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Oral history interview with Frank Lloyd, 2009 Nov. 16-17

Lloyd, Frank, 1951-

Gallery owner


Collection Information

Size: 1 sound discs (6 hr., 42 min.), digital; 95 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound disc. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hrs., 42 min.

Summary: An interview of Frank Lloyd conducted 2009 Nov. 16-17, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, at the Frank Lloyd Gallery, in Santa Monica, Calif.

Biographical/Historical Note

Frank Lloyd (1951- ) is an art dealer and founder of the Frank Lloyd Gallery in Santa Monica, Calif.


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 this interview was provided by the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation. 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 Frank Lloyd on November 16 and 17, 2009. The interview took place in the office of the Frank Lloyd Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, and was conducted by Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation Project Foundation.

Frank Lloyd has reviewed the transcript. His corrections and emendations appear below in brackets with initials. 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.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  This is Paul Karlstrom conducting an interview with Frank Lloyd seated—this is your office, I guess, in the Frank Lloyd Gallery in Bergamot Station, a collection of—a community—of galleries we'll call it, in Santa Monica, California, and the date is the 16th of November 2009.

We had a bit of a false start, but it was a good one. And I think I did, I asked the question of how you, what term you used to describe yourself. We're in an art gallery. Art galleries usually sell art. And I asked you about two terms. One of them is the current one, gallerist. And the other one just doesn't sound very nice—it's like you work in Las Vegas—a dealer. And you gave actually a very eloquent, I think, answer describing Frank Lloyd Gallery and how you see where your function is. What's important to you, I guess? So what is it again?

FRANK LLOYD: Well, as I told you, I'm not comfortable at all with the terms gallerist or dealer. Gallerist is, I think, a relatively new term and I'm still not sure exactly what that means. And dealer seems as if it's a crass commercial description. And it could relate to, as you said, someone who is a car dealer or a drug dealer.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Or a car dealer.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, but I consider the gallery to have a pretty specific mission: And it is about the artist. Our concept or my concept here is to present work to document that presentation, to facilitate the communication of an artist with a public and hopefully with a support base; and to, as well as that, to educate the collecting populace and also to facilitate commerce, definitely. The commerce is what supports all of those activities, but really we are—or I am—focused on the artist and their communication with the public and hopefully with their audience.

So what we try to do is be particularly conscious of communicating their history, communicating the ideas behind their work, communicating the evolution of their work, and to try to contextualize things, you know. Contextualize is kind of a concept that sometimes comes under fire. But what I'm trying to do here is to remind people of the historical importance of a few movements in West Coast art and their international significance. So rather than be focused on the most recent trends, which is a very legitimate way to run a gallery and certainly one of the dominant ways of entering into contemporary art world, I'm really trying to instead educate people and remind them or just show them the way that significant art movements evolved in Southern California and Los Angeles, the United States and how international their impact really was.

It's been that way for the whole period of time I've had this gallery. We're often characterized as a ceramics gallery and being a media-specific gallery. And particularly now that I've begun to very actively be more inclusive of other media, there's an important transition that needs to be clarified there. But it's really based on an inspiration and that inspiration came out of several sources. But I'd have to say the primary one is that I'm fascinated with what happened in Southern California during the 1950s, and its genesis of an art movement that was really led by a bunch of fearless innovators. And I think it's a good model for what took place in the subsequent decades and subsequent years. A lot of what we're doing, indeed some of the people that I'm showing now, have a history together.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  A kind of a community.

FRANK LLOYD:  As a community, yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Which, by the way—sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you—but sometimes Los Angeles has been criticized for not actually having those communities. Partly it's the geography, but it's often, in my experience, been seen as a lack, especially when compared to New York where, you know, it's more concentrated and so forth.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So I'm interested. I want to sort of underline that term. You're using the term community, connections between these artists, probably social as well as in terms of materials and styles and whatever.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I think it was very much social. And it's particularly evident once you get to know the artists. And that's one of the main ways that I view my role, is to have a close relationship with individual artists. And you then understand the interaction of their social circles and how those social circles interact with their work. And how all of the issues that motivate them are interlaced with their shared interests, their competitions. Various ways of kind of getting at the basis for what they do.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

FRANK LLOYD:  You know it's something that really became more evident, not only through my interaction with the artist, but then getting to know people they introduce me to. So that sense of community at the heart of it.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I think that that's pretty enlightening. It's clear to me—obviously we're going to get to this in more depth; I mean I think this is kind of, you just put it beautifully, laid it out there—what I'm going to want to learn more about from you, but my only comment on that, it's a wonderful way to introduce yourself, but it is that you seem to be full service.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You're a full service facilitator.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But very much informed, conscious and aware of art history. And you are making a statement, I think—I'm jumping ahead of myself a little bit here, but it seems to be the case—making a statement about, despite still the view of some outsiders, this area has a pretty rich art history. And certainly the period that you seem to focus on, you said the '50s, and my guess the '60s as well because that's pretty much within my interests and so forth, that the notion of a place that reinvents itself all the time, is always looking forward, doesn't care about a past, doesn't have a past, I gather then you don't agree with that. You're not buying that.

FRANK LLOYD:  I think there may have been a time, and people often cite that in interviews, there may have been a time that's like that. But when you speak to those individuals at length, you also find that they had a lot of background and a lot of sense of identity and place that comes from the other artists and from a knowledge of art history and from travel and that the simple answer of L.A. not having any history is really far too simple. I've been very fortunate in getting to know some of the formative influences in art in California particularly. The relationships that I have with the artists that started the so-called ceramic revolution are very important to this understanding.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Pete [Voulkos].

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. The first one that was really a big inspiration for me in that movement is John Mason, and he continues to be.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's right.

FRANK LLOYD:  And when I started the gallery actually, John was one of the sort of behind-the-scenes advisors. When I started the gallery, I had indeed this sense of community and I didn't want to see that community not have a sort of visible public showcase. I sought the counsel, privately, of people who I thought would be important members of such a gallery. And clearly John was one of the first ones that I wanted to talk to. It'd be impossible for me to have that much experience and that much insight into the formation of the West Coast ceramics community or even nationwide. The kind of insight that he could provide to me would be not only that of a participant in this expansion of the use of the medium of fired clay, but it would also be a person who participated in the formation in the early years of the most significant galleries and museums in the area.

As you know, John was represented in the Ferus Gallery. He participated in one of the first group shows there in 1957. He also had a one-person show in 1957 and 1959 and '61 and '63. But he also participated in exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1960.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  The old one.

FRANK LLOYD:  The old one, the old Pasadena Art Museum on Los Robles [Avenue].

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's right, yes.

FRANK LLOYD:  And he also had a one-person exhibition at the brand-new Los Angeles County Museum of Art when it moved to the Wilshire Boulevard location.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I should know that, '64, '65.

FRANK LLOYD:  It moved in 1965. And John's show was in the plaza level in 1966.


FRANK LLOYD:  Curator is Maurice Tuchman.



PAUL KARLSTROM:  Somebody we can talk about later.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I don't really know Maurice. [They laugh.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And this is said with due respect.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But a colorful character; let's put it that way.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's a great little catalogue. I have it around here somewhere actually. And it's designed by Ed Ruscha. And in the notes Maurice Tuchman thanks Betty Asher, his assistant, and it chronicles that wonderful exhibit. Anyway, John was definitely an inspiration for a lot of this because he's a great example of an artist who pushed the boundaries of a medium further than anyone had at the time. And I don't think anyone has ever gone that far since. It's incredible work. It was a massive achievement.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I wonder if it was more Maurice or if actually Betty Asher played an important part of putting this together.

FRANK LLOYD:  We'll have to ask John.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. Yes. I met him on several occasions, of course. And I probably should say, because it's not a matter necessarily of Archives of American Art lore, it has, of course it's own institutional or organizational history; but the relevant part here is that my job was working with many of these artists we're going to speak about. And as you know, as a social component to that, it's sort of the way you have to do these jobs. I think in both are cases, but I was definitely documenting the history as it was happening, but then looking back a few decades.

Anyway, I had—I think it was down at the gallery of Scripps [College], there was a show a few years ago. I think Mary MacNaughton did it.  I can't remember exactly what it was. But I think there was a little dinner or something after. I may be making this up because there have been so many dinners after openings and all that, but the reason I'm mentioning this is that, as I recall, I think I was fortunate to be like the dinner partner, as I recall; and certainly we had conversations. I was impressed. I found him a very, very nice gentleman.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So, I suppose to you this is obvious, but it's not necessarily obvious that there's some of us who work in these related activities in the same field in Northern and Southern California, in your case and my case. But we actually get attached to the people, the people matter. And that's what you've been saying right here: That sure they're artists, they're that kind of person and that's what they do, but they're interesting as individuals.

FRANK LLOYD:  I'm fascinated by the people definitely, and particularly by artists. And I think that's a lifelong fascination. Indeed setting up the gallery required this kind of—for me it required this input of these members of the community. Because I felt indeed, as I was saying, that if there wasn't a gallery that showed contemporary ceramics in Los Angeles, that we'd be losing this important part of the history of Southern California. Probably the first, although some people say it emerges simultaneously with assemblage in California art, to make a major impact nationwide and then internationally. And I felt that there was a legacy that needed to be continuously visible.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I don't mean to interrupt you, and don't let me interrupt you too much, but we were thinking in terms of conversation.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  As you talk, there's so many things that pop off in my head. Assemblage, asãblaz [French pronunciation], as the fancy people say it.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  I'm finished this book on Peter Selz. And he was here in the '50s. I think he's going to end up being a kind of touchstone because he was close to Pete Voulkos. He was at Pomona [College]. He was part of this scene. But when he accepted this—it's an offer you can't refuse—to be the curator of modern painting and sculpture exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; I think it was '59 that he went and took that job. But one of the shows, he was asked by [Alfred] Barr or [Rene] D'Harnoncourt to give a list of important exhibitions. This isn't exactly a plug for Peter, but as I've been working on this more and more, I understand he played a really important part in the Southern California and Northern California scenes.

So one of the shows that he recommended, that he said should be done when he took that job, was Assemblage and so he was on that, you know. He was paying attention. And I think just about the time that you're referring to with Mason and others, and, you know, the ceramics, plus the more sculptural-like. I don't know if that's right to separate sculpture from ceramics, but you know what I mean. This we'll talk about further. So I just thought I would throw that in as part of the scene that you're describing.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, indeed, there are a number of people who facilitated that kind of broader knowledge of the movement of contemporary ceramics and certainly one of them is Peter Selz. From what I understand, he did meet Peter on several occasions, was very aware of the work, and when he accepted that position as curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, is the person that curated the exhibition in 1959-1960 of Peter Voulkos. I think it was the thirteenth in a series called Young Americans, or New Americans. I can't say for sure and it was in the Penthouse Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art, but indeed that's the kind of—we're right to the heart of why it's important to maintain a presence and to have a significant presence in the community of Los Angeles is to remind people that this kind of thing took place. And that it's not only an innovative and tough and fearless and powerful artists, but it needed to have the advocacy of an important intellect and curator.

I think when I've been— now that I've been reviewing all of this during my career of owning a gallery, it turns out that there were a number of people—John Coplans is another; Henry Hopkins is another; obviously Walter Hopps. And these things can get lost if you don't repeat them to people enough. So I think it's absolutely important that this—not only that we have a conversation, but that this conversation continues with others.

It's an unusual thing, but here at the gallery we actually have done a lot of gallery talks. I try to facilitate that. At one time I tried to recreate the gallery talks that Walter Hopps and Henry Hopkins used to do in L.A. I contacted Henry. Henry was our first speaker. We called it the "First Class," you know, terrible pun. But Henry was right there ready to go and he came in, and we got a group of collectors to subscribe to the talks.

And of course Henry went all the way back to the 1920s and 1930s as he would, and chronicled the times that exhibitions of French art would come. Or the time when Guernica was shown in Los Angeles. The Stendahl Gallery and its importance. The formation of various kinds of public support. The role that he had in the organization of those things. He was a fantastic teacher and a very kind of good advocate for things. And again, someone who was able to provide a little bit of guidance for me from time to time. And again, what better kind of advisor could I have than someone with that much experience in the museum world? So I'm very fortunate in that. It also gave me the encouragement, in a way, to have these mentors with such authority and credibility. I'm inspired by that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, you went to the people resources.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, I did.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You didn't get it out of just rummaging around in old catalogues or, you know, newspaper archives or the Archives of American Art or anything like that. You know what we should do—I like the way that we've gotten into this so directly. Because I think this lays down a foundation for this interview that is going to be helpful.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But I do realize I promised you a kind of chronological—we've really jumped ahead of your life story, your chronology, which is good, but people are going to want to know—I mean I want to know—we need to know more about how you, where you started, how you got from there to here where you are now. And so the obvious question is about your background, your own life experience. I'm not quite sure I have that information, but I do know this much: I do know you were born ten years after I was born. So I'm not completely happy with that. [They laugh.] Where you were born in—although you have this attachment to Southern California and I think grew up I believe maybe in Pasadena or South Pasadena, I've heard you lived there for a while, but that you're a Southerner. You were born in Virginia, isn't that right?

FRANK LLOYD:  It is true, yes. We can compose this kind of like a movie where we're going to go now back flashback to where it all started.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Right. And then we can understand and I think it was Richmond, is that correct?

FRANK LLOYD:  I was born in Richmond, Virginia, August 7, 1951. And I am one of a family of six actually. My father at the time—I believe he was, he had just been the editor, the city editor, of the Richmond News Leader. And my recollection is that perhaps by the time I was born, he had also begun to work for the Richmond City School District in a kind of interface and public relations role because that indeed was one of his jobs. He continued in those capacities throughout his life. He also worked—when we moved to Manassas, my father worked for the National Education Association in a public relations role and when we moved progressively westward, his jobs were always related to education and public relations. He eventually spent the last 20 to 25 years of his life working as the public relations and publications director for California State University, Los Angeles, but anyway, back to Richmond in 1951.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I'm sure you have clear memories from that.

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] I don't have a lot from 1951, but I do know that a lot of my formative influences, as far as art goes, comes from being a member of a family. I have an older sister, Hannah, who's your age, ten years older than I am, and I have a brother who recently passed away, Bill, who was seven years older than I am now.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Are you sort of in the middle?

FRANK LLOYD:  No, there's a brother John who is a professor of special education at the University of Virginia [Charlottesville]. And there's me; I'm the youngest.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Lucky you, right?

FRANK LLOYD:  My mother, who's still living in Pasadena, and my sister are my earliest inspirations in the world of art. And I do remember this: It's not in Richmond, nor is it in Chester, where we lived, a suburb, but we had moved to Manassas, Virginia, and my sister as a young teen, at age 14, was taking a painting class. And there I was, the four-year-old. My interest really was sparked by this assignment that she had. Her assignment was to paint a portrait of a family member. Now I guess I was the only one who was there and willing to sit still—although that was a challenge. But she painted a portrait of me at age four and I can remember distinctly sitting there in this chair for what was really much too long for me. It was very hard for a four-year-old to be seated for that long.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You must have either liked her or the family had a kind of structure where, you know, the older ones had some authority, is that right?

FRANK LLOYD:  It was probably both. I think there was a good amount of respect and authority within a Southern family for rules and regulations and there was also a sense of total admiration for my older sister, you know. So I was patiently her model. And then I also was allowed to hold a brush and do a little bit of painting myself. Now this was oil on canvas, so it's really quite something for a kid to be introduced to art in that way. But there was something fascinating to me there, in that act of being part of the creative process. And I think—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Artists and models.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. [They laugh.] Right. I think it's still there.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

FRANK LLOYD:  That's my privilege now, is to be there at the moment of—when the painting's being made. When the pot is being thrown. When the kiln is opened. When the decisions are made. It's really an—it seems like almost an innate thing. Although I think that's at the heart of a long of people's fascination with artists and art.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, especially—yes. I was going to say especially in the crafts, it seems, I don't know why, well, in crafts—craft. You know that term that there really is—you have to know pretty much what you're doing. I suppose that applies as well to painting, of course, but I don't know.

FRANK LLOYD:  It turns out it does. It turns out that the questions that we have go through all different kinds of media. I used to think that it was just isolated to the crafts, but it's not. People have more questions about a Larry Bell box than they've ever had about anything else. And it's so difficult to explain the process.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, art and technology basically is what we're talking about.

FRANK LLOYD:  And the technology. Even if you go through and you say, well, it has to do with a thin deposition, deposition of vaporized particles on a glass substrate in a vacuum chamber. And then people will say, well, where do I get a vacuum chamber? You know. They're not aware of the amount of technology that is really in there. And so to his credit of course Larry is much better at explaining it. And much more patient than I would be. Anyway, but indeed, I've gone to watch him do this. And it is fascinating.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You watched your sister.

FRANK LLOYD:  I watched my sister. I've watched Larry Bell, I've watched Ed Moses. And it turns out that with this work, the recent—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What we should say for the benefit of the listener or reader of this transcript, you know, what we're looking at. We can't go, Larry Bell on one side with his cubes.

FRANK LLOYD:  That's true.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And then Ed Moses, a recent work, right?

FRANK LLOYD:  It is recent work. And it's—the piece that we're looking at, if I can simply describe it, is dominated by heads in a conversation. These silhouettes of heads in pairings, two different pairings show—one set of heads is looking at each other and seem to be screaming or laughing. And another set of heads seem to be very contemplative. Ed, of course, explains that one is called The Screamers and the other is called The Poets. But people don't necessarily focus on that first. What they ask is: Is it fabric?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, it looks like it.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's not unreasonable question.

FRANK LLOYD:  And it's not an unreasonable question. No, it's actually fabric that's been laid down over canvas and then sprayed through. And the spraying then repeats the patterning of whatever—it's used as a stencil. And they want to know, well, how is it done? Is it silkscreened? No, actually it's stenciled. It's very—everything on that painting is stenciled. But indeed I think that's at the basis of everything. And if we were having a conversation about how things are made, that is indeed the issue with how it is crafted.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know I don't pretend—I don't want to reveal too much about myself, my shortcomings as an art historian. But, you know, it's true that most art historians don't—aren't fully grounded in the media they study. At some schools you're actually required, I think— I went to UCLA for graduate school, and I don't recall—no, we weren't required to take a studio class; practice they call it now, I guess. And it's—I think you're at a disadvantage. I think I'm, to a degree, in some areas, at a disadvantage in not having done it. I actually was an art minor in undergraduate school and took painting classes and watercolor from Daniel Mendelowitz, you know, who was, you know, distinguished and wrote an American art history [History of American Art, 1960] as well, but sometimes you make some mistakes in trying to write art history or do an analysis or an interpretation or to understand a work of art if you don't, as you do, go and watch.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.] Well, I think I have several things that have facilitated that, just as my life has importantly included the observation of artists working, but indeed I am someone who comes from a background of both as a practitioner and as a student of art history. So that initial exposure from my sister was also facilitated in developing through observing her interest she continues. She continued to be interested in art. And since I was close to her, I learned along the way as well. And my mother was also very interested in art and was taking art classes as well. So as we moved to Denver, for instance, my mother took art classes at Denver University. She would come home with a color wheel assignment. And I learned about the [Albert H.] Munsell color wheel from her. By this time I'm six, you know. And then my sister painted more portraits. She had another assignment in her painting classes to paint a portrait using the style of another artist. And she painted a portrait with a very female bust with a very long neck.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Sort of Mannerist.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, I learned about Amadeo Modigliani.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, Modigliani, yes.

FRANK LLOYD:  And then my mother had other assignments at Denver University that included using geometric abstract forms in a composition. And I learned about Kandinsky.  So, you know, I learned through them first, I think. And I also accompanied my mother and my sister on museum visits. So, you know, this did include, when we moved to South Pasadena—it was a very fortunate thing for me when we moved to South Pasadena in 1959. Among the places that I went were, of course, The Huntington and the old Pasadena Art Museum. So I'm young. I'm like eight years old and I'm going to these museums and just drinking it all in.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So this is interesting. This is very useful, coincidences like this. I moved to Southern California from Michigan.

FRANK LLOYD:   Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  The L.A. area—San Fernando Valley—when I was nine. And I'm sure that this is going to be a very interesting conversation, not quite yet, but it has to do with becoming part of a new place where it really sticks, where you become attached to it. It sort of defines, if you stay long enough, probably it defines you. And this whole idea of place in art, of course, we're all very interested in. But I think we need to know for the record here—you obviously moved around a lot. It sounds as if you did. You say Denver, South Pasadena, Manassas, is that right?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, the evolution is from Chester, Virginia, to Manassas, Virginia, to Denver for two years—that's '57 and '58, and then to South Pasadena in 1959, where I stayed until I went away to college.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Okay. So you grew up for the most part in South Pasadena.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Whereas my siblings have an identity that's very much more wrapped up in Virginia. And I landed in South Pasadena with my family in 1959. I was the member of the family that was very enthusiastic about this move. My father had a new job at California State University, Los Angeles, and we moved to South Pasadena. I enrolled in Marengo [Elementary] School. I thought everything was just fine. We were close to the Pacific Ocean. There were, you know, cultural attractions. I wasn't really aware, at first, of the Pasadena Art Museum and the Huntington. I think I was much more aware that the Disneyland was not too far away and that Dodger Stadium had just been built. The Dodgers were playing in the Coliseum at that time.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And Disneyland opened about '58?

FRANK LLOYD:  I don't know, but about then.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Just before you came.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  I was in a high school, and that was, my God, when we first started doing date nights there and that was the thing to do in those days. Drive all the way from wherever you happened to be, South Pasadena or Burbank is where I was, Burbank High School.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. For me it was a very fortunate thing. And indeed, as it turns out, this is where I grew up, in South Pasadena, and that's very much part of my identity. But what I find interesting in retrospect is that I landed in a place where there were these resources, and there was support, and there was encouragement for making art, and where I had these resources for looking at art. It's possible that a number of the shows that I went to at the Pasadena Art Museum were done by people that I now represent. I think that's fascinating.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

FRANK LLOYD:  Who would have thought? I had no idea that this would be what I would do. I did indeed have strong interests myself in making art, and that was facilitated, as I grew up, not only by this family kind of acceptance of and encouragement of the making of art. But also in the school system that I was enrolled in, it was very much part of the curriculum.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What about your sister? Where was she taking art classes?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, by the time we got to Pasadena, at Pasadena City College. Yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And your mom took classes, or did she just paint?

FRANK LLOYD:  No, my mom actually, when we moved to South Pasadena, got a job, and I don't think she made art for a number of years. She had a family, and she was very busy with that. And she got a job in a wonderful place in South Pasadena that was called Stanford Research Institute. And they have a Northern California branch. And there was a Southern California branch that was right there on Mission Street near where Orange Grove dead-ends into it basically.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Not far from Trader Joe's.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, it's true. Trader Joe's down the street. That [Stanford Research Institute] was a very important influence for me. These things seem to be more clear as you get older.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, of course, yes.

FRANK LLOYD:  But in addition to having this kind of wonderful new environment where there was lots of stimulus, and I felt very much encouraged, my mother's job was very important. She had a job as a research assistant at Stanford Research Institute. There were a couple of departments that she assisted: one was the money men; those are the economists who were doing economic research on, say, feasibility studies for development. And then there were the bug men, who were the biology and chemical engineers who [laughs] were indeed involved in doing fascinating research that was funded by various sources, I'm sure, but I got to go over there. I did little fieldtrips after school. And I think that—didn't turn me into a scientist; I'm certainly not geared for that, but it did teach me a bit about libraries and history and about doing research and that has stayed with me throughout. And it is indeed a part of who I am and what I do.

Over here on the left actually is a—those bags. Speaking of Trader Joe's, those bags are full of old catalogues and Xeroxed information from all kinds of different articles, and they're full of old magazines. And, you know, this is just one example of what they are. We have this kind of legacy that I was telling you about of—here's another John Mason catalogue; this is from the Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena Museum of Modern Art by this time, an exhibition in 1974, curated by Barbara Haskell.


FRANK LLOYD:  Here's a fantastic catalogue of Ceramic Sculpture: Six Artists, that is from the Whitney Museum and it was also—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I know that catalogue.

FRANK LLOYD:  —at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, that one I have.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.] I think there's kind of a nice interface here of my parents' fostering an interest in research and in history, but also publications. Bear in mind that my father was working as the director of public relations, public information, and publications in an educational institution. And this identity really comes out of this period of time when I was in South Pasadena, I think. And all the things my father would show me how—of course in that day it was quite different—how to use a type stick and lay out a page for the publications at Cal State, L.A., and my mother would show me how to do research. These are all important parts. And somehow I managed to integrate those into the practice of a gallery.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I don't want to over assume or be presumptuous, but, you know, we're basically trying to get a picture of your world. You know the family really is, in most cases for most people, the important part of that. And it sounds to me as if your family had, to a certain extent, inclinations towards ideas. You mentioned research and so forth—and art and aesthetics. Is that something—I am right in this, is that true?

FRANK LLOYD:  That is true.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, okay. Good. It sounds like it, but at any rate, that's a wonderful cradle for you to be born into. I'm curious, though—we're not going to go way back—but what about—? It is interesting to know where the family came from—or the parents, but then grandparents and so forth. Maybe project back a little bit if you can briefly on what they were like. Either what you were told or maybe—I don't know, maybe all your grandparents were alive. What was the situation?


FRANK LLOYD:  Well, that's a very important part of the family structure. It is the marriage of two people who came from Southern families and in both cases I was fortunate in knowing my maternal grandparents pretty well and my paternal grandparents pretty well.

On the paternal grandparents' side, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd are my paternal grandparents. And when I knew them, clearly my grandfather was a retired businessman, but he had retired from being kind of a gentleman farmer, and he spent a lot of time playing bridge and smoking cigars in a big house in Manassas. And my parental grandmother was very much involved in community activities, particularly the Red Cross and the library of Manassas, Virginia. So I think, you know, indeed there is this continuation in that part of the family.

My maternal grandparents lived in a small town called Palmyra, Virginia. And I recently went back there for my brother's funeral. That's extremely important in the identity of the family and in the identity of my siblings and myself. There's a lot of family lore and kind of family history that's passed on and the sense of place that's extremely important in that. In that case the family has a history that goes back into the 1700s in that region and it's very much part of the kind of agrarian community that was there. My maternal grandfather was a country lawyer. And he was an attorney in Palmyra, Virginia. My grandmother was the county clerk. Those families—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Those were the ones in Palmyra?

