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Oral history interview with LaMar Harrington, 1983 November 28-1984 February 10

Harrington, LaMar, 1917-2005



Collection Information

Size: Sound recording: 6 Sound cassettes; 148 Pages, Transcript

Summary: An interview of LaMar Harrington conducted 1983 November 28-1984 February 10, by Sue Ann Kendall, for the Archives of American Art's Northwest Oral History Project.

Biographical/Historical Note

LaMar Harrington (1917-2005) was a curator from Seattle, Washington.


This interview is part of the Archives' Northwest Oral History Project, begun in 1982 to document the Northwest artistic community through interviews with painters, sculptors, craftsmen, educators, curators, and others, in Oregon, Washington and Montana.

Language Note

English .


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



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with LaMar Harring from November 28, 1983 - February 10, 1984. The interview took place in Seattle, Washington, and was conducted by Sue Ann Kendall for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Archives of American Art has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. 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.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is an interview for the Archives of American Art with LaMar Harrington in her home in Seattle, Washington, on November 28, 1983. The interviewer is Sue Ann Kendall. LaMar, your importance in the art world in Seattle goes back at least to 1957 when you joined the Henry Gallery, if not earlier. But before we get into the details of that work, I'd like to find out a little bit about you personally. Is it correct that you were born in Iowa in—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I was born in Iowa.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —in 1917?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  1917, in a little town called Guthrie Center.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].What part of Iowa?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It's north, toward, I think, I think it's near Cedar Rapids, but I'm not certain. I have not spent any time there.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I left when I was nine months and I've never been back again.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] And where did you go then?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Then we went to Council Bluffs, Iowa. My father was a railroad man. And the main line of the Union Pacific ran through Council Bluffs and Omaha, and we lived there then. I always lived there until I came to Seattle.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].Which was when?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Which would have been during the war in 1941. And about the Guthrie Center, there's not much reason, generally, to say where I was born, and a couple of people have asked me over the years. And so anyway there was an article in the paper one time about me, and I mentioned that I was born in Guthrie Center, and the next time that I went into a shop—I can't think which shop it was, a famous old dress shop in the University of Washington, out of business now—the saleslady came rushing over to me and told me that she'd been born in Guthrie Center, too! [Laughs.] I didn't know anybody'd been born in Guthrie Center. Then another interesting thing that happened was a young man worked on our staff at the Henry Gallery when I was there, and we always got along very well and had lots of good talks, and he had asked me where I was born and I told him Guthrie Center. And one time about ten years later, I got this postcard in the mail, and it was a picture of some sheep grazing in a beautiful glen with elm trees hanging over, and I thought what is this? And turned it over, and it was postmarked Guthrie Center, Iowa. My friend had driven on the Highway 30 or whatever it is back east and had seen a sign that said, "Guthrie Center, 20 miles north," and so he went. And anyway—those are my two stories about Guthrie Center. [They laugh.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Now, what about your parents? Were they interested in the arts? Is that were became involved?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, actually not. I really, I had very little introduction to the arts, or exposure to the arts, when I lived in Iowa. My father, as I recall, nobody ever asked me what he was interested in until you did just now. But he was mainly interested in his business, the railroad that is. And my mother played the piano. Nobody in the family seemed to have any interest in the visual arts.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Of course there weren't many.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  There weren't many there to be seen probably.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, that's true. Of course, you see, around that time there would have been regionalism, and Grant Wood, and all that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's true.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I was not aware of any of that in Iowa, when I was still there. But my mother did play the piano. Oh, she was a wonderful woman. And one of the things that she did was play the piano; she played—what do you call it—ragtime.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And she played by ear, and she played for her auxiliary, always, once a month. My father was a war vet and she always went, was with the auxiliary as the women were so often in those days. But there was no, no art to speak of.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You had piano lessons as a child?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I had some piano lessons at about age twelve, and they lasted for about six months, and I was so busy always in my childhood that I was just too active to get down to business on the piano, and my mother didn't insist that I continue, so I didn't do that any longer. My mother was a person who always encouraged my brother and me to do, to do all kinds of things, to try lots of things, to continue on something that we liked a lot, but she never did insist that we do this or that. As I think back about it now that was a rather interesting aspect of my upbringing. Anyway, I quit the piano at that time and didn't start again until I was probably about age 23 or [2]4, something like that. I'll have to figure out how old I was, when I went back, when I went to Cornish.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And what were your brother's interests?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  My brother was nine years older than I and his interest in the, it would be like in the twenties, when I was still pretty young and he was in high school, his main interest was his 1917 model T and girls! [They laugh.] And I, he used to have the most wonderful friends, the boys—and the girls too, high school—and he used to bring them home all the time, and I would get to observe all of this and it was so much fun.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they had raccoon coats and all that, you know. And the girls' dresses were just fantastic, you know with the beads and all of this. And I had lots and lots of fun with that. Well now, I don't want to make my brother seem, his interests seem superficial—of course, girls aren't superficial—but he also had lots of other interests. He was, he did a lot of sports and he was an Eagle Scout and he traveled to the national parks every summer. And he was very, very, very active. So was I. So was my mother. So was my grandmother, my aunt. We had an awful lot of active people in our family.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  High energy, it sounds like.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It, very, very high energy. Yeah.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What kind of things were you active in?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I was active in the, well, for instance in the—I had lots and lots of friends. Our town wasn't all that big; I think it was only about 50,000 at that time.




LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. But, and Omaha was of course right across the river, so we did have something a little bigger over there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh yeah, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And there was a certain culture coming out of Omaha, which I really wasn't aware of too much until later years. But I was interested in school and drama. I had the lead in quite a lot of plays. And my drama teacher used to say, "LaMar, you really project." [They laugh.] So that may be why I was in all those plays. I'm not sure. Then I was interested in a lot of things that were presented to me and I wasn't particularly selective. Everything was fantastic. Like, I was in the rifle corps, and we got to shoot in the attic once or twice a week, I can't remember, and then I was the honorary colonel at the military ball. And I didn't know what military meant at that time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Of course not.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I loved this shooting at this target. And, you know, that indicates a certain competitiveness, but I never have thought that I was very competitive, except that I remember when I was quite grown up and married and had child, and I became the head of the Girl Scouts over east of the lake here, Lake Washington. And I was very much sold on the Girl Scouts and the Brownies, and I thought they did a wonderful job with young women, and I just wanted all the young women to join. So it got to be spring and time for the annual, the annual—let's see, what would you call it—roundup of membership, and so I was trying, I realized that there were lots of Campfire Girls around. And I thought maybe that the Girl Scouts were offering a better program than the Campfire Girls, so I sat down and cut out like 550 brownies out of brown construction paper, and dressed them up with, decorated them, and made them just adorable and put a little invitation on them, you know, and spread them all around the schools. We ended up with more brownies than there were Campfire Girls. So I decided I guess I was a little competitive. [They laugh.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, to go back to my interests. What else was there?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Were you a leader in organizations? Like student council, and things like that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes. Let's see now. What did I do in high school? It's hard for me to remember. I was a member of a lot of different organizations. We had a, we had sororities and fraternities in our school, and I was—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  In high school?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, yeah. I was in one of those, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It sounds like, maybe more than being competitive, you are an achiever, which—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, maybe. I never thought about it that way either, but—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I mean, you like to achieve things and if you, you set goals and you seem to attain them.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I guess maybe that's right. Anyway I always enjoyed it all just tremendously. And of course all these people, these friends were just wonderful too. In the small town, we had, I was in a group of about 25 young women. That started in grade school, and then went up through high school. And then among those 25, there were maybe four groups or five groups of us, small groups, and we would meet once a week and have sewing club, or a lot of them played bridge. I did that too, till I came out here. And we did lots of things. We hiked and we skated in the winter, and, but we did it together. And then all of these young women had boyfriends too. And so every once in a while all of the women would get together for—once a month maybe—for a potluck, and then quite often all the men and women, young men and women, would get together for various events. So there was a lot of activity going on and my mother had a lot of parties for me and it was a very, very active, socially active life that I can remember. And in school there were things like—well, I was the, let's see—I wasn't the May Queen. I was the princess, or something like that. And, oh, lot of things like that. Anyway, I really loved high school a lot; it was just wonderful. And I didn't get down to business studying until about the last year. And I had been, before that, no one had encouraged me at home—or discouraged me—about college. But somehow I didn't have a lot of counseling along that way, and I had majored as what we called commercial student in high school, and took typing and shorthand and all that. But, I began to realize about in the middle that that meant that I wasn't going to get to go to college, and so I changed that toward the end and took foreign language and whatever I needed then to go to college and was able to go to school.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Where did you go to college?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I went to Iowa State. But before that—I only went there for one year—but before that, my mother and I used to travel a lot in the summertime, and mostly to the West. And those were wonderful trips with her; we always came—my brother being nine years older, he had left home much earlier, and he came to Seattle. And he was a journalism major, had graduated in journalism from the University of Iowa, and came out here to work in journalism. Well, my mother and I would visit him, and then we'd go to California. And when I was here, we were always here in August and you know the weather is here in August.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I've always been fascinated somehow with education. It's meant a great deal to me and I suppose of all the gods that I ever had in the world and the universe, my caring for education and my feeling of importance for education has been the greatest. And when I say "gods" it has been almost like a religion to me, the importance of education. And I suppose that that was one of my sadnesses [ph] also in recent years to see that education is not either the answer to everything. And also to see the politics of education and just as it is and a religion and everything else. But education is still very important to me. So I, when I use to come out here with my mother, I'd go out to University of Washington and look at that campus and I was really fascinated with it, and I wanted to go to school there. And I think my mother and father, although they never stopped me from doing anything particularly, I think they hoped I wouldn't go away the first year, so far away from home. And so I went to Iowa State. And of all things was going to major in home economics, and specifically in dietetics [ph] if you could believe it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  My mother was really a wonderful, wonderful woman. She was very, very conscious of diet, and was one of the very early people to believe that sugar is not good for you, refined foods are not good for you, too much pork and red meat is not good for you, and all of these things that I'm saying now plus many, many more that she had this, these feelings about, it's all coming to light now, since the medical profession is beginning to pay more attention to diet. So she also dealt with herbs quite a bit, and she felt that medicines, chemical medicines, were not good for us—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And we had three kinds of medicine at home. We had liver food—she bought all these from an Indian in, at the end of the streetcar line in Omaha, Nebraska, which was quite a ways from our house. Took her maybe two hours to get there and two hours to come home. And she would to visit Mother East, who was an Indian, dark, dark, beautiful leathery dark skin—I can still remember her—not too tall, she had grey hair, silver grey hair by this time and it hung way down this far, and all this beautiful silver hair always very clean and brushed, and she had this dark, dark Indian skin. And she would sell my mother these things. So we had liver food, which was made of golden seal, and I forget what else, and well that obviously was good for the liver, and we had kidney tea, which was made of juniper berries, which gin is also made of, you know. And we had that quite often. And then we had something called painkiller, which was made—and my mother made this—it was made of ten percent herbs and ninety percent pure-grain alcohol [They laugh.], and you either drank it, a little bit in water, which would put you right to sleep—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Or you put it on your wounds and whatever, and they never had infection.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And anyway, I still have, when my mother died, my brother and I dug out the recipe for that and brought it home to Seattle, but we've never made up any.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Never made it.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  It sounds like she was a woman who could think for herself very much, and she was obviously your role model.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  She did think for herself. And, but she also was the kindest, most generous person I have ever, ever known in my life. She wanted—I grew up in an atmosphere, this atmosphere, with this woman—my brother did too, and he is exactly like her. And I get to see him a lot these days; we're both retired now. But anyway, she wanted the best for everyone, to make them happy, not what she thought was the best, but what would make everyone happy, and comfortable, and not only in the short range, but in the long range. And I think those are some traits that you don't see very often. Or don't see as often. At least I grew up in that kind of atmosphere and it was a long, long time before I ever knew there was anybody, that I really realized that were people in the world that weren't like that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Didn't think like that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh who weren't, wouldn't be basically that way if they could just get through the, you know, whatever was holding them back.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What about her expectations for you and your brother? Did they differ in any way, because you were a girl and he was a boy?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You know, the, with my mother you mean?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The only time that ever came up, that I stood back and wondered about this, was—my mother always wished that people wouldn't be divorced. I mean, she felt that it was better if people were not, if there was not such a thing as divorce. She didn't press it on people, but I knew that, all these years. Well, my brother got married and got divorced. And, I remember my mother taking his side, and the fact that he was divorced didn't seem to bother her at all. And now, that, I don't mean to say that that was any comparison with me, because there was no way to compare. But it did seem to me that she was showing a great, she was bending her principles a great deal where my brother was concerned. Now, you ask me a question which I'm not really answering.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Would she bend her principles for you? Maybe that's your question.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think so. I guess when I think about it. So I don't think that there was any discrimination that way.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And you don't feel like your [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So my answer to your, that question is not a good answer at all. No, I didn't feel any discrimination. I felt that she loved us—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Which is significant, I think, at that time, to have an upbringing that didn't show any kind of discrimination.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I guess so, but she was very, very unusual in many, many, many ways. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And that's obviously, you carry that with you.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, I do. I'll never forget it. She died, she also would have been very long-lived, I think. She did die at 83. She was hit by an automobile, and she was in perfect physical shape, so she may have liked my aunt did, to be 103, and going on [10]4. Anyway, she was wonderful.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Now you went a year a Iowa State, and then what happened?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And then—let's see, that would have been 1936 I guess. And what happened was that I met my husband, my husband-to-be. He was in Council Bluffs and nobody in the family encouraged me to continue. I should do whatever I wanted to do. So I decided I would stay home in Council Bluffs and so I was there until my then husband and I moved to Seattle in 1941. And we were married in I think it was 1938. So we spent a lot of time together, you see, those two years before we were married, and we were both in the same town. So that's what happened.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And he, what was his field?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He was a groceryman, fantastic, wonderful groceryman. He worked for someone else when he was in Iowa, and it wasn't really till he had come out here, and he was of an age that I guess he wasn't drafted, and didn't need to be drafted, but he needed to be in the war effort. He was seven years older than I. And so he went to work here at Boeing and worked there for quite a long time and eventually bought a grocery store in the Broadway district here, across from Del Teet's?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And was there for a long, long time. I worked with him in the store. And he showed great talent in landscaping and design and gardens. And so after a very difficult time he switched over to that full time—sold the store and became a landscape designer. And he was, he did, there are lots and lots of gardens in the Northwest that he designed, which are still around, and when he died last year I thought, when the minister asked me what did I think, you know, about his life, and I said, "Well I guess he had left a wonderful legacy in the gardens around."

