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Oral history interview with James and Beth Arient, 1988 April 27-29

Arient, James, 1946-



Collection Information

Size: 213 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 29 min.

Summary: An interview of James and Beth Arient conducted 1988 April 27-29, by Betty Blum, for the Archives of American Art.
The Arients describe their backgrounds and talk about their initial interest in art and early collecting, their philosophy of collecting, their discovery of Eskimo sculpture and their first awareness of folk art. They comment on meeting Howard Finster and their subsequent relationship with him, Finster's relationship with collector Jeff Camp, the marketability of folk art, a 1987 exhibition of part of their collection at Northern Illinois University Art Gallery, and folk art patronage. They recall William Dawson and Derek Webster.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Arient (1946-) and Beth Arient (1946-) are folk art collectors from Chicago, Illinois. James Arient is a dentist.


These interviews are part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Language Note

English .


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use This Collection

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with James and Beth Arient, 1988 April 27-29. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.