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. They are. They were. Yes, they were, and, yes, the recent experience I had was to go back to that area to bury my brother. We laid him to rest in a family plot in a cemetery that has, I think, four generations of my family in a very peaceful, rural, extremely rural setting. I think that sense of place is very important to the family. Indeed it's quite clear that it was when we made the choice to bury my brother there. Absolutely, but in this kind of grand scheme of things, I think that there's always been a sense of respect for history, and there's always been a sense of lineage and family that I grew up with.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Do you find that particularly, in your experience, Southern? My wife would say so. She was born in Monroe, Louisiana. [Laughs.]

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And had lived in Alabama and so forth. So Deep South, I guess.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.] I'm thinking that it is within the United States, it is a particularly Southern thing perhaps and it is something that I almost felt like an outsider when I was growing up in South Pasadena because people didn't have that—you couldn't have had.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, at least it was South Pasadena.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. [They laugh.] It's true, but it couldn't have had that many generations of people. It didn't go back that far. I think, as I have gotten older, what I find is that cross-culturally, it's very important to, say, Asian cultures and to European cultures and so I don't think it's limited, of course, to the South.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  No, no, of course not, but you know we were talking about Charlie Rose earlier.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And not to retell that story because it's a different conversation. But my wife—after we saw him interviewing some very high-powered people at Stanford at a reunion event, anyway, we were very impressed and I said, "How does that guy get that way?" And she said, "Southerner." And she feels this strongly—and I see it, too. I mean, for instance, people who listen to this are going to not hear you have any kind of heavy accent, Southern accent. But on the other hand, there's a way of talking, a care, in—and I noticed that the few times when we've talked before and on the phone and then in your blog. This is like a digression, but why not? I want to give kind of a portrait aspect of you. That just reveals or suggests that there's the South in your background.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's not something that I thought of about myself and it's a very interesting observation, but it would be something that's part of family culture. It's definitely part of the way that I grew up. I mean, I can remember waiting in the 1956 Ford station wagon for what seemed like an eternity because my father was still talking about something with someone whom he had met at, you know, the PTA meeting. Maybe that is indeed a Southern kind of way. I do remember what seemed like far too long visiting with my family and so it was something as a child I may have rebelled against.

But then indeed it's become part of my practice as well. I wind up in my gallery world spending a lot of time doing things that I never would have predicted and one of them would definitely be to hang out and talk to people at length. It's your job. You're very much involved in that, in my estimation, on the supply side of the gallery business because you're developing a bond of trust and understanding and you're becoming an advocate for and an educator of the process of making art. So I spend a lot of time with Peter Voulkos, John Mason, Adrian Saxe, Ed Moses, Larry Bell just listening to them tell their stories and picking up on things. Again, learning about that aspect that's fascinating to me—not only the so-called creative act, but the interaction of these individuals and their respect for each other or dislike for certain aspects. There's certainly that. There's a lot of competition that goes on and I think maybe that is part of what I learned from this family experience. You might have a handle on it. I never knew where it came from.

And then I also spend a lot of time on the other side of it. You take these oral histories and these traditions and these meaningful anecdotes from the makers of the work, and you're essentially passing them on in an oral tradition to the collectors. Indeed if it takes, that's part of that conversation that they have again with the people that they know. It's all seems to me that it's a—that there's a very important place of these stories, these anecdotes, these oral histories, these personalities in the understanding and transmission of these art objects and in their importance and place within the community and culture.

So we're always involved in that. Right? I view that as a very significant role. It's also—it's impossible to sell something if they don't have a connection to the work. And they don't have that sense of the anecdote or its meaning or, indeed, you're facilitating often the contact between the artist and the collector. Then you're hoping that these kinds of conversations happen or that a new anecdote comes up that they might have an experience with the artist that solidifies that relationship.

You know we'd like to think that the art object stands on its own and I think it does. I've had tremendous aesthetic experiences where my subjective reaction, immediate reaction, is either visceral or seemingly transcendent or gives me a new set of information or challenges me, those are one thing. But in the end, it's also clear to me that art is communicated by this sense of connection with an individual, with their life history, and with its personal meaning to the end user or the viewer. Does that make sense?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. [They laugh.] Well, in terms of—a lot's happening here. I've tried to digest and sort it out, but, no, I think it does make sense. You obviously see yourself as an intermediary. You know you're in this service position, but I mean it isn't in any way low level, because you're really expected to be able to make these connections. And not everybody who is—especially I imagine beginning collectors; I think probably they're a little bit intimidated.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And so making them comfortable with these interesting people who create these objects that they like, that they contemplate buying, is important, but what really strikes me, and already I'm getting, as you can tell, an idea of how you were created. I mean how you came about—which we'll get back to. But there's no question that you had a real advantage, given what you do now, you were privileged in your youth, in your childhood, and throughout your youth, in many ways. And it sounds almost—how could you not be you doing what you're doing now? I realize that that doesn't follow exactly, but it seems it's a fit.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, it's a good fit I'm following along. You're right in that I view my role as an intermediary here at the gallery and you're right that it does have to do with a kind of resolution of my own identity. You're very right in saying that it turns out that owning and operating a gallery is a use of so many of the things that I know how to do and seem to be sort of predestined for. Now you could never have told me that 14 years ago, or whenever I started the gallery. It was one of the last things that I thought I would do.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Because it's not a sensible career choice, right, or it's a difficult one and challenging?

FRANK LLOYD:  Mostly because I really come from the other side of things. From—we'll get to this as we go along in the biography. And we seem to range a little bit more into the larger philosophical issues and things. But—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But we're having a good conversation.

FRANK LLOYD:  That's right. We'll tell the biography sort of in bits and pieces as it comes along.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's fine.

FRANK LLOYD:  But, you know, truth be told, I would never have stepped across this sort of dividing line between the dealer and the artist in my previous incarnation as an artist. I mean I think that there's – among the population of artists – there's a sort of general distrust of art dealers and I don't think it's a far cry to say there's been a lot of justification for that. And the artists generally have had difficulties in their relationships with individual dealers or—there's some justification for it and I don't think that there's too many people who are dealers, or gallerists, those terms that we discussed earlier, who have that much of a passion and interest in the making of the object, and who have as much background as I do in studio activity.

I think that turns out to have been a leap that I made, but also it turns out to be an advantage. I'm interested in having that bond of trust, and I think it's hopefully, you know, going to serve me well throughout. But, you know, the other things that I did in my life I think have prepared me for being in this job. It's curious. It's one of those things that once you do [the job], you sort of look back and think, oh, it was all there.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

FRANK LLOYD:  Certainly the thing that I talked to you about before, this idea of having a mother who was a librarian and research assistant; certainly having a sister and mother who were interested in art; and definitely following through on that as I did in actually getting a lot of my own work done gives me insight into that role that artists have. And that those lonely and difficult hours in the studio and those self-doubts and things that—you know having that personal experience was very important for how I relate to the artists.

The other things that turns out that are very useful, and I'm glad you've been reading the blog, it turns out that I just sort of naturally know how to write and this is really facilitating the communication not only with the clientele, and blogs are just one example of it, but I learned how to write a press release from my father who did that as a public relations director.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well then you also had the experience of journalism. You worked for—wrote reviews for the Register, Orange County Register.

FRANK LLOYD:  That's true. That was actually an interesting situation. I—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I'm jumping ahead.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, that's okay. Since we're talking about writing, it makes all the sense in the world, but I was a practicing artist, and I had a studio in Old Town, Pasadena. I was making large-scale abstract paintings. I had, you know, a very strong interest in painting, and I still do and I worked during the day doing residential remodeling. The person that I worked for lived in South Pasadena, and he had his workshop where we did a lot of the fabrication of cabinets and other components for this residential remodeling. And it turns out his next-door neighbor was the editor of the Style section, I believe, of the Orange County Register. And Steve Plesa would come over and start a conversation with us.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  How do you spell Plesa.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Easy enough.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. My friend who had the woodworking shop was named Brad Bryce, B-R-Y-C-E. And there I was doing my day job, supporting the studio activity that was either at night or when I could get far enough ahead. And Steve Plesa would come over and start conversations with us. Somehow, I can't recall how, but the topics would sometimes turn to art and Steve was a good questioner, a great conversationalist, an intelligent editor. And he would ask my opinion about a show. He said, "You know we published a review of this show. Did you see it?" And I'd say, "Yes." You know I thought this, and I thought that. And he'd say, "Well, why did you think that?" And I'd give him some sort of explanation that was, I suppose, he found interesting. And he said, "Well, you know, newspaper editors like me, sometimes we, you know, we're always looking for something else. You've got a strong opinion about that. Why don't you write me a review?"

Well, I respond to challenge, and I did. I wrote a review of an exhibition that was indeed in Orange County. It was at the Laguna Beach Museum of Art. It was a show that was curated by Bob Smith, who was at the time the director of the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art called LAICA. Yes. A place you know well. It was a survey of recent developments in Southern California art, and I think it was called Content and Style: Recent Trends in Southern California Art [Changing Trends: Content and Style, 1983]. And I did know not only about the exhibition; but since I was a painter, this was a painting show, I actually knew some of the artists in the show. So it was really not that far afield that I could write about this exhibition.

It turns out Steve—I wrote it, and I submitted it to him at home, I think, at his home. And he said, "This is great. I'm going to publish it. Can you get a photo?" And I said sure, I can get a photo and he ran it on the front page of the Style section above the fold. And he said, "You've got it all, you know." Very encouraging. So I thought, now, you know, this is really a conflict. I'm an artist, and here I am—again this crossing over and this divide. Do I want to be a critic? Well, no. [They laugh.] I didn't really want to be a critic. Anyway, he said, "This is great. We love doing this. I can't pay you very much. But since you're kind of a freelancer, we call them stringers in our business, but if you want to do another one, choose something, you know." So I did a series of these I'd call them, indeed they were reviews. But they had a different flavor to them. They're actually more akin to feature articles rather than being hardcore criticism. And that's how I view the role of a daily newspaper art critic actually, and you know you see it. I think I admire the work of a number of people who write, whose positions are based in daily newspapers. And often their articles are actually educational and explanatory in addition to having some critical elements. Christopher Knight does a superb job of that, in addition to his criticism, but he provides a lot of background and historical information.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  He's a smart guy. He gets in trouble sometimes with—you can't please everybody, right?

FRANK LLOYD:  No. You know I certainly admire the work of Roberta Smith in the New York Times.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, she's terrific.

FRANK LLOYD:  And you wind up learning a lot from that. And I'm a big fan of things that are in major journals: Calvin Tompkins in The New Yorker and Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker. So I view that as a very important role. I'm certainly not up to the level of those writers, but I think a gallery owner can facilitate that understanding and information by using whatever skills they have. And in my case it actually comes very easily for me. And that was a very encouraging experience to have there with Steve Plesa at the Orange County Register, of all places. And once I started the gallery, I realized, well, I'll do this, too. I'll write the press releases. I'll write articles. I'll interview the artists and I'll take whatever skills I have as a writer and use them as a component of this research and education mission.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I had an observation or a question, of course, but sometimes observations end up being questions—

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  —if you pay close attention. [They laugh.]

FRANK LLOYD:  Alright.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  In a moment I want to go back and talk about writing a little more, and that'll get us to your education and college especially. But this whole—I've read not too many of your things. But certainly looking at the blogs, they're not critical in this sense. They're too nice. They're too kind. And so I would interpret them as a way to draw people in, make them interested, which fits perfectly with the gallery mission. And I'm wondering, though, on the Orange County pieces if you ever functioned really as a critic. Meaning sometimes Christopher Knight can be really savage and dismissive. I don't sense that that's in your nature and it certainly isn't in mine, you know. I find it hard to write—case in point—writing a biography of Peter Selz, who has been in some ways pretty transgressive in the way he's conducted his life. And I know way too much about that, but he's just one example. And, you know, if you know the people, if you know the artists—some critics don't even want to get to know them for that very reason. Is that a sort of fair description? That you have—you're really more interested in getting people to pause and look and learn rather than rank artists against one another and so forth.

FRANK LLOYD:  I think that's fair—definitely a fair description and I think it not only fits with my personality, but it fits with the mission of a gallery. You're not in a position of wanting to criticize. You're in a position of wanting to promote. And indeed the reason I can't be an art critic is because I'm really not interested in putting someone else down. Though I do enjoy reading some extreme criticism and some of the more gentle critics, who often look at art in a kind of universal soulful expression like Leah Ollman, whom I admire her writing tremendously, and she's written a lot about this gallery, she can also be a very strong critic occasionally. And what I admire there is the wit and turn of phrase. I think, you know, people do it a lot. There's building of reputations on that. Certainly someone like Peter Plagens has built a wonderful reputation on being a critic with a sharp wit and an excellent turn of phrase. And it translates very well in his work. I can't do that. I don't have that capacity.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You mean his work as painting?


PAUL KARLSTROM:  In his writing.

FRANK LLOYD:  In his writing, yes. In his writing.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Because there's another case of a sort of a conflict.

FRANK LLOYD:  That's true.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  In a way a conflict of interest. But, you know, it's not that unusual, or at least it's certainly not unique—let me just pop in another idea that might work with this. There's critic, there's curator, and all these different functions. You certainly in your gallery operation—and I think most, let's call them dealers, okay?

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] Yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  There is a curatorial function to one degree or another. There has to be. You put up shows. And in a smaller way it's like a museum putting up shows. Some galleries are very much like museum shows. Usually they're bigger with lots of resources. Gagosian would maybe one example. Sort of confusing is this—you sort of forget that they're commercial enterprises and that they basically—so there's this curatorial function. And then being a critic is one possibility, one way to go, to be a writer in one form or another. That's part of being a curator. You have ideas. This is what I'm getting to: you have ideas that you want to share and they tend to be your own ideas if you're good. Otherwise you just scavenge and use other writing and other observations. I went yesterday to a talk of [Robert] Gober, it's Robert isn't it? Robert Gober. Whom I'd never met before and this was at the Hammer [Museum] regarding the Burchfield show [Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, 2009]. Did you see that?

FRANK LLOYD:  I haven't seen the show, but he's the curator.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I'm going to go in tomorrow afternoon to—because I had seen the show. I went and heard with my buddy Peter Mendenhall—who says hi. Anyway to what was really terrific. Donna [De Salvo]—I can't remember her last name. She's chief curator at the Whitney. She was—it was a conversation. I actually thought about us as I was watching this because I liked the way they did it. Okay, the point, Gober has done about three or four important exhibitions. He did the de Menil [Collection Houston, TX,]; I can't remember what it was called, meat something [The Meat Wagon, 2005]. And as an artist, what he brings to this, including Burchfield—first of all he has to like, he has to find interesting the works that he chooses to put in the show. He won't do just anything. And Donna—I should know her last name, but we'll fill it in later. Basically, in a way, as a professional curator, is looking at what he did with the Burchfield show, and he curated the Burchfield show and still I haven't see it. But what he showed was—I don't think any other curator would do it that way. And that's what Donna said. You know what about that? It gets—it's not confusing. There's no reason why artists can't—[John] Baldessari's done this. Other artists of course.

FRANK LLOYD:  Absolutely. Well, I find—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What are the advantages or disadvantages. Maybe it's too big a question. But you see what I mean? That is another aspect, the curatorial.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, I think it's very appropriate to consider that in our conversation. And this is something that's been done for a long time. I'm curious to see how Robert Gober put together that exhibition of Burchfield's work. But it's very appropriate to our conversation in several respects; not only because it's my kind of vision that you're always curating. You are necessarily selecting things to present. So there's the first aspect of it.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  The first part, yes. After you get the idea. After you get the subject.

FRANK LLOYD:  Indeed, and then if you're writing about what you're exhibiting, then you're also functioning in a kind of curatorial role because you're interpreting. You're documenting and interpreting things and then if you're during research, then you are engaging with the cultural precedent for, and you're placing it within a context. So you're becoming essentially—I wouldn't presume to call myself a historian, but you're functioning in the same role. So what's the difference? In fact, if you look at Southern California art history, there are very important things that I take great inspiration from.

My friend Craig Kauffman has often told me about the time that he and Walter Hopps and Jim Newman decided that there needed to be—Southern California needed to have this exhibition of contemporary art. And since it was Jim Newman and Walter Hopps and Craig Kauffman, this is something that they wanted to bring works from Northern California. That they had seen these fantastic abstract paintings and they wanted to have it in Southern California. Well, you know the stories about how they selected the work and Craig's told me about driving it down with Jim Newman in a trailer and how the trailer went off the road.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I hadn't heard that one.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, it might be in this archives or his UCLA interview, but anyway, they had it at the merry-go-round [on Santa Monica Pier]. Well, it's very interesting at the Santa Monica Pier. Well, there's an interesting case of things. Here's an artist and two people who went on to start galleries and then Walter who went on to be this legendary curator. They were just doing a show. Is that curating? Yes.

Then the idea of an artist participating in the formation of a gallery is not brand new either and in Southern California we have the obvious history of the galleries that were started such as the Ferus Gallery was started by Ed Kienholz and Walter Hopps and I think, you know, you find it actually commonplace in contemporary art. There's a lot of crossover that's going on now. And it will always continue. You know some people forget that, say, John McLaughlin was a dealer in Japanese prints, you know?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  By the way we can't you know go through some sort of nostalgic journey here, but one of the—this is a true fact from my job, 30 years of directing the Archives of American Art of the West Coast, collecting program and conducting interviews, but all of these names, many of them, Jim Newman, I interviewed him years ago up at his former kind of mansion house in Pacific Heights, San Francisco, and I continued to know him. He's a great guy, as you know.

I went to Hope, Idaho, to interview Ed Kienholz. That was also not easy. Especially when Nancy got in there and felt things weren't going well, the way she wanted them to go. And it was also scary. See, these are my anecdotes, and this is not an interview with me, but I went up there when they were still living in a small house. They'd built this big compound and all that and I found Kienholz sort of scary because of his art. I really liked it, but, you know, I heard stories that were—and he's into hunting. And I'm not kidding. I had fantasies. And you had to go way up there. Get a car in Spokane or someplace, that's right, and drive on up. That was, of course, a very interesting experience.

But then McLaughlin, I did—I'm not going to rank my interviews because I haven't read so much of the other people's. But the timing was such. It was shortly before his death, of course. I don't know about of course. And he was so unusual in the art world and so revered by these other L.A. artists like Ron Davis that I would talk to. Well, this is the history we're talking about. Then this gets you thinking. So my excuse for telling these stories is that it probably gets you thinking along the same lines. But McLaughlin to me—and I don't know that I understand his art really; and it's the kind of art, first of all, somebody like Fletcher Benton looks at it and says, Oh, my God! McLaughlin's surfaces. Those surfaces are unbelievable. And then there's the whole intellectual or philosophical approach, you know, within Eastern ideas and all that, Japanese prints, you know. I guess what I'm saying is that to a certain extent our experiences probably match quite closely.

FRANK LLOYD:  They do seem to. It's a fortunate selection.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I shouldn't make it so obvious. I shouldn't even have to point it out.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, it's an important thing. And I hope in our conversation we'll get to that, as to it being a kind of advantage, not for us personally, but of the culture of Southern California that we're part of. And that facilitated the growth of these art movements. And that it's indeed something that had these extremely strong personalities. But it also had people like McLaughlin who were steeped in Asian philosophy, Asian art. And who sought out these other sources for not only the making of art, but for their day-to-day philosophical ideas. And who participated in this growth of a region in a way that still needs to be further documented and further understood.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Time is running out in some ways.

FRANK LLOYD:  In some ways it indeed is, but it's part of the mission here is indeed to point out that, for instance, the so-called craft movement in Southern California and this radical change that took place in the 1950s has a lot of different sources. That it isn't just people who were involved in the making of pottery deciding to branch out a little bit, it has these various things that kind of confluence of influences and events that are happening on the West Coast in the postwar era. That's fascinating to me: That you'd have indeed a charismatic and influential leader like Peter coming from Montana, and he is also from Northern California; that's where he got his M.F.A. at California College of Arts and Crafts when it was still called that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Now there's no crafts.

FRANK LLOYD:  That's right.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, talk about that.

FRANK LLOYD:  You see we're at this sort of point where that wants to be fallen away. But who had also been invited by Karen Karnes to go to Black Mountain College in the summer of 1954. It is where this legendary kind of exposure to the East Coast avant-garde happened, which is when he apparently met and taught with Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and others. John Cage. And then he had this fortunate experience of going to New York with David Tudor in the summer preceding his coming to Los Angeles. And it was there that he also hung out with in the Cedar Bar some of the Abstract Expressionists. And he comes to Southern California, in this story that's been told a thousand times, at the invitation of Millard Sheets, and starts a new department at Otis[then known as Los Angeles County Art Institute, now Otis College of Art and Design]. And it's this kind of confluence of events that's happening.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But let me ask you—and I'm not interrupting this at all—let me ask you this question. It's very important.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  For me—I'm being selfish now—it's something I have to deal with in writing about Selz. Selz and Sheets were at Pomona and Scripps at the same time.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Peter's stories—well, let's put it directly—He hated Millard Sheets. Peter doesn't go around hating people very much, but he hated Sheets because he thought he was—he didn't say evil, but that's sort of, was a bad influence. And also—I don't want to get into this too much, but it's in there because I had an oral history with Peter Selz. And I thought, oh, man, this is going in there.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But he—it seems ironic that Sheets hired Pete Voulkos at Otis. Is that right?

FRANK LLOYD:  Sheets is the one that hired him; that's correct. Now I'd really don't have any firsthand knowledge of Millard Sheets.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I interviewed him for the Archives, got his papers and everything for the Smithsonian. And you know the nice thing about what I do, which should be pretty obvious, is you almost can't make mistakes. And you're gathering—and you're just limited by the amount, you know, the size of things. You can't get everything. But you don't make those kinds of judgments. I don't judge Millard Sheets against Pete Voulkos or Peter Selz.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Although I'm writing about Selz, so I'm more inclined to see him as forward looking. But one of the reasons Peter Selz hates Millard Sheets—I shouldn't keep saying that—does not like Millard Sheets is what he said that Sheets fired Pete. And that's how, that was part of the process of Pete getting up to Berkeley. And further, secondly, on this—and we don't even have to carry it any further at this point, but it's pretty important for the history on the part of California art, Sheets is a very powerful figure.

And, you know, he was blessed because he got [Howard F.] Ahmanson [Sr.] as his patron. So he had all those former savings and loans, with Pete's mosaics and murals and his architecture. He did everything. But he was an anti-modernist. There we could probably read—I hope this interview's online because in some ways I think for understanding Southern California, you've got to understand Rico Lebrun. And it doesn't do just to talk about these really exciting late '50s, early '60s things. I'm making one of my speeches. But I hope that it's adding to our exchange.

Peter Selz—one of the reasons he really didn't like him, is he claims—I don't know if this is true because I don't even a way to check it exactly—that Sheets forbade his students to see the modernist shows that Pete Selz was putting on in Pomona. That they would be infected. This is hearsay. I find it completely believable. And so Selz just found that tyrannical. I mean it just flies in the face of what art's about, as a matter of fact. Something to think about maybe as we continue to talk?

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. I've been reading a lot of the interviews with participants in the scene during the 1950s. And I have some anecdotal experience with this as well. So both from an intellectual understanding of the interviews and also from anecdotes, I think there was indeed—there are stories that correspond with what you're saying. And the central figures were indeed Rico Lebrun, and Millard Sheets. There as a kind of dominance of that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And [Lorser] Feitelson I suppose.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  There's that nice show—did you see the show at Louis Stern's gallery?

FRANK LLOYD:  I have seen the ones in the past. And I'll go see this one.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It's a nice book; it's a real nice one. It's good.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.] And then did you have the opportunity to talk to Frederick Wight?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, of course, I knew him at UCLA because he was head of the department then.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know I sure talked to him. But in terms of interviewing, I'm not sure. It's possible because I think I've actually forgotten some of the—there are so many.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But I think I would've remembered that. I was fond of him. He's a gentle—he was a gentle, nice guy. Yes.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, some of the artists that we represent now went to UCLA. Ed Moses was there in the 1950's. Craig Kauffman was there. And apparently Wight was the head of the department then, I think; I could be mistaken about that. But there were all these strong influences in the scene. And maybe that's part of what had to happen is that there's forward thinking younger artists who come along and shake things up. And certainly Peter was one of those.


FRANK LLOYD:  And, you know, all the stories, and all the interviews seem to point to that as Voulkos as being a kind of extremely strong leader and someone who challenged authority, and who kind of, according to all of those stories, did indeed run into conflict with Millard Sheets and Otis—what was then Los Angeles County Art Institute.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What kind of an art world would it be if there weren't this kind of conflict and heated? This is what we think—and L.A.'s been criticized for this as well, and I'm interested in your observation. But that—or American art in general—but that it's not like France, you know, where there's this deep feeling about culture and about art, and there are really battles. I mean I suppose that goes back to the 19th century whole power structure around the Salon and academic versus avant-garde. But these people got really, apparently, really angry. They got really heated, and they sell it as something that matters.

And I think one of the criticisms that's been leveled against L.A., which I don't think is fair, and what we're talking about was against that notion. That for some of these people it did matter. These were smart people, informed. They knew more art history than most of the kids now know frankly. This is one of the things I've discovered. They're almost not interested in even their own regional history. But that's actually a topic for later maybe. I wonder how you feel about that because L.A. is characterized of course as being—I mean municipal Disneyland or an extension of Hollywood and Disneyland and in a pejorative sense. That there are no people who are serious, that take things seriously. It's not my experience. Do you want to comment on that now?

FRANK LLOYD:  I'd be happy to comment on that. And I'll just bring it back to growing up in South Pasadena.


FRANK LLOYD:  I've always found that criticism to be unfounded. I think it's incredibly shortsighted. I grew up in South Pasadena, and I'll just give you a few examples. My classmates even at elementary school, their parents taught at California Institute of Technology and Occidental College. There was no shortage of intellectual stimulation around those households. You're in a pretty challenging atmosphere when your dad's a nuclear physicist at Caltech [California Institute of Technology, Pasadena]. You know it's going to be impossible to fault that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Like Feynman's kids, Richard Feynman.

FRANK LLOYD:  I didn't go to school with Feynman's kids. But I went to school with some of those colleagues'. And it'd be impossible to fault the kind of intellectual stimulation that would come from having a university professor as a parent, for instance, as well. Other people that were in my class now work at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. You know I just don't think there's any basis in it as far as the intellectual stimulation that could have been available to anyone.