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What made you come to Seattle with him? Was it your brother?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, it was my brother. My husband had sisters and brothers, brother, in California, and they were rooting for us to come there and for him to go to work for I guess you call it Douglas Aircraft? Or anyway, the war effort.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah. [Inaudible.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I'd been out here a lot, you see, in the summer, and I thought it was always like it was in August. [They laugh.] So my husband, Stan, was, he was always a person who listened to what I had to say, and he not an aggressive sexist type of person, by any means. And he knew my brother and so we decided to come here.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Now, his name was Harrington, I assume?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  What was your maiden name.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  My maiden name was Hannes, H-A-N-N-E-S. And that is, it, I think it's used by some people who are English, but it came from German, I believe, Johannes.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh. Was shortened.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Johannes Brahms. And my family, my mother's family, were all from Germany. My father's family was from England, Ireland, Scotland, and, you know, I frankly have still been too busy to ever look into all of that. And I'm not sure where the name Hannes came from, and with my father's family.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Probably an interesting story, somewhere there. Okay, so you were in Seattle, working with your husband in a store, grocery store, is that right?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, let's see. In the early days, you see, then we had a daughter, and she is now, what, 42 or something like that. And, just one child, and I felt that it was important to be at home with her, and so—but I also was very, very energetic and active and social and all of that. During the war, well, while I was still back in Omaha, I did go to work. You see, I'd had some training in office management and so forth. In fact, I think after I'd gone to high school, and had the typing and shorthand, then I took a short course in business or something. So when I was in Seattle, the main thing—no, in Council Bluffs, the main talent that I had, that could produce any income, would have been secretarial. So I went to work for an insurance company for a while, maybe a couple of years. Then when I came out here, during the war, I went to work for Boeing in an office kind of capacity. And I think I worked three different times. I didn't have to go to work; women didn't have to that at that time, but a lot of women did. And I think I worked three different times for certain periods of time, and what I did was—I was beginning to be interested in piano—and what I did was use the money that I earned to buy a piano. Anyway, you see, the war was still on, my husband was at Boeing, and he was there I think for about nine years; he stayed after the war. And so he didn't start his grocery business until—I don't know—late forties or something like that.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, it wasn't—so, up until the time that he bought the store, and except for the period of when worked at Boeing during the war, I didn't work. I was home with Linda. I had—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And you studied at Cornish between '45 and [inaudible]?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And I had bought the piano by that time, and I also did a lot of volunteer work around. In fact I think it was at that time that I began being interested a little in music, you see. And so then I went to the symphony and was a volunteer with Vera White, who I think just resigned down there not, or retired, not too long ago. And there may have been some other volunteer things that I did at that time, a cultural kind of field. And the reason that I—let's see—well so, from what I'm telling you, you can see that I was home a great deal. And I was always home when Linda went off to school in the morning, was always there when she got home in the afternoon, and of course much of that time I was at home practicing the piano, too.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That gave you a chance to do that, and also your volunteer work you could fit in as well.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Tell me a little bit about Cornish, your activities there and its place in the community and so on.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, Cornish was wonderful. It was of course my introduction to the arts, really. Now I should tell you one thing. When I was in, still in Council Bluffs in high school, one of my boyfriend's father was what you might call an impresario or an entrepreneur in the music field. And they lived in Council Bluffs, and he was in, my classmate, and the father brought all of famous musical groups to Omaha. And I don't remember how many there were at that time, because I didn't go to any of those, but the thing that was interesting about this for me was that John's mother—they had this wonderful, wonderful house, up on the cliffs in Council Bluffs—there are lots of hills back there; that's what the Bluffs means—and they had this wonderful spread out sort of cottage with denim, I mean, what do you call that material, the tie-backs, you know, with the ruffles and the chintz slipcovers on the davenports, and it was just one of the most wonderful—you see, most of the houses back there were two-story. They were tall and thin, and this was a wide-spread-out house, and it a music room, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful house. The mother asked her children, invited her children to invite their friends every Wednesday night—and this went on for several years—and she, and she would have appreciation of music.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, my gosh!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so, I got to go with John and listen to these records, and I must say that her taste was different from mine, from what mine is today, and was soon after I came out here, but it was all serious classical music. And I remember that one of my first, very favorite things was the Grieg piano concerto, and the Tchaikovsky piano concerto and I was leaning very much towards piano. Anyway, we got to go up there those nights, and she'd not only play the music, but then she'd analyze it afterwards and I began to see all of this interest in this music. Not only the emotional interest but also the intellectual interest of how these things were put together, and it was kind of like a musicology class you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Almost like a salon for high school kids, huh?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was! It was wonderful.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's wonderful, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you know, John—I met my husband and then I forgot about John and—that's how many, 45 or 50 years ago—and only this year, I began to think about John again. And I realized what he and his mother had done for me, and how he didn't know it. And I felt this need to let him know this.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, I searched and searched and searched; I had a hard time finding him. Finally found him in Albuquerque, and I go to Santa Fe a lot, so I went to visit him and his wife, and we had the most wonderful evening and I told all.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I'll bet. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, about what had happened to me in music ever since, and it was largely because of that.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So anyway, that was my introduction. So then when I came out here, and then I was interested in piano, and then I bought the piano, and under the Christmas tree—my husband was always very generous, about wanting to buy presents for people and wanting to get something that they wanted and having it to be a surprise. And so under the Christmas tree, here appeared a little card, hardly anything—and there was always something big, you know, wrapped from him as a rule—and here was this little card, and the card was a registration to Cornish School for a year. And, well, I forget how it was. It was assuming I could be accepted.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, there it all was. So, I went to school there, and I went from 1945 to either 1950 or '51, and it was one of the most exciting periods of my life. I can't, I just, every time I say that I think, "Well, no, it wasn't the most, because there were so many wonderful times." But it was an exciting period. My teacher was Patricia Balogh, and you know at this point I cannot tell you what her background was, but she was married, had recently married Steven Balogh. He was a Hungarian who had come to the United States not long before that. That's B-A-L-O-G-H. And I don't know how long they'd been married; she was a lot younger than he. And they both taught piano. And the amazing thing about it was that he had been a friend of Bela Bartok in Hungary and realized how important Bartok was, and here we were—I think Bartok died in 1945, and I started to school in 1945—and here we were for five or six years being exposed to all of this Hungarian music and being educated about Bartok and the importance of him and not only hearing the music, but dissecting the music. And Mr. Balogh of course had a very emotional feeling about him too, because they were both Hungarians, and he also had been his friend. But it wasn't till many, many years later that I realized how important it all was to me. Because nobody else was having this kind of input, as far as I know. I don't know about back at Juilliard and some places like that, but we were having direct contact with Bartok, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It seems like Cornish provided a lot of experiences like that, both John Cage, earlier on, who was here, and just a variety of things that went on there.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Bruce Cunningham, and Mark Tobey, early.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And all of those things were rather innovative kinds of things.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was that due to Nellie Cornish and her ability to bring people like that here?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think that it was earlier. Now I did read the book about Nellie Cornish at one time and it's difficult for me to remember it all at this point, but I know that she was highly revered. I didn't know her then; I was in my middle twenties. Somehow I didn't, I guess I didn't really appreciate her fully then, and haven't learned a lot about her since. All I knew was about Cornish as, at the time that I was there, and what it was like. And I think you're completely right about her and her, what she did for the school.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And then of course Balogh's, I look at Balogh's contribution as being, bringing that Hungarian thing to Seattle, actually.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Did you get involved with the, an exciting group of people that were there? Or were you too busy at home with your child?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I wasn't all that busy; I mean I just had one child and I was very highly organized and was able to—Although during that time—no, the war was over by the time I went there. Yes, there were a lot of interesting students and faculty members there at that time. Being, you see, I was a—I was not in residence at the school; I was a day-school, day student. So, I didn't have as much contact with them.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they were all somewhat younger than I, or not married, or—yeah.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. You were in a little different situation.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So there wasn't a lot of connection among us, except I got to know a lot of them quite well when I was in school. Karen Irvine, the very famous ballet teacher, was there at that time and was for many, many years after. And who was the woman who taught the history of architecture? Well, I'm sorry; I can't remember her name right now. But she was a very vibrant teacher.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Did you take a variety of classes?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I took only in music. Well, I took history of architecture, and the history of music, and some musicology courses. And I took theory, harmony and counterpoint and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And in addition to doing your own piano practicing and performing.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Did you perform?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes. I performed only there, and not out any place, but they had a, the Baloghs had started a wonderful thing called Concours, C-O-N-C-O-U-R-S. And you know what I don't know, what that word really means. It must be a French word. But what happened was that every spring we had Concours, and this meant that—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, Concours. So we all played, prepared, played for audiences and it was a fantastic time. It was just wonderful. I ran across some of Patricia Balogh's letters to me the other day, during that time, those years that I was at Cornish, about my work. And [Laughs.] as I read some of the letters the other day, I realized she was completely right. For instance she said, in a letter, "There are two students in Cornish now, who have started late and generally people who start late cannot make it in music. The two students are"—and she mentioned another name and my name—and she said, "You both have the potential to make it," was the way she put it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they were wonderful, wonderful letters, and I, today, I know that I did. But gradually I got interested in the visual arts and left it. Well, I didn't, I never left it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Tell me about that a little more.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  How that [inaudible]?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And the music! The music! I can't tell you. I don't tell very many people this, but—because it might be misunderstood—the visual arts have been sort of like my heart, always. And the music has been like my soul.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I don't know what the difference is between heart and soul. [Laughs.] But—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] We could get into a long discussion on that one!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, we could. But the music was very, very important to me. And practicing, I would sometimes practice eight or ten hours a day. There were a lot of times when my husband worked overtime, and Linda would be doing her thing, or with the children or whatever, and I'd go on for long, long hours practicing. And that went on for a long, long time, and I accomplished so much during those years. It's just tremendous. But I had lots and lots of energy. Anyway, let's see. He bought the store, Stan did, we moved to Bellevue. I had been over there a lot—the second bridge, the first bridge had just gone in—and I was over there searching out property and so forth—and this was one difference between us. I tended to think that we should build a house right away, you know, and get some property, and on the lake and a place that we'd enjoy, and of course it was mostly trees over there at that time. And Stan wasn't really much concerned about things like that and seemed to want to stay in one place more. So I was continually dragging him to this or that, you know. And he always did it. Anyway, I looked around a lot over there, and we did finally buy a house that was just half finished. And at that, you see, it would have been 19—we lived on a farmhouse over there for a couple of years while I was looking, on Clyde Hill, up on top, and there were no houses there then much.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so I began to hear about the Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair. And as I was wont to do, if there was anything around that looked interesting to me—you see, again I was not being all that selective.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Not focused, yes.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Except you can see that so far most of what I'd done as a volunteer was in the arts.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I went to, went up there to find out what was going on, and of course they needed volunteers, and so the first year I licked stamps and watched what was going on. And starting about the second year of my involvement there, they put me on the board, and then I began to be the chairman of this section, and this section, and this section of the fair, and [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Those are big jobs.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We had like at that time about 400 volunteers, even in those early years.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And somehow, and then—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This was early fifties?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. So then—yeah, early fifties—so then I was the chairman of the fair for four years and the president of the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Association for two years. And there was something, you see, now most of us people over there were housewives; so was I. But somehow, I think that the difference between us was that I had a feeling about, that that event needed quality and you had to be very careful, even though I hadn't been in the visual arts field much yet, you had to be very careful the way you went, to keep it from being a circus or a carnival. And that there was—that was back in the days when I felt that maybe everybody could enjoy art and it was important to go out and bring them in, you know, and it was almost a kind of religion. And so I, I had a kind of innate feeling about how to organize things like that and to make them successful from a quality standpoint. What I knew was that you had to be careful how you hung the work, where you hung the work, who judged the work, how much the awards were, what could you offer the artists so the best artists would come in. So, I spent years, actually, thinking about that over there, and my daughter was still growing up, and so that way I met all of the Northwest artists that way. Because they all entered the fair in those days. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And that was painters as well as crafts people, right?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh yeah! It was mostly, well, no—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mostly painting, yeah, I've heard that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  There's a lot more—well, it was both. There were, there was a lot of emphasis on crafts, too. And actually I think I got to know painters and sculptors before I did the crafts [inaudible] because I didn't become the chairman of the craft hall for two or three or four years. Before that I'd been working almost completely with the painters and sculptors.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So anyway I got to know all the artists.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What kind of changes did you make in how it was being run?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, some of the changes that I made—I felt that you had to separate the amateurs from the so-called professionals. And it was really hard to know how to do that, and people still don't know how to do it. And so the thing that we did over there—and I had never heard of it being done before, and we did it at my suggestion—was to have the artists decide whether they were artists or—or professionals or amateurs. And that worked out pretty well, actually. And I went through endless explanations to the artists about the difference in it, that they'd expect to see mature, serious people who were even maybe making a living or trying to make a living, or at least working at it full time, in the professional, and in the other—it had nothing to do with selling art—and in the other you would find people who did it only spasmodically and not too seriously. And that they had to make the decision about which they were and if they made it, if they came in as a professional, then they were going to stand a lot harder competition. So it worked out really quite well, I think, that way. And then we had invitational sections and they built the new Frederick and Nelson store at that time, which is the core of what's over there now. And it had this wonderful covered spot, and so when I was the chairman, we began having an invitational [inaudible] under that roof. And there were quite a lot of good shows. The problem is with a show like that—and it's true I think not only with outdoor as, but also with indoor—is that you don't get the very best painters and sculptors entering. And so, and of course, with the fair, it was even worse, because it's my belief that in the outdoors it's almost impossible to hang a work so that it looks decent. And that is one quality that's going to keep the better artists away, and I couldn't blame them.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Except for sculpture. I mean, certain sculpture works outdoors.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  But you're right about a lot of the paintings and drawings; that's very true.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You may remember—well! You probably don't remember! The easels that we had to work with at first; it was just, you know, like they four by eight, and of course we thought they were wonderful because they were so much better than what we had before, but—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —to have all these four by eight easels on these standards, you know, it was really hard to keep the surrounding chaos out of your eyes as you looked [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And then we, then while I was the director, we also, we got a whole new thing then, and we were able to have a covered place for hanging that extended for like two or three hundred feet. And that meant that you didn't have little easels, busily breaking up all the space. But anyway, there were a lot of things like that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, I've been in that fair and I've always been impressed with how well it—or while I was in it, I was impressed with how well it was run. But there's always that problem of an outdoor fair being part circus and part serious. And is there a solution? I mean, is there a way to solve that?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't think so. I really don't. I think the fact that it's outdoors is the thing that hurts it. I think also that even when you have a mall, a covered mall, like we have so many of now, it's the fact that you have all of that chaos around you, one. Two, you've got all of the business around, and the minute that you get business involved with art, I don't care where it is, or under what circumstance, it's going to change what's happening. Not only to the atmosphere around the art, but to the art itself too. So I don't think there is any solution. And I suppose maybe the Bellevue Art Museum being where it is right now might be the closest to a solution.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. And that's where they had the juried show now. But last year, at least, the juried show was upstairs in the museum.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  But on the hand, you still have your crafts people out in their own booths of course, displaying.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course there's something to be said for all that.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Because regardless of what the most elitist types of people say about it, there are hundreds of thousands of people getting exposed to art over there.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And my view of it is that if you've got all those volunteer people who are willing to put in all that time, and it's not pain for them, it's not easy what they do over there. They work very hard, they put their life's blood into it, and they have learned how to handle paintings and so forth.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, they have. Yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But, it's not pain for them; they enjoy doing it, and as long as you have all those people who are willing to do it, and you've got people who can raise enough money—and also they can take a commission on the paintings—I think it's worth it if you—If you got 10 people a year out of that fair who became seriously interested in art, it would have been worth it.

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9948_m.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —Omaha, and we lived there then. I always lived there until I came to Seattle.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].Which was when?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Which would have been during the war in 1941. And about the Guthrie Center, there's not much reason, generally, to say where I was born, and a couple of people have asked me over the years. And so anyway there was an article in the paper one time about me, and I mentioned that I was born in Guthrie Center, and the next time that I went into a shop—I can't think which shop it was, a famous old dress shop in the University of Washington, out of business now—the saleslady came rushing over to me and told me that she'd been born in Guthrie Center, too! [Laughs.] I didn't know anybody'd been born in Guthrie Center. Then another interesting thing that happened was a young man worked on our staff at the Henry Gallery when I was there, and we always got along very well and had lots of good talks, and he had asked me where I was born and I told him Guthrie Center. And one time about ten years later, I got this postcard in the mail, and it was a picture of some sheep grazing in a beautiful glen with elm trees hanging over, and I thought what is this? And turned it over, and it was postmarked Guthrie Center, Iowa. My friend had driven on the Highway 30 or whatever it is back east and had seen a sign that said, "Guthrie Center, 20 miles north," and so he went. And anyway—those are my two stories about Guthrie Center. [They laugh.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Now, what about your parents? Were they interested in the arts? Is that were became involved?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, actually not. I really, I had very little introduction to the arts, or exposure to the arts, when I lived in Iowa. My father, as I recall, nobody ever asked me what he was interested in until you did—

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9949_m.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And as I look back in, as I look in retrospect, at the fair, I got away from the fair then, when I decided to come to the campus and work at the Henry Gallery. And I continued to, they continued to ask my counsel all the time, and they still do over there about the fair, about who should jury and all of that. But it became clear after a while that I just didn't have time to be involved with that. And I'm a life member of their board now, and I think that in order, I have to die before I quit being that, but—anyway, one thing, as I look back, I think no matter how you try to make it quality and worth a lot, that way, aesthetically, I think its main purpose is as a market. And it, and for many, many, many years—decades—it was the best and biggest market for, the biggest receipts would come in of anything in the whole United States! Anything! And then when the American Crafts Council started their American Crafts Enterprises and began having these—what do you call them—markets around the country, they became very, very popular and of course theirs have gone up into the millions now.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But for years—I'd say that it was the prototype of that kind of thing and it did serve a really good purpose as a market, but I wouldn't delude myself that, you know, quality-wise that it's the best thing that ever happened. But that other purpose of interesting the common, the civilian, if you will, in the arts [laughs] is a good thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. I, I wonder then if it would be best if they keep that in mind, that it basically is a market and not try to make it into an art museum, kind of [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, the museum itself?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, no. The fair, in other words, to—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I've said that a lot of times.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  To accept it as such and gear it towards that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you know, when you have that many people putting their life's blood into something.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Some of those people have been there, many of them have been there since I was there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Have been there years!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  In effect, I, because of my innate feeling—and this was long before I ever went to the Henry Gallery and got mixed up in the museum field, I knew how to handle works of art. I just knew! And, then, also I worked at the Puyallup Fair quite a bit as a registrar out there and learned a lot there. And that was done on a very professional scale, you know, for many years. But when you have people who have put that kind of blood into something and their souls have been in that fair over there—and I know them all very well—it's very difficult for me to say, to shake them and say, "My opinion is that this is a good market and that is all."


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It's heartless to say it!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now if I thought it were of no value, then I would be very blatant in what I'd say about it. But it does have certain values.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And if, you know, if they want to delude themselves into thinking it's way more than a market, then that's okay.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I mean that's not hurting anything, because it—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Probably helps it be a better market—


SUE ANN KENDALL:  —that they can work towards something more—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It also helps it, it helps it to have a certain quality, which is going to get to these few people who, who accept the arts every year.

