that it's much like Stickley furniture that I was just brought up with, very uncomfortable. Beautifully designed, beautiful lines, but not to sit in. And in front of Wright's fireplace, in his living quarters, was a Cogswell chair. You know what a Cogswell chair is? Very deep with upholstered and carved arms—uh—vertical. [00:30:00] The arms are upholstered, too. Heavy, ugly looking. This is where he sat. And underneath the chair were a lot of [laughs] not banana peels, apple skins and apple cores. [They laugh.] That's why I'm saying I wasn't impressed with the housekeeping.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  So the master, himself didn't clear—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  So, all right. Now, remember, I'm looking for what's wrong with Mr. Wright. So I found that was my number one. I guess that's why it impressed me. Now, I should tell you what also impressed me, as you entered the house, embedded in this partial wall divider of stone, native stone from the ground, right there in spring green, is sculpture from the Far East, where he had done the Tokyo Hotel and all of that. Well, to just enjoy the spatial relations of that room, I guess, and to look out, he had this—in this house, I think it's among the first where he incorporated the glass corner.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Like, over here.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  The vistas. This was a first for me. And the whole thing was absolutely magnificent. We also went to Racine. And this is where he was building the Johnson Wax Factory and the Johnson home, Wingspread, that Johnson never lived in. His wife died before it was finished. And I've—I'm not sure what that's used for today.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —but was that a pretty impressive project, as well?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, I think there are six or seven fire—five or seven fireplaces in one central core. [00:31:58] Wingspread. It's—well, everything I saw was a revelation, but this is, again, one of those things that's influenced my life because, to see the variety of expression of the artist—I knew Buffalo. Buffalo is the early works. Now I was seeing early—up in Racine, the school that he did for his aunts before he did his house. But then, Racine, which was contemporary.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Contemporary.

EDNA LINDEMANN:  And we stopped to see—I think the name was Jacobs, a man who was a reporter for a newspaper. And he couldn't afford a Wright house, and—but Wright said, "Get me a lot that's very irregular and I'll build you something." And it was the cheapest house Wright ever built, beautifully done. The man has since had—since, much later, had Wright build him—what'll I say, the Wright Mansion. [They laugh.]

ROBERT F. BROWN:  That was impressive?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Oh, yes, to see the variety.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  The matter of affordable housing, well, that probably was in the air at that time—

EDNA LINDEMANN:  That's right.

ROBERT F. BROWN:  —during the Depression.


ROBERT F. BROWN:  Were these other—the seminar, then, consisted of discussion, reading, and then—it was quite informal, was it?

EDNA LINDEMANN:  Right. Well, no. There were formal lectures, too. He was a grand man, a real historian, and I took more than one course. And what he taught me about Buffalo was very revealing, you might say worth the price of admission. I was there three summers. The—Northwestern has 10-week summer sessions. So it was a neat package. But I'll never forget in one of his classes on community planning, city planning, he spoke of Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, as being repre—one of the thoroughfares of the United States that represents all-stages history of the house. [00:34:03] You know, classical, right down to contemporary. And I had never appreciated my hometown quite that way. Plus, our big cemetery, Forest Lawn, with its reflection of the period architecture. Which is—

ROBERT F. BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

EDNA LINDEMANN:  So he—that added to my enjoyment, and I was—isn't that a wonderful thing that I was able to have that awakened and help students here?

[END OF TRACK AAA_lindem94_5164_r.]


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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Edna M. Lindemann, 1994 Dec. 1. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.