I also think that the notion of it being without culture could easily be challenged when you look at an institution like the Huntington. What else do you need? What more intellectual or aesthetic stimulation does an individual artist need than whatever is available there? I have a friend Adrian Saxe—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, I know Adrian.

FRANK LLOYD:  Who is an artist that we represent here at the gallery. The friendship preceded the representation. But he often cites his visits as a teenager to the Huntington. And the kinds of things, the resources that were there, sparked his interest in French porcelain, for instance, which in contemporary art may seem like an unusual kind of gambit to follow through on that. But indeed Adrian uses that as a platform for discussion of cultural values and everything. It all can be from an individual source.

Clearly, when we're talking about major figures in twentieth century as far as curatorial things go, you can't go too far away from the fact that the Pasadena Art Museum was the place that Walter Hopps did so many innovative exhibitions. I mean they didn't have the reputation that they had without Walter's fantastic curating and without the precedent of the first retrospective of Marcel Duchamp in 1963, the first show of Pop art assembled by a curator, called The New Painting of Common Objects, I believe. And, you know, various things.

For me that was an important place not necessarily because of being exposed to those exhibitions. But because they had a fantastic permanent collection that came from Galka Scheyer, The Blue Four Collection, included the work of Klee and Kandinsky, and I was fascinated by that work as a child.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  They're great colors.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. And I'm sure that that's where I first saw—my first Mondrians. You know that interest in pure abstraction continues to this day. Look at the show that we have up right now with Scot Heywood. It's directly descended from kinds of precedents in early twentieth century European abstraction like Neo-Plasticism, or Suprematism. And I think, you know, how much does an artist or an art dealer need to start with? Once you have that stimulus and the curiosity is ignited, then the pursuit of it is what is important.

I've often read that for instance Richard Diebenkorn got interested in painting when he was stationed outside of Washington, D.C.—correct me if I'm wrong about this—but he went through the National Gallery, and he saw a Matisse painting. He was out of the army or something. I hope—this is terrible—this is a part of the Archives of American Art, and I hope I don't have my facts too mixed up, but there's a painting that's in the National Gallery by Henri Matisse, and it's of an open window. And it's very gray, and it has some angles. This is a very, very important part of Diebenkorn's initial stimulus to pursue a career as a painter

When you think about that, everything can spring from one painting, you know. How much do you need to have? Indeed it would be nice to be in the center of Manhattan and have the resources of all of those museums at your disposal. But you can get a lot from the available material, let's say. Indeed I think, you know, that it could spark your interest, and nowadays your—and even in the 1950's—travel's a wonderful thing. You can pursue these things by travel and intellect and books and things like that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Remember books and engravings and so forth, let's look back even further.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It's very much to your point, I think. All of those— Well, there's some people who think that American art is an oxymoron, especially in the earlier days. Almost everybody, of course, says when the AE people came along, the triumph of American painting, which you know is true. But it's not the only thing, and there are those who think that's a little bit overdone. That's a whole other interesting issue. But back in the 19th century and earlier, there wasn't much to see anywhere—New York, it doesn't matter where. Everything was like they imagined L.A. was, let's say. And Boston. It didn't matter. They didn't have great collections yet. I mean they were starting privately to be built. And museums were starting to be founded.

But those Hudson River painters who went to nature, they got their examples, though, to a person, they went to Europe and studied there. Looked at Claude and people like that, you know. So that pattern, as an artist, you go where you need to go, if it means traveling there, and you study and look. So I completely believe your story, even if it's apocryphal, about Diebenkorn at the National Gallery in Washington.

FRANK LLOYD:  It hope it's not too far mistaken.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, it makes a point [inaudible].


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Sounds right to me.

FRANK LLOYD:  Things that are often overlooked about Southern California, too, is that there as the influx of European émigrés actually preceding World War II. And so you do have incredible stimulation from Europe that may not have been part of the equation if it's being criticized. If you look the contemporary architecture, for instance, of Southern California, you know, what's now regarded as a kind of Golden Age of residential architecture, often if you trace it back, can be attributed to a lot of different influences, including the influx of the European émigrés, specifically Richard Neutra and Rudolf Schindler.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You make a really good point. And again, I'm—it's like underlining things. I mean I realize this is obvious, but that's the one area that I can think of where the outside world of the East Coast establishment, we might call it, acknowledged this amazing that L.A. architecture, residential architecture, was pretty much unparalleled. And, you know, it sure is fun, and a lot of people do this, is why is this so? Why were these people here? But what was it about the place that was so hospitable for that kind of experimentation? And there's no reason why. Eventually that would also be the case with the visual arts.

One of my favorite places, by the way—it's okay if we set the scene a little bit? You know when you go up to the Ennis House. And a couple of times I've been able to go in there. Anyway the circumstances don't matter.  But I've been there a couple of times. And of course you go out by the pool, and you look across, and you see the Lovell House—Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright, too. Totally different modernists. I mean it's—I mean literally it's textbook, you know. Or you go over by the Lovell House, and you look over back again, and there's— And it goes on and on. I mean it's absolutely amazing. But there is an area where that contribution has been acknowledged, I think, for quite some time.

FRANK LLOYD:  It has been acknowledged, and I think it's always good to remember. And we've got several traditions that are part of that. One would also be the Craftsman era.


FRANK LLOYD:  That was so prevalent in Southern California, and particularly in Pasadena where I grew up.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Exactly. Greene and Greene.

FRANK LLOYD:  And you couldn't escape that as a kid. You all had to know about the Gamble House; you went there on a fieldtrip from school.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I still go there on fieldtrips.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I still do, yes. You'll see I took a picture and put it on my blog again, I think. And I walk around the corner and walk down toward Prospect Boulevard and go and see the Frank Lloyd Wright La Miniatura. And it's, you know, part of the legacy of Southern California. But it's also part of what you're talking about, too; is that it might be a good thing to look at as a kind of example of how the visual arts also evolved. Because you do have the stimulus of European émigrés, and you do have this influx, say, of the Galka Scheyer Collection. You have a very important group of works that came over as a result of Walter and Louise Arensberg living in Southern California and Marcel Duchamp being their curator. Here's another role of an artist acting as a curator.


FRANK LLOYD:  Then you have that wonderful oft told story of the student at Eagle Rock High School, Walter Hopps, going and having this opportunity to see this collection. So you have—a lot of the nucleus, that part, is the influx of European art into Southern California. And it is kind of germinal work that's there.

Then you also have this kind of sense—indeed it's often cited—of there not being a tradition, and there being this rather limitless possibility. Clearly that's the truth in the architectural world. There was this opportunity to build on land that had not been developed. There were these viewpoints. The major architecture, as you just noted, is often in a very spectacular setting. You know the Hollywood Hills for Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra.

The other part that you have is the use of the technology and building materials that came along. Indeed, that's an important part, I think, of the evolution of the visual arts in Southern California. And indeed it's part of my strong interest in what happened with contemporary ceramics. It's the adaptation of industrial technology that allowed Mason and Voulkos to make large-scale sculpture out of fired clay. Unprecedented at the time.

And what it is, is their willingness to engage in and use the technology that was available. It's part of the record. John has clearly outlined it in his interview for the Archives of American Art by Paul Smith; about how Peter and John hired this guy Mike Kalin to build what was a very large industrial kiln in their new studio when they moved to the Glendale Boulevard studio in 1957. It's that willingness to engage with this technology that was available in the postwar era that really transforms their work. But it has to come with the ambition and knowledge that was there as well.  

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You have to have ideas. It doesn't matter, you know, what technology is available if you don't have ideas which I was about— I almost forgot something I meant to bring up earlier. It was about writing. But it's actually about ideas. And maybe the disadvantage crafts have had in terms of intellectual content, shall we say—or concept; Mr. Duchamp gave us that. And I'll just throw this out for your possible comment or response. I also think this would be an interesting way to go later, is to actually look through whatever book you want where you have some of the key people you would like to talk about. Because it's so helpful, isn't it, to be able to look at some pictures.

FRANK LLOYD:  Sure. Yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So we could do that. But I was thinking in this case of criticism being harsh and the terms of criticism being applied to what—like glass—and that's Dale Chihuly. Now, I don't know what you think of Dale Chihuly. Most of us are just blown away by what he can do, but if you go to Seattle, frankly, I think ad nauseam comes on. Every department store you go into, there it is everywhere. And I know him a little bit. Due to him, actually, he was sort of stiffing me on an Archives appointment. And that's okay. It was okay because he had his visitor Italo Scanga. So Scanga then sort of took care of me. He babysat me until finally Dale showed up for a few minutes. And, you know, I know the Boathouse [Dale Chihuly Studio] a little bit and so forth up there. I'd been to Pilchuck [Glass School, Stanwood, WA] for their 25th anniversary, and I got to go to that with Paul Smith. Probably that's why I got to go. Anyway, all of these asides.

The question is this: There was a big Chihuly show at the de Young Museum recently, well, some months ago, and of course it was very, very popular. Well attended. Kenneth Baker absolutely savaged it. It was one of the almost meanest reviews I have ever read. He said: Art needs ideas. This is the way he ended it: Dale Chihuly's work is devoid of ideas. Wow! You know. And that was tough. But I sort of knew what he was saying. Well, how do you respond to that? That's pretty mean, I have to admit.

FRANK LLOYD:  I'm going to have to respond after I take a break.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Okay. Because here I'm going to pause it.

[Audio Break.]

We took a little break. And the question, as you say, there's a question, sort of question, on the table. Which is kind of a slam on Dale Chihuly and it's a review by Kenneth Baker that was one of the toughest. I mean it was amazing, the response to this. Wow! And Dale couldn't possibly have liked it. Or maybe he doesn't give a damn about critics because he's so at the top of his game, on top of this glass field, the glass area. But at any rate, the point, Baker's point, his main point, his main objection, was that he felt that Dale Chihuly's work is devoid of ideas. And by that I understood him to mean is that what allows it to be technically—well, what allows it to be so amazing are technical considerations. And there's an implied criticism, I think, of craft there. I'm not sure. So that's—

FRANK LLOYD:  You know I must say I don't think I read the Kenneth Baker article that preceded the controversy in San Francisco. But I did read some of the responses that were there on the Internet—a site called SFGate.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, yes, yes, yes. It's the [San Francisco] Chronicle.

FRANK LLOYD:  I think SFGate actually—it's the Chronicle's website. And, as I say, I didn't see that particular exhibition of Dale Chihuly's. And I don't know if it's, you know, so therefore I don't think I can particularly address that exhibit. But I can address the ideas that are presented as you quoted.

Art needs ideas? Absolutely. I think art does need ideas. And I think that there are always almost ideas behind these works. And that's part of the mission of the dealer and the critic and the curator, is to try to bring to light, to illuminate those ideas that are within the work of art. We have that mission here. We're often facing not just a critical audience but a general audience. And let's say, since we're talking about glass, that someone comes in and sees for the first time in their life a Larry Bell glass cube.

For a lot of people who don't have a background in contemporary art and in Minimalism or the ideas of perception, this is going to be a very empty work of art. In fact we had one client who is a collector, particularly a collector of craft, who came in and said, "But, Frank, there's nothing inside." And this sort of symbolizes that kind of attitude, that it's devoid of ideas, that's it's devoid of visual reward, that it's devoid of—and what I need to do there is to say, "Well, let's take a look at this. How do you feel when you walk around the object?" And you begin to instruct them in the basic properties of sculpture. And you can say, "Do you see yourself in this?" How do you feel about the way the image of yourself changes as you move around this object? What about engaging yourself in the idea of visual illusion? How many cubes can you see in there? Let's say you stand here. In this location we're not seeing as many as you can see in Larry's work if you are engaged and you strip away that initial objection to its lack of having something inside. You can look inside, and you can see several different reflections of cubes or of the environment. They activate the environment itself.

And of course what you're trying to do is to keep them on track to begin to understand that the work of art is often completed by the viewer. That the work of art is a reflection of your own perception. And that in one way you can engage in seeing and perceiving those things. You become engaged in a different state of mind. So, you know, there's that.

I think in the case of the craft movement, we're often engaged in that because we're trying to get people away from the process and materials perception: Oh, was this thrown on a wheel? Then was it baked, people often say, in a kiln? And we try to get them into the ideas that are behind it. And indeed I think that's one of the most exciting parts of what happened in Southern California during the 1950s and continued to this day, is that what was normally regarded as a craft medium was put into the mainstream because it was indeed backed with ideas. And it was backed with ambition.

It had this incredible face of these kind of fearless innovators who not only challenged the dominant craft hierarchy—I think Ken Price uses those terms when he speaks about how people have no idea how dominant the craft hierarchy was and what it meant to take that on with a medium like fired clay. It's not only that they injected this sense of ambition and brought other influences into it. Clearly monumentality, abstraction, the crosscurrents of other cultures were brought into it. Ken in almost all of his work is drawing on resources from other cultures as well as his own sensibility and his own— The subject of his work is often the object that he's working on. He says that. But critics and curators have often pointed to influences from Native cultures or from Asian cultures or even from European Modernism.

So why am I saying all this? I think, yes. Ideas are very important. And though the artists might at times want to disengage from that conversation, there are always ideas behind it. Clearly in the case of someone like Mason, he's now taken some of the ideas that he came upon in the process of making and abstracted them. And friends of his have pointed out to him that a lot of the things that he was working with were principals of higher mathematics, like symmetry and rotation for instance.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I know I get lost sometimes there.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. [Laughs.] But anyway, ideas are always there. Whether or not it's in the case of Kenneth Baker versus Dale Chihuly, I don't know. Because I'm not that familiar with Kenneth Baker's writing.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  He wrote a book on Minimalism.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And obviously he's going to have a problem, perhaps, with this Baroque—I mean it's more than that. It's like Mannerist, and it's so overwrought that it's like—I mean I'm not a big fan. I'm impressed by size and by structure.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  How can they do this with glass, you know? And then the colors sometimes are enough to— So Baker, his own aesthetic would seem to stand somewhat in opposition to Dale. And maybe that's part of it.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, you know, I think for the record, and people may be curious about this at some point, so for the record we had two exhibits of Dale Chihuly's work here at the gallery. And I can tell you that from my perspective, there are ideas behind it. And from my perspective, it's an interesting example of the use of what was formerly regarded as perhaps a craft material, and it is transformed into something that can be the carrier of ideas. It also has a significant place within the arena of craft becoming extremely visible and gaining a wider audience.

You know any of these people, you have to also consider that they've made large contributions. In Chihuly's case my interests were sort of, were various; but certainly he and a number of other people occupy this position within the world of craft, taking glass from this material and transforming it by a small group of people, Harvey Littleton, others, in a period—this is in the 1960s and then on into the early '70s—and educating a group of students about it, building departments in academic situations, and then gaining support for what they do, is a very interesting reflection of essentially what happened with the medium of ceramics more than a decade earlier. And I think that—I always look at a thing, well, you know, maybe they took Peter as an example—Voulkos—as an example of what you can do with something else. I don't know that that's true. But it seems to—some of the elements seem to follow. Certainly it's more decorative.

But you know Chihuly did start the department at Rhode Island School of Design. He did make—probably his lasting contribution was to create this thing called Pilchuck. And I saw an example of work from Pilchuck two days ago when I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and I saw a Kiki Smith piece on the floor of the Geffen temporary Contemporary Building, the Geffen. And Paul Schimmel addressed this. Here's probably one of the most esteemed curators of contemporary art in the world, responsible for incredibly innovative exhibitions.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  He was at the Gober talk by the way.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Paul was talking about maybe this very issue. He said, "Well, here's a piece by Kiki Smith. And I wanted this piece here because of how it relates to all the other pieces around." Paul's doing a very good job of explaining his curatorial premise and how he set up the show. And he said, "And it's by Kiki Smith. And all the things in this room have some kind of relationship to biology and creation and different things like that." I think this is what he was saying. And he said, "And it was done at Pilchuck, a school that was started by Dale Chihuly." He said, "I know all of you were talking about it. A lot of people think this is too much decorative art. But here we have this example of how glass can be used by a contemporary sculptor and have ideas." So again, yes, it isn't the medium. But it is the person who's using those tools and using that medium and injects it with these ideas and gives it meaning. That's where my interests lie.

I think, you know, it's important to note as far as the gallery goes, we had two shows of Dale Chihuly's work. And it served us quite well actually. Or me as the owner and dealer. It came about in an interesting way. And again it shows this kind of part of the art world that people aren't too aware of, I suppose. I had established this gallery, and it had a reputation for presentation and for specialty in contemporary ceramics.

And I was approached by another dealer, Peter Goulds of L.A Louver. And Peter Goulds and Kimberly Davis came over, made an appointment with me. They'd said they had a proposal to discuss with me. And I thought, absolutely. This is a very respected gallery. Extremely professional. In some ways the artists that they show very parallel with what we do. If you look at the program at L.A. Louver, for instance, there's a lot of seminal California artists that they have represented over the years, such as Ed Kienholz. They did do a number of things with the Wally Berman Estate.

Surprisingly enough, people aren't always aware of this, but they have an ongoing program in contemporary ceramics. When people come here, we often say, "Well, there are plenty of other places to go and see contemporary ceramics: Ken Price is shown by L.A. Louver and so is Richard Deacon, a British sculptor who often uses contemporary fired clay sculpture." And they also have been venturing out and showing contemporary artists working in clay such as recent graduates of UCLA.

Anyway, Peter came to me and had this proposal. And it was, "Would you like to work with us and present an exhibition of Dale Chihuly's work. We're going to do this as a very planned exhibition. And we'll be doing one show at Frederick Weisman's museum, with Michael Zakian in Malibu, and a show at L.A. Louver. And we'd like you to be the third venue because indeed Dale is such a productive artist and is such a wide-ranging works that we need to have your help." Well, it was very flattering. It also meant another one of those decisions that you make, and we've talked a little bit earlier about making those decisions: Do I want to be critic, no. Do I want to be an art dealer? I never thought so, but now I am one. And here, do I want to show something by an artist that's well known for this kind of almost, you know, all-encompassing decorative spectacle.

MR KARLSTROM: Spectacle, hmm.

FRANK LLOYD:  I thought about it, and I thought about it, and it was a tough decision. And again, I did what I did in the beginning. I went back to my advisors. A wide range of advisors for this. I asked the artists, and I asked our clients what do you think of this? And interestingly enough there were all unanimously for it. If you think about it, these veteran artists have known Dale Chihuly since he started. Other dealers. If I call Charlie Cowles, [of] course he's going to say yes because Charlie was a curator at Seattle Art Museum and gave Dale Chihuly some of his first shows. Again, getting back to this other topic that we were talking about: the roles of curator, dealer, and other things can get very mixed up. Charlie's an interesting case. He was also a publisher of Artforum. And a collector. So he's been all over this. But particularly he was enthusiastic about our venture into exhibiting Dale Chihuly, and had a number of things to say about him.

With the input of various artists, and indeed I even called our gallery general counsel and asked him about it. And he was very enthusiastic. He said, Why not? Why not cross over into a different audience and build your business with another audience? And indeed collectors were all for it. If you go to collections in Los Angeles—and I can think of at least three or four major collections in Los Angeles that have paintings, sculpture of various kinds, including contemporary ceramic sculpture, and there's a Chihuly in the collection.

I did agree to do it. And I have no regrets, you know. We worked directly with L.A. Louver gallery, which was a fantastic experience for me because it gave me another kind of affiliation with a major player in the art market internationally. We worked with Michael Zakian at the Frederick Weisman Museum. And I must say that's a privilege, to work with a museum director, and Michael's an extremely erudite art historian.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And a nice guy.

FRANK LLOYD:  And a nice guy, too. And we were able to work on this. It took a year. It's something where I participated fully in the curatorial part of it. I went with people at Chihuly's place. Now I think that also was an experience. I'm used to working with the individual artist and dealing directly with them on a one-to-one basis, on a handshake basis. And with Chihuly suddenly we're dealing with an entirely different structure. But how different is that structure, say, than what's going on in contemporary art now? How different is Dale Chihuly's business model from Takashi Murakami's business model? How different is it from Damien Hirst's business model? How different is it from Jeff Koons? I think they're the same business model. Now it's a full on corporate industry.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Or the Warhol Foundation.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Forget about the factory part.

FRANK LLOYD:  There's a lot of criticism that's leveled at that, that could easily be translated into so many other aspects of contemporary art. So I find that rather shallow and not fully thought out. We worked on this. The other thing that happens is let's say your mission is, as a gallerist, to expand the audience for the artists that you represent. Business-wise what better thing can you do then to lead people to your place of business?


FRANK LLOYD:  And I'll tell you the statistics. John Mason gave me—I said, Well, I'm expecting a crowd. He said, I'll bring you something. I now have a small hand-clicking, a counter in our drawer. And John gave it to me before the Chihuly exhibition. Because I said, "You know, I'm going to count." He said, "Well, I have another one of these." And we counted. During a six-week run, we had an average of 500 people per day come through the gallery. Now on a normal day, if we get 20, we're lucky.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Right. Yes, yes.

FRANK LLOYD:  So what does that do? It puts, you know, it's a simple business [move].

PAUL KARLSTROM:  People discover you.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. And here's what also happened is we not only had an influx of people, attendants, that was unprecedented. But people bought other things when they were here. Well, yes, the price point of a Dale Chihuly is a bit higher than this work here. And they came in and discovered things. They discovered us. They discovered me. And I think this is, you know, it's got to be put into the equation is that Chihuly's contribution may have been to popularize a medium. And it's not all that different than what an institution is trying to do by promoting other forms of art.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  A blockbuster syndrome, that's what you mean. Yes.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Like Tut currently at the de Young for six months or two months or whatever. [Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs, 2009] Bring them in, bring them in.

FRANK LLOYD:  I think, you know, if I can recall correctly, I think that one of the big things that Kenneth Baker objected to was the way that the director of the de Young at the time lauded the artist. And if I'm not mistaken during a dinner which was probably one of the gala fundraising dinners that preceded this exhibition, Kenneth Baker was offended that the director gave such a glowing position to Dale Chihuly and called him one of the greatest artists of all time. Or something like that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's called hyperbole, overselling.

FRANK LLOYD:  Right. But museums are doing a lot of things these days in order to draw in audiences. And you've got to bear in mind that every museum is looking for all kinds of ways to build a wider audience. You can't fault them for that. I wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't want to enter into the disagreements that Kenneth Baker personally has or critically has because I'm really not that familiar with that particular article. And I can see a critic having objections to something that they consider to be a decorative spectacle definitely. But, you know, I think that all these things have their place. And a greater understanding of them probably would mean less judgment.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, let me give you—I won't take a long time doing this—the back story. And you touched on something important.  Baker doesn't like John Buchanan, the director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. I, by the way, speak carefully because my wife is director of publications there. [Laughs.] And I won't tell you the grief she and her staff got from Chihuly's operation. But that's too bad. That's working on publishing; that's a different thing. But it's like a machine up there. And in a sense it's Dale this and Dale that. It's like a cult almost with a corporate side to it.

Setting that aside, John Buchanan came to the museum several years ago now. And he came from Portland. And he had a very good record as a fundraiser. He and his wife, they come together as a team, which is fine, although I don't think the trustees of the Fine Arts Museums finally thought that that was not quite right. But at any rate, the perception of San Francisco, I'm sure you've heard this or read it on blogs and so forth, is that Buchanan's not interested in ideas or concepts or themes. And so he has frustrated the curators. They're not initiating exhibitions or the kind of exhibitions that they would like.

And you're right, you're smart to look at it in a bigger way because Chihuly in this case was suffering, I think, from Baker's disapproval of the shift at the Fine Arts Museum to blockbusters or to the gate. The first thing you think about and the last thing you think about—doesn't mean there haven't been some little things along the way—but Warhol was not brought in because this was the greatest show necessarily in the world. I won't even get into that discussion. But it was expected, it was calculated that there would be a gate; there would be a lot of attendance. And there was.

Indeed, how can you fault the director, since the trustees hired him with that in mind. But I guess it's the balance that appears to be lost. On the other hand, they aren't laying anybody off. It's one of the few museums in the country. And it's because he's lined up, for the most part, the very successful Tut. It's going to bring everybody in no matter what. Even though there have been so many Tut shows you can't even count them.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Anyway, that's my reading. It's not entirely Dale. He's a whipping boy. And Baker has a chance then to, by criticizing that show, it underlines that Buchanan only does—schedules—those kinds of shows.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, yes, but unknowingly, kind of touched upon that issue because I was not aware of his—if he has an ongoing campaign about museums and their use of large blockbuster exhibitions in order to generate attendance and revenue. And that could easily be a theme of his writing. And it's often a theme of other critics' writing about the way that art museums are learning to survive in this period of time.

I have to say I'm now, because of being an art dealer, I've really changed the way that I look at museums in particular. When I was young, I went to the museums that I was telling you about. I think the first one I probably ever went to was the National Gallery with my mother and my sister. And to me that was, as a child, it was more or less like going to church.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, it is exactly like. It's a temple of art.

FRANK LLOYD:  It is. And you're going to Washington, D.C. You're going to something that in this case is fully endowed. I didn't know this at the time, but it's a gift from the Mellon family, you know, the whole thing.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  [Cross talk.]

FRANK LLOYD:  You're going to this huge building. And you're in this indeed temple. There's a reverence for the individual artwork. There's a reverence for the artists. There's a sense of history. And indeed the underlying part of it was probably—the curatorial department was closer at that time to an endowed university kind of academic situation.

And then my early experiences in Southern California had to do with the Huntington, which is an older established institution. And you're quite familiar with all of its—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I spent 11 years there, that's right.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. And, look, it had the offices for the Archives of American Art, which is a historical thing. And then the Pasadena Art Museum in its original incarnation was in this fascinating building that's now the Pacific Asia Museum. And it presented these shows that again were—to me they were kind of like going to church or learning about some other culture. You're learning about an artist had that a tremendous influence over the course of the development of twentieth-century art. I mean obviously when you're looking at Marcel Duchamp or if you're even looking at The Blue Four; two of those artists were instructors at the Bauhaus, you know. So you have this kind of sense of history and scholarship and this reservation from the engagement of commerce. And you didn't really think about that.

But I've now learned that the Pasadena Art Museum sent out letters to John Mason and Peter Voulkos saying that indeed the works will be for sale. I have them right here; we'll look at them later. This is from Thomas Leavitt on the typewritten letters that the works were for sale. That the museum will take at 15 percent commission, and that the artist is responsible for delivering and picking up the works. And that museum will gladly pay for the punch.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It wasn't even wine!