[Audio Break.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Then as I understand it, you went to work at the university as a secretary in 1956. Is that correct?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, I think that's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And then later transferred to the Henry Gallery.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, let's see. Yeah, now how did it all happen? My daughter was going to graduate from high school in 1957. And I always felt that—this is interesting because I read a reference to this just a couple of days ago—I always had the feeling that children are kind of lent to you for the first twenty years, and you do your best during that time, and then you've got to find some other thing to be interested in. And they, and of course, if I were doing it all over, I may have had a career starting a lot earlier than I did—it's hard to say, because of all the changes for women and so forth.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But, anyway, I've always felt that you do the best that you can by them and then you don't get caught in that trap of missing them and then not being able to find yourself. Anyway, in there someplace—you see I still had no training that would help me to go find some kind of a job other than secretarial work, as so many women have—that problem. Now I suppose I could have easily been a public relations person, because I relate well to people and I think I understand scopes of things pretty well and running organizations and philosophies and so forth. But I don't seem to be interested in that and besides I guess I didn't know how to do that. And of course today as I think back about it I wouldn't have wanted to do it anyway. Because it's the opposite—I mean it's in very deep conflict with my philosophies about art and all kinds of [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Which we'll get into later. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes. And so I decided to go back to school. So I got accepted into University of Washington, and—to major in philosophy—and I went to school there at that time—oh, how long? Maybe a year? Something like that. Or maybe a little more. And I only took ten credits each quarter. So I had a lot of really wonderful philosophy courses, and only philosophy courses, and it was—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I didn't know you had done that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was just simply out of this world. See this is another whole area opening up to me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  First it had been music and then the visual arts and then—on whatever scale you could call it over there—and then philosophy. And I had wonderful teachers at the University of Washington in the Philosophy Department. Then, I always had that slight feeling of guilt that I was doing things that I was enjoying so much and here I was married and my husband by that time had his store and he was working so hard you know. Well, now, wait a minute! I had worked with him at the store, too, before that. But vaguely there was always this overlay of feeling of responsibility to the family and to him. And having too much fun, you know?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so I tried to work it all in—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Get all my responsibility as well as having fun.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And he never made me feel guilty about it ever. Stan didn't.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But something in you said that—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah! Like a lot of women do.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes. Yes, I can relate to that. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, so. I decided that I should be making some money. So while I was on the campus in philosophy, of course I got to know a lot of things that were going on a lot of places and why I ever did it I can't even remember now, but applied for the secretary's job in the Department of Anthropology. And there had been some articles written that had wrong background material in them—and I don't know whether you've read something like that or not, but this is the straight thing. I was the secretary in anthropology; not in art. Somebody said once that I was there, but I never was hired in the art department. Anyway, that was six months. And that was my introduction not only to anthropology but also to politics, labyrinthine politics, on the campus. And I felt heavy responsibility to help the faculty and everybody get along well. You know, that wasn't my responsibility! But I, I always have felt that. And so anyway it was a rather interesting six or eight months for me. Maybe it was a year; I can't remember. But it was—I couldn't believe what was going on, and of course today I can believe it. But I realized much later that the anthropology department at that time was just one example of the politics that go on in any university. And that was my introduction to academic life, as far as—That was when I began, just began to realize that the education system wasn't quite what I thought it was. [They laugh.] Anyway I met a lot of wonderful people there and the faculty were all very interesting. And then, I was at the matrix table one night, and Mary Jane Worth, who had been the secretary at the Henry Gallery for many years—and there were only two people full time on the staff at that time, the curator and the secretary—was sitting next to me, and we were all having a good time and she asked me what I was doing and I told her. And she said that she was quitting. And before that time, I had worked as a registrar at the Puyallup Fair, for that show out there, which was very good at that time, when Gervais Reed, who was the curator of the Henry Gallery, when I went there and who had been with Mary Jane too. He was the, I guess you'd call it the director of the art department at the Puyallup Fair for quite a few years. Well he had come over to jury the Bellevue Fair when I was over there, and then he realized that I had certain savvy about all of this, so he invited me to come out and—once a year, in the summer and fall—and do that work out there. So I learned a lot about that, about handling paintings and all of that. So—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  At the fair?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. So I went to apply for Mary Jane's job, and I guess quite a lot of people applied, and I got the job. And so that would have been—I left anthropology and went over there, so that would have been, I guess, I think—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —1957, yeah. And then I was there until 1975. So that's how I happened to go there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  A lot happened between '57 and '75! [They laugh.]



LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You can't say that I jumped around in my jobs.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No. [They laugh.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Although during the years it was very interesting. There were a number of times when I was intrigued by other things or people would come and try to get me to leave there and go do something, some other thing. And one time I almost did it, and I still can't believe that I would have.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But never did I leave. I always realized that I really loved that place, loved what I was doing, and it was absolutely the ideal place for me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I'm always surprised. Seemed like there was a lot to work for, to go on and do something more with it than was already being done.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right! You're so right, Sue Ann! You hit it on the head. Partly because the Seattle Art Museum was not doing as much as it might have done. So what it meant was that you, when you had an idea you weren't stopped immediately because you were going to be criticized for competing with somebody. So you could do almost anything you wanted!


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you could do anything you wanted because the university didn't tell you what to do.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And that was good, both good and bad.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was good, because you could do—you know you had all these options open and if you had lots of energy you could do a million wonderful things and nobody would criticize you. But on the other hand, nobody told you what you were supposed to do, which meant that there were all these people wanting you to do all this and you were trying to do everything for everybody.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And that took lots of energy.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So you could shape it, but at the same time there were these other factors coming into play on how you shaped it, I suppose.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And of course if you had a, if you had lots of energy, and any, and some intellect, and understanding of people—I sometimes wonder how I was able to make that work for as many years as I did. Because in most cases, you would have been shot down, someplace in there—considering my vulnerability. I had a lot of things that I, reasons to be vulnerable—which I didn't really think of as vulnerability at the time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], you didn't, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I've always been amazed at how I was able to keep all those oranges in the air at once without being shot down! It was partly because—I know! And this has to do with women a great deal—I kept my act so clean that there couldn't be any, I covered all bases, constantly. And if I hadn't had all the energy I had, or certain amount of intelligence, I never would have been able to do it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Let's give me a little then. You started, and your title was secretary.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. Secretary one, I think. [Laughs.]They had about secretary two, three, four, and five that I still had to go through.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, but I imagine knowing you that you rapidly did more than a secretary1 has to do there.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  And I imagine there was more to be done.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well there was.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And the thing was that there were only two people on the staff.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Now who was director then?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  I know Gervais was the curator.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He was the curator when I went there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, yeah, I can't remember who directed it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, he might have almost become by that time assistant director. But the director would have been Boyer Gonzales.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Or maybe still Isaacs. I can't quite remember which year Isaacs, Walter Isaacs, left or retired, but Gonzales came—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —immediately after. He came from Texas, and he started a whole new thing in the School of Art. Where before with Isaacs it was a, really a rather incestuous thing, and that's the only word you can use for; that's the word that's always been used for that kind of thing in academia. All kinds of people who graduated as students were taken on the faculty. And they were all eventually given professorships and with tenure, and so it was closed with [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It was very ingrown.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So it was very, very ingrown. And of course that has a lot to do—I think—if it had not been so incestuous I think this would not have happened to the degree that it did—the terrible animosity that was, there was between the campus and the community artists. With Tobey and the Northwest School on one side and—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —this other on the other side. I think it wouldn't have quite so bad had it not been so incestuous. If people had been coming in from all over the world, it couldn't have happened I don't think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. No, there would have been a lot more—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was fierce!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Do you want to talk a little more about that? About that split?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Uh, well, let's see. There are a lot of stories about that, and I'll tell you I was quite naïve [laughs]. Because I couldn't believe that that was happening and I just disregarded it for a long time, but then I began to realize well it really was happening. And I don't know all the things that happened. I know that a very important thing happened that had to do with Betty Willis, and you should read the paper sometime about that. She has written it up and it's at the university in the archives up there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Archives, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think she had, she was, you know, a friend of Tobey and Graves and many of the so-called Northwest School people.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  She was not closely associated with anybody at the university. One thing that happened was that—this just has to do with sexism—she had been down to California, worked for, as a curator at the de Young, and she had four children to raise. It says in the archives [inaudible] here five, but I think she only had four complete. Anyway, they were, she had to raise them all by herself. And so somebody suggested that she should be the curator at the Henry Gallery—this was long before I went there, or sometime before—and so she was going to get the job. Isaacs promised her the job, and in the meantime, Charles Smith, the sculptor, came to work on the campus, and they gave him the job. And Isaacs explained to her that he had a family to support. And this was the reason. So now that happened—or maybe she already had the job and got fired because of that, and this—you know, you'd have to clear that all up; it's in the papers out there anyway.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. He couldn't get by with that today, I would hope he couldn't.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh no! He couldn't; no. And I don't know what she, I don't think that she even tried to do anything about it you know, and that's just the way things were. And it's an amazing thing about Walter Isaacs. I've often thought about this. He had four or five very powerful strong single childless women working on his faculty. They had been students. He had hired them on the faculty. They got their tenure because of him. And still, you know, I would have assumed that his sexism with Betty would have extended to—That's the only time there were ever any women in important positions at the University of Washington—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  In the department.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —was during his tenure there. And the men all grew to hate them so and there are a few statements like that around in the archives at the university when I was doing that art history—oral history program.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, getting into those women who were on that faculty, that's another very, very important and interesting facet of Walter Isaacs and the men around him. Anyway, Betty—to get back to the main thing that I was saying about her—she decided, I guess while she was at the Henry Gallery as curator, that she wanted to do a show of these people in the so-called Northwest School—or Northwest artists, I can't remember. I can't remember the direction of the school, but I know they were to be in it. And when Walter Isaacs found out who was in it, he cancelled the show.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So that's just one example of—Now there may be other background material, and I don't know that Walter Isaacs was ever questioned about this or that he ever did a tape, and that's why the tapes are so important, you know. I don't know—I never talked to him about it, and I'm just taking all this at face value. But I'm, I wouldn't be surprised if that were true.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Now that had happened before you were there?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, quite a long time before I was there, and anyway—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So that gets back to, then either he was in, or Gonzales was in.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  And when you went on anyway, at any rate, Gervais was curator. We were sort of talking about when you were first there.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, and Gervais may, by the time I came, have been called the assistant director, because all of those years, except for one short period when Gervais was made the director of the Henry Gallery in the late sixties, people who ran the Henry Gallery, under the roof of the Henry Gallery, were called various subjects, titles.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The director was always in the School of Art.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I wanted to ask you about that, how that actually worked. So the director had to be the person who was the head of the School of Art.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The head of the art department. But I said one time, "Well, who decided this?" This was after I became involved in the American association, Western Association of Art Museums for several years, and was its president, and I began to realize what people needed when they were the director. Or, if they directed a museum what they needed as a title and as a salary and all of those things, to give them the kind of support they needed. And so I asked the question, "But who, well, how was this decided?" About the School of Art and this directorate. And I think mainly I began to ask these questions when I saw Gervais struggling as the curator, then the assistant director, then the associate director.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Associate director, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Then that's, and us [ph] all. Struggling—he had also been the president of the Western Association many years before I was. There was all his colleagues, all of them were directors—Director, with capital D—and he was not. So you can't call that sexism or sex discrimination; it was a matter that the School of Art had the power over the Henry Gallery and did not give the employees there who were doing certain kinds of work titles commensurate with what other people in other museums did that were similar to what they were doing. Now this sounds like I'm talking about sexism now, but in Gervais' case it wasn't sexism.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It wasn't, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so there's a whole other kind of discrimination that you've got to think about and that is, on a university campus what is the best and highest use of a museum?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You know, and who's going to decide what that is?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So going back to when Henry gave the museum to university. I read the letter in which he gave it to university; it's a wonderful letter. He gave his collection, he gave $100,000 to build the building, and he didn't say at all what they had to do with it. They didn't have to, we didn't have to show the paintings all the time. Now whether he just assumed that the university would always show the paintings or whether he was foresighted enough to know that that was not a good thing to do I don't know. But at any rate, he didn't require it. But the paintings did stay up for many, many, many, many, many years; they were never taken down. There was a fountain in the middle of the gallery; it was a very quiet place. Then they were taken downstairs and there began to be other kinds of shows. Okay, so all during that time—and I said, "Well, how did the school of art happen to be the administrator for the Henry Gallery?" Well nobody could seem to figure that out. And the, and nobody ever produced any paper that said the president said, "Here, you're the director of this." So it was my feeling that the president of the university or the regents or whoever at the time that Mr. Henry gave the money and the collection must have looked around and thought, "Well, let's see now. Who's going to administer this?" And not having any understanding of what's good or bad for a gallery, of special interests, of what's the best way to, I've got to say protect the gallery, to do what it's supposed to be doing. Well, number one, you've got to decide what it's supposed to be doing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And then decide how it's should be administered [ph].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It still hasn't been decided it seems.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. So. Yes, but they, but what has happened today is that—and it's largely because of me—is that at least the power structures that wanted to be powerful over have all been broken so that the director of the gallery now reports to the dean, not to the department.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They're defined now, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so at least to that extent it's a little more defined. But I don't know that it's still defined. Anyway—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Let me ask you, though, at that time the director was the head of the school of art?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  He or she—and probably he.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Always he, reported to the president or to the dean—