FRANK LLOYD:  So, you know that this was—yes. It turns out that was pretty much of an illusion that I had in some ways. And that, indeed, now we know these museums do need to survive. What are they going to do to survive? Well, they need to have, within the absence of grand philanthropy from a Huntington or a Mellon or even a Getty, you have to do something to survive. And they are dependent upon the city funding sources, the tax revenues, the contributions that they can get, the memberships, and attendance. So they've got to do these shows, right? And it's also within the purview of the critics to decide how far they should go, right? And that's all part of it, too.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It makes then for a kind of counterbalance.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And I'm completely with you. Because the Archives of American Art itself struggled over the years, over the 30 years I worked—I was hired to open up the West Coast operation based at the de Young.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And it wasn't too long before it became very clear to me that part of my job was—I thought of myself as a curator or a collector of documentation and doing interviews—part of my job was fundraising. That the Archives was chronically underfunded.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  It expanded nationally, which was—I mean it was great. It was a division of the Smithsonian, albeit small. But actually was creating a few centers out around the country. For a while two of them in California. Two of them. I was for a while based in San Francisco still with the brand-new operation at the Huntington with my friend Stella Paul, good friend. Stella has—you know those were great days. We were getting a lot done. We did a get lot done. But it was a struggle—without going into that history. Although I think that the Archives should do some oral histories on itself. This can be the time to start. And I think this is to the point: where we as regional directors, maybe we were spoiled, that's the way we were viewed I think, running around on our own. What are they doing? What is he? What is he doing? He—it was all he at that point. Then some she's came along. But basically we landed in a situation where the financial considerations were at odds with what we imagined we were hired to do.


FRANK LLOYD:  I think it's quite parallel to the missions and what we're seeing, the conflicts that museums are getting into now. Because in the ideal world, the mission of the museum should be to collect, preserve, interpret, document the art of its time. Or the art that it is specifically focused on. And the mission of the Archives would seem to be almost exactly the same. So the resources that you need to do it are essentially the same in a lot of ways because you need to have a place to store, organize, and—


FRANK LLOYD:  —make available those materials that you've collected and preserved from all of these various sources. And it necessarily involves a decision-making process that's very similar to curatorial things. I mean why should you interview me and not one of my neighbors here?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Peter Goulds.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Well, Peter actually—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What about Robert? He would be good.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Well, Robert's been in the business for over 30 years. And Peter's been in the business for 30 years. And actually both of them could make some pretty interesting commentary about it, I'm sure. Peter's very articulate.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, I know. Yes, yes. Anyway, well, you know, this is pretty good. We've done two hours and 40 minutes.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And I think it's time, don't you, to—

FRANK LLOYD:  We can easily pick this up again because there's a lot more to speak about. One thing that I might tell you about is my experience two nights ago at the gala for MOCA [Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles].

PAUL KARLSTROM:  My God, did you go to that expensive thing? Oh, my God!

FRANK LLOYD:  And it illuminates several of these things. I don't know if this is going to be useful for anybody in the future. But the idea of patronage, fundraising, the integration of artists into the institution, the necessity of money to support the programming, all come to focus, if you look at the case of the Museum of Contemporary Art. And this event will—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Will make it?

FRANK LLOYD:  It's going to make it, which is necessary.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I'm a charter member, you know.  I continued on in San Francisco.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, it's going to make it. This event, I clearly saw, that it was designed to make you really believe. It was a thousand people in a giant tent set up between Disney Hall and MOCA.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Wow! A grand—

FRANK LLOYD:  And apparently, according to the initial figures, with the thousand people they raised over $3 million in one event.


FRANK LLOYD:  Should that be criticized as well, as a spectacle? No. It was a fantastic thing.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  No, no. But it is what it is.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's just—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It's not a work of art. I suppose it was really done fabulously as a work of art.

FRANK LLOYD:  On the other hand, yes, there was a piano designed by Damien Hirst and played by Lady Gaga, with dancers from the Ballet Russes in a performance piece, that the chair of the board, Maria Bell, calls a work of art. A living work of art. And, you know, the hat that Lady Gaga wore was designed by Frank Gehry. Is that a work of art? I mean I don't think—you know, now in the contemporary art world it's going to be impossible to define what is and what is not anymore. It's all completely blown out of the water by conceptual art and performance.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Somebody wrote something, and I can't remember where, but on that very subject. Which is it satisfies me very much. It's also a criticism. And that is anything is a work of art that an artist—and then they're self-appointed anyway; I choose to be an artist, therefore I am an artist—anything that they call a work of art is a work of art. And, you know, partly we have Duchamp to thank him for that. Completely as a matter of fact.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And there it is. And part of me says, yes. I mean I make collages. And they're clearly works of art. I am not claiming any greatness for them, and they're very interesting and personal and so forth, which is very much part of the times. So I'm pretty content where it is in this. But I was talking with Peter Mendenhall driving back from our lecture, or conversation, yesterday Gober. And we were just talking about that. And recognized— Well, you know, ultimately, there'll be no need for the critic. Because if everything's pretty much the same, it's just a matter of words around it, how you embrace it with words, then what's the role of the critic? Because— Well, let's put it this way. You said it, that there's no room for critical differentiation in the way that there used to be.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, now, I might need to clarify my position because I don't think that's what I'm saying. And I don't actually believe that there will not be a place for a critic. In fact, I think it only makes obvious the necessity for criticism and for the informed opinion, to eliminate, in fact, those precedents. When we come to this, we do refer to Marcel Duchamp. Okay? Or when we begin to talk about a minimal work that requires engagement and perception; we want to go back to the underlying historical precedents, and we want to go back to the philosophical basis for those works of art.

And so I'll never give up the idea that there should be criticism. In fact, I really do believe that it becomes even more important to have those in place, particularly when some of these boundaries have broken down. One of them being what is indeed a work of art? And also when we see the breaking down of boundaries of the contemporary art museum being a meeting place, being a place that's engaged in all kinds of different media, being a place that is participating actively. All the major museums are highly active in social networking. And who are now using, in the case of all these institutions, who are using the power of celebrity in their advertising and on their boards. So you see this all coming down. It only means that a distanced intellect who can give an educated opinion is more than ever necessary.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I pretty much agree with that. I didn't mean actually to suggest, for the record, that I thought that was exactly what you were saying. But there's maybe sort of a logical progression there if you want to push it and carry it further. The only comment I would make, one thing that interests me very much, is I'm not real interested in theory.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  In critical theory. Because what I see, my guy Peter Selz is not interested at all in it. And of course he's suffered a little bit in that at Berkeley, for instance, I took a look at the department, and talked with students and some of them turned into really good professionals. But theory absolutely took over like every other university situation. And so a generation of art people, art commentators, art historians, and so forth now have to try to reeducate themselves about values, and about one thing's for sure, the human presence, which is something that appeals to us so much. I think we have a hard time— We know that somewhere in there is Ed Moses. That's the way I feel. And you've got to be careful how you try to find him. But you at least need to know him and talk to him—right?

So I think—I personally think that we're in quite an interesting juncture, and it's the visual arts being, to a degree—to a degree—co-opted by critical theory. I mean of course you can say the same thing about existentialism being these movements, give us the illusion of being able to understand works of art. I think it's harder to understand works of art—and we write words about them. So we've got to believe that illuminates a little.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I concur with that absolutely. And I think it's apropos our discussion. If we had Peter Voulkos in the room—and indeed we do; we have an ice bucket sitting to your left—Peter disdained theory absolutely. I think he never engaged in it. His teaching method was famously not to ever give a crit in the class and never to discuss things. But just to work. And he taught by example. Interestingly enough, when he did his first exhibit here, most of our communication, a lot of it was done almost by Peter's simple approval or disapproval. And he would demonstrate to me things not by theory but almost by a grunt.

I'll give you an example: We want to do—I wanted to do a poster because Peter, it's well known that he likes to have posters, and he likes to sign them. And there's a series of posters that he's done for gallery exhibitions and for museums. And they become a collectible object. So I thought, okay, we'll do a poster. And I had an idea, and I had our graphic designer develop it.

I flew up to Northern California, as had become my habit during getting to know Peter. I got off the plane, and I took this in. And of course after a drink, he said, "What have you got there in your hand?" And I said, "Well, this is my idea for a poster." And he looked it, and he goes, "Well, this is POS." And I said, "What do you mean, POS?" He goes, "Piece Of Shit." [They laugh.] And I said, well, okay, you know. And sort of folded it back up. I said, "What do you have in mind?" He said, "Come with me."

He led me into another part of the living-studio, the dome, and he opened some drawers, and then he opened another one, and he came upon a poster for his—that he had done before. He pulled it out. And I said, "God, I just love this poster." And he said, "Well, I've got two. You can have one." And it's a poster for a show that Peter did in 1956 at Felix Landau Gallery in March of 1956. And I have it here, and I'll show it to you after lunch.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, after lunch.

FRANK LLOYD:  But that was how it went. Then I said, well, okay, so we'll have you do the poster. And he said, "Yes, that's what I want." I was perfectly willing to do it. Fortunately I still have that poster. And it ties into this whole conversation. There's the precedent for a gallery that shows contemporary ceramics in the context of paintings. And there's the inspiration for, you know, this love of graphic imagery that I have. It's just right there. The poster's so right. You'll see.

And to follow up on it, this communication was totally anti-theory. It was just, that's a piece of shit. [They laugh.] He didn't say, "I don't like the composition, I don't like this color, I don't like this font. This is a piece of shit."

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Why waste words?

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] And that's the beauty of it. He didn't waste any words. Well, I took what ideas Peter had. And then next time I flew up, well, we had this new mockup. And he said, "Yeah, well it needs something here." And he went, ahn ahn. For the record he just made two gestures with his hand. And they were just a grunt and a clear indication of how he wanted the graphics and the image to be weighted.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Was he right?

FRANK LLOYD:  He was absolutely right. Absolutely right. It had that correctness of weight, balance, and feeling that was just intuitive and came from him. The other part about that is, let's say we go on to the exhibition that was—this is in 1999. And we put up this massive exhibition. And I arranged for Peter to be interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. I arranged for him to be photographed with the work. None of which he wanted to really participate in, but he did so begrudgingly. And then sure enough, the chief critic of the L.A.Times came and reviewed the show. I thought, oh, what—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Who was it then, Wilson?

MR.LLOYD: No, this was Christopher Knight.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, he wasn't there then, Wilson.

FRANK LLOYD:  And it is a model of understanding. And it is so beautifully written. But it incorporates somehow Christopher, whom you might have thought would regard this as a piece of history and give some historical background, or he might regard it formally or something like that. No, he got right at the heart of it.



PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, okay. Here we are. Frank Lloyd being interviewed by Paul Karlstrom at Frank Lloyd Gallery on November 16. We took a break. We're calling this session two. This is the afternoon session. Are we ready?

FRANK LLOYD:  We are. We are indeed. I'm getting a bag full of old catalogues and interviews and research materials because a lot of our conversation has brought up ideas that I'm having as a result of working on this curatorial project.


FRANK LLOYD:  And so many of the people that we're discussing are either the subject of the individual book, or they are the writers of the publication. Or they're participants in this in some way or another.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So what we're hearing, I guess, is that this is very timely.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Especially timely. So while we're recording, and I thought that—Well, we got on then to yet another interesting subject. But maybe we could reprise briefly the conversation that we had out at lunch, sitting out there. Because it just seemed to me there were various parts of it that were—okay, well, one of the things is it put you at Santa Cruz, the university. And this was something, you know, that we hadn't done yet. And I've been waiting for the moment. And you brought that up. And then of course you met some interesting people. So why don't you, you know again tell me about you going off to Santa Cruz. And you might even tell me how you made that choice, because that tells something about you. Because you went to high school in South Pasadena.

FRANK LLOYD:  I went to high school in South Pasadena. And I was a student who was very interested in liberal arts and in art itself. I had the very good fortune of having a very inspirational high school art teacher. I took art history in high school. Also classes in design, drawing, and painting. So it's an unusual program, I think now, for a public high school to have, a department that is solely dedicated to art. My high school art teacher's name was Jack Dalton.


FRANK LLOYD:  Very important influence in my life. Like a lot of people, I was obviously predisposed, I think, this kind of classroom activity and to the interest in art that was really fostered by that relationship and his encouragement. But I was also a student who was in a lot of college preparatory classes, and the counselors at the school of course were expecting that I would go to a university environment. Fortunately, I did get accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So where else did you apply?

FRANK LLOYD:  You know what? I only applied there, and I took an incredible gamble because there was no—there was no backup. Nowadays I think I probably would have been one of those students who applied to ten places or something like that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  See, we have these similarities. I've got to note this. I transferred to Stanford undergraduate. For some reason. I didn't even know all that much about it. I mean it wasn't like I'd been counseled or advised. I had a good friend there from high school who was trying to get me up there. And I went first to my folks' alma mater in Rock Island, Illinois, a Swedish Lutheran school, Augustana College. Well, it had a drawback. I liked it fine, but it was cold. It was really cold. It was right on the Mississippi River. So I decided I've got to go that place with red-tile roofs and palm trees. [Laughs.] I went back and took off. I worked, I got a job, and took off a semester, a quarter or whatever the system was, and only applied to Stanford University. Now nobody nowadays would do that.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know I can't believe it. Like you said, what does it tell us? What does it tell us about you?

FRANK LLOYD:  I have to say that I really wanted to go to UC Santa Cruz [University of California Santa Cruz], and that I had already visited the campus with my mother and my father when we were up north in San Francisco and Monterey on vacation. My father knew about the campus and its inception because he was the public relations director for California State College, which is a separate system, but still he just knew about this. He wanted me to go and see it. I thought it was a beautiful location, and it still is. And I was intrigued by the idea of going to a small liberal arts college that was within the larger university environment.

I do have to say, though, that when you apply to the University of California, you're applying to one campus. You may be referred to another. So you do list your alternates, and they also suggest that if you don't get your first choice, you can go to one of the other campuses. So there probably was a backup, though there was no situation like this. Bear in mind, of course, too, that this suited my temperament and my sensibilities because, indeed, it was a kind of a classic situation where you're in a liberal arts college, and you're going to be availing yourself of classes in psychology, philosophy, literature. But you're also available to go to the art department as well. For me it seemed like a good fit.

It's also, if you look at when I was going, 1969, that's a pretty good time to go to Northern California. The heyday of the counterculture. And this kind of was a strong cultural attraction. You could drive to San Francisco; it's 75 miles north, right? And it'd take you about—enough time that you could go up there and still go to hear some music. So that was in my head, too. Quite different, though, than going to school at Berkeley. My friends went to Berkeley.

Anyway, what we were recounting over lunch is an interesting story—is that here I am at UC Santa Cruz, and I'm enrolled in these classes, but the college that I was enrolled in, called Cowell College, had I think a total student body population of around 800. And each class then of the four years of undergraduate would be approximately 200 people. And you were in Cowell College, there was a core course called World Civilization. And that was taught by an historian and an art historian.

I think this, too, was an important part of my kind of looking at the world is that indeed art's a reflection of the culture in which it was made. And in order to understand one, you need to understand the other. And we went through what is a pretty classic kind of idea for liberal arts college education, is that you would start with Mesopotamia and go through Egypt, Greece, Rome, and on through Western Civilization, telling the story basically through its literature and its art, and integrating that into its political and cultural history.

As I remember it, the core course in our freshman year was taught by Donald T. Nichol, who came from England, a well-regarded historian; and by Mary Holmes, an art historian who had moved north after a tenure at UCLA. And Mary was the art historian who was going to be giving us all of this integrated knowledge of Western art history. She was also a painter. So she had a real personal interest in the evolution of art. And she had a way, a characteristic way of expressing herself and bringing in divergent topics. I mean just as an example, she somehow managed to weave in planned obsolescence in the talk about art history. I don't know exactly what links she made. But this is a hallmark of the education at Santa Cruz, is that you're looking at everything as being meaningful and symbolic and integrated. And indeed they did an excellent job of it. We also had guest lecturers in this core class by Norman O. Brown, an esteemed psychoanalytic historian—if there is such a thing. A very well regarded intellect whose writings—I think he may have coined the words polymorphous perversity, but I'm not sure. But anyway, you were always engaged in this.

And I do remember that, you know, we had a lot of really interesting classmates. It's in that core course where I was not only reading the classics and looking at slides of all of Western art history, but as is the mission of the university system, you're engaged in—I think Cowell's motto was: "The pursuit of truth in the company of friends." Well, you're getting to know your classmates, their inquiries, their backgrounds, and everything. It's part of the social structure of college, right? I sat next to, in this class, for a long time apparently, I'm told, an attractive young woman who admired my penmanship and handwriting and wanted to sit with me. Started a conversation. Her name is Diane Factor. As it turns out much later in life, I became very close to her parents, Monte and Betty Factor.


FRANK LLOYD:  This is one of the things that makes you think that being an art dealer was meant to be, it's only when I finally realized it much later in life. And I remember Diane saying to me that her parents were engaged in being art collectors in Los Angeles. And she said, "Nothing like around here. None of this arts and crafts stuff. They have real artists." And indeed they did. So she was absolutely correct. I still see Diane actually.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I was just going to ask you.

FRANK LLOYD:  I still see Diane. And one of the things that Diane and I did out of this new-found friendship was to go and see a series of—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Art house movies.

FRANK LLOYD:  —art house movies. I think the series starts with [François] Truffaut, and Diane was kind enough to introduce me to Truffaut. I think I still rate Four Hundred Blows [1959] as my favorite movie of all time.  And then I'm sure it must have gone into Ingmar Bergman.


FRANK LLOYD:  And I think this is actually a film series put together by a director named Tim Hunter, who was a lecturer in film at College 5 at that time. And who again I later got to know in 1978-79, when I remodeled his basement. But everything is very interconnected, and I think it wasn't just Santa Cruz that taught me that. It's this experience as an art dealer that's teaching me that.

Anyway, onto our conversation at lunch that I'm going to recount to you, is that this core course of western civilization and art history, called World Civilization—I think there was a World Civilization 1, 2, 3, and 4—was, you know, a very exciting thing. Here we have this team teaching by two well-respected authorities in the fields. And they kind of outlined on the first day what the course would be about and launched into a kind of first lecture. And at the end of the lecture, in the front row, a young man raised his hand and stood up and asked a question that was so brilliant.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Do you remember what that was?

FRANK LLOYD:  I wish I remembered what the question was. But I do remember that he asked a brilliant question that engaged the curiosity even of the professor. And he got a good response. But I remember noting, and going, oh, this guy is really bright and very articulate and curious, you know. Well, I became friends with him, and I still see him. And I'm thinking that almost every time he comes to Los Angeles, he comes to visit the gallery. And he knows a lot about the artists that we represent. And his name is Lawrence Weschler.

Ren [Lawrence] actually is a good example of what I've been talking about. I think art needs these people. Art needs to have ideas, and art does have ideas. Art has a relationship to culture definitely. And people like Ren, or hopefully even an art gallery, can be the ones that are essentially this kind of conduit to the artist. And they can illuminate those ideas and articulate—help the artist to articulate them. An artist might be, indeed, anti-theory and more prone to expressing oneself in grunts and groans.


FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] Yes. But in order to get the work out there, you need several different things: One, you definitely need a place to show it and display it and somebody who's good at presenting. That's what actually I'm really good at, presenting it. And you also need the scribes essentially, these people who can look at this, interpret it, make it understandable to not only the general public, but hopefully they need to also be able to talk the talk with the theoreticians. And in order to have that, you've got to have some pretty darned bright people.

That's where I think it comes around to our discussion of, you know, what makes a movement succeed. And a movement succeed. And a movement of contemporary ceramics, I don't think it would've gotten really, really far without having Walter Hopps, John Coplans, Peter Selz, even Jules Langsner, Gerland Nordland, Henry Hopkins. There are women, too: Susan Larsen, Susan Foley. Let me see. Barbara Haskell. Even Dore Ashton. At that exhibition that we were discussing earlier. Peter Voulkos's first exhibition.


FRANK LLOYD:  In New York at the Museum of Modern Art.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Peter Selz, he put him in the show.

FRANK LLOYD:  The Museum of Modern Art was reviewed in the New York Times by Dore Ashton. It was also reviewed in Craft Horizons by Dore Ashton. At any rate, this is the function of that. We can't have any of this without those great functions that writers provide: documentation, interpretation, and even criticism. So I don't know. Do they all kind of tie together?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. [They laugh.] Yes, indeed. And that was the story, the anecdote. And then we stepped into, stepped up the stair, and launched into another discussion.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Which let's see, came right out of that. And it had to do with the success, Ren Weschler. Well, I mentioned that he had done it for the Archives of American Art. I guess I was like the producer of it, and he was the interviewer, a video interview.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  With David Hockney. And of course that reminds us that he's written a lot about David.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And also he's written—in fact I'm not so sure that the Irwin book wasn't first.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, it's his first publication actually. And here's a first edition. I hope Ren's going to read this interview.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I hope so, too.

FRANK LLOYD:  Because here's a little tribute. We were talking about this because we were talking also about the here and then gone, the ephemeral quality of Irwin's work.


FRANK LLOYD:  And indeed if you have an ephemeral art, you're going to need documentation. And you've got to have photographs, right?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So that's the—whose gallery was it then?

FRANK LLOYD:  At this point it's [Bob's Studio], when taking out the facing wall, and installing twin skylights.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's his studio.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's becoming the Malinda Wyatt Gallery. He does the first installation, I believe—it probably says right here.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  On Market Street.

FRANK LLOYD:  On the back, yes. It does. The building itself, I think, had been at some time, one of these had been Irwin's studio. And Larry Bell had owned a building right across here as well. It's the same block, definitely. And I guess what we were talking about is that we were using Ren as an example of the power of having an educated writer and an advocate and a voice for an artist. And one of the things that we were discussing was how much the writer enters into the artist's interpretation or the artist's ideas of what they're doing and how much they are contradictory or change that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. You said that Irwin, according to Ren—and I guess he even comments in the book—that Irwin's ideas about phenomenology, I guess, yes, weren't exactly right. I guess that's basically what it was. Or were somewhat mistaken. And he commented. You said that he actually mentioned, he says, "Well, Bob Irwin did not get this entirely right."


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But then what we were saying and agreeing, I think, was that—and Weschler understands that—it's okay for the record to say that, but it's entirely beside the point, pretty much. Because the artist is making art, and they're not illustrating—we didn't quite say this but tell me if you think this is sort of true—they're not held to anything. We were talking about how they get inspiration—how artists get inspiration from anything, paintings and so forth. Isn't that sort of how we were going with this? That Ren had kind of a light hand about it and certainly understood that it wasn't his job to clerk Bob Irwin or David Hockney.

FRANK LLOYD:  I don't think it is. In fact I think that's how they met. And I think this passage here—and I've heard Ren discuss this—is that Ren was involved with a project at UCLA called the Oral History Project. And he was doing editing of transcripts for this thing called Portrait of a Community. Some of the people interviewed are people that you've interviewed as well probably, Ed Kienholz definitely. And I think that it's true—Ren can correct me on this—but Ren was on the UCLA campus, and he kept going by the library. And there was this guy who was always reading there. That's how they met, I believe.


FRANK LLOYD:  If not also through that Portrait of a Community, the UCLA Oral History Project. "But here actually you can see the ambition lured him, the reasoning held him, he became increasingly apt. For months at a time he abandoned his art world interactions all together." This is Weschler. In a chapter called Reading and Writing of his book, Weschler's book, called Seeing Is Forgetting [the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin, 1982], you can find—he's speaking about Irwin now—"You can find him almost any day either by the falafel stand in the Village or in a shady alcove on the UCLA campus, a pile of well-thumbed volumes arrayed by his side. He read with heart-rending deliberation, five, six, eight hours a day, two, three pages." [They laugh.] "He stubbornly puzzled over each turn of phrase, never giving an inch, evaluating each move. 'I'm not going to let him get away with that,' he crowed to me one afternoon, catching [Ludwig] Wittgenstein in an apparent inconsistency. 'No way, this guy's really crafty. You got to be really careful as if it were a poker game.' Next to the open volume he kept a notebook. In his right hand he clutched two felt tip pens, a black and a red. The black was for recording what the philosopher said. The red was for his own comments, often for his refutations." So you see that Weschler is recording this. He's not necessarily saying that everything is correct.

In fact he kind of goes into this in a following paragraph: "Ed Wortz once made me conscious of how I handle information,' Irwin commented to me one afternoon, recalling days of their collaboration during the art and technology period. How 'I hold it all in a state of suspense while I examine it before I select what I will let into my life because for me ideas are very potent elements that radically change your life. Nothing is the same once you accept an idea. And you can never return to the place you left.' So I proceed very cautiously in the realm of ideas and information."

Anyway, in these succeeding paragraphs, I think Weschler essentially recounts Irwin's philosophical investigations. And Ren has a background in philosophy and phenomenology so that he could completely understand where Irwin was going with this. And also how he was interpreting it, even if it wasn't necessarily correct. There are parts of the book where I think Ren says, "I pointed out to him that what he was doing was not exactly what was intended." Anyway, I think that's a hallmark of a generous intellect. And a very strong curiosity. And this isn't to assert his own knowledge of phenomenology, which was clearly—


FRANK LLOYD:  —superior to his subject's [understanding].


FRANK LLOYD:  And in fact Ren studied with Maurice Natanson, one of the world's eminent phenomenologists at UC Santa Cruz. I know that. I couldn't ever keep up with Natanson myself, but Ren could. Anyway, even to assert that knowledge, he doesn't correct him. He just kind of accepts that this is where his—Irwin's—investigation of art had led him into this philosophy and had bolstered his knowledge and everything. I think it happens a lot. And what's rare is to find someone with that generous intellect and with the ability to articulate both points of view, or multiple points of view, and to kind of bring it to light. And it's through a very conversational style, which is not just a hallmark of Weschler's writing, but those writers that I was speaking to you about before, that I really admire—someone like a Calvin Tompkins. It's a New Yorker style where everything is gotten at in conversation. Maybe sort of like what we're doing now.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, yes, and I think we all agreed also that Ren Weschler entirely understands his role in writing about Irwin. And he respects artists too much to even pretend that they have to slavishly illustrate, as we were saying, a thinker's program or ideas.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know the artist is not—is subservient to nobody. And I think that anybody who misses that, doesn't get art. I mean they just don't.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, they certainly haven't met artists. [They laugh.] Because none of the artists that I know are subservient to anyone.


FRANK LLOYD:  You know I've got several quotes about that. But you can't get Ed—Ed Moses—to be subservient. He is who he is, and he wants it the way he wants it. And his ideas are his interpretations of what he has read. And that alone, because you're an artist, makes him totally legitimate. They have—it's more than poetic license. They have the kind of will to—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, they're operating in a different realm.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  To turn every field into art is wrong. It's just that it's like they're scavenging. And they'll pick up—I mean this is my observation anyway—they'll pick up what is useful and something already, a direction, as you say, they're going. And that it may reinforce. And they may respond to it. But they never think that it's their job to illustrate Heidegger or some somebody, I don't know who it might be. Unless you're Arthur Danto writing, and everything's Hegel. I noticed that. But this is like you see senators. The program, it sounds to me that this is—I now understand Ren Weschler better just by you telling your story about the connections and, you know, bringing the fields together. The one of maybe—well, the one philosophy or phenomenology illuminating an aspect of Bob Irwin's work. But what we really care about, and I'll bet you agree with this, is what Irwin does, you know, frankly. And so that's where too much palaver using big ideas, big thinkers to explain works of art. Well, sometimes you need to be a little careful about that, I think.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. I think so. I think, you know, I've been fortunate in getting to know a number of the major figures in West Coast art and actually exhibiting their work. But also getting some insight into their motivation, their resources, their influences, their likes, their dislikes, their competitions and everything. And I would say that a lot of times there's a distrust of ideas and theory on their part. And there is a kind of reverence for the physicality and process and doing. And I think a lot of that comes from this innovative period of time and from the kind of no rules—there's no hierarchy, there's no rules kind of mentality, in this anti-authority that Voulkos and others put forth. So I think there's this precedent that was established in this era that allowed for that experimentation with a lot of different materials and means and that indeed challenged any prevailing notion or theory.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know it reminds me of Hockney's book on Hockney.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know the tricks of the Old Masters, camera obscura and so forth. I have the book. I haven't read the whole thing. But I've read enough around it to know what David's up to. And heard some of that actually probably maybe when Ren was doing the lecture—not the lecture, the interview. And David—it was pretty controversial. People kind of misunderstood it, I thought, as he's exposing the Old Masters as tricksters because they're using this device to gain a composition, to have a composition. Well, I don't think that Ren Weschler would feel that way at all. I mean I don't know. But I can't imagine that he would because he—it's creative thinking. I think that's the way Ren and maybe the way we should look at it. And maybe David's kind of right. He certainly isn't slamming the Old Masters. He's an acolyte, a disciple of them.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, that is an interesting story. And it gets you, in a productive way, into your college years.

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] Oh, yes. College was a very important time for me. I think it is for everyone. And there I was at UC Santa Cruz for the duration. I didn't consider transferring away. But I did take my time; it took me five years to complete the undergraduate program. And that was because I also took some time off in the middle part.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I did that, too.

MR, LLOYD: Oh, we're on the same program. [They laugh.] And I did kind of follow the program of Cowell College all the way through, in that was essentially a liberal arts education with that background in history and literature. But also that I augmented with elective courses that were in philosophy, psychology, and art.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's great.

FRANK LLOYD:  And for me all of that was very beneficial. Probably the decision to complete the requirements for a degree in art, you know, were certainly augmented. I had a classes in psychology; I think at least six undergraduate classes in psychology. About three or four in philosophy maybe. But I didn't really— I wanted to—and some point I was very inspired by continued visits to museums by professors at UC Santa Cruz. And by their encouragement again in the painting classes that I took. And you know some of these people so it's another kind of full-circle thing here. The chairman of the department of art at UC Santa Cruz when I took my painting classes was Doug McClellan.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.] I know him.

FRANK LLOYD:  And Doug of course came from the Claremont area. Another person who I took classes from was named Hardy Hanson. And Hanson had been down here in Los Angeles—I think he might have been born in Long Beach—but Hanson had been involved with the early startup days of printmaking in Southern California. Hanson is a painter. But for instance he brought to our printmaking class, which was not taught by Hanson, but a woman named Kathryn Metz, he brought a master printer out from Gemini, Ken Tyler.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, yes, I knew Ken.

FRANK LLOYD:  So for our demonstration of lithography, we got Ken Tyler to come up, which is quite an accomplishment for a little college campus to have this amazing resource there. And again, it sort of ties me to this activity in Southern California and to Gemini. And now [I am] really quite good friends with Elyse and Stanley Grinstein and Sid Felsen and Joni Weyl.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  They were at the Gober thing at the Hammer yesterday. I saw them.

FRANK LLOYD:  And, you know, my neighbor, Rosamund Felsen, was intimately involved in all of the formation of Gemini as well. As it turns out, there's all these relationships that went on. One of the other interesting things that happened to me is that I completed my degree and put up a thesis show of my paintings, which was dutifully reviewed by—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Were these abstracts, did you say?

FRANK LLOYD:  They were abstract paintings.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Abstract Expressionist?

FRANK LLOYD:  No. Actually pretty controlled abstract. Probably more related to color field painting but coming out of landscape kind of ideas.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, I just thought that might be the case.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.] [Laughs.] And a show which I know that Ren Weschler saw and commented about. Though I can't say what his comments were. But it was dutifully reviewed by the faculty, which included, let's see, Doug McClellan, Hardy Hanson, Don Weygandt, and Patrick Aherne. Patrick Aherne was the probably original painting faculty member, and he had come from back East. And so he brought to that department a kind of knowledge—firsthand knowledge—of Abstract Expressionism. He had been kind of mentored by people like Milton Resnik. Hanson, as I said, was—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What's Hanson's first name?

FRANK LLOYD:  Hardy Hanson. Hanson had come from, as I said, Long Beach, and was pretty much involved in a kind of much more graphic-based painting that— And he had a tremendous amount of knowledge of color theory. Had gone to Yale. So he brought with him that kind of Josef Albers color theory, as well as a very disciplined approach. McClellan was to that department the thinker and the kind of theoretician and good questioner, good critical thinker. And Weygandt was a real kind of California painter whose sensibilities probably overlapped more with Nathan Oliveira and Richard Diebenkorn, both of whom were his friends.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So what was his name again?


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Don Weygandt?



FRANK LLOYD:  And all of these people encouraged me to pursue my interest in painting. So what's really interesting is, I'll just follow up, is really interesting. So when they have this thesis show—and they all dutifully review it, as is necessary, and I pass. And I'm going to graduate. And one of them came up to me, and they said, "What are you going to do now that we're putting you out to pasture?" [They laugh.] And another one said, "Well, I hear that you can paint houses." Indeed that's true. And I wound up painting the house of Don Weygandt and of Doug McClellan.

And at some point along in that string of things, they said to me, you know Jack Zajac is going to—he just bought a house, and he can use some people. Why don't you go over there and introduce yourself? And I did. And I worked with two other guys, two other young graduates of the art department at UC Santa Cruz. And we helped Jack and his wife, Corda, with their new home. And I had never taken a sculpture class the whole time I was there. But that's [where] I learned more about sculpture and more about painting.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, that's important.

FRANK LLOYD:  And everything—a lot of what I learned previous to that. And that was just out of interaction with Jack. I say Jack—well, you know, because you've been on this panel discussion with him down at Laguna.


FRANK LLOYD:  I was there. Yes. Jack is a fascinating character, and it also ties into this whole complex of issues that we're talking about, that Jack is probably one of the first people to break out of Southern California and become international; in a sense because he was one of Millard Sheets's favorites.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Millard can't be all bad then. [They laugh.] Poor Millard.

FRANK LLOYD:  Millard helped Jack early on. Jack also was a painter originally and he won the Rome Prize in the early '50s, maybe '55 or so, I think and went to Italy where he was obviously at the American Academy in Rome. And that's where he learned to make sculpture. And he made a bunch of it, sent it back to, according to the way he tells the story, I think he sent it back to the United States. And he was showing at the time with Felix Landau. His stuff was a big hit, and he became a sculptor. He also won the Rome Prize in subsequent years for sculpture, I believe. But anyway, that's an important relationship for me just because of this engagement with a—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Three-dimensional stuff.

FRANK LLOYD:  —three-dimensional form. And that kind of again encouragement. Jack's theory was, of course, I think he would tell me, "Paint like, hell, Frankie. That's what you have to do." I would just work all the time. And he also—he was just very encouraging.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So that's interesting. I forgot that you were—that it wasn't that long ago at Laguna Beach.

FRANK LLOYD:  I did come to your panel discussion at Laguna Beach. I saw this. It came across my desk, and I'm on the mailing list of Laguna Art Museum. And here's this thing, a panel discussion. And I looked at the composition of the panel, and it's Tony DeLap, who I know well.


FRANK LLOYD:  And it's Doug McClellan.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's right. This is what I wanted to confirm.

FRANK LLOYD:  And Jack Zajac.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Right. Who's the—

FRANK LLOYD:  There's one other. Well, you're talking about Roger Kuntz.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. Roger Kuntz?

FRANK LLOYD:  And you're the moderator. And I thought, well, I have to go to this. No, the other one is someone else. I'll have to look at the record. I took notes and everything. But—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What did you think of that panel? I liked it.

FRANK LLOYD:  I liked the panel a lot.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  They were fun to listen to.

FRANK LLOYD:  And then you know at the end the Laguna Beach Museum director—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Bolton Colburn.

FRANK LLOYD:  Bolton Colburn came up to me, and he said, "Well, I'm so surprised you're here." I said, "You shouldn't be." [They laugh.] I know four out of five of these people. Right? And really well. They're teachers. So how could I not come? Is my response to that. [Laughs.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, do you remember—this is so great. I wonder if you remember, I don't see how you would forget this, I basically put it to them towards the end, I think, I said, okay, we keep talking about Millard Sheets. Millard this—I didn't say it; that sounds dismissive. Millard this, Millard that. And I said—I can't remember how I did it, but I basically put it out there that I didn't want to hear some testimonial to him. I wanted observations on him. And I maybe mentioned the Selz thing because I happened to be—because of course I was working on it then and working on it now. Because there they were, and Peter was there. And it was pretty interesting. They seemed perfectly willing to acknowledge certain shortcomings with him. But you know you do that at your own risk with people come out of the Claremont.

FRANK LLOYD:  Oh, oh, right. Absolutely. As I'm going through these things, it's kind of like what you were talking before. There's a lot of observations, and they're all from different viewpoints, about the influence of some of these major figures. Whether it be indeed Rico Lebrun or Millard Sheets or some other. And the incidents seem to be remembered differently by different participants. Obviously this firing of Voulkos is remembered differently in different accounts. Susan Peterson remembers it one way.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I don't think it's as simple as my wonderful subject Peter Selz puts it.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But it does fit then with his view of Sheets in relationship to Modernism because Selz is Mr. Modernism. .

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. I think of all of them that I've read, the one that has the clearest presentation and I respect—obviously I respect his memory tremendously—and who logically presents it and rather records it properly is John Mason. And you have to think that John would be the one who was right there to observe it. So other people's accounts might be more secondhand than his.


FRANK LLOYD:  And it's part of that interview with Paul Smith. And I'm going to have to kind of go on with John's version of it because some of these people weren't actually there; how would they know, you know? But John would have been there, maybe almost in the room. [Laughs.] So I don't know.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, Selz used to fight with Millard. I mean it was a pitched battle.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.] Yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  They were like at the opposite poles. And I think that Millard would have been very resistant to Peter Selz coming from—after all, you know, he came from New York or from Chicago actually, is how that happened. He probably was happy that he got hired by the Museum of Modern Art to get rid of him. But it's the kind of thing that makes a good story.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But on the other hand, I think those guys told me—and I think somehow this is relevant because these are people of yours and all that—and I don't know which one, but supposedly there at the time, not in the room, that I think I probably asked about Peter's charge—objection—that Millard Sheets was being dictatorial, and was, you know, forbidding his students to look at Peter's show because they were this damned modernist stuff. Probably abstraction. And, oh, God, I wish I could remember. You were there. But one of them I think questioned that. And said, well, no, they didn't remember it that way." And we don't need to solve this on your interview. But these are the forces. I guess the interesting thing is that these are the forces that were at work, among the forces— [Cell phone rings.]

[Audio break.]

What I said didn't matter.

FRANK LLOYD:  When the phone rang, I think we paused.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  We did. And now it appears we're going again. Thank you.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, yes. The important part for me really has to do with that interaction with these faculty members and this continuation of my art education at UC Santa Cruz.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

FRANK LLOYD:  But it also has to do indeed with something that we're touching on here is this interaction of Northern California and Southern California. And I know this is a topic that you've been interested in for decades.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It appears so.

FRANK LLOYD:  It appears so. It seems to be part of your life and part of my life. But I don't really subscribe to the theory that there's a distinct divide. I see it being a very permeable membrane and a lot of interchange coming back and forth between Southern California and Northern California. One of the things that we talked about earlier is an obvious example of that, and that would be the so-called Merry-Go-Round show that Jim Newman, Walter Hopps, and Craig Kauffman put together at Santa Monica pier in the early '50s. Another example of it would indeed be someone that we touched upon briefly here: Richard Diebenkorn, who—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, absolutely.

FRANK LLOYD:  —spent time in Berkeley. Then came down to teach at UCLA, had a studio in Ocean Park. So there's the Berkeley series, there's the Ocean Park series. And then, as you know, it later in life went back up to Northern California. I don't think there's a distinction there. And I think, you know, that interchange also means that from an institution like San Francisco Art Institute you had his participation there coming down to UCLA, injecting something into the painting department and then going back. I also think that, you know, we touched upon another person, a very important person that we were talking about, Henry Hopkins.


FRANK LLOYD:  Who was a graduate of UCLA, and who was the director of education at the newborn Los Angeles County Museum of Art; actually was there during its transition from being Los Angeles County Museum of Art, History and Science. And then when it became LACMA and moved to its new campus, he was there. In fact these catalogues that we were talking about list as Henry as director of education. But Henry, of course, gets the job at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Or maybe when he got it, it was still called the San Francisco Museum of Art.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It was, it was.

FRANK LLOYD:  And he was a tireless champion of art from the West Coast, as evidenced by his curating of the show, Fifty West Coast Artists, which integrated both spheres. And if you look at some of the other artists that I represent, Peter Voulkos is another great example, having got his M.F.A. from California College of Arts and Crafts. Then eventually coming down here to start up this new department at the—I mean he was hired by Millard Sheets at Los Angeles County Art Institute, which became Otis.


FRANK LLOYD:  And then subsequent to his being fired, moved up to Berkeley and spent all of that time, from 1959 to 1985, there. But who's still regarded as a prime force in this movement of Southern California art. If you look at Voulkos's resume, at least ten of his first shows were in Los Angeles. And when we agreed upon doing a show, one of the things that I talked up a lot to Peter, as much as you could talk something up to Peter, was that I wanted to have him return as this kind of conquering hero to the city and the art scene that he helped to build. And that's what several people told me once I said, okay, we're going to—it's a deal. Peter is going to have a show here. It's going to be a one-person show. It's in November of 1999. And several of the people said to me—those who had been encouraging me to make this move—they said, "You just wait. He's going to show them." Because he was the king.

And sure enough, when we had the exhibit, it was so powerful, so strong, that everyone did have to take notice of it. And our guests at the opening included his former students, Billy Al Bengston and Ken Price. You know Bengston just makes it clear almost every time I talk to him how greatly influential Peter was on his life. And as far as he's concerned—as far as Bengston's concerned—Voulkos is the man, the most influential person around. And I think Ken Price has said that in several different instances. I've quoted it in the blog, but that's from a lecture that Ken gives. Anyway when Ken gives a lecture about his evolution, there's a picture of him as a student with some pots lying down. And there may be another picture of the interior of a studio he had in Santa Monica. And then the next picture is Pete. And he just says what he says in this [talk] basically, is "he taught me by way of example. And he worked in a way that I call direct frontal onslaught. And for those of you who don't know who he is, he's the one who liberated clay from the craft hierarchy." It's very important.

And the other artists, too, all have this tremendous respect for him. It can range from an artist like Ed Moses or Larry Bell. But it can also go to an artist like Adrian Saxe. You wouldn't see the direct influence of the work there. But I've spoken to Adrian on many occasions. And what he was able to do is he was still a student at the time. But he could see this example of an innovative artist with a lot of power, and with a way of making ceramics into a legitimate fine mainstream art material.  And I think it motivates a lot of people to have that kind of leadership and example. So that's certainly part of it. And as far as what happens to me—you were asking, how do I get back to Southern California is—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, yes, I did ask that. That's important.

FRANK LLOYD:  I come back to Southern California after being at UC Santa Cruz and after living in Santa Cruz. And by twists and turns of fate, I wind up back in Pasadena. And there I'm introduced—or reintroduced—to my friends who had some connection to the art world. And though them, I meet several different people in the Los Angeles art world. So those older connections, that are essentially from days in Pasadena and from other students or friends, just sort of network through into meeting other artists.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So here I have to ask this, of course. You were through with school.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You had graduated, but you stayed there in the area and painted houses, right?

FRANK LLOYD:  That was my day job, yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Right. Okay. And painted.

FRANK LLOYD:  And I had a little studio in a part of Santa Cruz. I did my abstract paintings. I participated in shows that I put together of my own work or in small group shows. And then let's see. I also got married. I married a woman that I had met at UC Santa Cruz.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But not Diane.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, no, no. I married Catherine Mary Hicks, for the record. And I'm still quite friendly with her family. In fact two weeks ago her mother and her two sisters came to visit me here at the gallery. And her mother remains probably the largest collector of Frank Lloyd paintings in the world.


FRANK LLOYD:  So that's all part of the record now too.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Your wife—ex-wife, former wife.

FRANK LLOYD:  My former wife's mother, so my ex-mother-in-law came to visit me here. Yes. I'll give you her name, too, because another influential person in my life. Marilyn Hicks McGovern. At the time that I knew her was Marilyn Hicks, and she was a doctor. And she had this fascinating job to me, which probably was kind of a difficult one, she was the director of public health for Marin County during the '60s and '70s. [They laugh.] Yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What was the wife's name?

FRANK LLOYD:  Catherine, C-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E. Mary, M-A-R-Y. Hicks, H-I-C-K-S. For a brief time I lived in New Haven, Connecticut, only for about six months. That relationship fell apart once we got married and moved back East.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, really?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, let's see.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So you got married in Santa Cruz.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, no, we didn't actually—We got married in Marin County at my in-laws' house.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I mean it was that phase in your life.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. We actually lived together for I think a total of five to six years. But this transition to her graduate school and my desire to remain in the art world and moving back East, all kinds of things, changed the relationship, yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Did she go to Yale?

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. And in my retreat, I wound up back in Pasadena. And that's where I kind of reconnected with those elements of the art world and my friends that I felt comfortable with. And I met a lot of people there. I met—that's when I met a very influential person in my life who should be mentioned actually is Ed Wortz .


FRANK LLOYD:  And again more encouragement to pursue my interest in art came from Ed. He recognized that and said, "How many artists do you know?" And I said, "Well, I know two." He said, "Well, you need to meet a whole lot more." And introduced me to a lot. And then introduced me also to Peter Lodato—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, I know him.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  I know him.

FRANK LLOYD:  Scott Greiger. And these guys are my friends now actually.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Tom Wudl. I almost collaborated with. The Wudl I call him.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, of course.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And he teaches—I don't know if he still does this—downtown studio art classes.

FRANK LLOYD:  He does.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  One of his students is Anne-Elizabeth Sobieski, Jamie Sobieski was part of the Mendenhall Sobieski Gallery, as you know, in Pasadena—now defunct. But, yes, all these connections are interesting. Well, you know what? I'm thinking I probably want to get on the road. And we've done a good job because we've done over an hour yet again.

FRANK LLOYD:  Alright. We have indeed.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And we're very proud of ourselves.

FRANK LLOYD:  Goodbye.



So here we are on another day. This is the 17th of November, 2009. And we're back again in Frank Lloyd's office in his gallery in Santa Monica, Bergamot Station. This is Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of America Art and we're going to do session three.

We did four hours yesterday, which is pretty good—a little bit tiring, but pretty good. And we're not going to do that today. But we have things that we need, that we really do need to cover as we've just been discussing, and I completely agree. Returning to the idea of a framework is probably right for basically your telling the history of the gallery and how you came to be here, and what were the interesting things along the way. And in addition to that, by way of background or however you want to work it in, an obvious question has to do with the interest and the focus on the crafts.

FRANK LLOYD:  All right. Well, coming back to California in 1979, I think that's where we left off yesterday.


FRANK LLOYD:  And I came back to California and began to meet a lot of people in the Los Angeles art world. And maintained a studio in Pasadena, Old Town Pasadena.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Where was it, as we say, Colorado [Boulevard]?

FRANK LLOYD:  Thirty-nine North Fair Oaks [Avenue] actually. Near Colorado and Fair Oaks. And during this period of time I actually was introduced to a number of people in the L.A. art world some of them through my old friends and some through new acquaintances. So, as I was saying yesterday, people like Ed Wortz introduced me to Peter Lodato, Scott Greiger, Tom Wudl, and others. And then through acquaintances that I had met, I came in contact with a couple of people: Craig Kauffman was one. This is through actually a young woman who was working as Craig Kauffman's teaching assistant at University of California, Irvine. I met a lot of people, including Michael Todd, Patti [Patricia] Alexakis. Let's see. Through my older Pasadena friends, I had reacquainted myself with two important people in my life, which would be Candace Lee and Wayne Kuwada.

So this is an interesting period of time where I'm coming back to Los Angeles and maintaining this studio, working on my paintings. But for my day job I worked again in residential remodeling. And I had skills that were useful in art galleries and useful to people that I met who collected art. So one of the jobs that I got was through my friend Candace Lee. And she was working at the assistant director of the Janus Gallery in Venice. So I did some installations for Jan Turner at the Janus Gallery in Venice. And then several, during the period of the early '80s, at Janus Gallery at 8000 Melrose.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I can't even remember that gallery? What's wrong with me?

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] Eight thousand Melrose is where Jan moved. At that time she showed a lot of people from the L.A. art world, but also mixed in some from New York. The gallery space was designed by Coy Howard. And this gave me a real introduction to the L.A. art world. When you work as a preparator, which is what I was called, in an art gallery, you work directly with the management. And in this case that would've been Candace Lee and Jan Turner. And you also get to know the artists very quickly. The installations that I did there were sometimes, you know, quite complex and involved fabrication of pedestals, the mounting of special pedestals. All the things that a preparator does.

But what I learned there was very important. It had to do with the presentation of art. How to assemble a highly professional commercial gallery exhibition. And I think it was also my kind of an eye-opener to the level of commitment that a commercial gallery goes to for an individual artist. Several of the shows that I did were relationships that have continued to this day. I worked at this Janus Gallery in exhibition installation for Peter Shire, for instance. And I also did an exhibition installation for Elsa Rady. So I also did one for David Bungay. I worked on an exhibition installation for Ed Moses. And we did a large show, worked with other preparators on this one, for the Memphis Design Group, which Peter Shire was part of. That's the Italian design group that was headed by Ettore Sottsass. And included furniture, lighting, ceramics and all those things.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  You'd better spell that for the transcriber; they don't know how to spell it.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's E-T-T-O-R-R-E S-O-T-T-A-S-S. Etorre Sottsass. Peter Shire is P-E-T-E-R S-H-I-R-E. But this variety of exhibition program that Jan Turner was putting forth I think was very influential on me. Not only because of the professionalism and because the space had fantastic architectural design—and that was by Coy Howard, C-O-Y H-O-W-A-R-D; but also because of this placement of contemporary ceramic sculpture in the mainstream art gallery. So I think that is something that would impress me and place this in a different context.

Some of the other places that I worked actually over the years included Betty Asher's apartment. I built shelves for her collection of ceramics. I made that contact through the Garth Clark Gallery. But I also had met Betty because I became, as I told you, friendly with Craig Kauffman, who was one of the artists who exhibited at the Asher Faure Gallery. I also—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Excuse me. That was—I'm just trying to place that. They were just up from Melrose—I can't even remember the name of that little street with the Regen Projects.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, Betty and Patty had moved to Almont [Drive, West Hollywood] by the time that I knew them. Although I had attended exhibitions at their older space, which would have been on Santa Monica Boulevard.  The Santa Monica Boulevard complex included Asher/Faure [Gallery], Art Catalogues, Nicholas Wilder [Gallery] for a time. James Corcoran and the Baum-Silverman Gallery, and various kind of incarnations at that time, but that was a place that I frequented.  And then when Betty and Patty moved to Almont is when I got to know them a little bit better. And I got to know them, as I said, through both Craig Kauffman and through referrals from the Garth Clark Gallery.

But I worked for also individual collectors. Ed and Melinda Wortz employed me to do some minor remodeling and painting on their home. And that afforded me a really intimate view of—


FRANK LLOYD:  In Pasadena, the one on Prospect Boulevard. Of a contemporary art collection. And I think that makes a very strong impression. And if I can kind of go back and walk through that collection, there is a Larry Bell as you enter. There was a Robert Irwin in the living room. There were pieces by John McCracken and Craig Kauffman in that collection. And there were paintings by some other artists that I got to meet, both through them and through my other friends: Don Sorenson, Ron Cooper.

And I think these are important ways that I was introduced to significant collections, significant galleries, people who were active professional, productive artists. And all of it made a very strong impression on me, as I felt that I was a participant in this world. Indeed I was still able to maintain a studio and work on my own work. So it was really kind of an interesting way to become acquainted with the art world.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Very interesting actually. These names—not everybody will realize this—the names you've been mentioning are like some of the key names, individuals, involved in different ways in this history. And we celebrate this history. We take it seriously, of Los Angeles, Southern California art.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Melinda Wortz facilitated a lot of introductions. Because as you remember her, she was very active, not only as a critic, but as an art historian who was teaching at UC Irvine. And Melinda attended—it seemed like she attended—almost every art world event, both in Los Angeles and then in New York and in other locations. But she would always facilitate these introductions not only at her home at parties, but through various times when I would accompany her and other people to openings and other gatherings in the art world.