SUE ANN KENDALL:  —of arts and sciences.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Of the College of Arts and Sciences.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Okay, okay.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Never to [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And that's where the annual reports went, because I've been through all the annual reports and I see [ph] that they were written and turned into the dean and then—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's, that was the chain of command.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  But did you ever find out actually where that did start?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No! There's, nothing has ever been produced to show why it started that way. Now when I was with the Western Association of Art Museums I began to be very much interested in how other museums are run, university museums were run.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I did a questionnaire which I intended to send out, and the School of Art really didn't want me to send that out. So I never did send it. I should have sent it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Ah, you sure should have, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I didn't ever do it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Be interesting to—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  In fact, the School of Art, when there was a great deal of trouble, when the dean took the School of Art away from, the Henry Gallery away from the School of Art, in about 1974, before I left, there was a great deal of effort on the School of Art's part to get it back again. And one of the things that they did was to weight in their favor a report that showed all of these universities all over the United States where the museum is under the direction of the school of art, as precedent, but there was nothing there to show how all of the schools of art, how all of the university museums in the United States worked. So I don't know that anybody has ever done any figures on that, because you see—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  There's one question I was going to ask you, how does it compare here to other places.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well I know this because of my background in the museum, I know that an awful lot of them report to, directly to the dean, or directly to a vice president, and not to the school of art. Some of them report to an art history chairman. But of course out here, I think that our School of Art here was weighted toward the studio to begin with, and when art history came along very late in the game, again probably the president, or whoever, didn't even realize the ramifications of putting, of where they were going to put an art history division.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. And so they put it under the School of Art, which makes no sense.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They put it under the School of Art and set up a conflict that I don't know whether it's still going, but—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, it is.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But it's got to be going because there's no way out of it!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  An art historian can't possibly know what is going to endure until it endures, and that art historian is going to be dead by the time it endures, so that there's no way for a free-thinking, objective art historian to make a studio artists famous during his—no way! objectively—during his lifetime. You can do a lot for artists that you believe, by being somewhat humble about what's good art and what isn't good art. There are certain things that people who know a lot about it, like art historians and critics can do, and I think they're very, very important in that respect. But there's no way that I as an art historian or a critic am going to be able to say, "John Doe you are the best artist in the world." Because nobody's going to know until [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It has no place in academia, I mean, taking that role anyway; you can't, an art historian can't do that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, absolutely. There's no way, and the, and that is what a studio artist needs and wants and understandably it's that way. But there's a built-in, it's kind of like mothers and kids maybe, or something, I don't know. [They laugh.] There's a kind of built-in love-hate relationship, needing and not wanting to need.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative]. Right, right. Well, so it seems like the School of Art here was given control both over the art history department and over the Henry Gallery.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  In a way that is unhealthy.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they had that control for the Henry Gallery since 1926 and they had it for art history since I think it was about 1967 or something like that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And they still have it over art history.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, and of course before 1967 and that date is debatable, about the only person who taught art history was Gervais Reed, and he taught art history to thousands of people, and of course he taught a pretty straight art history course. I thought it was quite interesting, really I thought he was a very good teacher. But there was nothing controversial about it because it was about, he really was talking about history. And it wasn't until David, David—I gave him my grand piano, I ought to remember, remember his name, but I can't—and Pete Steeple and some of those people came to join the Art History department that they began to teach some contemporary art, and then the problems began.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Okay, back to the early days, then, when you were just so-called secretary, you in fact were doing more than that. You've explained the power structure there. What kinds of shows did the gallery focus on for the most part? The faculty or—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You know, it really would be interesting in this tape for me to have the list of shows so that it would remind me of some of them. But—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I have some but they're not in chronological order.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, well, I would say generally that—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was it up to Gervais to decide, pretty much?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, yes, except—I remember back now, that—I had a great deal of respect for Gervais Reed. I also felt that Gervais was very innovative. Later I learned that he was very, very conventional—or conservative person. I didn't know that for a long, long time. I didn't know that he would be so concerned about what people in the School of Art felt. And he was under a great deal of pressure from the School of Art to do this or to do that. Now, as I recall, I think—and this would have been of my early days there—I think he had a very good relationship with Boyer Gonzales, and I had a good relationship with him too. Boyer brought something in there that had never been there before. He cut the incest. He brought in people from all over, and he did wonderful things for the School of Art because of that. There was always pressure, always—and I can say that this would have true when Gervais was there and when I was responsible—to have new faculty member shows; retiring faculty member shows; faculty member shows, three, see, and another kind ph], group or whatever; solo shows to show the development, faculty; graduate student shows. Then they began taking in more graduates all the time; it began to be a factory.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So you had more shows, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So this means that—and they wanted more space, and more space for the graduate students to show. So I remember I killed myself trying to live up to all of this, and I think Gervais did too. So it got to the point where we couldn't fit them all in in one show, so we'd have to have two master shows.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Which eliminates something else, of course; it has to.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right, and toward the end, I still remember that when I was still there some of the faculty began to push for an annual undergraduate show, annual with a catalogue. And all of these people, and all of this was supposed to come along with the catalogue for every one of these. Now we were supposed to go out and raise the money for all of this.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  With a staff of three. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. Now it wasn't, it wasn't, this, they didn't put the pressure on Gervais quite so much for the money-raising, and Gervais never did do, I think he did no fundraising. I shouldn't say that because I may be unkind; I'm not sure about that. But I know that when I became responsible I began raising money. And I raised several thousand, several hundreds of thousands of dollars in a couple, three years, which was most unusual for the Henry Gallery. And what I knew was that when you raise that, it came from out there in the community someplace. And the community was going to expect something from the Henry Gallery. And besides that, I've got my own philosophical reasons for believing that's a good idea, and I can get into those later. But anyway, to speak of those days, then, you ask what kinds of shows and was there pressure for this or that. Those pressures for having all of those shows that would have originated because of the studio people in the School of Art, those pressures were always there, very heavy. Now I'm not saying that's not good because there were a lot of good things that could come out of that. Then there was no art history division until even after Gervais had left.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So of course though he had an innate feeling about art history and he was, had studied in it, and so he liked to bring in things that showed art history and so did I.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So did you and Gervais overall agree on what types of exhibits—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well of course I had no reason to disagree or agree.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You were not in a position of power.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  For one thing I had no knowledge! I mean, I had way more knowledge than I thought I had, but after all, I was the secretary.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. And you weren't degreed in that yet. I know you went back later.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. And I was starting now to go to school.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course by the fact that we brought in all these shows—And I must say too that most of the shows at the Henry Gallery, over all of those decades, were not rented shows. And I would like to show you an article [inaudible] that I ran across at the University of Washington not too long ago that I couldn't believe. Anyway, they were mostly planned by us, although when I was with Western Association, but more when Gervais was the president, he did bring in quite a few of the shows that they were circulating. But he also was responsible for planning them so they could circulate them. So I would say that an awful lot of the shows were created by our staff. But I really didn't have anything to do with planning. I kept my place, I knew as a woman, probably, that I needed to regulate myself, but I also feel that if more people felt that way, and weren't so power hungry, things would go so much better you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, I didn't make decisions. I made suggestions every once in a while, but I was very careful not to step on Gervais' toes all those years. And I don't know whether he realizes that today, but I wish, I hope that he does. Because I made a special effort—I didn't hurt myself by doing it, I don't think, because I was the secretary—but I also did my best not to overrun him or, and other men on the staff as far that goes. But I did learn to do everything, which the wonderful, exciting part of that whole time. And I must say, except for the last year or two, when I was at the gallery there was never a day I went to the gallery that I wasn't so excited I could hardly stand it, because such wonderful things were going to happen.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Were going on.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they happened every day! Wonderful things happened.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, well there's an interesting statement in the annual report of '62-'63, which I read, which said—I don't know who wrote it; it must have been, maybe, Gervais—said, "LaMar," that you were "underclassified, underpaid and overworked," unquote, and then it goes on to say that you were performing duties of museum registrar, as well as the secretary, and that all attempts to change your status at the university—and this is another quote, "have met solid resistance from the personnel office and the job evaluation committee." That was in '63. So somebody was recognizing that you were doing more than you were getting paid for, and they even said that research had been done into how much museum registrars made elsewhere and so on, but that they weren't getting anywhere negotiating to upgrade your status of whatever.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's true. Now one thing I've got to say about that is, that was when I began to put pressure on, literally.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's good, though.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I did, yes.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I mean you'd been there already for, what, six years by that point.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And it is, it was Gervais—I remember that letter—and it was Gervais who wrote that letter. And I must say that he did try. There were also certain things that he didn't try. But I must give him credit for that. Because he did. And they did, of course, the whole university was, was so sexist that that's all part of it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, but I did, I kept the heat on from then on, and never let it up.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well then in '65 you went on leave to finish your BA?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, what happened was that in '63 Gervais went on leave. He wanted to get his master's degree. He didn't have it. And so he'd been off and on trying to figure out what to do about it, and finally he decided to go. And later I—and I thought it was wonderful that he was going to do this, and I knew everything about the gallery; there was no reason, you know, that he shouldn't go, and he was, he hesitated, terribly, about going, and finally agreed to go. So while the, during the time that he was gone, before he left, I think they gave me a hundred dollar a month raise, for the year. And I ran the Henry Gallery. And I kept the budget at the point where I came out with $1800 at the end of the year; I watched it so carefully. And all during the year I wrote him a letter every day defining [ph] the progress of the gallery that day.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I didn't want him to worry about the gallery. And at the end of the year, when he came back, he couldn't believe that there was $1800 there and he said to me, one day he called me into his office, and he said, "I wonder if you'd like to use that $1800 to buy that pottery you've been wanting to buy?" [They laugh.] Well, I couldn't believe it. So I went immediately to Betty Willis and bought ceramics that are now worth like hundreds of thousands of dollars, for $1800, and she threw in a few free Hamadas.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  A few extras.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, yes, he did. Then he was gone for the year; I ran the museum, and of course it was the most exciting time of the, of my whole period so far at the Henry Gallery because I got to do everything.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course when Boyer would go out and speak as the director of the gallery, I'd have to write him a letter to tell him—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What to say. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, or you know, what was going on. And it was a wonderful time, and I worked like twenty hours a day, and it was a fantastic year! And of course I felt that I'd done a good job for Gervais when he came back. I don't know how he felt about it. But anyway, then—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  On the other hand, you were not titled. I mean, you did the work and yet were not titled, which is sort of a classic thing for a woman to do.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. But the other thing about it is, that plays in a woman's favor in that case, is that nobody expects anything from you. And what I did was continue to turn out wonderful things that year, one after another. Nobody expected anything; everybody sort of stood around, doing nothing for a while, and then with their mouths open, and I had a lot of fantastic press that year. And you see, nobody expected anything from me. So, and there was—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It gives you freedom in a way.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It does. So I think that happens to a lot of women, because you get in sort of by the back door, or something, you might say.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, yes, then I did, I did everything in the gallery that year: handled all the budget, handled everything. And I had—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That was really when you first had taken over. I mean that was your first chance to do that, in a sense, and not in title you were taking over but in fact you were, for that year.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, but it was, you see, then there was several years when Gervais came back before I was fully responsible.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But of course it was during that period that I realized, but it took me a long time, again—and this is another female trait—it took me a long time to realize how much I knew, and what a good job I did, and how right I was for that job.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  To give yourself credit.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And it took a long time. When they, when they were going to hire a director, after Gervais left, and then didn't for several years, I didn't even apply because I still didn't feel that I was—ah, let's see, how was it? Well, I'll get into that when we come to it later, but—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, it took a long time for me to realize and give myself credit for it. And of course I didn't have a degree, and I still had that idea in mind—I was all brainwashed about that, you know, that you just don't do these things if you don't have the degree—and so I—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So you went, you did go off '65, '66, then to get the degree?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  As a full-time student?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, I became a full-time student and took a lot of wonderful courses. Oh, David what's his name, and Pete Steeple, and the history of art division was actually going then, by then, because I had all these courses from those art historians who came in.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, they were there earlier than '67, yeah. And we had some quite good teachers I thought. And I got to take three quarters of contemporary, or contemporary art under art history, and I took an aesthetics course in the philosophy department and um—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But you were not able to finish, I take it, that year.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, I didn't finish, but the reason I didn't finish was because I had all these science things and so forth to get. So I had to pick those up later—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, all of the distribution—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —and I really hated all those things, because I was really busy at the Henry Gallery.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] Well, you had already moved on beyond that stage where you want to do all that, and I understand that too; you want to just do your work in your field and—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right, so I kind of fiddled around, then, before I finally did that, and it was a long time, as you can see, before I went back and got the degree. I did it after I left—the Henry Gallery!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It was in '79, at least I read that somewhere, 1979. So, but you actually had done your art history, you were probably way overloaded in that, I presume, and just needed to get your other courses.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I had a lot of really neat courses, and I loved that year. It was fantastic, and see I had, even had questions about whether I'd make a good researcher or whether I was a student, a real student. I had, I've been involved in learning always, that somehow I was intimidated by this whole thing, you know, and didn't know whether I could be a student and a scholar and all that. Well, even when I came out of it, I probably still had questions. Although I was much uplifted during that year. I got a scholarship from the Lambda Rho, and my grades were really good, and of course it was much later that I realized I really am a scholar type of person, is what I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, you continue searching and learning—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, I think so.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —about other things and about yourself. I mean that's a very intellectual attitude that you seem to approach what you do with—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was sure a neat year, though. I really loved that year. And I came back to the gallery, then, just all ready to jump back in and, you know, do even better things than before. And of course Gervais was still there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Still there until '68 I believe as director.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, well that must be when he left to teach full time in the School of Art and that would have been the time, then, that I became fully responsible for the gallery.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yeah, I have that in '68 Spencer Mosely became acting director, when he left, and you were assistant director then at that point.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, let's see now, about all those titles.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh! Going back to before Gervais left, one year—oh—it was when Boyer Gonzales was leaving, and—

DATE: NOVEMBER 28, 1983 [Tape 2; Side 1]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  As I said before, the director of the School of Art was always the director of the Henry Gallery except for a short period in the late sixties, or middle sixties, after Gervais came back from Philadelphia when he was called the director. And the reason for that was that Boyer was leaving, a new director would be coming into the School of Art—and it turned out to be Spencer Moseley—it was a transitional period, and I had begun to see how hard it was for somebody to do the work that he was doing without the title. So I went to the search committee—unbeknownst to him. I don't know that he even knows it today—and told them that I thought this was a bad thing for him not to be. And they listened and within about six weeks he had a letter from the president making him the director of the gallery, which was much better for him, but he, of course he was there then very long. And that's the only—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Why did he leave, do you know?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He said that for a long time he'd had a really hard time trying to decide whether he wanted to be a teacher or a museum director. Now of course in retrospect, I don't know whether that's such a problem. I don't see how it's such a problem, because it's easy to be both, just do each one a little bit less, and I think they tie in very, very well together. But that is what he had said to me. He was also under tremendous pressure from certain members of the School of Art to resign. The reason I know that is because there were two letters written and I have copies of both of the letters. And this also applied to Spencer. Now it's—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You mean pressure from Spencer?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They were letters, pressures on Spencer and on Gervais.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  On Spencer, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The reason I know this is because I do have these two letters. And I don't know that this is all that unusual on campus, because there's always pressure on the director of a museum from the studio faculty. The studio faculty are never happy with a—unless the director happens to be a studio person, then, instead of an art historian, you see or critic.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So I don't know whether that's so unusual, in that case, but there was tremendous pressure on both of them to leave their jobs or, well anyway, pressure on them. So how much that had to do with Gervais' leaving I do not know. But it was a very difficult decision for him to make and I know that it a hard period for him.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And it was at the same time that he was, he and Spencer were supposed to be writing the book on Isaacs that did eventually many, many, maybe ten years later come out.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Very recently, actually.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And that all, that was all very, very, very difficult period. A difficult period for me too.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Now Spencer stayed on though?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  At that point, so he managed to stay there.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. Well he was in power. And I, I think maybe the letters may lay out some reasons but I don't remember at this point.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I looked into the annual reports through the late sixties and early seventies, and once again you get a lot of kudos in those for the fact that you kept things going, during all that period when there wasn't an actual director.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, Mm-hmm [affirmative].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And, so and I want to come back to this period so we won't go into detail now.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, all right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But it seems like a very hectic period and one where there a lot of things in the wind, rumblings of a new museum and so on; I'd like to get back into that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, back into it [ph].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Then by 1972, you were associate director. Now how was that decided? They hadn't gotten around to getting someone?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think what happened. If I wasn't associate director before that, then the reason would have been that from the time that Gervais left until then, there was no director.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And for some reason, I guess Spencer must have become the acting director. Well, he would have become the acting director because Gervais had, by that time, become the director and somebody who came in to take his place would be called the director.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So Spencer was the acting director, and we worked together at that time. Okay. I was obviously to be fully responsible for the operation of the gallery, and my job description said that, which was a great help to me later on, because I did have this in writing. But I guess they made me associate director because I was taking on a lot more responsibility then.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You had that—right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, not really any more than the period before that after Gervais had left. Because I was still totally responsible, but anyway. So they did at least—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Problem with titles and power and everything.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And there's also, then I guess maybe later we could get into the business too there about why there seem to be, there was a plan to get a new director, but they didn't get a new director, from 1972 to 1975.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And perhaps we can go into that later.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, because then 1975 rolled around and that's when you left.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  So, okay. That sort of gives us a framework, and then let's go back and take, I mean we haven't even touched upon what really happened in the last years. So I'd like to go and get into some more detail. What about the power structure, and I more specifically, I'm interested in the formation of the Friends of the Henry Gallery association in the mid-sixties, and how that worked its way into the power play.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  And so on.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well it definitely did.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I mean you can tell me first of all how, where the idea for that came from and how that happened.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. All right. Now, do you want me to go into detail about that at this point?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. I may not get the timing exactly right on this, but some time, some of the Junior League came to Gervais and me. We had lunch together one day, and maybe it was one or two members of Junior League. This has nothing to do with the Henry Gallery Association, but this was the beginning of the integration of the community. They wanted to start a docent program. And Gervais was very uneasy about this and uncertain about it. And I think innately he may have understood way more about it than I.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  About the problems?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  About, that might arise, or about the problems of a small gallery that didn't have a big staff and like that. Now one thing to remember about that was that Gervais was less socially oriented than I. I was very gregarious, and I feel that I got along very well with all kinds of groups of people, and welcomed them, perhaps naively, into the gallery, into various arrangements. So, but he was uncertain about it, and we talked about it quite a lot and Boyer [Gonzales—Ed.] felt that it would be a good idea—he was the director of the School of Art. And so we decided to do it. And so we set up this plan for training the docents and then they'd come in and do their thing. Well, that went on for quite a long time, and when you think about a small—Now of course during this period, and especially after I became responsible, we got a bigger staff. Gradually I began to build it up so we had what we needed. Before, Gervais had not done a lot of that, but he was not a money-raiser, you see, so he didn't look at it in that sense. He was too conservative, probably, for his own good in that respect. Anyway, the time that it took for our staff to take care of the needs of this program was really something. I did not realize it till later, how much of my energies, and everybody else's energies went into this thing. Now we happened to have two people on a league who were responsible for that who were awfully good, and they were bright young women, and—I don't think, they didn't teach any, but they kept the thing going, you know. And then we were able to get art historians from the School of Art to come down and speak free to them. And all of these Junior Leaguers were getting all of this education free.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course that happens all over the United States. Well, when I became responsible for it, I began to see what a drain it was. And I began requiring them to pay for their education. Well this was the first problem. Because to me I really do feel that docent programs are very important for museums in certain instances. But I think you've got to measure, I've always said that you have to put more into an, ah, governmental or a public institution than you take out, or it's going to die. And so there has to be somebody responsible for measuring all these things and seeing whether more is coming in than going out, emotionally, economically, every way. You've got to watch all that, or it disappears. I mean I'm surprised our government hasn't disappeared by now because of all of that. Because we don't have much if anybody watching the store these days.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] Right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, that was the first time that we began to have more people coming in. Then some other people, who may or may not have been from the Junior League, but was from a more socially oriented—I don't consider the Junior League in their jobs, in their projects to be so socially oriented, and I think that they hope they're not looked at that way too. But some of them are certainly in certain social circles where the economic level is pretty high and so forth. Well, some of those people came to Boyer and to Gervais and wanted to start a helping organization for the Henry Gallery, and I thought, "Gee, that's very nice." And I didn't know, you know, at that time, I knew nothing about collections of art, and economic interests in art, and social prestige through art, and I mean all of those things were—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, that was not as well developed in Seattle then as now either; you probably [hadn't, haven't] seen quite as much of it yet.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I probably hadn't seen any of it, and if I'd seen it I wouldn't have recognized it, because I was too naive. But I think hadn't it been going on in the east forever?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, yeah, in the east, sure.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. So then—I may not have this quite right now, but I think perhaps they were turned down, for some reason or other. And I, I just can't quite, I don't know whether I have that quite right or not, except that—or, this may have been the way it happened. Either what I've just said or this way. This group went to Dr. Fuller and wanted to start a contemporary group, Contemporary Art Council.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And he turned them down. Or turned them down to a certain extent. So that it at least was not what the group of people from the community hoped to have. So then they came to the Henry Gallery. That may have been the way. So the Henry Gallery Association was started, and there were about, a very small group, they were about eight or ten people, and I could find the records of that someplace.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They wanted to help raise money? Did they want to help give tours mainly for the [inaudible]?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it never was stated how they were going to help.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And it may have been stated orally that, or the facts alluded to that they did have collections of art that might be shown. And I think also at this time—and I may be wrong about the exact timing of this—but I also think that, for instance, people had offered their collections to Dr. Fuller, Mrs. Wright being one, and he did not see the value in that collection. Unbelievably, he couldn't see the value in that wonderful collection, so he turned it down. Later when Tom Maytham was there—oh, I'll tell you that story later. Don't forget, because that's a good story about Tom Maytham and the Wright Collection.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  The Wright Collection?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And the showing at the Henry Gallery and the not showing at the Henry Gallery. Anyway, it was just assumed that these people from the community who supposedly were economically endowed, and who were interested in the university and the Henry Gallery, would help the Henry Gallery some way. So it was set up, and there were bylaws made, and it would be interesting to look at those bylaws now. I know that later I rewrote the bylaws and I don't know whether then that was ever put into effect or not; I think it may have been after I left, because there were so many problems with it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  How did that evolve then? Did that, what did that evolve into?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Your role, I guess.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —we had a membership chairman, who was very reluctant to do much about membership. I just assumed when you the membership chairman you really went out to get a big membership for the Henry Gallery, and then we'd really become integrated with the community! And, well, there were certain stabs at it made, and gradually we had a membership of maybe 3[00], 4[00], 500 people, which was pretty good, actually. But it could have been so much bigger than that, you know, and it would have helped us so much more. But the amazing part of it was, I did a survey one time and found that the people on the board were giving like $100 a year. And most of it was coming in from all these little people around and many of these people were my staunch supporters and they gave a lot, a lot of little gifts, you know. So we began taking in, I can't remember how much each year, but it was of course not as much as it should have been. And the board of trustees stayed very small, and they were, all the people on the board of trustees were of like mind. And I can't say that they were all super economically sound—there were maybe one or two or three couples of them were, and the rest of them were all people who were surrounding them, kind of you know, socially, and hoping to be in the same position one of these days.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Satellites.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. And it grew, it grew clear to me that this organization was much too ingrown, but I assumed that they didn't realize it. [Laughs.] And they're just, they needed to be told about this, you know. And I also realized that they were very much interested in showing only their kind of art, the kind that came from New York in the sixties. And that that as far as I was concerned, although nobody had told us what it was we were supposed to do, as far as I was concerned that didn't fill a broad enough role for a university museum because I felt we had a lot more people to serve than that. And so I didn't realize that I was in conflict; it just seemed to me it was a matter of education more than anything, but I obviously was probably a great threat. Because I, I didn't cover up my feelings about these things, but I didn't feel that I was aggressively obnoxious about them either. I thought it was a matter of education, so I was going to do a little more education [ph]. Anyway, let's see now, what else can I say about that that would answer your question.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well can you move on up into the late sixties, early seventies, with the Henry Gallery Association? And was there much change in the amount of power that they exerted?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  I mean, did they try to make it a miniature [ph] museum?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well that's what they hoped to make it, yeah.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, they did. Now—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And they came into conflict with you—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, you see by this time, Gervais was leaving then, and of course he was in direct conflict with them. And much more frightened than I was. I mean, he tended to be a very reactionary person about things like that. I tended to think it was a matter of education and you just keep working on it, you know. And I remember—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You would confront it head on, probably.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, sure, and, you know, and then I talked to the powers that be and naturally they would understand, and that, and Spencer Moseley certainly did understand it, but I think he was also naive in thinking that this could ever work out this way. Because I could see that it was going to get worse rather than better as far as the way we served our publics. Well, anyway, I even assumed that he was, well he was naive! I don't think it was a matter of education with him; it was a matter of education with him. And he was very naive about it. And as, as trusting, as uneducated about these things as I was before that, I saw the problems way sooner than he did, and Gervais had seen them way sooner than I because he was very reactionary about these things. So..


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We began having exhibitions, wonderful exhibitions; there were quite a few that were really good, like, one that I did, I went to the opening of the Walker Arts Center. That would have been 19—I went to a lot these [inaudible] opening sort of things, because I was president of the association.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, no wonder [ph].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So I traveled a lot, and my life began to really pick up outside the city. But I went to the Walker Art Center and it was superb experience. Oh my. It was wonderful.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was, Larabie Bongans [ph], you know, did that building and here was all of this fantastic art, of the sixties, that all of these people in this organization espoused and with these fantastic white walls and here was this completely ethereal Robert Irwin piece that I'll never forget it. And a wonderful Larry Bell piece and well, all kinds of wonderful things, and so—Laddie John Dill that I'd never seen before and here was this neon and sand and glass and very environmental kind of thing. And so I came back and I thought we've got to have a show like that. So I got in touch with Richard Koshalek, which was the, who was the curator at Walker Art Center, and we worked out a plan to have about 13 of those artists at the Henry Gallery. And it was called New Works from the Walker. And that was a wonderful show.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And the Henry Gallery Association supported that?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think that they did, yeah, I'm almost sure they did, and I think they liked it a lot. I do believe that they never really gave me any credit for it, because I think they were concerned that I'm, perhaps my philosophy wasn't exactly the way theirs was. Or maybe—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Could you be more specific about it?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —they just didn't like the way I combed my hair or something, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] Could you be more specific, though, about how your philosophy differed from theirs?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, my philosophy was that, I was taking it on myself, since nobody had told me what my responsibility was, and no one had ever told Gervais either, and it came down from the School of Art through pressure to show more of their, the studio work, but it was written, what our responsibility was. So I was assuming with all my energy, and certain intelligence, that I could do everything. And so I saw a responsibility to the School of Art, to the faculty, to the staff on the campus, to other departments on the campus, and interdisciplinary kinds of things, because I'm very much oriented to interdisciplinary, to all the creativity, not just to the visual art, and to the community. And in the community not only art of the sixties, but the printmakers, the watercolorists, the craftsmen, who were already building a program at the Henry Gallery when I came there. And I had this wonderful opportunity of learning about the crafts there, in addition to all the other arts, which I never would have had otherwise. So, and the people, the ten people on the Henry Gallery Association all had collections of art of the sixties, they were very much tied into New York, rather than the Northwest, and still are. And I'm the first one to say that, I'm not a regionalist, I'm mean, I'm not a chauvinist as far as the region goes, because I think it's very important of, also part of my philosophy that we need to bring in wonderful things from all over to educate the students and so forth.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, it, I think that probably, basically, although I didn't realize it, my philosophy was very encompassing as far as education goes, and these people were very much closed to all of, a lot of the things that I was—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They were looking at one particular kind of thing—art of the sixties from New York.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, and if any of them were oriented toward education, that's another question. I mean, that may not have even been in their minds, but to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were, and if they thought that New York art of the sixties was the most important art that ever was.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You're speaking of whom, specifically? Ginny Wright for one?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, uh, well, Virginia Wright was on, yeah, she was I believe on the board. She was very close to it, if she—Yes, she was on it for a while, maybe a long time. The interesting thing about Virginia was I had very great respect for her. She had a very difficult time in the days when she was a more experimental, more risk-taking, very innovative woman, I feel. And I think rightly or wrongly she is not that way so much today. And you know, as we get older we change in a lot of things like that. But she had a terrible time with Dr. Fuller.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Inaudible.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And when she started collecting pop art, in the late fifties, he wouldn't even show it.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So she would bring it out to Gervais and ask him if she could have a show at the Henry Gallery, and of course we were just enthralled with all of this, and we would put up Tom Wesselman and all of those interesting things and have wonderful exhibitions. And she asked us, at that time, perhaps, not to say where the work came from. Because as she said to me one time, it was as if she had a blood line to the Seattle Art Museum and I think she was crushed when Dr. Fuller wouldn't accept these things. He thought she was crazy, you know, probably.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I'm sure. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Or maybe he just cared about, he may not have thought of it in that way, but he cared only about the things he cared about. So then, she also, after Gervais left, would come to me every once in a while, and would ask if I would have Alex Hay, or the Mabu Mimes Troupe, or some troupe that her sister had told her about from New York City, at the Henry Gallery, and she'd give me $250 to do it. And it was wonderful. I appreciated that greatly. And everything I was able, all these things that she suggested to me went right along with the way I thought. See, she had this line of the actual painting from the sixties, but she also was tuned in with her sister and appreciated some of these oddball conceptual or environmental or performance kinds of things.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Happenings like that. I think she eventually—and probably this was after she began her foundation and the architectural art in Western Washington—it does seem to me that she grew away from the conceptual/environmental, well maybe not the environmental.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Not the environmental quite as much.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think [she, this] was after the Heizer piece, but I think she was really in, then, into a more of a memorial kind of sculpture, or monumental kind of sculpture. So, yes, she was active, and I'm sure that in the long run, she probably would have had a lot of effect on these other people. But I think that she was not fearful, I've never thought of Virginia Wright or Bagley [Wright—Ed.] as being fearful people. I think that, maybe I could say that they are not broad enough in their—perhaps, they are way more elite than I am as far as kinds of art that they'll accept. I think art is important in a lot of other areas than I think they are. But I've not seen them as fearful people. But of course when you have as much money as they have, I don't think you need to be fearful about anything.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I was never fearful either, and I didn't have any money. But the other people on the board were very frightened people. And they also had big collections, were gathering more and more collections, from New York City, and of course it was important for those collections to be shown, and so—oh, some of the people—I can't remember who was first on the board—Anne Gerber was on the board, and the Denmans, Jean and John, and the Dootsons, Honey and—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —Bob. And eventually Saul Schligger was on the board, he was also on Mrs. Wright' foundation board, along with Greenberg and whoever else was there. And a woman by the name of, oh, I can't think of her name.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  How did that group have an impact on the plans for a new museum. It seems to me it was going to be a Wright museum, when—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't know that it ever, I don't know that I remember it being called the Wright museum.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, not being called that, but I understand that they were going to do a lot of the funding for—these [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think that that was based on a lot of tremendous naiveté.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I wondered, that's my next question about the late sixties and all of that. In looking over the records of the gallery and so on, there seemed to be a lot of excitement about a new museum and about bringing in ideas from outside, getting consultants here, well-known people to come into Seattle, and they made proposals. Seemed to be a lot of excitement and I'm curious to know about that period and then about what happened, why that all just seemed to go [whistles] and fizzle out.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, as I look back in retrospect it was all built on naiveté'. Spencer Moseley's naiveté'. He thought that these people from out in the community were going to do way more for us than they obviously did, or were going to do. Now, you have to ask, why didn't they do much? Was it because they didn't like me being there, in my responsible position? Did they want somebody else, would they then give a whole lot more money, if the things were different. Did they not like Spencer? Did they have innate feelings about the university, as a lot of people do? What reasons didn't they give more money? The fact is that they gave promise of money, but not very much money. And of course the university at that time, the regents were all hoping for more money. So everyone was very conscious that this group of people who it was beginning to look like were going to help. And so, Spencer began talking—oh. Somehow as happens on a campus every once in a while, in one of the university budgets, a figure got thrown in the line items one time of $6 million for a new art museum.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And Spencer came down to the gallery with this and we looked at it and we couldn't figure it out. Or it may have even before Gervais left; I can't remember. But somehow, there'd been enough talk about this that somebody threw that in as a line item. And Gervais, and Spencer began to get very excited about this possibility; it planted the idea in his mind as a matter of fact. Now this sounds crazy, and I don't remember just how that happened. But anyway, so Spencer began to make plans for a new building, and he was positive that the money was going to come from these people. And I had very big questions about that from the beginning.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Because—as you probably know, and probably you and I might be like this, if we had a big collection of art—you can gain an awful lot from a collection of art. Everybody wants it, the museums all want it, your shown a lot of deference because of it, and you can use a collection of art, to the hilt, to get the things that you need. Well, so I had taken that view on this thing, but Spencer felt that it was really going to come. So, he set up—and this was the period after Gervais left, I was made the associate director—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —Spencer had just come on from the faculty as the head of the School of Art, he had made me totally responsible, according to my job description, and he and I would meet now and then to make plans for the gallery. He set up a committee out of the Henry Gallery Association—and you may have seen the names as some of your research—to consider what we wanted for a new museum. And made the announcement that there, the plan was to have a new museum. And of course the money would need to be raised, but I think he didn't stress that point about having to raise money. There was also this hope that it was going to come somehow through the legislature. So we had this, these meetings, and I would attend these meetings, and at the same he was the acting director of the Henry Gallery, and there was to be a director, obviously, after Gervais left. And I did not have enough faith in my own ability to say, "I want to be the director." I just thought that I didn't know enough about it yet. It wasn't until, you see, 1972 that I knew that was nonsense, and I really did know. So Mrs. Wright and Dr. Schligger were on the committee and—and he set this up through the dean. I was not on the committee, but he always invited me to the meetings. Well, that showed a certain deference for me, but I don't understand why I wasn't on the committee.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  On the committee, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh now wait a minute. Was this also a search committee? There may have been two committees. A search committee for a new director, and the building committee. And I think I was on the building committee and I did a great deal of research about it, the physical aspects of the museum and made reports and so forth.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And now, who brought these people in? Who paid for them to come out here?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Like Alloway, and—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  These people I'm talking about now are all local people on that committee.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So then there was a search committee, and the reason for the search committee was to get a new director. And so Spencer thought well, why not bring these people out. The university paid for them to come out. Why not bring them out and they can look over what we've got, decide what we might have, make a report, and also be considered as the director.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's what I thought it was, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So they tied the two things then together. So. Some wonderful people came, absolutely wonderful people, and it would be fun to tell you about each one of them, like Bill Seitz, and Jim Harranthus, from the Everson Museum who was so controversial, and [inaudible] brothers.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Alloway came?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Lawrence Alloway was one of them.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Lawrence Alloway came, fantastic.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh huh, well, and Jan van der Marck came at some point there.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And Jan van der Marck came, and there were six of them in all.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Grossman, I think, was another one.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Grossman? I don't know who that is, but somebody by the name of Grossman. And I also have—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Ah, I think he was—one came from [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Ed Fry, Edward Fry came.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, he came and Grossman or whoever that is may have been that one person that came who was from the Museum of Modern Art, and I never did know him very well.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, I, I, the name doesn't [inaudible] much either.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, they were all just wonderful people. And the amazing part was that, then Jan came and he charmed the whole Henry Gallery Association, and the amazing thing in that was, then between—when was that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Those people came, oh, I just have the late sixties, early seventies.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, you see, I'm thinking of my period from when Gervais left, '68 through '72, oh, okay.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's when that happened. All those people came.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. We're supposed to be getting a new director between '68 and '72.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Which is what the finally actually time when the dean decided that he was going to make his nationwide search and really get a director. So in those years in between there, Jan turned out to be one that everybody liked a lot, and is really a very bright young man. I must say that I would describe him as being one of the glamour curators, if you know what I mean.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He, socially he was just perfect; he worked very well in with all the parties and all this business, and he also was very knowledgeable about the kind of art that all the people who were in the Henry Gallery Association were [inaudible]. And especially Mrs. Wright and certain of the others. And so everybody, I think, hoped that he might be the director. Well, as it turned out, he got hired but he got hired as a curator.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I never knew why that happened. It was Spencer's decision, and he had a very good relationship with the dean, and he was hired as the curator. And Spencer told me at that time that I was the associate director, and that I had full responsibility and I, that may have been the time when my job description was made. Yes, it was. And so Jan came and he did a few shows, but now almost—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  He was basically under you, then?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Working for you?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He was working on my staff. And of course I did not understand this—this is probably something that should go on the other tape. I'm really, I think we're getting to the point where it should.



SUE ANN KENDALL:  But he, when—Well, let me ask you some questions first of all about the shows that went on when he was here because I'm curious to know whether you two differed a great deal on what kinds of shows were important.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He, no because, I didn't differ at all with him, because as far as I was concerned, we would have so many shows like that a year and the rest would be other kinds of shows. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Now he was, he was focused on conceptual kinds of art—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Contemp—right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —European things even. He brought that one show called—


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, I can't remember which one. Oh, Intentional Impurities, I mean, things, bringing to get things together in a different way.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, now a lot he brought, you see, were also canned shows, which surprised me terribly. And I remember he told me one time that I shouldn't be putting together so many shows myself; I ought to go out and get them, they are so much easier to get that way, to do that way, you know. Well, I wasn't, I mean I was enjoying this creative aspect of putting together shows and I did a lot of shows that were very interesting from that standpoint. Anyway—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. It seems like your focus would have been to maintain interest in the local scene, what was going on here—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, not only local, but historical—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —and crafts and—right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —for the history department—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, maybe local painters, sculptors, crafts, also the School of Art, and then odds and ends kind of things, after he came, that he wasn't particularly interested in.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. So you didn't really disagree, but it seems like you might have had a nice balance.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I didn't disagree with him at all. It was a wonderful balance. It was fantastic.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Ah hah. From the outside it seemed a little different.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so long as I was able to keep enough space clear in the year, to put all these other things—and of course I should have demanded that somebody tell me what my purpose was there! I didn't do that!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I should have insisted. I asked many, many times, but I should have insisted, before I did a thing, for somebody to say what my mission was there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  If I don't want to stay, then I could have quit. But they should have told me what my mission was.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Given you some parameters to work with.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. Instead, I was struggling, doing it all, you see. And then I had this idea in my mind, well, maybe there would be a new building, and if there was then there was going to be room for all of this.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I had a fantastic idea for a new building, and worked with architectural students. This had nothing to do with the building committee, but I worked with architectural students a lot in planning new buildings, and I would lay out a program and then they'd plan buildings. Well, one of these was just fantastic. It had, it had everything in it, the contemporary scene, as well art history and so forth. It was a wonderful building. Maybe I can find that one and show it to you sometime. But anyway—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I read Jan's proposal, too, for what he want, what he thought the museum should be and so on, but I'm wondering if he didn't come out here with the assumption that he would become director.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He did! He came—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So your relationship was very clouded by who was what.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was very tense. And I did not know why. Now that, now I'm saying again, I think we're getting into a part—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, we can put this on another tape, but—I mean, in other words, it was clouded, that—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was very clouded. Write it down so we won't forget to talk about it, because it was very, very important, and very revealing. It was very clouded.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Inaudible].