But the reasons that I wanted to mention a couple of key people here, Candace Lee facilitated a lot of introductions. And so did—once I was working for the Janus Gallery—so did Jan Turner. And when you're working as a preparator, you kind of strike up a bond with an individual artist because they're entrusting to you this responsibility of handling and hanging their paintings or of working with them in other capacities. And then there's often a chance for a young aspiring artist to also become friendly with them and go to their studios. And this is all part of this learning process.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Could you tell me— I'm sorry, but Candace Lee, I don't know Candace Lee. So could you tell us—tell me—a little bit about Candace Lee?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, Candy was working as, as I said, at the Jan Turner gallery. Candy worked there for a number of years. And then when that gallery sort of took a change, Jan went on her own, and her partner, Dan Saxon, opened a gallery, and it was called Saxon-Lee. Dan Saxon took Candace Lee on as his partner. And they started a gallery which was on Beverly Boulevard. Anyway, the main function for me was that she was a friend who introduced me to so many different people and gallery directors have that connection.


FRANK LLOYD:  One of the other people that I worked for during all of this time was—I did residential remodeling on these very small jobs—for the architect Fred Fisher. This came about just by chance. And our first job was in Eagle Rock. We did—the first one that I worked on with him—was a basement remodel for a young director named Tim Hunter. And it had a very small budget, $5,000.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  A movie director?

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. We remodeled the basement. All materials, all labor, including architect's fees, $5,000. But it did fascinate me because I met someone who I still continue a relationship with, Fred. And David Ross, who works with him. And that, of course, comes into play many times as I worked on projects, small residential remodeling projects, for that firm. Most of these jobs had some relationship to art collectors or to the art world because, you know, it was easy for me to segue into those situations. And I understood the people and the layout of their work and their architectural sensibility.

But then I also worked for several other galleries. One of the galleries that I worked for repeatedly was the Garth Clark Gallery. And the Garth Clark Gallery at that time had two locations: One was here in Los Angeles. And the director of the Los Angeles Garth Clark Gallery was named Wayne Kuwada. Wayne was the one who would call me frequently and say: Well, could you make three pedestals this size and deliver them painted and help us with this installation? Or can you make a crate, come here, pack this. We need to ship it to the Garth Clark Gallery, New York. Or, can you come in, and we're going to change the gallery. We're going to do new carpeting, and we want baseboard and bookshelves. Can you do that for us?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And you'd say, "Yes, I can."

FRANK LLOYD:  I would do all those things. And it was a good relationship because this all is the kind of pickup work that you can do and still maintain studio activity. So I continued doing this from 1979 on.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Excuse me, but the Fisher you're talking about, Fred Fisher, at this point, you know, you're going to work with him and on, I guess, jobs that he got that needed your kinds of skills, right?

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, the small-scale jobs.


FRANK LLOYD:  They had large ones that required the services of a serious general contractor.


FRANK LLOYD:  But kind of small little things that the general contractor wouldn't want to bother with I could service their clients and do things like that. And again, it would be limited kinds of things, like build bookshelves, move this door, build a wall here.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Handyman work.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, really.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But skilled handyman.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's very skilled handyman work, that's right.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So when was this? Because I want to keep some sense of the specific—

FRANK LLOYD:  The job that we started with for Tim Hunter would have been about 1981.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Okay. So early '80s, huh?

FRANK LLOYD:  And the jobs that subsequently followed go all the way through about 1987 for Fred Fisher. As far as things that we did—that I did—for Garth Clark Gallery, they would have started pretty much about 1981, and they would have continued all the way through to 1993 or so. And that leads me to this very interesting story.

There were all of these things that I had done for this period of time, which was really about 14 years. And I had maintained a studio on my own. I had driven this pickup truck and loaded my tools in and gone to all of these handyman pickup remodeling jobs. And one day I was at the Garth Clark Gallery, and I was installing some bookshelves to hold the many books that the Garth Clark Gallery had; Garth's own books and other reference books on contemporary ceramics. And I overheard a conversation in the gallery. And Wayne Kuwada was saying to Garth Clark that the assistant that he had there, the assistant director, was going to leave. And that they would have to seek a new one. And for some reason I turned around and said, "You know I could do that job, too." And sure enough, I think it was Garth who said, "We think you can. Come in on Tuesday, and we'll show you what to do."

PAUL KARLSTROM:  [Laughs.] Serendipitous.

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] At first I was a little bit—had a little bit of cold feet, I must admit. Because this meant that I was stepping on the other side of the desk really into a management kind of or administrative position.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  With different responsibilities.

FRANK LLOYD:  Different responsibilities. And for an artist to become part of the gallery, you had a little bit of decisions to make there. Anyway, I kind of accepted the challenge and showed up on Tuesday. And indeed they did show me what to do. My cold feet went away fairly quickly because I discovered that I actually kind of liked it. I do have organizational skills. The skills that I have with writing were in play. And much to their credit, they suddenly got all of those carpentry skills and preparatory skills for a far lesser rate. So instead of paying me, you know, $25 an hour; suddenly I was getting $12 an hour. So it was smart on their part.


And I settled right in there. The great thing about that was that I already knew some of the artists and that I knew Wayne Kuwada well as a friend. We had an established relationship as far as work and priorities went. And I could learn from a very professional gallery that did have a reputation for scholarship within a focused specialty field. It felt comfortable to me as well, I will stay this, because if I'm a painter, working in a ceramics gallery is somewhat different. So you don't feel competitive or jealous of the artists. You can be actually very supportive and admiring, which I've always been about contemporary ceramics.

So to me it was a fascinating yet quite different field. And my attraction to it really had to do with this fantastic medium that you could actually achieve these glaze effects. I was fascinated by that. I had a reverence for this idea of transforming something that's commonplace into the extraordinary, something that is functional into something whimsical. Something that has the touch and feel of the hand, and something that had again a relationship to a history of a region that I was very interested in. So all those things fed my interest in this.

Indeed it was a very comfortable situation. I was learning about the gallery business now from the other side of the desk. And from, as I said, a very professional operation with bi-coastal presence. Garth and his partner Mark had established a very strong presence in New York. And I'm joining into the gallery in 1993. By that time they'd been in New York for over 10 years. The Los Angeles gallery had a history back to 1981.

And so many things sort of crossed over: that relationship with some of the collectors crossed over. Some of the artists—there's a real crossover between painters and ceramic artists in the Los Angeles population. I already had worked for Adrian Saxe for instance. I had met Adrian and Connie Saxe through Tom Wudl. They had learned of my carpentry and remodeling skills, and I had worked doing some remodeling of the Saxes' home and studio. So that was also very comfortable. Once I made the choice to be employed by the Garth Clark Gallery, Adrian and Connie were very, very supportive. They thought it was fun, too. And not just fun, but they felt that it would be very good for the gallery and for me to have someone knowledgeable and familiar with the artists and to have someone who had serious interest in art and art history in place as the assistant director of the gallery.

What happened then is—sort of part of this was that my friend Wayne Kuwada had full-blown AIDS. And surprisingly, my responsibilities at the gallery grew quite a bit in a rapid way. Because Wayne was one of the early AIDS patients who was used in experimental drug treatments. I think the health problems that he had were compounded sometimes by the changing of the drug treatment. And a new cocktail would make him very ill. Sometimes I would have to all of a sudden run the gallery myself. Or consult with the New York gallery. And they were very calm about it. And they would instruct me by phone and by fax and by whatever means we had. So it became a rapid learning situation. The learning curve was very quick. And the responsibilities grew quickly.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Did Wayne Kuwada die shortly thereafter? Or was it a long thing?

FRANK LLOYD:  No, actually this is part of the story is that Wayne continued—he had a very strong will to live. He was living actually by keeping himself strong through exercise and diet. And dealing with these changes in the cocktails that he took. And by his engagement and involvement with the artists that were shown at the gallery. And it was really quite an inspiration in a way, too. Since he was my friend, I tried to support that and do my job and learn my job.

And the way this gallery situation worked out was that his decline in health actually also coincided with Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio's desire to consolidate their interests into the New York gallery. So I worked there for—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Who's the other person?

FRANK LLOYD:  Mark Del Vecchio.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  He was in New York.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. And Garth Clark was in New York.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  They were partners.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, and the way the gallery worked was Mark was the director of the New York space, and Wayne was the director of the Los Angeles space. And the exhibitions rotated between the galleries. There was also a location in Kansas City. Garth would travel back and forth between the two, Los Angeles and New York. He was also very much involved in writing. And, as you know, he's an authority on contemporary ceramics throughout the world.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I think I met him by the way at—trying to keep our histories linked here—at the Beatrice Wood. I'm sure of that as a matter of fact.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. A lot of the projects that he was working on included Beatrice Wood. And he's written extensively about her. A lot of the exhibitions that we were doing included Beatrice Wood and often would be one-person exhibitions. And it was Garth and Wayne who introduced me to Beatrice Wood and so many of the other artists throughout this era. I continued my friendship with Adrian Saxe. I became more familiar with some of the other artists that now I represent: Tony Marsh, Cindy Kolodziejski, and others. Tony Marsh is M-A-R-S-H. Cindy Kolodziejski is C-I-N-D-Y K-O-L-O-D-Z-I-E-J-S-K-I.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  This is so counterintuitive to English.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  What is it?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I think it's a Polish name.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Polish, uh-huh.

FRANK LLOYD:  But Cindy is a resident of Venice, California. So she's— Anyway, I got to know a different group of artists through this. And I, as I said, was involved in this unusual gallery situation in that we were working and keeping the gallery program going, but we were also trying to figure out—Garth was trying to figure out—what to do with his interests. And I'm going back to that to—I hope this is accurate—is that Garth had a lot of obligations for his writing. He had two teenage sons who were going to be going off to college. He and his partner Mark were maintaining this gallery in New York City. And Garth had aging parents. He also had this obligation to the Los Angeles gallery. And he made a decision during 1995 to close the Los Angeles space, and I accepted quite easily and looked for another job which I had in line. But I still had a couple of months here to wind—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What year was this?

FRANK LLOYD:  This is 1995, late 1995. And my responsibilities then changed to a very clearly outlined, winding down of the Garth Clark Gallery Los Angeles, which of course I accepted as an employee. And as I said, I already had another job lined up, and I was going to be an assistant curator of art at the San Francisco International Airport. A job that I had gotten through a woman named Elsa Cameron. I see you know that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I know her. Sure, she was out of the de Young when I was there.

FRANK LLOYD:  As you know, that is part of the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums group. And I had already flown up to San Francisco, and I interviewed with the head of that—I can't remember his name. But it involved being interviewed, being approved by a committee, being fingerprinted as a city employee, and I was all set to do that and rent an apartment from Ron Nagle. And make my move and change my life.

So I had suddenly segued out of Los Angeles, and I was headed off to San Francisco. And my responsibility was to indeed wind down the gallery here in Los Angeles, along with Wayne. Pack everything up, inventory the remaining works. If they were consigned, return them to the individual artists. If they were owned by the gallery or needed to be in New York, we shipped them there. We shipped the books out. We consolidated the records and shipped them out. And really started to take this all the way down.

What I didn't understand, and what I got to learn in this process, was that there wasn't an acceptance in the community of artists that were represented by the gallery. And that they felt quite a loss, that they wouldn't have a venue to exhibit in Los Angeles. And that also the supporters of the gallery, the collectors, would object to this. And as was my responsibility, I answered the phones on a daily basis, and I heard quite a few objections. The most vocal were the collectors themselves, who had the opinion that they had kept the doors open, and that it was essentially—it could not be a unilateral decision to close a business that they had kept open.

And of course the artists were concerned that where they would normally have a show in Los Angeles, then a show in New York and rotate back and forth with maybe one in a different venue, that suddenly their exhibitions were cut in half. And that they wouldn't be visible in their own hometown. Very important thing for not only their careers, but in some cases for their academic advancement. Because if you work for a university, you need to be visible, and your exhibitions need to be documented for your CV for promotions. But also just because of sales, visibility, ongoing engagement with the art world. And I heard a lot of objections.

Well, I called Garth, and I said, "Well, what do I say?" And he said, "Well, tell them if there's a need within the community, something will arise." Which is of course a basic business philosophy. It's true: If there is a need, then the businessmen will come along and fill it. So it was this very interesting situation. Some of the artists were more vocal than others. And some of the collectors were more vocal than others. And some of them engaged me in conversation, and some of them engaged, I think, Wayne in conversation: What is going to happen? Wayne had plans to become a private dealer who would mount exhibitions perhaps at another gallery. It's actually a common practice. So that he could get together with, let's just say for instance, Betty and Patty, and mount an exhibition of artists that he knew, along with artists that they knew, in a different location. Or perhaps even in their gallery. Collaborative, independent curator/dealer idea. Which seemed very fitting.

But some of the people that engaged me in conversation said, Well, what's going to happen? And I said, "Well, I don't know. Mr. Clark has told me to say that if there's a need, there will be something that arises from the community." And they'd say, well, what does that mean? And challenge me. And eventually I said—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  [Cross talk.]

FRANK LLOYD:  —well, I think I know what it means. And they said what is it? You know what's it going to take? I said, "Well, it would have to be someone who knows the artists, someone who's well acquainted with the Los Angeles art community. But who has a connection to the art world at large. And someone who has the knowledge and skills of how an art gallery operates in order to organize and assemble exhibitions and to do the inventorying and to prepare the shows and things. And they said, Well, that's very fine. Now where's someone like that going to come from?

Now bear in mind that an art gallery has as its patrons very successful businesspeople. And very successful, in many cases, attorneys, and in some cases heads of big corporations. These people are no fools. They're questioning you, and they know what the answers are. They're just pushing a bit, right? And I kind of put up with that for a while. And it was repeated over and over from different collector sources. Now I began to think, well, these people are right. You know they're into— I also began to feel that there was a community of people that was very engaged in not only this activity of contemporary ceramics, but in the support of it; and who were aware of its legacy and its place within the Los Angeles art world. And it was sounding very attractive to me. At one point one of the artists said, "Well, let's just say, if someone wants to do that, I'd be very supportive of it." And I thought, okay, we can probably move on a little bit.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Was there a point when you had this epiphany?

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. It was with that.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Wait a minute!

FRANK LLOYD:  [They laugh.] It was with that—


FRANK LLOYD:   —statement. And I realized it was something that I could do.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, let me ask this, though. This is very interesting because this is very much how you got from there to here.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Now did you sense then—maybe you said this—that they were asking these questions, but they were thinking of you?


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You came to see it.

FRANK LLOYD:  And once I'd said, well, I would be someone who—then one of the patrons said, "Let's start meeting. I want you to come over. We'll have dinner after work." And I worked with this person. I think it's better if they just remain nameless because it's just that way. But I worked with this person, and I developed a business plan with them. And it was a very important kind of thing. They were offering support for this, and they wanted to see a venue for these artists. And they felt that it would be a tremendous loss to not have a gallery that showcased contemporary ceramics in Los Angeles. Not only because of the legacy and not only because of their friendships with these artists; but also because of the amount of money that they had invested in it at this point. So on a business level and on a personal level.

They understood the situation. And understood that Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio needed to consolidate their interests into New York. But they still felt that there should be a presence here. And I was wisely counseled by them that this new venture should include Garth. And I must say that these people—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Don't burn bridges. Don't burn bridges.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. And coming from the businesses that they were involved in, they understood that you need to include someone that is—especially in this kind of situation. So anyway, I wrote up this rather official-looking business plan. I went to Vroman's and bought a book on business plans. Got it, read it. The first time I've ever done anything like this in my life because I was not a business major. And I had great counsel on it. And I prepared myself by making an announcement at a dinner party that I was going to do this.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Were you guided by this anonymous angel or patron in the steps along the way? And maybe even to the strategy of how would you announce this, the timing and so forth?

FRANK LLOYD:  Partially guided by anonymous angel about—certainly about how to structure the deal. And certainly about the inclusion and cooperation of Garth Clark. And then when I made the announcement, it was with the angel's knowledge and approval. And I can remember where that was. I remember saying—because the topic came up at this dinner party—what's going to happen? This is such a loss. And I said, "Well, I have a solution. And I'm going to start a gallery."

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So this event wasn't set up for the purpose of you declaring yourself.

FRANK LLOYD:  No. But everybody stopped dead, and suddenly was [frozen]. And I was in the company of several different collectors.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Were all these people are anonymous?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I think it's better—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Are they sort of silent partners a little bit in the future?

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, it's an interesting thing. They all listened to my explanation. They said, "Well, you've been doing a lot of serious thinking. And you may need some other help here." And I said, "Well, I'll let you know." The next meeting was really with Garth Clark. I didn't plan on it going this way. But here's what usually happened. In the routine of the Garth Clark Gallery, Garth would fly in from New York to Los Angeles. There would be several events that I would have scheduled for him. And Wayne would have scheduled for him. Some of them would be very obvious, that they were would be an opening. And of course we'd want Garth to be present.  

This is basically how the conversation went, is that I said, "Garth, we have the opening on Saturday from three to five. Earlier in that day there's a meeting with a collector. And then on Friday night you have, of course, this lecture for the, you know, Fellows of Contemporary Art, let's say as an example. And I wanted to also remind you of the dinner party following our opening at so-and-so's house. And when you have time, I have a proposal that I'd like to go over with you." This is what I said to Garth I think probably after he got off the plane and came to the gallery. And he said, looked at me straight, and said, "What about now?" Meaning let's discuss your proposal now.


FRANK LLOYD:  And I thought, oh, this is going to be difficult. I fumbled around in my papers. And I said, "I've worked on this on my own time. And I'd just like to present it to you." So I started nervously reading a business plan proposal to him. And to his credit, I have to say, he let me read the first two and a half sentences. And before I could finish the third sentence, he said, "You can stop right there. And if you're willing to put your name on the door and take responsibility for it, I'll help you."


FRANK LLOYD:  And that's how the gallery was born. And since you know this, it's— He said, "I don't need to see the rest. We'll talk about it tomorrow when we drive up to Ojai to see Beatrice." And he went over and got on the phone, and he called one of our best collectors, who lives in New York and Florida, Linda Schlenger, and he said, "Linda, I have the most wonderful news. I know you've been concerned about the gallery in Los Angeles. But Frank is going to take it over and make it his own." And that's how the gallery started. And then he called his partner, Mark, and said, "Mark, it's all going to work out fine. Frank's going to take it over, and he and I will work it out tomorrow on our way to Ojai where we're going to visit Beatrice." So it was meant to be. And then Garth came over and said to me, "If I had told you to do it, it would never work."

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So he had this in mind.

FRANK LLOYD:  He must have had an inkling.


FRANK LLOYD:  But a wise man knows that a business can't be started without real motivation and passion.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, it's not like—he can't give that to you as an assignment because it's a whole different relationship and situation.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But it sounds like the timing was really good. It sounds like it then almost moved itself along.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Probably because there were a number of people who wanted to see it happen.

FRANK LLOYD:  Indeed there were. And we worked out the kind of simple contractual agreements that I would take over the existing lease, the used office equipment, some of the inventory. And he would help me with scheduling of some of the initial shows. We would work with the New York gallery on a consignment basis, in a very common thing that, you know, the New York gallery would be considered to be the main representative of the exclusive artists. And then I would be working on my own to solicit works from independent artists or artists of my own choosing. There was a date set that the Garth Clark Gallery of Los Angeles would close of December 31, 1995, and the Frank Lloyd Gallery would open as of January 1, 1996. And it did. There were a few more things to iron out. One is I had absolutely no money. Here I am—bear in mind that I'm still a practicing artist with studio expenses.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I wondered about this.

FRANK LLOYD:  And no, you know, no financial backing at all. I had nothing. Or maybe I had a used pickup truck and some minor debts here and there. But I didn't have any money. Well, I went to a friend, who listened to this story, and he said, "This is great." He said, "This is a great business story." He said, "That's amazing. So you're going to do this?" He goes, "I'm willing to give you five grand." And I said, "That's great!" That'll pay for the announcement, the printing of the letterhead, the first month's rent, and I'll take it. So I started the gallery with those things: used office equipment, an existing lease.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So this was the space—

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, this is at 170 South La Brea on the second floor.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I was there. In that several times.

FRANK LLOYD:  A space that I'd already been paid to remodel, bear in mind. [Laughs.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Maybe I even met you? What year was this? It's possible.

FRANK LLOYD:  It's January 1, 1996.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, it's after that time. But it's not at all unlikely because I was doing stuff with Beatrice at the time.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. It's a very possible.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Maybe we met then.

FRANK LLOYD:  And I of course told my friend Wayne Kuwada about all of this. And my first employee was Wayne Kuwada. I hired him back as the director of the Frank Lloyd Gallery. And there was a groundswell of support for this. So much so that some of those supporters lined up outside the door before opening day, saying I'm here to help you make this happen. And in the first month we sold $100,000 worth of contemporary ceramics. Exceeding the totals that had been sold by far. What it was was a groundswell of community support. The artists were very pleased. And the patrons were even more pleased. As one of them pointed out to me, they said quite succinctly, "Frank, if there's no gallery here, what's my collection worth? And if these artists aren't continuing to show, how are they going to continue with their work?"

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That's really interesting because I need to ask you this: we've talked about the—we don't like to say regional characteristics or identity of some of these artists and the work they do. They're now, some of them, very famous. You know they're not just California or just L.A.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But that's a really interesting question because if you don't have this active—if you don't have the full arrangement of the artists producing art there, a gallery where they can show, and then collectors who support, then you've got a missing component that probably does then actually finally affect even the value of the work. Or am I wrong on that? If they were big enough to show at Garth Clark in New York, what difference does it make having—

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, the maintenance of market value does have to do with several confluences, and one of them would be ongoing visibility and exhibitions and representation within a region. But the larger picture is, indeed, a national or international marketplace. And ultimately you need to have both in order to maintain the value. Because the regional markets are limited. And you're hoping to do indeed what Garth was doing by maintaining that presence in New York was to build the market and to maintain the values by that ongoing presence in the larger marketplace. And that's also true of pretty much any artist. But markets can be built internationally as well through exhibitions and connections to, say, galleries in Europe or Asia. And now that we're in a kind of global marketplace, you see that very, very much so.

But we started this gallery. So it's still, in some ways, it's the same gallery. But it has my name on it, and it's under new management. It's now called the Frank Lloyd Gallery. Wayne Kuwada is the director still. And I'm the owner. I've promoted myself from being assistant director to owner. Truth is, I still do the same things. I still do the inventory. Wayne is still very much a presence as far as composing the exhibitions, maintaining the contact with collectors and with artists.

And the first show that we did is from January 2nd to January 31st in 1996. It was our idea to maintain some continuity. And we had an exhibition simply titled Masterworks by Ralph Bacerra, Phil Cornelius, Roseline Delisle, Richard DeVore, John Mason, Ron Nagle, Ken Price, Adrian Saxe, Peter Voulkos, and Beatrice Wood. So the strategy of course was that the gallery's not going away. We're going to represent contemporary ceramics primarily from the West Coast of stellar quality. This is a great list of artists. And then we would establish ourselves as the successor to this Garth Clark Gallery.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Did Garth Clark Gallery represent all of those artists that were in your first show?


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Or were you now adding in some new ones?

FRANK LLOYD:  I'm adding in artists that had been in exhibitions by the Garth Clark Gallery. But not all of these people were exclusively represented by Garth Clark Gallery. Certainly Peter Voulkos is an independent. Richard DeVore was an artist that actually was at the time represented by Max Protetch in New York. Ken Price as an artist that's represented by L.A. Louver.


FRANK LLOYD:  And Phil Cornelius was independent. And Roseline Delisle was independent. So these artists had shown with the Garth Clark Gallery, but in some of the cases maintained their exclusive relationship with Garth Clark Gallery in the case of Adrian Saxe or Beatrice Wood. Ron Nagle was at this time independent.

One of the artists that was particularly supportive of this transition was Beatrice Wood. And she had a very long established relationship with both Garth and Mark. And then also with Wayne. Beatrice, as you know, was a very wise woman. And she sensed the whole situation. And she was very, very much supportive of Wayne. We did the second exhibition from—it was for Beatrice Wood on the occasion of her 103rd birthday. Beatrice sent us—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  A year before she died actually.

FRANK LLOYD:  Actually two. She made it to 105.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, I always thought she died at 104.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, she died in 1998 at 105. Right after he 105th birthday party.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I was there.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You weren't supposed to give presents, remember?


PAUL KARLSTROM:  But everybody did.

FRANK LLOYD:  That's right.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I gave her a nice little picture. [Laughs.]

FRANK LLOYD:  And then we began to integrate the program and include some new artists and younger artists, as well as concentrate on California history. So the first few exhibits also included something that reflected my interest—is how do we make sure that this regional history is preserved? And how can we focus the gallery on significant members of the past and contextualize this into a kind of historical thing. So I exhibited work by Laura Andreson, Glen Lukens, Harrison McIntosh, Otto and Gertrud Natzler, formative pioneers in the California ceramics movement.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And none had been shown at Garth Clark?

FRANK LLOYD:  Actually many of them had.


FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. But the idea was that we would create somewhat of a different identity by concentrating on California history.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, this is big. This is a big—this is not just a small point.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, it's not. And it continues. What also happened then is people heard about this. It became of interest to others within the community. And people that I had known through my previous jobs started to either come by or to take notice in some way. One of the visits was from Patricia Faure who had moved to Bergamot Station. And she was actively soliciting other galleries to come to Bergamot Station. I do also have a close relationship with Rosamund Felsen, which was from the old remodeling days. One thing that I did—actually there were two projects that I did during my remodeling days, and one was to remodel Rosamund Felsen's home. And the other one was to build the gallery that she had on Santa Monica Boulevard, a project that I did with a friend, Oliver Garrett; he was the general contractor, I was working with him.

Anyway, at one point I got a call from Patty Faure, and she told me that there was a space at Bergamot that was available. It was between Rosamund Felsen's gallery, and Patricia Faure's gallery. And that I should come and look at it. Patty, in her endearing way, probably said it much more like, "Honey, we want you to come out here. We want you to be in this gallery." And I said, "Well, I'll come and look, but, you know, that's a big thing. I have a lease here. I'd have to get the lease there. And also I'm sure there's a waiting list because the landlord there, Wayne Blank, told me that there's a waiting list. She said, "Well, we've already made that possible for you because Rosamund and I told him that he has to rent it to you." [Laughs.] They were really campaigning for it.

So I came and looked, and I thought, well, this is really quite a risk. But things are going well. And I've been able to repay that $5,000 debt, and I have some money in the bank now. And as it turned out, I came and looked at the space, where we are sitting now. It was big, [laughs] compared to 170 South La Brea space, this was three times as much space.