[Audio Break.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I didn't really answer your question fully about the new building. As I say it really was based on naiveté and I think it was Spencer's naiveté, his hopes that some things were going to happen that really weren't going to happen. I think I was much more practical about that than he was, and I was definitely more practical as time went on. I think he saw all of these people in the Henry Gallery Association as really getting behind this and contributing large amounts of money, and also getting their friends to contribute large amounts of money. And I can't say why that didn't happen, but I can say that I think it was a naive idea, that it was going to happen. Now, on the, on another side, some people began to say, see by this time, Dr. Fuller was gone, there was a new director at the Seattle Art Museum, and I think that had the university gone ahead, even if they'd had the money to do it, there would have been probably a tremendous amount of criticism from a lot of areas in the city, and it may have stopped money coming in for a university museum, because by that time people were beginning to think in terms of an addition or a new Seattle Art Museum. And heavens, everybody knows that for years, the Seattle Art Museum hadn't done nearly what it might have done. So that there would have been a kernel of reason in all of that, and it could be that somebody—now you have to know that there are people at the university who are very close to the people with money in the community, for instance, well, the president always, and before President Gerberding, I can't remember his name, the one that was there for a little while. Anyway, he tried to keep his hand in with the economically viable people in the community. And Solomon Katz had by this time become interested in art, and was beginning to be tapped for this and that out in the community as far as art goes. So that, and he also may have been on the, he was either on the Henry Gallery Association board or else he was a representative of the university on it. So it's possible that some of those people at the university may have decided that they should pull back and not even talk about this anymore, until the Seattle Art Museum got what it needed. And, but I can't believe that any group of people who has the financial wherewithal to do it, like this group who were the Henry Gallery Association, would not have moved heaven and earth to get enough money to build a building if it had been named for them, and if they could have had complete power over it on the campus. Because it would have had the burnish of being on the intellectual [inaudible].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Intellectual, on the cutting edge, uh huh, right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, and so I think that in a minute, maybe even today—although things have changed quite a bit now with the Seattle Art Museum—but maybe even today and certainly ten years ago, one small group of people would have moved heaven and earth to have had a new museum out there, situated nicely with them in control of it. But you see, one thing about the Henry Gallery Association was that they kept alluding to their being the board of the Henry Art Gallery. They were not the board of the Henry Art Gallery.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They're not the board, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They were the board of the Henry Gallery Association. And the regents were in power over the—So there was always this kind of thing. Well, anyway, it didn't, the building didn't come about and I think it was a poorly conceived idea in the first place. I think there was no Dr—Would Dr. Odegaard [former president of the university—Ed.] have been there in the early stages of it?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He was there, you see, when the Henry Gallery Association was first formed. And yes I think he may have met on some of those early meetings.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I can't recall the chronology.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, anyway, it fell through and it was all the buildup, I would say, of one man, and that was Spencer, who was behind this hope that this would happen.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  There does seem to have been some allusion though that was maintained by certain people in the community, because the Henry Gallery then was, you were doing a lot of exciting things, a lot of shows, the video show, you know, a lot of things were happening then that, I think that people in contemporary art at least felt that something maybe was going to happen that the Seattle Art Museum had never done, and all of that was very exciting. It was late sixties, that was part of that era to, you know, we can move mountains, we can do lots of things, and then it just kind of fizzled out. That's the way it appeared from the outside.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think that probably, I think that there were probably people out there who thought that it might happen. And it was all done, and all of that atmosphere was around because Spencer had set it up.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He even had a model of the building made.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's amazing, without having more basis for it, so it wasn't an illusion.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I can't remember; I think he went to one of the architects on the campus and asked if they could make a model of a, of a possible museum.

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9950_m.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You're completely right about the excitement of that period. That was the time of the revolutions on campus.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was the time when the big building boom was on in all the universities all across the campus. Charles Odegaard got the credit for all of the building boom out here. It was when the new Kane Hall [small auditorium and classroom building—Ed.], the new undergraduate library [subsequently named the Odegaard Undergraduate Library—Ed.], the new Meany Hall [concert hall complex—Ed.] was built, and the new plaza. It was the time of, for instance, many of the shows that I did there were things like an earth-moving project that was so exciting I can't believe it. And it was done in conjunction with the, with the excavation and so forth, around the [inaudible] yeah.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. I want to ask you more about that later.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, okay. Well, and I can talk about some of those shows at that time, but like, I brought the Claes Oldenberg Icebag.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, Icebag.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And a lot of things like that. And it was a terribly, terribly exciting time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Very fertile time, it seems to me, where, with a lot of things being generated, a lot of ideas sort of coming together. And things were happening, and all of your interdisciplinary things at the gallery there and what I, what it appears from the outside is that all that was, all the potential was there, by the, 1972 or beyond it kind of dropped off.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But you see I also have to say that the politics were not very good in there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No! So that underneath it may have been rotten to the core for all I know, but it—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  In that period. That's right. And that could very well be what it was that put the damper on the whole thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Because the politics, the politics were—unbelievable. It was so bad, the feelings, it was a terrible thing. And I was pretty naive myself about all of that, so I lived through it in a kind of a numbness, and because I didn't understand it. Well, of course I understand it all completely now, and I don't think I could learn very much about politics now. But it was a—it was an exciting period for many, many reasons and a tense period also because of that political situation.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Okay, we'll talk about more, all of this next time.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. All right.

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9951_m.]

DATE: DECEMBER 27, 1983 [Tape 3; Side 1]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I can't really say that it was the most fantastic experience I ever had because almost everything that happened out there was. It was a wonderful experience that was either for the Light, Motion and Sound show, or else it was going to be by itself; I can't remember which, but it was going to be in that main gallery. And so I spent I don't know how long. I got the agreement to get it here, and I can't remember now who all I dealt with. And I'm really sorry that I didn't make a record of that whole thing, because just the experience of getting that here; it took long-distance phone calls almost every day for four months.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I've read a lot of the correspondence in the records.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, it's incredible!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, well I'd like to read that again. Anyway, it turned out that it was coming from some firm in California that Oldenberg wanted to, were going to program it, reprogram that, because it had been shown so much that it needed to be redone. So I had all the dimensions of it, and the problem was getting those people to keep going so they would get it done for us on time. They got it done, and it was a, it was an exciting process I'll tell you to be on them all the time and be certain we were going to have that for this great opening. And it arrived and it wouldn't fit the front door. And I had no way of knowing that it wasn't going to fit because the dimensions were not like it was when it came. And I think what this firm had chosen to do was put it on a bigger platform and maybe it was in parts, but the parts couldn't come apart or something like that, so I remember now—I was destitute. I didn't know what I was going to do with this thing, and I had to find some other place to put it. So I went downtown, I remember, late at night—my work was finished—with my ruler, my tape, and I started in Pioneer Square and worked up all those streets downtown, trying to find space that would fit this. And I assumed that none of the museums could hold it, because it seemed like it was too big for it. And I remember the guards in the banks, for instance; they really wondered what I was doing [laughs], because I came along in the middle of the night with this tape. And I thought maybe the Seafirst Bank could handle it in their big space; they couldn't handle it.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I ended up at Seattle Center and measured their door, one of their doors that I didn't know they had, and it would fit. So the next day I called Tom Maytham and asked him if they'd like to have The Icebag, and it was all paid for, see—Henry Gallery Association paid for part and I raised the rest of it—they were thrilled to have it, of course. We did a lot of things at the Henry Gallery that I think the Henry Gallery Association approved of highly, like the works in the Walker, and a lot of other shows. We had wonderful, wonderful contemporary shows during that time of art objects, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Not just conceptual and performance and all of that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, no, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We had all of that too. And, well, Tom was pleased and so they agreed that they—let's see, what was I going to do, they paid, maybe they paid part of it—anyway, they had the show and it was wonderful, just, just a bag, that was all. And it—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. I saw it, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh did you? Well, it heaved for a whole month or so.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. That was kind of by accident. I mean, it wasn't planned as an inter-institutional show, in other words, it was an accident.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was, but it worked out very well.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What about the annual crafts exhibition?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, the craft exhibition had already been going when I went there, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, really! In '56.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. Yeah. It started in 1951, I think it was, when the craft groups around town went to Gervais and asked him if he would do a competitive show for them every year. And he was very wary, as he was with every group that ever came, and—but Gervais was also very honest about, he would be wary about something, but when it turned out well, he was the first one to say that "I was wary about this, but now it's worked out fine," see, which a lot of people wouldn't do I think. Gervais was not a liar. Gervais was a very truthful person. And I don't know today, but that's my opinion about him. Sometimes he didn't say everything, but certain things he might not say, but he was a truthful person. Anyway, these women, you see, came out to—they were mostly all women—came out to ask him to do this, and he eventually—you know, people put a lot of pressure on him that in the earlier years I didn't realize was pressure. For instance, he told me later that when I applied for the job that was open at the gallery that he felt a great deal of pressure from me, and so he gave me the job. [Laughs.] Which is a very strange way of doing business it seems to me. But he did tell me that later, that he felt great pressure from me. Anyway, these women put a lot pressure on him, so he agreed to do it, and it turned out very well. It started in '51 or '[5]2 or something like that, and it went every year until 1977, which was the last one, and then they stopped it at the Henry Gallery. And of course, in there someplace a lot of museums stopped competitive shows because there are very bad things about them.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It was unmanageable almost; I mean, there were so many entries by the time it ended it was almost unmanageable, wasn't it, for you? To handle the jury and—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it was very, very difficult. And of course all those women did a lot of volunteer work in the early stages, but as we got busier my staff and I both decided that it was very important for us to do it all. Because, just dealing with all those masses of volunteers around was a great problem. And actually it was Fred Dunnigan, my registrar, who said he would rather do it himself. And so I made that decision, that we wouldn't any longer have volunteers. And I think that was a little bit hard on them too; they liked that business. We did have some volunteer help, but not in the registration and so forth. But they were there when the juries were there and so forth. Anyway, it was annual until 1965, then biennial after that, which Gervais and I decided should happen, and the craftsmen didn't like that. It was very hard to cut it down to biennial, but the problem was that it looked the same every year. And that's why a lot of museum directors around the United States cut out entirely annual competitive shows, and I think that's probably why the Northwest Annual is gone too. There are things to be said for not having competitive shows.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But there are also things to be said for them. If we didn't have all of the records at the Henry Gallery of that show, year after year, with the small catalog that was put out every year, with the photographs, illustrations of all the award winners—There's a tremendous amount of information in there for anybody doing research. And it helped me greatly with my book on the history of ceramics in the northwest.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Even though I've lived through it too. So during those early years that we had that show, it gave me the possibility of learning something about crafts as well as painting and sculpture and other arts [ph]. And I certainly learned through all those years that the crafts were exciting, a lot of important things going on in those media, and I always felt it was a great advantage to me to have learned about all that. And I've—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, it's become one of your major interests, also.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it is. It definitely is a major interest, just as public art has always been, and of course contemporary art of almost any kind is interesting to me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. I guess maybe we should get back to the original question, which we were—we've been discussing things that answer that—but my question of what you feel are your major contributions to the gallery, were. And maybe you've broached most of those topics.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think I've said quite a few things that I think—one thing that I did, which was a change from Gervais—he was, I think I learned from him how to run a museum, how to take care of audits, how to have respect for the object. He was very much tuned into the aspect of the museum, and into the research aspect. And that's where I began to learn about that. He said himself that he wasn't as good with people. And so it seems to me that I carried what he did into my regime, because by that time it was drilled into me—how to treat the objects and so forth, and actually then also added all of this overlay of the association with the visitors and docents and all kinds of people who came around, and made it an active place. And for instance when he was still there, we would have never had a dance in the main gallery of the Henry Gallery. One of the first things I did was to bring University of Washington School of Art faculty in with the students at the faculty show and have a dance one night. And the students made what they called rhythm sticks and we had 600 pair of those at the door and 1,200 people showed up. And I was so worried about the paintings, because I had never seen a crowd like this before, that during the evening I spent most of my time removing paintings with the help of my staff and putting them downstairs. I didn't, I had no idea there would be that many. Well of course the dust it raised would have been quite a bit, I would imagine.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you've got a big question: Do you do that in a museum or don't you?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, there's that same issue again.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So—That's right. And this is something that Gervais would not have dreamed of doing. Now I remember when Roger Downey wrote that impossible article that he did in the Argus about the Henry Gallery, and about how terrible it was—and actually he was really attacking me in the article. He said something about in there that he, that the collection hadn't been taken care of. And that was not true. When, when I got there, the collection was piled in that small room, which is the collection storage area. And in my very earliest years at the Henry Gallery, Gervais was seeing that those paintings that Henry had given to the university were beginning to have care. He had slots built in that room so that everything fit in, and more too. He began a conservation program, and I learned about that during that time. We had, and he looked and looked until he found the best conservator, and that conservator came to the gallery and examined the paintings. He set out a plan for conserving these things, for restoring them, for so much money. He went to the dean and got money to restore the Winslow Homer, for instance. The Bugerow [ph], the paint was falling off of it; he had that restored. He had a lot of our paintings restored, and he set to work to have one of the staff make new boxes for all the pots—well that was after I had bought quite a lot of pots—and they're wonderful little boxes; they are kept clean. He bought—I can't remember what you call the boxes now that are for prints and drawings; they're beautiful black boxes that come in different sizes; they have the right kind of interior so that the paper is not hurt at all.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And all of our drawings and prints went into those boxes, and they were very carefully stored, and mounted on exactly the right kind of mounting, and with the right kind of hinges, and the right kind of glue—everything was done perfectly. And I thought it was so unfair of Roger to have made that temptation [ph]; it was—I mean people would infer from that that the collection was a mess like that [ph], and that is not true.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The room, I mean the building is not adequate.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But the collection—and at the time that the university finally told me that they were going to excavate for the 1,000-car parking garage and the three new buildings on the campus in 1968, they didn't tell me until about six weeks before it started to happen, and here I was with these valuable paintings in the building, so I had them all taken out and up to the Burke Museum [also on the University of Washington campus—Ed.] and stored just before the trucks began rumbling across, you know, for years they did this.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh yeah. Yeah, it went on forever.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Dust was everyplace and all of those things were taken very good care of during that time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What about the Henry Gallery today, versus the Henry Gallery when you were there?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well I, you know, I really don't know very much about the Henry Gallery today. One thing I do know is that a number of things have happened for the Henry Gallery, and I have a hunch that much of it happened because of me. You know, many times when there is turmoil in an institution, some good things come out of that turmoil. And I heard somebody say—I think it was Jim Hazeltine—said one time—he knows a lot about the museum business—and he said, "Generally, when there's great turmoil, somebody will be hired then who will not be there very long, and then someone else will be hired who will be there for quite a while." But in the process of going through what I did—I met with the dean a lot—and I really feel that I educated him greatly about what a university museum is, what the pitfalls are, what are the problems of special-interest groups. And as a matter of fact, at my invitation, he went to California to one of our Western Association of Art Museums' meetings about university museums while I was the president. He came down and sat through all the sessions. He learned a lot.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is Beckman?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Beckman. And this was after he had taken the school, Henry Gallery away from the School of Art. Well he began to learn more, you see, then. I also helped to educate him about private collectors, and what they might hope to get out of a museum. I sent him a lot of books along those lines so that he would know what the New York scene, and the dealers/artists/collectors scene was back there, critics, and he learned a great deal about that. I also felt at the time that the Henry Gallery Association's board should be a lot bigger and much more diversified than it is, and I told him that. As a matter of fact in all my papers here I have a list of things that I suggested to him that should be done, and all of them are done, so far as I can see. One thing, the director of the School of Art now has made a choice, apparently, to deal mostly with American contemporary art, or maybe of this century and the last century. And I think that's a very good, very good direction to go, because if the gallery has anything in its collection, it would be that. And this means, since it's not under the School of Art that doesn't have a board like the Seattle Art Museum has to lay down the laws, and the Henry Gallery Association's board is much broader and more diversified at this point, the director has a free hand, actually, to set out a policy and to follow it. And so it should be very, very quiet I should think out there now, as far as, as far as pressures—I'm sure that Harvey West must have pressures from a lot of places about you should, you're not doing this for us, and you should be doing this for us. But I would say that today the university museum at the University of Washington, except for needing a different space and probably better space, politically is in a situation where a lot of things could be done without tensions.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  How do you think the power structure should be set up, in general with university museums?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I feel that—with university museums?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think that it is important for a university museum to have a support group, like the Henry Gallery Association, but I think it should be very clear about who's in charge and that should be the leadership of the university who you assume has the good of the institution at heart and who will not sell out easily for special favors for themselves. And so I think all I can—and this includes not only the community support group but any group on campus that is trying to get a foothold, and the most logical one of course is the studio department, and, but it could also be the art history division. So that you need really strong leadership to balance—decide first what the direction is going to be—then to try to balance the needs from all of the people who fit into that direction, trying not to let any one of them take advantage of the university. And when, when you say, "Well, who should the director of a museum of a museum report to?" that's very difficult to say, because it depends on what kind of leadership you've got. I do not think it should be the school of art. Possibly it could be an art history division, because I think art historians can do a better job, perhaps, of managing a university museum, art museum. They don't have the special interest of being a studio person.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But a lot of them do have the special interest of making very big names for themselves, so you know you've got that to consider. But then you do in almost, I mean almost any director of anything wants to make a name for himself or herself. I always wanted to do that too. But, and I would say that probably the best person to report to would be the dean in this situation, because the art department, and all the arts, are under this particular dean. But there may be an awful lot of politics involved with that dean. So it could be maybe one of the vice presidents, or if it were a certain kind of university where the president could be free, maybe under the president. So that that director has a much clout as possible to be able to carry on a program that is free of special interests. But it depends on the individual, the individual, not the types of administrative officer, but the individual—how open they are to manipulation. So it's really hard to say who it should be. And at this time—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  How is it elsewhere, for the most part?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it's a lot of different ways. There doesn't seem to be a, any particular way. I'd say that the most important art museums on university campuses in the United States today report probably to a dean or a vice president. I mean like—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Not to a school of art?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Berkeley and—Yeah. Although a lot of them do report to an art history division. I don't really know what percentage report to a studio department like this one. See it probably all depends on which one of those things got started first on the campus, and which has the most power.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And art history is very late here. It was very late to come in.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  I mean I imagine someplace like The Fogg [University of ______—Ed.] probably was connected with the art history department, perhaps—


SUE ANN KENDALL:  —it's such a, it's an art historical museum by nature. And—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, I think maybe it is.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That would make sense there. But it's an interesting question, and you're right there probably is no one solution for all situations.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I guess I would say that, still being an idealist in certain ways, I mean I would hope that all public institutions are as free as possible from special interests. And that goes all the way up to the, the top of the federal government. So I would hope that whoever it is that has the authority over any institution like that is as free of potential for manipulation as possible. And that depends on the person.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I think probably there are fewer of that type person around now than there ever has been before. I don't whether that this is just nostalgia or, I mean whether, I don't know whether that's true or not. But I think there are very few people who get ensconced in a job who are able to keep up their integrity in that respect. I think that power does bring corruption. It's always been true, and I'm afraid it always will be. But there are a few people who are able I think to overcome, or to not let that get to them.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, you wonder, even going up to the level of, say, vice president of a university, if that person could—I mean, that person would also want to know where the money was going to come from as well as say the dean—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —of the school of arts and sciences. So it's putting it up above the dean wouldn't necessarily solve it either.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Doesn't. The one thing it does do is that the further you get away from the studio art, the closer you are to somebody who is more objective academically, generally.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes. Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Because you don't find too many presidents who are studio artists or art historians.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But many times, you might find that in the dean. Or you might find, you'll at least find a humanist in the dean, almost always. And of course a studio artist isn't a, isn't considered to be a humanist. But the people who study all of that are designated humanists.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so you're a little closer in that respect I think.

[Taping ends midway through side one of tape three; second side is blank.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is an interview with LaMar Harrington for the Archives of American Art, on December 27, 1983. The interviewer is Sue Ann Kendall. LaMar, I'd like to ask you about your ideas on museums and their roles. There are those who think a museum should be sort of a circus for all kinds of interdisciplinary activities, and I don't mean that negatively when I say "circus." There are those who think a museum should really be a morgue for artifacts, and stay clear of that kind of thing. In the process of answering that question, you can probably talk a little about what you did at the Henry Gallery, and what you learned, and what you believe along those lines.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I love both of those things that you're talking about. I love the museum—I adored going to the Pompidou Museum in Paris. I know that it has a lot of criticism from a lot of corners, and also a lot of adoration from a lot of people. I love that museum, because, for one thing, it does have all of this activity going on, and activity, much of the time, that has nothing to do with objects. It responds to a lot of the community's needs, but it also has one or two places—oh, it also has this fantastic library, you know, and archives and so forth. I love that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's wonderful.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But the other thing, it has certain spaces that are very quiet, and there are objects displayed, and they're wonderful places to go and get away from this other [ph] if you feel that way about it. [00:02:05] Now, there aren't very many museums that are large enough to do that, so it is a rather difficult thing to try to bring all of that under one roof, but I think they've done it over there, and I think they've done it quite well, too. Well, my—maybe you could say it's a problem—and it is a problem in some ways, and still, I think it's a wonderful thing, too, in many ways—I really do believe that a museum should respond to society's needs. But on the other hand, I think I'm—I guess what you call an elitist, as far as trying to keep the quality up constantly. I hope that I'd never be so arrogant as to think that I know exactly what quality is. But after you're in this field for as long as I've been, you begin to have some fairly strong convictions about certain things, and about art, and given our society—maybe, say, Western society, and I'm not including here, then, tribal societies and the East—but given our own society, under our rules, our aesthetic rules, you do get to the point, pretty soon, that you would be one of the people that—say 10 people met to decide which of these works are the best. I would certainly be one of those people that would agree with probably all the other—maybe eight of those people—about in the order that those things are, quality-wise, are not. So to that extent, I really do believe in trying to uphold the standards of quality in art. [00:04:05] Those things, responding to the public's needs and trying to uphold quality, are in direct opposition an awful lot of the time. One constantly has to keep those balls all in the air, and try to bring some kind of reason to the whole thing. At the gallery, when I was the most responsible for that program—it started in about '68 or '69, and went until '75. As you recall, that was right at the beginning of our revolutions on campuses and the peace marches and all of that, and the uprising of the blacks and all the minorities, the fights between the hard hats and the rednecks and all of this, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Everyone demanding to be heard and to be represented.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The best of what I did—I mean, the time when I had the responsibility, as well as the authority, to do the most that I ever did at the Henry Gallery, was during that period. I think that we responded very, very well to the campus and to the public. But during all this time, a lot of other things that I planned for the gallery had to do with the object, and its relation historically in the world of art, and culturally, but oftentimes just the object itself. I have an appreciation for that whole, that whole array of types of art and ways of presenting it. That—and coupled with the fact that there were so many people making demands on us out there. [00:06:02] This made for a very, very rich atmosphere at the Henry Gallery. Sometimes when I look back at it, I wonder how I ever did it all, because it was a matter of juggling space constantly, and working long, long, long hours over time, and my staff working long hours over time, too. Almost, to a person, I think they felt that they were getting a great deal out of working at the Henry Gallery, so they were most supportive about all of these things, and we made every cent go a long, long ways.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  People out in the community thought you were doing a lot, too, and juggling those things. I think I mentioned that before. Do you think, though, that it might be easier if those functions were separated, as is the case—there are some museums that are set up not to collect, not to try to collect the objects and preserve them and carry on those functions, but want to just have exciting, contemporary exhibits, let's say. Then other of your more traditional museums are more concerned with the object. It must be hard to juggle. I'm wondering how you feel about separating those functions and [inaudible]—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think to separate them is a wonderful thing. As far as collection and organized shows, contemporary shows, I like the idea of separating them. I suppose, if I were the director of a museum today, I think I would choose the one that doesn't have the collection. But I would feel very lost—although my main interest is in contemporary art and contemporary artists, I would really feel lost, not at least to be able to go to see exhibitions showing important historical material every once in a while. [00:08:00] But I think that you can—well, maybe everybody can't go off to New York and see those things, and that's why it's important for some museums around to do those, but those also can be temporary shows. That's something else than the collection. I think that there should be more and more museums that collect only, and show these things, and publish material about them.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And have the conservators that take care of them, and the registrars that do their job, and so on? Their function of preserving all of that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  For one thing, just the—there's such a pressure on the staff when you have a lot of activities going on all the time, and it's important for those people all to be off by themselves so that they can concentrate and study on all of this research and so forth. So I think that that is a very good way to do it, but going back to this other business of the conflicts between the collection and the other type, the presentation of shows—short, temporary shows—there's a terrible conflict for museums like the Seattle Art Museum, because—not so much the Henry Gallery, at least as it is now. There is a space out there to collect a lot more. But for the Seattle Art Museum, here they are coming along with probably a new museum, and the pressures on them from the community to take their works of art—collectors, in the community—for the Seattle Art Museum to take those things as gifts, not only to carry the name of the collector into perpetuity—it's a kind of memorial for the collector—but also, collectors put a great deal of pressure on a museum to do that so that they can deduct these things from income tax. A director of a museum like that has a really great pressure to decide what to do about that—well, and actually, the board, too—in deciding what kind of purpose the museum should be there for. [00:10:12] I would think that this moment, the Seattle Art Museum would be going through difficult times in making decisions like that, but probably they will go toward the collection, just because that's where the money is going to come from.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think they are moving [inaudible] they feel a lot of pressure to do that. I guess that, ideally, might mean the Henry Gallery is freer to do more of the other kinds of things, which it seems to me is what you did more of. You don't have that large a collection there to deal with, and it seems to me you were sort of filling a role that the Seattle Art Museum was not, and still basically is not, and that is to present these contemporary kinds of exhibits.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, we did. We showed—and within that program of showing contemporary exhibits, almost everything we did was organized there on the spot. Which, of course, takes a lot of time and energy and knowledge from somebody. Either we did it in staff, or else I would invite other people to come in and do those shows, and many times, the art history faculty would do them. Along with those exhibitions—and the types of exhibitions that we did during those years, and that might be changed now—not that those shows that we did then are any less valuable today, but because the space is so small out there that somebody does need to make a decision about what's going to be shown there, and then stop doing all of these other things. One of my problems was that the pressures were on from a lot of different sources, and so the variety of things that I showed while I was there may have been greater than it would have been had I stayed and somebody had said, "Well, now, we're going to stop doing this, and we're going to stop doing this," and then one could zero in on fewer things, and be less distracted, I think, too. [00:12:14] But—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You think you tried to do too much sometimes?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it could be that we tried to do too many things. I didn't feel that way at the time, because both my staff and I were all kind of tuned into that kind of activity. There was a tremendous amount of dynamism among that staff out there, and it could be that we tried to do too many things. Now, we did a series of ethnic shows, for instance, which met the needs of the Chicanos, and the blacks, and other minorities. But of course, when you're trying to meet the needs of, say, the blacks, if you do an exhibition of African art, which we did an awful lot of, it really doesn't mean a lot to them. They want their own work shown, and that's where, then, the elitism of quality begins to get into it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. It's a perennial problem. The contemporary artists want to be shown—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —versus the museum.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And the Chicanos, although they did enjoy the—we had a huge Mexican folk art show. It was a colorful, fantastic exhibition, and took a great deal of work to put it on. They came at the opening and did the refreshments, and there was dancing, and there was—I do a lot of interdisciplinary things at the gallery, so that there was always music and poetry and literature and all of those things going on at these shows. They all entered into that and enjoyed it a lot, but what they really wanted was their own work to be shown. I just think that there is no doubt that there are great strides being made among the minority communities in the quality of their art. [00:14:00] This is with women's art, and—everything has to start someplace and develop. Given the possibility and probability that you and I do not understand black art, because we're not black, there is a great deal of difference in its—I've got to say quality, as compared to Western art that's gone on for centuries.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Where do you draw the line as a museum director?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. So it's very, very difficult for a museum director that's trying to listen to the needs of the community and fulfill those needs. But then it's the same difficulty when you're working with almost any artist, because all artists look at the curator and the director of a museum as somebody who may be able to get them recognized somehow. An art historian is the same way. Critics and so forth. I remember, all the years that I was at the gallery, they were at my door constantly, bringing their art in to look at. The emotional burden that that puts on one, if you talk to them about it—I know a lot of museum directors are curators who try to avoid all that, and just go around it, and never have any communication, because it's hard to talk about it. It's hard to talk about art in the first place, and it's very hard to talk about art that somebody is trying to convince you is good if you don't think it is. If you have any humanitarian aspects to you, it's a most difficult thing, because you've got to say some things about that art that aren't edited [ph], and you have to find a way to say it so that this person, with this creative urge, isn't destroyed. Of course, there's always that question—the greatest elitists say that a lot of these people should just quit making art, and they should be doing some other thing. [00:16:00] Well, that's a big question. I feel that sometimes, but again, I have such great respect for the creative urge and the human beings. I think it's so important for us, in the preservation of our society, that I have questions about how hard [inaudible] about that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Are you—I'm sure you're aware of the program, education program, that Bonnie Pit McGillis [ph] has started at the museum. Do you like what she's doing?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  I would guess that you would.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I just—every time I read the new calendar, I think—I have not met her yet—or maybe I did meet her for a moment one day, but I greatly admire what she's doing. And of course, I admire it because it's almost exactly what I did at the Henry Gallery. Much of it is that way.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's what—I had a sense that it was, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now, she apparently has some budget, and of course I was pinching pennies constantly.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Hers has been cut back drastically, by the way/


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Recently. But yes, she has been able to do a good bit so far.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think some of the things that she has planned to go along with those shows are just really ineffable, kind of.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So you really enjoyed the interdisciplinary approach to exhibitions, so that they're—you have the objects on view, but you also add to it this rich, interdisciplinary—well, say, culture, or whatever?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  A kind of ancillary program that goes on at the very same time, and just makes—for instance, when we had the Norton Simon Foundation—contacted me while I was at the gallery, and that was when Norton Simon had just, after all the furor over the Pasadena Museum, and then they were in [inaudible] museum, and then they were beginning to accord with museums around the country. And so Robbie McFarland [ph], the president of the foundation, called me one day and asked me if I thought we might be interested in borrowing work from them for the Henry Gallery. [00:18:07] Of course, I was just astounded and so pleased. He had heard about me and my program at the gallery, and they thought they liked the sound of it. So I went down there, maybe more than once, and picked out works to be shown here, and of course always tried very hard to get the art history faculty involved, and students, in what we were doing there. One of the things that we did with them, at the time—let me see if I can find—I found this in here [inaudible]. Now, on a small scale—these are paintings from the Norton Simon Collections, and the paintings were this painting by—a lot of them were lesser-known artists, of course, that they're willing to lend. Van Heemskerck, van Haarlem, and so on.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh my gosh [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Then, this program I had printed, and we talk here about our [inaudible]. Norton Simon is saying that we're concerned that the real potential of our collections be made available to largest public possible, and so, then, the Henry Gallery is delighted to participate in this program. And at the same time, I had started a new publication at the Henry Gallery called Corto [ph], and its purpose was to have written in it about the shows or the collection, or something to do with the Henry Gallery, about every three months. This one—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —was by Weston. It was wonderful.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  In this one, yes. Wallace Weston did an article about van Heemskerck. [00:20:03] Well, then, during the van Heemskerck festival, we had several special events, and, uh—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  European poetry, 16th and 17th-century.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, poetry, and lectures, and music. Then, was this the one that had—oh, yeah, more than one music [ph]. Was this the one—we did one that was so much fun. This may have not been the group that we borrowed from Norton Simon. There was another group of Northern Renaissance. There was one of those tulip catalogs from—which century were they from? Early century, anyway. The tulip bulbs that were sold in Holland were advertised in tulip bulb catalogs, which were hand-painted. There are only a few of those around, and Norton Simon bought one of them from some other collection someplace. We had the head of the botany department come over one evening and give a talk on tulips and their history and so forth. There were a lot of people who showed up for that, that really wouldn't have come to the museum for any other reason.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think that's the wonderful part about interdisciplinary program, is that you do attract people that wouldn't otherwise come. Where did you get the ideas to do those things? Had you heard about that being done elsewhere?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, I never had really heard about it. I was always interested just in this interdisciplinary kind of program. Also, it seemed to me very important that we bring in the university community as much as possible, and so this was a way to use lectures from all the departments. Of course, I would imagine that Bonnie Pit McGillis must go to the university faculty all the time, but I had them right there on the campus, you know. [00:22:00] That worked fine. Sometimes we were able to pay them. I think we almost always paid them a little bit. Not a lot, because there wasn't a lot there. When we did—we started a very big photograph program at the Henry Gallery, and actually that was sort of transferred from the Henry Gallery after I left, because Grove, the new director, wasn't really interested in doing much of anything out there. And so I gave the list of all the people who had come to our lectures at the university to the steering committee of the Seattle Art Museum's photograph program, and that's how they got started down there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, really? I didn't know that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We had about four years of photography, and each year there were several shows, and there were several lectures by people from around the United States, always on photography. Because I was so concerned about budget, each time I planned them early enough so that I was able to collect all the subscriptions for the whole year, so that we knew we had the budget before we did the program. Although I would have already written to the lecturers, and then I would say that we assume we're going to get this budget, and they would agree or not agree, and then—it worked out really well.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What do you think were your greatest contributions to the gallery? I'm assuming that this interdisciplinary approach was one of them, and your ability to respond to the community, it seems to me, is another, but I want to hear your point of view.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, let's see. I agree with you about those two.

[Audio Break.]