FRANK LLOYD:  And I looked at it quickly. And then I thought to myself, well, let's see what Fred thinks of this. So I drove over to Fred Fisher's office, told him that I was considering to do this. He said, "Great! Let's go over and look at it." Fred came over here. I said, "Can you help me with this?" He said, "Yes." I had sketched out some basic plans of what I wanted to do with the 2,400 square feet. I gave them to Fred, he looked at this. And he called me back within a couple of days. And he had done a schematic sketch of what we built here. And he had even drawn in individual works by Roseline Delisle and Adrian Saxe. I said, "This is so great." He said, "Well, I want to do this project. For me it's a challenge because you have small-scale sculptural works within a very large volume of space. And for an architect that's a great challenge. And I'd like to do this myself." And I said, "That's great because I want to work with you and David—I wouldn't want you to just pass it this off within the office."

And within a short period of time, Fisher Partners produced plans. And then I worked with my friend Oliver Garrett, and we built this in 31 days. So as I'm telling this, what I'm hoping comes through is that all of a sudden all of the elements in my previous 15 years were coming to bear on one project. And you get a sense that it's kind of like almost going through the rapids. If you're on a rafting trip, the things start rushing, and you have the skills to make it through a passage in life that's, well, a great transition. But you have to really pay attention and make it happen. So I suddenly come to this point and build the gallery. What was your question?

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, I don't know that I'd interrupt the flow here because you're going to tell me next about, maybe about the opening. Everybody likes to hear about openings. But this just occurs to me. This has to do with you as a person and your whole frankly life experience and choices and your enthusiasms and interests. Because as you tell it, and you tell it in a sort of humble way, you know, you're not making yourself out to be all that special. But as I hear you, all these people wanted to do things for you. Wanted to help you. Now that doesn't—you know you can't— It isn't just a business opportunity. What it is is kind of investing in one way or another in a person. And I'm interested in hearing if you were aware of that or how you're aware of that. And how much difference that made. Because right down the line, all of these people, like Patty and Rosamund, there was no question. They were going to get you, and they wanted you.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.] I think there's a lot to be said for the interaction that I had with these people during the days when I worked as a gallery preparator and as a residential—residential remodeling projects. And in the case of someone like Rosamund, you have to develop a bond of trust, and you get to know someone if you remodel their home.


FRANK LLOYD:  And if you help someone like a dealer, like Rosamund, an established dealer, in a major project as the move to Santa Monica Boulevard was, you get to know them extremely well. So there's a bond of trust that's built there. And there's also another thing—way—to look at this, is that what I was going to be bringing to Bergamot Station was a kind of world-class group of artists that were not competitive with their programs.


FRANK LLOYD:  We were a specialty gallery focusing on an important part of contemporary art that was fully respected and established. And it brought something different to Bergamot Station. And I think that was actually picked up on in this article that was written by Suzanne Muchnic in the fall of 1996. The gallery opened on September 7th, and in the Los Angeles Times, Suzanne Muchnic wrote—something that she used to do; I don't think she does it anymore—had to do with a kind of roundup of the local scene. She chose to interview me and include a photograph—the paper included a photograph of me, announcing this move to Bergamot Station. And it includes the comments from Rosamund, which were pointed.

And I think I can read this for the record. It's really an interesting one because basically I go over the reasons for moving to the gallery, to reach a wider audience and have more space. And to take advantage of the access that Bergamot Station has in parking. So they were the kind of practical aspects. But then as Suzanne succinctly states here: "Third on his list is pressure from dealers Rosamund Felsen and Patricia Faure who moved their galleries from West Hollywood to Bergamot two years ago. And campaigned first for Clark and later for Lloyd to join them. 'We wouldn't take no for an answer,' Felsen said, noting that the ceramics gallery adds a new high-quality element to the complex."

And I think that was a very strong feature. And it was certainly part of the business strategy, is that if you take these stellar ceramics gallery artists and you place them within the context of the larger commercial art world, they'll shine. That was my feeling. It worked very, very well. The opening— We finished, literally finished the building and painting minutes before the opening that afternoon on September 7th. And it was a very successful exhibition. Again, I used the strategy of concentrating on major artists from California. And the exhibition included Ralph Bacerra, Viola Frey, John Mason, Adrian Saxe, Peter Shire, and Beatrice Wood.

So here I had also had meetings with and talked to Peter Shire, whom I knew from the Janus Gallery, and who was very willing to take part in this new gallery, especially if it would move to a larger space. And I had also talked to Viola Frey, who had been represented by Patricia Faure. But Patty and Betty had represented Viola Frey for years and years. And Betty was a great champion of Viola's work. But since I was opening and since the program suited her needs, Viola was willing to send pieces to this opening exhibition and to be represented by this new gallery.

So we sent out a kind of two-part invitation, which includes Fred Fisher's drawings for this new gallery space and an announcement of the move and the new exhibition Six From California.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I only have five.

FRANK LLOYD:  Ralph Bacerra, Viola Frey, John Mason, Adrian Saxe, Peter Shire, and Beatrice Wood. It worked very, very well. Another thing that happened is that, as I was hoping, we came to new visibility within the critics, the critical arena. Certainly that was part of my ideas, that ceramics were indeed worthy of consideration in the same way as fine art. It's an extension of what certainly Garth had already championed. And it's a tie to the legacy of the region. And my idea was that not only would this work shine, but that it would be considered to be influential and part of the general discourse and critical discourse. And it worked quite well.

We expanded the program, as I said, by including some local artists that were independent. And I brought Peter Shire in to the mix. And I think as things developed, I took a lot of advice from the artists themselves.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, you did that anyway. You were telling me how very early on, when you had certain decisions to make, you would turn to these mentors or whatever we want to call them.

FRANK LLOYD:  And I expanded that group of mentors. Since I had this friendship with Peter Shire, for instance, I realized that although Peter had started as a ceramic artist, now, we're talking about many years after his involvement with the Memphis Group designers. Peter had expanded into doing everything, as I say, from a mezuzah to a subway station, and he's perfectly capable of doing architectural design, furniture design and working in any medium. So to be fair to the artists, what I wanted to do was expand the program to include those aspects of the work. I didn't want it to be limited only to ceramics.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, that's for sure. I mean if we look in the gallery right now—

FRANK LLOYD:  Right. So it's been a gradual evolution. And I take not only as my cues, I take them not only from the artists and their involvement with other things—certainly most people know John Mason as a ceramics sculptor. But if truth be told, he's also done large-scale sculptural works in welded steel, welded and painted steel. And he's done conceptual and site-specific installations in modular materials such as the firebrick installations that were done in the Hudson River series.

If we look at Peter Voulkos's work, for instance, you can see that all of his exhibitions weren't ceramics. And indeed Peter ventured into painting, printmaking, bronze sculpture, steel sculpture, and many other mediums.

So the idea here was to begin, since I had this larger space, to begin to expand the exhibition program and to be inclusive of the other things that the artists did. At first that meant that we would be showing things and concentrating on the artists. As it evolved, I became more and more enamored of the idea of bringing in new artists. One of the things that we did was to expand the exhibition program by bringing in artists from other countries.

One of the first ones that I did was an exhibition by Goro Suzuki from Japan. This was at a recommendation, and those came through the artists. Suzuki is someone who came here to the United States, knew the artist Ralph Bacerra, and he also knew the artist Peter Shire. I was not familiar with his work, but when I had the opportunity, I consulted again with Shire and Bacerra and Saxe, and they all said, Oh, you must do that. It would be quite an honor. [Laughs.] Yes.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That spider spent the night in your book.

FRANK LLOYD:  He did indeed.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  This is our friend the spider. He's been with us now through all the sessions. And he runs all over the recorder, up on the microphone.

FRANK LLOYD:  At night he lives in the book. [They laugh.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I think I'm fond of him. Or her. Who knows?

FRANK LLOYD:  Another thing that happened is that being in this situation, between Patty and Rosamund, I listened to them. They became much more active mentors and advisors. And since they had this understanding of the mission of the gallery, they had a number of suggestions. And I listened quite actively to them. There were several people who said, Since you're doing what you're doing, and you have the room, you must show Peter Voulkos. Well, that became a campaign for me. And it started in 1996. And it culminated in an exhibition in 1999.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I want to hear that story, but I think we should take a break.

FRANK LLOYD:  Alright.




PAUL KARLSTROM:  We're on a new file now, this is a second file on this, during this session. And we took a little break.

But we were talking about the history of the Frank Lloyd Gallery. And you said you had—you were leading into something specific.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, as we're talking, I'm realizing that there are some repeated themes in the formation of the gallery and in my life. And one is that I'm very much willing to listen to the artists, not only as advisors, but also kind of in an advisory curatorial role. And that I'm also seeking out a wider group of advisors at times in order to learn more about the profession that I've suddenly entered here. And this is apropos of this point in the development of the gallery, is when I move to Bergamot, there are a number of things that I'm trying to do. One, by expanding the physical space, it means that I will be able to exhibit larger-scale ceramic sculpture.

And back to the beginning, when I said that John Mason has been an advisor all the way through, I had a vision that Mason's work is best at a larger scale, the human scale that is often noted in the writings about John Mason's work. It's essentially a human scale and sometimes an architectural scale. You're experiencing this work not as pottery, but you're experiencing his venture into the medium as a plastic medium to be used in a sculptural sense. And obviously sculpture implies a relationship to the body and to the human scale. And in Mason's case he expanded on that and made massive large-scale sculptures.

The other thing that I think I'm talking about as we go through this is that I listened to the veteran artists as far as recommendations for artists to show. Again, we were just talking about this exhibition of work by Goro Suzuki, a famous ceramic artist from Japan. I had listened to the recommendations of Ralph Bacerra, Peter Shire, and Adrian Saxe. And so we had this unusual new artist come to the gallery. This also facilitates the creation of a new identity for the gallery. So within these first few months, I'd moved the gallery to a larger space, begun to develop a different and separate identity from the Garth Clark Gallery. But built upon that foundation that was established. And tried to incorporate the legacy of ceramics in Southern California and in Los Angeles art history.

So I'm trying to do a whole lot of things at once. But it's working. It's working so well, again, that there's some enthusiasm from not only the artists and from the critics and from the collectors, but from the other dealers, who recognize this as a very interesting exhibition program. And fortunately some of those dealers were my neighbors: Patty Faure and Rosamund Felsen.

The suggestions— When you own an art gallery, suggestions about who you should show come from all kinds of sources. Everybody wants you to, you know, show Aunt Tilly's work. And, oh, you should meet my cousin who does such-and-such. This is absolutely commonplace. Then the suggestions also come from the artists who they want you to show their friends or, you know, who they think is good. Suggestions come innumerably from the collectors who think they've discovered somebody that you should show. And here's where your judgment comes into play. Because if you do that, it's not your gallery. You've got to define what you want to do. And here I am in this process of defining it in a few short months of, okay, this is mine now. Indeed, as Garth said, my name is on the gallery. And I'll give more credit to Garth: He said, "Neither one of us wants it to be the Garth Clark Gallery.  It's got to be your own, and you'll find your identity and trust your instincts."

Well, my instincts were, yes, let's make it broader-based. Let's make it larger scale if necessary. Let's bring in artists from a couple of sources: from other countries, from other—because to me the cross-cultural argument for the value of ceramics was very strong. If you look at Asian cultures, ceramic art has always been highly regarded in those cultures. And also to strengthen the position of the gallery as far as integrating historical work into the exhibition program. Clearly one of the suggestions from all sources, and one that I totally agreed with, was we have to have an exhibition, a major exhibition, by Peter Voulkos.

Another suggestion that came along came as a kind of happenstance. It turns out that Patricia Faure and Betty Asher had worked extensively with the estate of a major collector in Southern California named Sterling Holloway. And Sterling Holloway's extensive collection had been sold to private collectors by various dealers. There still remained some pieces in the Laguna Beach home that he had built to house his collection. And Patty told me that the adopted son was seeking to sell the house, and that now is the time to go down and get these pieces. And she said, "Here's a picture of one. I think it's John Mason."

I went down on that recommendation. Made an appointment with the real estate agent who had the listing to sell Sterling Holloway's house from the estate. I went to see this one vertical piece of Mason's, and I clearly identified it as Mason's work. And suggested to the estate that I could take this piece in on consignment. But while I was there I said, "Excuse me," to the real estate agent. "But if this is Sterling Holloway's house, I've been doing some research, and I think there are some doors on the front of this house made by John Mason as well." And the agent, of course, who had no knowledge of contemporary art, said, "Oh, yes, those doors. Those are hideous. And they're going to squirrel my deal. Please go around and take them and see what you can do about them." I said, "Okay."

They were indeed the Mason doors that had been commissioned for the Sterling Holloway house in 1963. And I made a deal with the agent. I said, "I could take those out, replace them with brand-new solid-core doors and have it painted for you." And he said, "Oh, that would be so great." And I made my deal with the estate to take these works in on consignment as well.

Then when I brought them back, there was another little thing that happened. And that is that a scheduled exhibition for September in 1998 had been cancelled, and cancelled with short notice. I had a short period of time to put together an exhibition. And in a fit of anxiety and doubt, I went down and contacted Patty. I said, "Oh, Patty, what do you do if all of a sudden your opening fall show is cancelled." She said, "Honey, sit down. Let me help you. What's the best thing that you have in your gallery right now?" I said, "Well, those would be the doors that I got off of the Sterling Holloway house. And I have them in storage, but I haven't figured out how to work them into a show." She said, "Just build a show around them." So I said, "Well, to do that, Patty, I'd have to get other works from the early '60s by the major ceramic sculptors at the time." She said, "Honey, you could do that."

 I said, "Oh, that's going to be hard. I'd have to contact collectors and the artists." And she said, "Let me give you some phone numbers." And she said, "Now what would you think you could get?" And I said, "Well, I'd want to have several works by Peter Voulkos from the early '60s." She said, "Here's the phone number of Pauline Annon. She has some, honey." "And then I'd need some pieces by Ken Price. And the only person I can think of that has that work would be his studio mate at the time, Billy Al Bengston." She said, "Call Billy. He'll let you borrow them." And then I said, "Well, for John I'll just contact John." She said, "Now you have a show."

Suddenly everything comes together at this point because I've got this space that can accommodate large-scale ceramic sculpture. I have this passionate interest in the legacy of Southern California ceramics. And Patty was absolutely correct, through the credibility that I had built up, these people were more than willing to lend. They were happy that I was going to do such an exhibition. And we built a show around the doors. We literally—I called my friends from the remodeling days, and we literally built a post-and-lentil arrangement in the main gallery and moved these massive, weighty doors and mounted them. And I recreated the announcement in the manner of the exhibition announcement that had been done for the Sterling Holloway collection at UCLA galleries back in the sixties, in 1967 or whenever. We'll have to check that date.  But that indeed is a document.

Then I was successful with the loans from Billy Al Bengston and from Pauline Annon. And I also called out to Scripps College and got some other pieces. And I made this show, and it made a tremendous impact. What happened there is that other people started to really take notice. One day, when I had these doors up in this historic show, really kind of an amazing thing happened. And that is that Jim Corcoran showed up, and he said, "I have someone here who would really like to see this show." And in walked Walter Hopps. [They laugh.]

To me everything was really coming together. Hopps would have been the champion of these artists in particular at Ferus Gallery: Ken Price and John Mason. He was very familiar with the work that I was showing. May have had it in exhibitions that he curated. And sat down and talked to me about art history basically. It was a very flattering thing. I've only been this business for two years, and I'm meeting with an esteemed authority and creator of this kind of exhibition on many different levels. So I have to thank Jim Corcoran for that vote of confidence. But again, it sort of shows you what kind of hold this material has on a knowledgeable and authoritative group of people within the United States.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Do you think of it as—There's an advantage— Being in a ghetto isn't necessarily a bad thing. We say ghettoized, and it has certain connotations. But I guess there's—well, let's use the term community. Everything I hear from you is that, whatever their other interests may be, there are a number of people who look to ceramics, look to craft as in a way separate and aside but connected to the "bigger fine art world." I mean it sounds as if there's this kind of discovery, affectionate discovery, of perhaps new artists; they come up, you show them, you discover things. But I guess my question is: Do you feel that there's a whole sense of this separate community that overlaps with other art collecting and so forth, that has this sense of this is special, this is different? It's not lesser, but that it is different. Do you find that to be the case?

MR LLOYD: I think that is true. I think that it's the movement that I'm interested in has its own qualities. And that the participants in that movement do overlap into the mainstream art world. But I think what's also significant there is that the admiration for the work comes largely from an audience that's very informed. Our most enthusiastic viewers are critics, curators, and other artists, artists from different mediums. So we get a lot of that overlap, and I think it's indicative of the respect that was built up. It had to be built up, indeed, by people like the three that we were just talking about, who essentially broke through this kind of barrier of it being a completely separate and ghettoized medium.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And lesser.

FRANK LLOYD:  And lesser, yes. What was really the point was really made with this exhibition again. I'm not the first one to make this point. But I feel that it needs to be made repeatedly. And it needs to be made with impact. That exhibition was reviewed by David Pagel in the Los Angeles Times, and by Carmine Iannaccone in the Art Issues. And it reminded people of that. And in their reviews, they kind of cite this overlap. They also point out that that transition from utilitarian work to sculptural work is something that preceded so many innovations in contemporary art in Southern California and Northern California, and that the kind of pioneering groundbreaking artists became very influential on succeeding generations of artists.

And it's not just because of their innovative use of one material. But it's because of that attitude kind of, of breaking down traditions and not dealing with the rules and investigating the physical properties of the medium. So I think that's really the main statement that's made not only by those artists, but hopefully by this gallery. And it kind of opens up a broader territory for me as a gallery owner and as a kind of privately-funded curator. [Laughs.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  There are all kinds of, I'm sure, interesting things that you've learned and maybe directions that you actually then took, maybe redirected a little bit. And I was thinking this large world—let's just keep talking about California, of course, but Northern and Southern. You knew Ron Nagle already.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You were going to go, what, stay in his house or something like that for a while?

FRANK LLOYD:  I was going to rent his house if I took that job up in San Francisco.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. And so you know the names just keep popping up. And in terms of your gallery program, though, you clearly moved well beyond, and I guess pretty quickly, Garth Clark, you know. It's not that Garth Clark didn't know these people. I'm not saying that. Well, I was thinking of some of the Northern Californians because actually were spending, at that time, mostly you were here. And I'm thinking of people like Arneson. And I'm curious to know what contact you may have had there. If Bob Arneson is in some of your shows. Are you reaching out broadly? Let's put it that way.

FRANK LLOYD:  I was reaching out broadly. One of the missions was indeed to incorporate the work of Northern California artists into the gallery program. We had done that with Viola Frey. And then through introductions, I had gone up and had meetings with Robert Hudson and Richard Shaw. We were already working with Ron Nagle, and had included his work in the early exhibitions of the gallery. By this time Ron Nagle had also moved his New York representation to the Garth Clark Gallery. So we had plans to work with Ron Nagle in exhibitions.

And, as I said, I also was in the process of getting to know Peter Voulkos. That's actually probably a story I should tell because it's another turning point. But having done this exhibition of Voulkos, Mason, and Price historically, I had something to show to Peter. And I was making inquiries. Now I made these sort of—maybe this is the Southern part of me and the formal part of me—but I had made these silly attempts to contact Peter by letter. [They laugh.] Yes. People kind of did laugh at that. They said, "You don't know Pete. That's not going to work." And then I got a phone number, and I called and couldn't get through because I was calling in the morning, you know. You can't get Peter in the morning. And then friends said, "Look, there's only one way. You're going to have to go up there and meet him. Drive the truck, and don't dress up."  [They laugh.]


FRANK LLOYD:  Well, I didn't know Peter. Now it all makes sense to me. I did drive up, and I did take the truck. I stayed with a friend Rob Forbes in San Francisco. I made several different trips up to see Peter, and we slowly started to get to know each other. I was probably anxious to move ahead with the program, and I met him a couple of times. He did come down to Los Angeles for an exhibition that I had of John Mason's work. And that's probably, you know, when he was able to see the work and see Mason's work, and reunite with a friend, colleague, a former studio mate here, and that was a good thing for him to see what we're doing.

I made repeated visits up there. Usually my routine was kind of the opposite of what you've done for this interview. I would fly from Burbank to Oakland. I'd get a rental car at Oakland. And I'd drive over. By now I had learned that you don't arrive to Pete's 'til afternoon. Pete would often greet me at the door saying, "Yeah, you're right on time. But you look like you need a drink." I'd go in and sit down, and he would say, "What do you want?" And I'd say, "Bloody Mary." And Peter had these large tumblers. And he'd just put a little ice in there and then just turn the vodka bottle upside down and the fill the thing like you were filling a water glass with vodka. And take some hot sauce and stir it in there and put a little salt in there, and there was your Bloody Mary.

Well, you know, that's a lot of liquor for me to drink. And I'd down it. Peter would have his own drink, and he would be smoking a cigar. And he was engaging me in conversation. Well, I'd get up and sort of stumble off. And he'd go, "Well, you look a little woozy." And I'd say, "Yes." Well, he'd say, "Let's go to lunch." So we'd always got to Buchi's [Restaurant]. I don't know how many times I went through this routine. But we'd go to Buchi's, we'd have lunch. And then I'd stumble off and crash at my friend's Rob's house. We finally got to know each other.

Peter had a lot of questions about my business venture: Why would you want to do this? You know. Let's see, well, how did you get interested in art? And I'd tell him actually a lot of those same things that I've told you. Well, Peter knows all of these people, see? He'd say, "Yeah, yeah, great guy. Yeah, he came up here to Berkeley the summer of 1967, and he was a visiting professor. Yeah, I like Craig. Say hello for me." And I'd tell him, well—"Where'd you go to school?" "I went to UC Santa Cruz. The way I learned about sculpture was Jack Zajac." "Yeah, I know, Jack." You know, I should've known. "He showed me how to do some bronze." And on and on.

Eventually I kind of got to the point where I said, "You know I'd really like to be the one to bring you back to Los Angeles, and to present a big exhibit of your work." He'd say, "Well, we'll think about that." You know. There was no commitment.  But by repeated visits and by him asking me a lot of questions and hanging out together, he finally one day—I said, "Well, this is what I'd like to do. I'll tell you again." He'd go, "All right, let's do it." Then I said, "Do we need a contract?" Pete said, "I don't have a contract with anyone." [They laugh.] "We'll, just shake on it, you and me." And that's how it was.

So we schedule the show. I of course wanted to do it right away. I said, "Oh, great, how about next month?" [They laugh.] And I remembered that Peter said, "It's going to have to be a year or so. It takes me a while to get my Pinatubo's up." [Laughs.] He needed to do some new work. And I was absolutely ecstatic. Drove back across the Bay Bridge. Probably shouldn't have been driving.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, well. It's like madness.

FRANK LLOYD:  Told my friend Rob that Pete had said yes. And flew back down to Southern California, spread the news. And I will say that a couple of people said, "You just wait. He's going to show them." And I said, "Well, we know Peter, and he is going to want to let people know that he's still vital and powerful. And he's going to do a show that will just knock people out." I said, "Well, that's great." I was thinking, you know, Peter's getting—he said it's going to take him a while. And we want to do this right. So we'll see what happens.

One of my friends, Connie Saxe, said, "He's going to just knock people out. You just wait. Because Pete is a very strong person, and he's going to show all those artists that he's still king." That is what happened actually. I continued to fly up there. We planned the show. I think I told you before about the exhibition announcement, and how he did the announcement, too. But we had an extraordinary exhibition that resulted in a superb review, a long kind of biographical article in the L.A. Times by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. And also a review by Christopher Knight. And it was just really, really strong.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  What was the work like?

FRANK LLOYD:  There were several of the large stack forms, and those were in the main room. A large stack at the entry. I think he had one, two, three, four, five stacks. There were a baker's dozen new plates. And the plates were this really rugged, crusty work that he was doing that's the wood firing was extremely visible. It looked like this.


FRANK LLOYD:  And let's see. There were ice buckets and tea bowls. As was his practice, Peter did sign autographs on books, on posters, on scraps of paper, on old catalogues that people brought in. We wisely asked Peter where he'd like to sit. He said, "I want to sit at your desk." So he was over there at the entrance. Adrian Saxe brought in a nice big thermos full of Manhattans for Peter. So we set him up there with some Manhattans, an ashtray for his cigar. And this is really amazing. People lined up. It took 45 minutes to get to the front of the line. They went out the door all the way down the block—


FRANK LLOYD:  —to see him. And it was a triumphant return. The other great thing is that the collectors bought the work. So it really solidified not only the vision that I had for the gallery. But it did succeed in bringing this presence back into the L.A. art community. And I think it was a very fulfilling experience for me as well as the group of supporters for the gallery. And it made an impact, you know.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, good for you. Congratulations. Because Pete is, as you know, fairly notorious in terms of finding a way to connect with him and work with him towards an end. And I had an opportunity—it would've been an Archives project—with this Japanese ceramics lady who lived in Hawaii. I forget her name. Mrs. Mori, I think. I may be wrong. But she's a big ceramics person, and she had money. And so she wanted to do an ongoing project to do interviews, video interviews or productions numbers with the various ceramicists, clay artists, I think it was pretty much that, with whom she was familiar. But her main one was Mr. Pete. She was determined to get Mr. Pete. And so I found myself drawn into trying to make this happen. And we never had much success with Pete at all, for some of the reasons you suggest. But some kind of friend of his, who was interested in doing interviews, Mady Jones—is that right? Yes. She was determined that she could get him to do this.

Well, Jan Butterfield tried to do him. This is earlier, just an audio interview. And then on this project there's even a dinner, and he liked to go to dinner. It was a big nice free dinner in some—maybe that place that's a castle or something on the top of Greenwich Street. My wife was there. And the only thing he really liked about it was sitting next to my wife and talking to her. And it was pretty obvious. You know he only had interest in me—that was my function, my value. And it was of course annoying because I'm pretty straightforward, and I think you are, too. And, you know, if he really wasn't going to be interested, he should have told us. But, no. So this is how I think of him. I saw him many times. He's always cordial. But he strung us on. You know, well famously difficult to, you know, get something done with him. And so bravo for you! Of course he had more of an incentive in connection with this. He got a nice show, and they came to respect him.

FRANK LLOYD:  We sold a lot of work. One of the first questions that Peter asked me in our many, many meetings that preceded this exhibition was, "Can you sell the shit?" Well, that was one of the very first.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  He's a great artist, no doubt.

FRANK LLOYD:  And I said yes. He said, "Well, how can you prove it?" And I said, "Call John." And we had sold a lot of Mason's work. So I think I had an advantage over a lot of different proposals with, yes, there is an incentive. And I think he did respond to the idea of coming back to Los Angeles where he had been—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Triumphantly.

FRANK LLOYD:  —a triumphant leader in the art world. And I could relate that to him; not only from the artists that we represented, but from the larger community. You know it's just sort of a part of the legacy of Southern California that Voulkos and [John] Altoon and a few others were the true leaders of contemporary [art] in Southern California. And I had not only heard this from—or read it—but I had heard it directly from people. I had talked to Craig Kauffman. He's said, "Look, as far as we were concerned, he was someone who had been to New York, who was an established artist. He was a leader to us." And Craig, you know, and others reaffirmed this, that he was regarded as a master.

And I think I had that advantage as well, was that the incentives were that, plus I had this relationship to people that he knew and trusted and that were artists. So he had kind of a lot going for him. Plus his friend already showed here. We had also shown the work of Paul Soldner, whom he knew.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, yes, I was going to ask you about Paul.

FRANK LLOYD:  So I had made that connection. And I had also by this time made the connection with Hudson, who Peter thinks is the greatest artist on the face of the earth.


FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Peter loves Bob Hudson. And for good reason, you know. So I think I had those things going for the gallery. I pointed out that he hadn't had a show here in 30 years, and that he needed to have a show. And maybe his other avenues, you know, this was a different opportunity for him, a different collector group.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Is this a point where we can bring up that question that I had, and that had to do with there are not all that many crafts or clay, glass, ceramics, and so forth dealers. There weren't in the older days. I happen to have contact with two: One, I think, highly respected, Dorothy Weiss, whose papers went to the Archives, probably in part like under the Laitman Project umbrella [Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America]. But I never, of course—that's a ghetto that I don't think we need to deal with—everything's a craft project. I think it's actually detrimental in a way. Well, I think it— maybe you feel a little bit this way, too, wanting to do an interview that is broader. But anyway, I met her just—not that long before she died, I think; she wasn't well. She was very nice. And I think it was in her, if I'm not mistaken—well, I don't need to get anecdotal about this. But the papers did come eventually.

But the one with whom I'm a friend is Ruth Braunstein. And as I mentioned earlier— And this in a way, in working with her, I got a very clear idea of the sort of pioneering aspect with these women. You know that was— I don't know when Quay started, but it was in the sixties—Braunstein Quay Gallery. Well, of course, she was friends with Pete and would show Pete. And of course everybody thinks that an artist has one gallery, which isn't true. But still, she was certainly one who was showing him up there.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, it's important. I think you bring some important points. One is that there's a strong support base for contemporary ceramics in the Bay Area.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

FRANK LLOYD:  And there's a legacy there that parallels what happened in Southern California. And then there's often some overlap. I did know Dorothy Weiss. She was one of the first people to congratulate me on opening the gallery. And Dorothy was also the first to congratulate me when I moved the gallery to Bergamot Station. And when I was making this arrangement for an exhibition with Peter Voulkos, he did have professional representation in three other cities. One would have been Ruth Braunstein, whom he had a long-term relationship with, since 1966 I think it is. When the Quay Gallery was started, Ruth had represented Peter since 1966. And they have a very close and ongoing relationship which by this point would have been 33 years.

Peter also had an existing relationship with a gallery called Perimeter Gallery in Chicago. And the director there, his named is Frank Palluch, P-A-L-L-U-C-H. Perimeter Gallery had been showing Peter's work and actually had a show I believe in 1998 that I attended. During this time of kind of courtship of Peter, he said, "Well, why don't you come and see my show in Chicago and see what you think?" You know. Well, that work was not available to me. And Peter had an ongoing relationship with the Charles Cowles Gallery in New York.

Now I always approach the gallery world as something with proper protocol. And I'm pretty formal still about that kind of thing. And I wanted to know from Peter during our negotiations if he had exclusive arrangements with any of these galleries. And if I needed to, that I would work with them. In fact, I had even called Charlie Cowles and asked him since Charlie was another one of the people who had been supportive of my move to Bergamot Station, who had come and seen the exhibitions that I had presented, and who was familiar with the artists that I was presenting, including Ron Nagle and John Mason and others.

So I followed through on that. And I, during our negotiations, asked Peter, okay, will I need to—and this is before his commitment even—will I need to work with Ruth and consign the works through them if we do this? And/or would I work with Charlie. And he again repeated those same things that he told me is: I don't have a contract with anyone.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Even with God. [Laughs.]

FRANK LLOYD:  And you know he was an artist who was independent, obviously. He's making that statement. But also he was an artist who could say to anybody: I'll make you a deal. I'll be in control of this. He wasn't in need of that. He could also sell work out of his own studio. He could negotiate any kind of deal that he wanted because, after all, he actually was Peter Voulkos.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, isn't the way things are more typically nowadays?

FRANK LLOYD:  Absolutely.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes. I mean I know that—I think the dealers, in my experience, are concerned about having let's say exclusive representation rights in their city, in their area. But if their artist is going to have an opportunity, say, down here, in San Francisco do, no problem.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, there's a lot of overlap of representation in that often you're really developing a strategic alliance, essentially, with another gallery. I think even—I can't recall the sequence of events exactly. But once the agreement was made with Peter to do this exhibition, one of the phone calls I got out of the blue was from Charlie Cowles from New York. And he said, "Congratulations! This is great news for Peter and for you. And let me know if there's something I can do to help you." So again, you know, there's a recognition that this would indeed be strategic— I started to, I think, explain why was doing this to Charlie. He said, "You don't have to tell me, you know."

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Looks like Ruth with L.A. Louver and Kienholz.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And I remember running into her at a Kienholz opening. I actually stayed down longer to attend. I wanted to honor—well, I told you my story of going up to Hope, Idaho, and I thought I had a connection with them. I don't know. In the art world, I guess all fields, it's an ongoing education. And you realize you can't get too sentimental about aspects of it. But at any rate, I stayed there, and I'm trying to remember if— Do you remember that show, the Kienholz show at Louver? It was some years ago. I'm wondering if Ed was still alive. Nancy was there.

FRANK LLOYD:  I don't recall that exhibition, and I can't really say to you when Ed Kienholz died. It may have been in the early 1990s.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  No, that sounds right. At any rate this, these memories are now coming back. But Ruth certainly showed up, and she showed Kienholz. That's one of the times I drove around there for some reason, I think. Anyway, it was a show at Ruth's. That's the first time I met him. I'm a great admirer of his work. And so I have no idea what kind of an arrangement there was there. But it seemed to me that it was really mutually supportive. You know they were both working on the [inaudible]. I guess they both could have benefited from that.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, everybody benefits from these things. I think this is an aspect of dealing that is both— What the general populace is very curious about is, you know, how is the commission structure done, and how are the deals made? And then it's also something that's often the subject of conversation between dealers. And often the subject of conversation and banter among artists. My approach has always been to just deal with it like a gentleman. Make full disclosure. Work with these people indeed as strategic alliances. And honor the artist's wishes. So the artist's wishes will vary from case to case. And the truth of the matter is when the public has this sort of outsider information about how galleries function, the truth of the matter is that there are as many deals as there are people in the art world. There's no standard. There are some general—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  There's no transparency.

FRANK LLOYD:  No. I don't think there should be. I don't think that's our responsibility. This is a very good thing to put on record here: I do not think it's an art gallery's responsibility to instruct people in the business of art. I do not. I honestly—in fact there's one part of the practice of owning a gallery that I find terribly distasteful is how many people want to know how your sales are doing. And they also want to know how the commissions are doing and how you're making deals. Well, it's proprietary information. And I don't think we're under any obligation to disclose that. We are not publicly held companies. We don't have—I don't have shareholders. I own this, and it's my business, and it's my business with Mr. Mason or Mr. Saxe exactly how we structure things. There are so many advantages to keeping that private. And I plan to do that all the way through.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, you notice I'm not asking for the specifics.

FRANK LLOYD:  No, I don't mean that to be directed at you. But I mean to be on record for the Archives of American Art so that in the future people can record that Frank Lloyd regards his business as a private business. And what I say that to you about these situations is with the understanding that gallery owners are not necessarily competitive. And I think I've shown you so many different examples of the cooperation that happens among galleries. We all our kind of out on the same dance floor, and the trick is not to step on each other's toes. You're always partnering up with artists that may go from gallery to gallery. But you're still going to be colleagues with these people. And you're still going to see them at that gala dinner for the museum. And you're still going to be going from table to table to chat it up with the collectors. So you can't make enemies. In fact I'll give more credit to Garth Clark. That's one of the first things that he told me once I agreed to open the gallery. He said, "Be careful of who you make enemies with." And great advice. All of those things were great advice.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  One answer to that is try to make no enemies at all.

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] Well, that may be impossible.  [They laugh.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  That may be a little bit difficult. But, you know, there are people who seem to go looking for trouble and looking for offence.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I know some art dealers like that.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  I will of course not name them.

FRANK LLOYD:  We won't name them on record.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  San Francisco art dealers where it's as if they're suspicious.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  You know, even of people who aren't dealers. It's strange to see. But that of course comes down to individuals, I suppose.

FRANK LLOYD:  It does come down to individuals and how you develop relationships. And relationships are obviously at the key of any business, but particularly at a key point in the art world. And I think one of the things that I'm talking about here is how those relationships that I've developed in the past 20 years have come to bear on this project, and how beneficial that has been to me, you know.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I think that point is very clear. In fact it looks to me—retrospectively I look back to yesterday—is a theme. It's actually a main theme in this interview.

FRANK LLOYD:  Uh-huh. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, we're almost at our second hour. I mean I in this interview have learned a lot. And I think we've really covered a lot of good ground. I'm wondering if—these things, as you know, can go along like for days.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  But I'm wondering if anything comes to mind that you really do care about making sure it is in the record. As you said about, well, you know, the way transparency is not something that you feel is needed in the art-dealing field.

FRANK LLOYD:   Well, I think what we can do is break for lunch definitely. But I do have the kind of final statement to make is the expansion of the exhibition program at Frank Lloyd Gallery. Because so far we're still a media-specific gallery, though on the verge and on the cusp of expanding into larger-scale sculpture and beginning to be noticed by a wider audience: a wider critical audience and a wider collecting audience. And the question there for me became, what do we next? Let's say—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So how long does that take? Because we're running, and you started into it.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, the simple thing that happened is we had this fantastic and successful, powerful exhibit of Peter Voulkos's work in 1999. So three years into the venture, I've achieved pretty much everything I set out to achieve. And I sat down one morning. And Wayne looked at me—Wayne Kuwada looked at me—and I looked Wayne, and Wayne took the words right out of my mouth. And he said, "Now what do we do? Who can come on stage after that?" And I sat back and thought, oh, good point. What are we going to do? I think we took a little break, and then Wayne came back to me and said, "I know. The X-Wall ." Meaning John Mason's X-Wall from 1965. And I'll show you a picture of it here just for the record. This is the X-Wall. It's seven feet high, 14 feet wide, one and a half feet thick. It's made of two, four, six, eight different contiguous blocks of fired clay. It was made in 1965. And fortunately for Wayne's curatorial idea, it was available. It was in John Mason's studio.

And we didn't want to let people down. We wanted to go with this power that had been built up. And in a kind of extraordinary leap of faith and extraordinary sense of ambition, I called and talked to John Mason about this. And agreed that I would pay for this to come to the gallery and be on exhibition. I got tremendous support for this from again my advisors. I told Adrian Saxe about it. He said, "Oh, that'd be great. People don't know about that. That was done so long ago. I saw at the L.A. County Museum. But my students have no idea of the power of this kind of thing." And they're trying to. So Adrian was very supportive of the idea. John was willing.

That was our next show. I had to arrange with Bryan Cooke of Cooke's Crating to get a semi-truck, have forklifts on both ends. We had a day of transportation to the gallery, two days of setting it up. And of course I had to have John's expert advice because he's the one that made the work, and he knew how to install it. But it was a truly unprecedented thing to do, bring six tons of material into the gallery. And of course people were thinking, are you crazy? Who's going to buy that? It's in a collection now in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It was sold.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Boy, that was a moving job getting it out there.

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] But it was exactly the right thing to do. And continued to solidify not only the exhibition program but the kind of presence that I wanted the gallery to have.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Let's pause here. I'm going to make a visit down the street.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes, let's pause.

[Audio break.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yes, we're on. So a little wrap-up? Is it time for a little wrap-up?

FRANK LLOYD:  You know I think it's going to be hard to wrap up the next nine years of the gallery or ten years of the gallery, but—

PAUL KARLSTROM:  No, looking forward.

FRANK LLOYD:  What I could do is really kind of summarize that there are a number of objectives that were met by this period of time. But that I still had some other ambitions. In the gallery at this point, I was more comfortable with making those decisions to realize those ambitions. And what those really were was to build on this presence in the gallery world and this acceptance of the gallery is a mainstream and viable part of the contemporary art world. And what that meant to me was that we would continue with this program of bringing in artists from other countries. So I introduced the work of Gustavo Pérez from Mexico. I introduced the work of Wouter Dam from Holland. I introduced Georges Jeanclos, a French sculptor from Paris; I worked with the estate. That introduction was made for me by Adrian Saxe. And I also began to bring works by artists such as Jennifer Lee from England. And I began to expand the scope of things internationally.

The other thing that was happening was I was following through on that ambition to expand the exhibition program depending on the artist's work. So that if an artist worked in a different medium—Peter Shire worked in metal sculpture, painted sculpture—we would exhibit that work, not confine him to the category or of the ghetto of being a ceramic artist. But indeed present the fuller picture of Peter Shire. It mean obviously that if we're going to represent Peter Voulkos, that the next show would not be a clay show, but it would be his work in bronze. And that made the connection all the way back to his early investigations of bronze, his latest castings of the large-scale stacks. And to make it fit into Los Angeles, we included a large-scale bronze that was based on Sevillanas, a piece that he made in 1959 when he was still here in Los Angeles.

It also meant that I began to do some group exhibitions, group things by thematic or idea-based or formal-basis rather than being purely related to the world of ceramics. We continued to be an exhibition program that centered on individual artists for exhibitions. And as I said, that international scope included various figures. But we continued to present historical figures within that scope.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Harrison McIntosh.

FRANK LLOYD:  Harrison McIntosh. That worked very well on all levels. Second show of Georges Jeanclos. Each one of these exhibits brought not only a very well-known French sculptor to the gallery. It's the first time that this work had been shown on the West Coast of the United States. A highly revered and respected and beloved sculptor from Paris. And that actually brought us a new audience as well.

We continued to work with Mr. John Mason and presented a large group of new ceramic sculpture. This is a show in 2002. As I said, Ron Nagle's work was shown here at the gallery. And I alternated that kind of exhibition with other sources, even going to—again, to remind people of that cross-cultural and historical precedent in contemporary ceramics. We have an exhibition all taken from the collection of Anthony—Tony—Berlant of Mimbres pottery.

As the reputation of the gallery grew, we got inquires from lots of different artists, and those really varied. One of the things that I did was to incorporate again that curatorial principle. I saw an article that—there was going to be an article maybe in an architecture or design magazine that chronicled the development of a new museum in Mississippi devoted to the works of the Mad Potter of Biloxi, George Ohr. And I remember reading the article, driving to work on that westbound 10 freeway, thinking to myself, I have an idea. Frank Gehry is going to design this museum, and I could get on consignment some works of George Ohr's and pair the two.

So when I drove into work, I consulted with my advisor, Patricia Faure, and said, "Patty, what do you think about the idea of a show of Frank Gehry's drawings of the museum and a model of the museum, and George Ohr's work?" Fortunately at the time I chose to seek Patty's advice, sitting in the room was Irving Blum, and they both expressed extreme enthusiasm for it. And I made this exhibition. That's sort of a different venture into curatorial things. But clearly something that had a good curatorial premise. In fact I asked Patty. I said, "What do you think?" And she said, "Honey, you have to do it. It's a perfect idea. Rarely you have an opportunity to do something like this." And I said, "But how am I going to get the things from Frank Gehry?" And she said, "Honey, call him. Here's his phone number. This is his home phone number."

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I would imagine he would love this kind of collaboration sort of anyway. And these are the forms—I mean I see Frank Gehry in those pots.

FRANK LLOYD:  Yes. Well, the developers of the museum in Biloxi chose the right architect. And Gehry absolutely was a fan, and he actually owns some of this artist's work. The Mad Potter of Biloxi, George Ohr. And actually the Gehry offices were extremely cooperative, as was the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Biloxi, Mississippi. . And again, just demonstrates that kind of cooperative relationship with the community and with other dealers.

We began to show the work of Betty Woodman from New York, and worked with the New York gallery—in this case Max Protetch. We did have the show of Dale Chihuly, as I was speaking to you about yesterday, and that came out of conferences and negotiation with L.A. Louver Gallery, his local representative. And we developed a very strong presence on the Worldwide Web, using the resources of the gallery again in its graphic design. It's always very important to me. Continued with the program of presenting works by Peter Shire. Here we see it as ceramics, works on paper, and metal sculpture. And we did present the last exhibit of Marilyn Levine's work, Northern California artist, who I had made contact with through Peter. You know Marilyn Levine was partner in the Dome studios there in Emeryville.

What happened, though, also was that I began to think more and more about broadening the context of the gallery, or the composition of the exhibition program. And what I really realized was that I was moving in that direction anyway by honoring this kind of wider interest of the artists. So clearly that presentation of bronze sculpture by Peter Voulkos, the inclusion of paintings by Betty Woodman in her exhibition, the inclusion of works on paper, paintings and sculpture of Peter Shire's, was leading more and more into the direction of becoming a gallery that exhibited paintings and sculpture in addition to contemporary ceramics. We were expanding not only because of that vision, but because of the admiration of people. I once got a phone call from Lynda Benglis.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  The famous Lynda Benglis.

FRANK LLOYD:  Lynda called, and she said, "Hi, this is Lynda Benglis. And I hear you have a really great ceramics gallery." And I said, "Yes, but why would you want to be calling me." And she said, "Well, I've done a lot of ceramics, and I want you to look at them." And it happened that I did go to look at them. I took along an advisor and curator at the time, Irving Blum, who had coincidentally recommended Lynda's work to me just two weeks before Lynda's call. Irving and I selected a show from Lynda's storage at L.A. Packing. And we presented that. This, too, demonstrates that kind of cooperative thing among galleries. Because I again consulted with my advisors, and one of them was Patricia Faure. She keeps coming up in this conversation.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Yeah, honey. [They laugh.]

FRANK LLOYD:  And I said, "Here's the thing, Patty. Lynda Benglis called me, and she wants to have a show of her ceramic work. And I've already talked to Margo Leavin, who's perfectly okay with it as long as it's just the ceramics. But I want to include her New York dealer." And she said, "Honey, you have to go and see them. Wear a suit. Cheim & Read will be happy to work with you." So I did that. Again, I'm expanding the kind of network of galleries to include Cheim & Read in New York, which is certainly one of the biggest international players in the art world. And they were indeed very cooperative and very happy to work with me on this exhibition.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Because you wore a suit.

FRANK LLOYD:  [Laughs.] Because I wore a suit. Absolutely. Then in considering the expansion of the gallery, I started to think about other artists that I could bring in that would complement that historical vision, and that would complement this kind of positioning within the evolution of Southern California art. And I had, over the years, had a lot of different casual and friendly contact with Larry Bell. And I understood from Larry by a series of emails—we had an email exchange—that he was working on a new series of cubes. I've always been a big fan of the cubes. And I suggested to Larry that I would like to come and see them, and he was happy to show them to me. We made an agreement to exhibit those. And so by 2006 now I'm showing not only a new artist to the gallery clientele; but I'm beginning to venture out not only into other forms of sculpture, but into another historical movement—Minimalism.

I must say that there were some protests about this from some of the clientele. Most of the artists were pretty much okay with it. And some of them of course had been colleagues and friends and had exhibited with Larry Bell over the years.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Let me—can I insert this at that point?


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Because I think that's a really good point, and I can see what you've been doing. And it speaks really to an artist's perspective.  Because one thing I know by talking to hundreds of artists and having some as friends, they don't make these distinctions. They just don't. That's imposed by art history and by galleries to a certain extent.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  So my take on what you're doing is like an artist would view works of art. They look it and say, is it good? Does it add something new? Is it original? Is it well done? They're not as fancy about building categories as critics and art writers can be, right?

FRANK LLOYD:  I think this is true. Some of the artists have pointed this out to me, as they've watched my evolution and growth as a dealer. That essentially what I am doing is investigating the territory and making my own decisions and defining my own work, much in the same way that they do it. So I'm pleased to have that observation. I think it's absolutely correct. The other—a good point about this is it ties quite well to the historical precedents. Larry was part of the Ferus Gallery, which was not only innovative in showing his work in the early sixties, but by that time some of the other members of the gallery were John Mason who had been showing at that gallery since 1957. And Ken Price who had his first show there in 1960. And those are friends and colleagues of Larry's.

So for him it wasn't that much of a leap. In fact some of the things that we discussed he felt in complete agreement with. I said, "Well, actually it fits the gallery program because it's essentially a small-scale sculpture. It's made out of a fragile material. There's a coating on a substrate. And there are a lot of very similar aspects to it." And he said, "Well, that's all very right." And I added, "And we're used to dealing with and handling and installing fragile and rare works of art." And he said, "Don't think I haven't noticed." [They laugh.]

So that really marks a turning point in a lot of people's minds. But in my estimation indeed it's more like the evolution of an individual artist. There were some funny commentaries from my friends. Those included the commentary of Craig Kauffman, who when he heard about my showing Larry Bell, he said, "I didn't know Larry was making those things out of clay now." Craig's famous for his sarcasm.

Then I decided that I would also begin to work with some other members of the community. I was fortunate in becoming friends with, over a period of several months, Ed Moses. And I invited Ed Moses to exhibit his work here as well. To me it's not much of a leap to present paintings by someone of the same generation, the same age group, and the same kind of movement of West Coast art. And for someone like Ed it's not dissimilar at all from the exhibitions that used to be presented at, say, the Pasadena Art Museum, New Acquisitions, in 1969. Which would have included the work of Ed Moses, Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos, Robert Hudson, and others. So to me we've been able to really kind of recreate that period of time, and to re-contextualize that period of time. And to make the point that these are still living artists who are still producing great works of art.

It really came to a complete culmination when later in 2006 I made this exhibition which it's really got a kind of—has some sources. And I hope this doesn't upset the microphone. But it does have some sources in exhibitions that were presented in major institutions. There's a show in 1967 curated by Maurice Tuchman called American Sculpture of the Sixties. My point here was to make as strong a case as possible for the inclusion of ceramic sculpture in the mainstream of sculpture during this period of time of the 1960's. And it succeeded, at least as much as I hoped, if not more, in doing that.

We've been—I have been—following that program since in presenting curated exhibitions that pair up this material and break down that kind of ghetto-ization and barrier by concentrating on formal ideas for instance. Or a show called Sensuality in the Abstract, concentrating on content.

What I wanted to say, and what we can really wrap it up with, is that the gallery really has taken a strong direction that's just been outlined. And the reasons are very simple really. One has to do with my personal interests and my personal history and following through on those. And in that way I think what we were just talking about is appropriate, that a gallery can become a vehicle for an individual's mind and curatorial ideas and aesthetic vision. Just as an artist's work is.

There's another aspect of it that's very important, and that was that re-contextualization of historical figures and my interest in a period of time. Then there's the reason that I've given repeatedly is we don't want to confine these artists to a ghetto. We don't want to confine them to a single category as an artist. We want to follow their development and their use of any medium to get across their ideas.

And the final one, which hasn't been stated so far, is that if you look at the contemporary art world, there is no hierarchy of media. There is no hierarchy of ideas. Young artists have no care about what they use. They may indeed project a video onto a piece of plastic that's mounted on top of a piece of wood that's suspended on a chassis of metal. Material specificity has nothing to do with the contemporary art world. And there's no hierarchy. You can use blood or stone or string or anything else. The point is what you're saying as an artist. So in that way a new exhibition program that's not media-specific brings us up to date in the twenty-first century, and doesn't leave us in this kind of specialty ghetto that neither the galleries nor the museums are adhering to anymore.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  I got that point actually in the very beginning. [They laugh.] Not in the taping. So thank you, you know, for underlining this. But in emailing, you know, and a little conversation beforehand, it was very clear that this was very important to you. And I think it's right. And I'll underline— What's that which was here?

FRANK LLOYD:  Oh, speaking of Northern California.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Oh, Hudson, yes. You've been visiting him and things I know.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, you know, these artists out there—not to get off on another subject at this point because that was quite an eloquent summation and declaration of intention—but these artists up there, I think then back to my man, Peter Selz, my biographical subject. And I've introduced Peter several times in this. But I like to make connections as a writer.


PAUL KARLSTROM:  And I guess that's what we all do, and that's when it gets interesting, to maybe make connections that are not always recognized but between people and between ideas. And Peter Selz with that Funk Art show was very much involved with this and with the Art of Assemblage show. And actually kinetic art, you know, he was— And my point is this: That when I said earlier that what you're doing is, I'm not going to say mimicking, but it's very much what I think artists do and the way they look at their activity.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And Peter Selz, I don't know if you're aware of this, I sure am, is considered by many artists and some insightful colleagues, art historians and critics and so forth, more of an artist in the way he thinks than an art historian. This of course can be held up sometimes against him because artists take liberties. But it also is really the creative side of it.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  And so my observation is—and I'm grateful for this chance to really understand. I've been into your gallery a few times, of course, over the years. But didn't bother to pause and think about it. And I don't think I would've recognized as much as in this conversation your grand scheme. And I would say there's nothing really to distinguish it particularly from artistic activity. It's very much approaching it like an artist would. But creating a demonstration then that makes the point, makes these connections. So you and Peter Selz, how's that?

FRANK LLOYD:  Sounds good. Sounds good.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  California, Modernism, contemporary art.

FRANK LLOYD:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  This is— Thank you.

FRANK LLOYD:  Well, thank you for listening. [Laughs.]

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Well, it's—

FRANK LLOYD:  And posing questions. Absolutely.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  It's been stimulating. And I hope you feel that we've covered the basic ground, but also allowed ourselves to go off every now and then and follow ideas. That's a creative activity, too.

FRANK LLOYD:  That is indeed.

PAUL KARLSTROM:  Maybe it's a creative energy lab. Thank you.

FRANK LLOYD:  Thank you.




How to Use This Collection

Transcript is available on the Archive of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Frank Lloyd, 2009 Nov. 16-17. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.