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. [00:24:00] I think some of the things that I—that worked out well while I was there—there are some specific things that I can state, but one thing, I always felt I had a good idea of what a university museum ought to be, to the faculty, to the art faculty, to the broader faculty, to the students, even to the staff members on the campus, and also this broader community out here. I'd been a member of that broader community before I went out to the university. I thought I was pretty sensitive as to what the needs were around—now, whether I was or not is another question. When I went into the gallery, it had had a really good reputation as far as innovation, and I think I did quite a lot of innovative things while I was there, as far as innovative shows, and also the way the place was operated. Before I went there, it had—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You said before you went. Did you mean before '56 or before '69?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Before '56. It had had the first major Mark Tobey show, and you can—those are in the records someplace. It had had the first Abstract-Expressionist show in this area. It had had the first experimental films in this area. Reed [ph] was responsible for that. He had worked with the film department before he came to be the director—or the—he was called curator at that time. He showed—well, before Reed was there, there was another director who had begun to show experimental films, and they were on a weekly basis, and they went for years. I did—I learned a lot about it then and did them after. We showed the first, you might say, Op art. We showed the first Pop art. [00:26:00] And also, when I was talking to Ruth Penington last week, she told me that way, way back, there was a show at the Henry Gallery of work that had been in the Armory Show. Now, I don't know about that. But it was a museum that had been noted for doing what a contemporary museum ought to do, it seems to me. So it had a good record, I feel, when I first went there. One thing that we did while I was there was I had the museum accredited. I think that was approved by the American Association of Museums, and that was finished, I believe, in 1974, about a year before I left there. It's a very strenuous and rigorous thing to go through, and it came out very well. We had a lot of lecture series while I was there, but I guess you recall that—the interdisciplinary approach that you were talking about. I was very much interested in public art, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I'm going to ask you about your interest in that, and what you did along that line.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Let's see. I guess I got interested in public art in the first place, I think because Jervis [ph] was interested in it. That was before he left. You see, 1959 was about the time when the public library was built down here, and George LaFountaine [ph] is in it [ph]. So that was an early public art example in this town, as was the—oh, darn it. I'm forgetting the name of the building now. I'm sorry, I can't remember it now. But anyway, there were a few quite good examples in the late '50s, and I was interested in it because I saw his interest in it. So then—it was before the Seattle Art Commission began to lay out their plans for the one percent program, and the other commissions, that I got very much involved in researching public art, and learning—and wondering how you set up the guidelines for something like that. [00:28:16] What would be the best way to work it out? I remember that, when we got our money from the National Endowment for the Arts for the tactile program at the Henry Gallery, part of that was to be a tactile sculpture. That ended up in a kind of disaster, because it seemed to me that it was important in this public art program to give the artists more than one possibility for placing their art, so that it didn't only have to be a three-dimensional, monumental kind of sculpture that was plopped down in someplace. I was beginning to get this feeling that that was—that really didn't address public art as well as it should. We had one place, and that was at the zoo, under Fred Lesetti [ph], where there was a spot such as that that the artists could do their projected plan. Then the other one was down in Occidental Park, which was under the interest of the Jones & Jones landscape people. That was going to be a thing where Jones & Jones were going to install a kind of kiosk, which is down there now, that has the water coming out of that bronze—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You know—yes. So the plan was to make it possible, for some of these artists who wanted to, to plan a work of art that would fit into the vertical part of the kiosk, as it is now down there. So that gave them a second possibility. Larry Bell [ph] entered a plan for that down there, where, instead of having his work of art come directly out of this vertical post with the water source, Larry Bell—Larry Beck being Larry Beck, he had a plan where the water would come down from the pipe, out of the vertical part, going through a small channel, out to a big pool, and his sculpture would be in the middle of the big pool. [00:30:27] Well, it caused a lot of problems, because this was also a tactile sculpture, and his plan was to have points on all of these parts of his sculpture. I can't really go into this whole story, but it was a disaster It really was.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was this sponsored through the Henry Gallery? Is that the connection?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The National Endowment for the Arts had given me [$]1,500 or $2,500, in my [$]10,000 grant that I got for the tactile program, to do a tactile sculpture someplace, for the blind. The sighted and the blind. Then we learned that Allied [ph] Arts had $2,500 for something in public art, and the Seattle Art Commission agreed to put in [$]2,500, and we ended up, you see, there with [$]7[000] or [$]8[000] or $9,000, which would have bought quite a bit at that time. So we had three institutions involved in this, and it turned into a very terrible thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What happened, in the end, to the money?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Larry—well, the difficult part of it was that the agreement was that we would pay him $2,500 before he started, in order to get the material, $2,500 halfway through, and $25 at the end. He kept not getting his work done. I had paid him $2,500, I think, of the NEA's money. He didn't get the work done. He wanted to make it bigger. He acted like a child through the whole thing. It was one of the most horrible things that I've ever gone through, actually. [00:32:02] Eventually—you know, at this point, I don't know whether Seattle Art Commission and the Allied Arts have [inaudible] his money or not, but he never came through with the—anyway. Going back to the original part of this, I really learned a lot from that about how to deal in public art, how to make the rules for it. I worked some, then, with Anne Folk [ph]. Well, Anne Folk was the assistant director of the Seattle Art Commission at that time. So we worked very closely together in working out plans for other public art around. So anyway, I was interested in that. The publication program at the Henry Gallery, I was really quite proud of, which was the Index of Art in the Pacific Northwest. Up until about the 10th or 11th issue—volume—of that index, I raised all the money for that, and it took quite a lot of money. The first one that we did was the one on African art, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, by Broadman [ph]?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. Broadman?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think so.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, it was Broadman. That one only cost us about $2,500, if you can believe it. It's a beautiful book. Of course, by the time we got up to some of the later ones, it took a lot of money. I had gotten a grant for [$]70,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for Fuller [ph], then I matched that by other money that I brought in from outside.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Now, I wanted to ask you about that. I guess I can do it at this point. That index was a whole series of books, is that correct?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was that funded directly—was the money funded through the gallery?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. It was the Henry Gallery project, and it had been suggested, by Lawrence Alloway, when he was here during his interviews. He said, "What you ought to do is start an index of art for the Northwest." The plan was that these books would cover either work that was in collections in the Northwest, or else art by artists of the Northwest. [00:34:00] You'll notice that, over there on the left side of that first shelf, there are several of them. There's Eskimo Art [inaudible] which is the documentation of Anne and Sidney Gerber's collection, which they gave to the Burke Museum. Masked Rituals of the Afikpo is Simon Ottenberg's collection of masks from Africa. Kenneth Callahan: Universal Voyage, which went along with the retrospective show that I did for him. And my book is one of them. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Is it still going?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No. Well, Grove was there after I left. He didn't seem to be interested in anything, and not much was published, except that book on the history of the Henry Gallery, 50th anniversary of the Henry Gallery, which has so many errors in it. It's really terrible.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Then, after he left, the new director, Harvey West, began to publish some things, but he obviously wanted to do his own thing, and he's never done any more with it. I've often thought it's really a crime that that series has not continued. I've thought about it a number of times, how I would love to be able, myself, to continue that series some way, as its editors, with the University of Washington Press, because there are so many things in this region, I think, that need to be documented.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Documented. Now, was your book the last one, then, your ceramics?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Uh. The Wendell Brazeau book came after that, and the Walter Isaacs book.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, that's part of it, too?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, yes, it's listed as part of it, and it was listed, on the list in the book jackets of all of them, long before it was ever published. That was a big snafu about—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, that took years and years.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Supposedly [inaudible] and there wasn't enough funding for it. [00:36:02] But yes, that is part of it. I did not raise the funds for that. Three thousand dollars was supposed to have covered it, which Ruth Penington and some other people raised after Isaac's death. Then, of course, they waited such a long time, they couldn't begin to cover it, and I don't know where the money came for that eventually.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But that took a lot of energy on your part, and that was only one of several things you were doing about that time, it seems to me.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You had the archives that also started then, I believe.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right, and the archives started about 1968, and we eventually had the basement redone, and one room was nothing but the archives.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was that the north—no.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Archives of Northwest Art.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. There was also the Registry of Northwest Artists.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We had that also. We started that because it became clear to me that with public art going, there were going to be a lot of people wanting to look at local artists' work. Also for interior designers, and architects, all kinds of people.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  My own work was in that, so I'm familiar with that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, is that right?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, we started that also, and I do not know where all of that fell [ph]. It would be a historically important thing at this point, and I don't know where that is. It may be—it was kind of quiet for a long time about what happened to it. It was sort of—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I wondered.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —secretive.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I thought so.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Then, I thought that somebody told me recently that it may be in the record center. That Harvey may have given it over to the record center, and it may be there. I also heard that they were returning a lot of those slides to artists. Now, I don't know whether that's true or not. Also, this Corto started about that time, and I—we didn't—I don't know how many of those we did, but I eked the money out of our own budget for that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's amazing how many different pies you had a finger in, in all of that, as well as running a gallery, whose job is to have exhibitions and run these programs. [00:38:00] There was a lot of energy put in it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It took tremendous energy, but you know, I never felt the pressure of it. I mean, I went all the time, but I had very good health, and lots and lots of energy, and so it was just an ongoing push to do all of these things.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Until the politics finally ground you under. I mean, it sounds like that. [Laughs.]


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Until the politics finally ground you under.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And I often wondered how I was able to carry that on for as long as I did. I think part of what happened was that what I did there was make the gallery more important, and people began to see that it was more important, and it had value. Then everybody wanted a piece of it. That may be how the politics started.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Do you feel like there's been a lot of loss since you left? It seems like a lot of things were dropped. You did get to carry on the archives, to a certain extent, after you left the gallery, but the registry, the index, those things sort of fell by the wayside, basically.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They did. To my knowledge, I don't think there are interdisciplinary events. I don't know that for sure, but I—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Some, but nothing like what you had going, as far as I know.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Of course—oh, another thing that I did while I was there, I introduced the idea of an orientation gallery, and this came about because of the registry of artists and the archives. I had one front room set aside, that I believe now is a bookshop, maybe. I had that set aside, for a lot of the shows, as an orientation gallery for the visitor who would come in, so that we didn't have a lot of educational material strewn throughout the show. We would have it in there. For instance, with the Survivors '72 or ['7]3 show, which was a show of women's work, and for which I had four women come from different parts of the country—Anne Folk did the Northwest, and one was from California, and one from Chicago. We had a lot of exhibitions in the gallery all at once of women's work on a national basis. [00:40:03] Also, I had—we sent out a call for slides from the women of the Northwest, at least, and we had something like 3[000] or 4,000 slides in within three or four weeks. It was unbelievable. Then we did about 20 trays of slides, picked out of all of these, and a list of all the women's names and the slide tray that their work was in, and showed that in this orientation gallery, along with copies of the material that was in their folder in the Archives of Northwest Art, so that anybody who wanted to look through the folders and read [ph] them could. Then we had a lot of tapes made. I had women go out and tape women all around, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, right. I've seen—yeah, I've seen some of that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We had somebody in the gallery, in that little room, all the time, who was able to help people with the projectors, and also to listen to the tapes anytime they wanted to. That was one of the examples of how the orientation gallery worked, but it worked in a lot of ways, so that people could get tremendous amount of information in there, and then go to look at the work of art, and be quiet about it. Also, when we did the tactile show, we had a wonderful orientation gallery. I used some of the money from the $10,000 to work out a lot of material in braille. The blind could come in and sit for as long as they wanted and read the braille about the various exhibitions that we had at that time. We also did a lot of really exciting exhibitions that were more conceptual. For instance, there was a young man who taught over at Ellensburg, who was really a fine artist, and he wasn't very well-known. His name—he came here later and got a degree at the university in the history of art. I can't think of his name right now, but he did one room that was about the environment, and it was a fantastic room. [00:42:01] The works were done so well. Beautifully crafted works, mostly all three-dimensional, and some video, that had to do with damage to the environment, and to animals. It was a wonderful exhibition. Then that exhibition from the Walker, the new works from the Walker, was a fantastic show. It was something like nobody ever had around here. The Seattle Art Museum wasn't doing it, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, they sure weren't.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was all the—there were some Color Field artists, and some—Laddie John Dill did his sand with glass and neon, and Robert Irwin did a beautiful room with scrim, and light coming down from the skylights. It was a disorienting gallery, where you didn't quite know where you were when you walked in there because of this ephemeral kind of scrim. Larry Bell was in that show, with some of his glass.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That was the only place in Seattle where anything like that was going on at that point.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, it was. The show that I did, called Art Machines, was a fantastic show. It had work from around the United States, and it had color, light, and sound. Let's see. Motion, light, and sound. Upstairs was the art from around the United States, and in the basement were a whole bunch of machines, like the most fantastic BMW motorcycle you've ever seen. I got some of the people on the campus, faculty, to lend us machines from the science departments and the engineering departments, and they were always something where the machine itself produced something that looked very, very artistic, and worked in very much with the art and technology—experiments in art and technology. Oh, yes. I also helped to start the Experiments in Art and Technology group in Seattle. [00:44:03] We had a lot of meetings, and we tried very hard to get the engineers and the artists together. That took a lot of energy—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Of course it did, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —and emotion.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I didn't know you had done that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We met at Boeing. That was all during those years from '69 to '75. That went on for about two or three years, I think. Then we had a program at the gallery where people who were working in video could come every Monday night and show their—because they had no place to show it. And so—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I see more—excuse me—I see more and more where Anne Folk took a lot of what you were doing and did that in Andor [ph]. She told me that, that she was influenced by what you had been doing at the Henry Gallery. The kinds of things, and your approach.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  See, there was no alternative gallery around the way—which is what Anne has done in years since that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And of course, now that's gone, too. Closed that gallery. Right now, I think we're excited that somebody—we're doing the kinds of things now in Seattle that you were doing then on a regular basis. Some of that happens at CoCA, but only very irregularly.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course, ours was done, you might say, by the seat of our pants, because we didn't have money for this. My budget was so low. You can't believe how low it was. I learned how to be very, very resourceful about all of these things. I used the artists a lot. For instance, they came with their videotapes every Monday night, so that made a program for the Henry Gallery, but I didn't look at it that way. I thought what we were doing was a service for them, and I tried to give them as much publicity as possible so they didn't feel that they were getting used, you know, in a bad kind of way. Oh, there were so many other programs, Sue Ann, and it was so exciting.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Then you also had the Oldenburg Ice Bag show that you had a lot to do with, which I know was at the Seattle Art Museum, but you obviously somehow got institutions to cooperate, rather than being at odds with each other, for that one. [00:46:06]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What kind of experience was that for you?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it was the most wonderful and fantastic experience—

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9955_m.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is an interview with LaMar Harrington for the Archives of American Art. We're in Seattle, Washington, in LaMar's home. It's January 17, 1984. The interviewer is Sue Ann Kendall. LaMar, I wanted to talk to you some more about the Henry Gallery Committee that was formed because I'm not sure that I understand exactly what that was for and what it did.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, I think when we talked about it a little bit on the other tape, I was a little uncertain about that too. In fact, I was thinking that it may have two or three committees. But I think there was something called the Henry Gallery Committee in the School of Art, which was really one committee that had as its purpose the discussion of a lot of different aspects of the operation of the Henry Gallery, one being it was at the time that there was to be a new director. This would have been maybe—I can't remember when the committee started—but it might been 1968 or soon after Reid had left. And so one of the, one of the things that [Spencer--Ed.] Moseley hoped for that committee to do was to consider the program of the Henry Gallery,

what a program might be, and in order to do this to bring in consultants from around the United States who were hand-picked and invited and also in the hope that some of these very highly recognized professionals in the museum field might be interested in being the director of the Henry Gallery. So that it was going to in a way kill two birds with one stone. And another thing that I didn't think about the other day when we talked about it, but when I was down talking with Alden Mason, he reminded me the other day—he was the chairman of that committee—and he reminded me that one of its main purposes was—and it was initiated by the School of Art and by Spencer Moseley- that one of its main purposes would be to consider whether there perhaps should be a greater involvement of the School of Art in the Henry Gallery. Now as I think I've already said on the tape, did I in the first place, that the Henry Gallery had always been considered to be the administrating body or agency of the School of Art, of the Henry Gallery.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You mean the School of Art was the administrative agency?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh. The School of Art had always, from the very beginning, when Henry gave the building, been considered, yes, the administrator of the Henry Gallery. So there were actually, you might say, three purposes. Oh! And then the third, did I say, to discuss and study the possibility of having a new building.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So it was consultants regarding the program at the gallery, the possible hiring of a director, the possibility of a new building. And actually part of that studying of the program at the Henry Gallery would have been this which the School of Art was especially interested in, and that is the use of the Henry Gallery by the School of Art in a broader way, perhaps, by their programs.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. You mentioned something that Martha Kingsbury, I think, had written in regard to the use of the Henry Gallery.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Martha Kingsbury.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh yes. So I was finding, I had found a paper the other day and this would be one example of the type of thing that was probably handed in to this Henry Gallery Committee and the School of Art by the faculty. The faculty were probably encouraged to make suggestions about how the—this was a very great study that went on at that time, in a lot of different areas, about the Henry Gallery. And I do have one paper here from Martha Kingsbury, who was art history faculty member and who still is, where she says, "Suppose"—she's making a suggestion for how the space might be used down there, and of course the space was very, very small—"Suppose that the Henry Gallery removed movies, lectures, and other such audience events to rooms in the new undergraduate library or elsewhere." And it is true that that space that space that we had downstairs, there was always a big problem over that space about what to use it for. And then she goes on to say, "And suppose that the Henry Gallery's basement room was set aside for campus use only, then what uses and what users should be anticipated and provided for? What changes should be made to accommodate the uses and users? And what ground rules should be, really should be laid down to guide operations?" So then she makes a lot of suggestions, and they're really good suggestions. And of course, being an art historian, she's bringing in more than ever had been before, possible use of some space down there by the art history majors!


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Which is something that I had tried very hard to do during my tenure there, especially after '68, but for some reason I didn't really get very far with it, with the art history division. But she does make some really good suggestions: the users would be studio majors, art history majors, students in introductory design, art history, art appreciation classes, students in anthropology, architecture, history, literature. So she is [ph] being quite broad about the whole thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, well she's very interdisciplinary in her own approach.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  So she would want that kind of—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes. Well she is, yes. And then she talked about who would be eligible to do this and making very reasonable suggestions about what to use the building for.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, sounds like it was an attempt, then, to perhaps grapple with a lot of issues surrounding the gallery and a lot of problems maybe that there had been at the gallery. And in regard to that, I've, I wondered if you wanted to bring up anything about Gervais Reed and his administration there that maybe led into some of the problems?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think there was no doubt that there had been a lot of problems over all of the years, and you're exactly right that this is why this committee was formed, and as far as I'm concerned that's the best thing to do and it's too bad that it hadn't been formed long before that. And I think partly the reason, part of what caused the problem was the fact that we were, the Henry Gallery was beginning to look so good to so many people, not only on the campus in the School of Art, but also all over the community. And then suddenly a space like that begins to be what you consider to be sort of blue-chip, and everybody wants a part of it, and when you have a very tiny space, then, that's where all the problems start. But going back to the earlier time, I ran across a report this morning and I think this must have been written by Gervais Reed. A lot of it sounds as if I could have written it, but I was very much influenced through his training, and there is one thing in here that leads me to believe the date—it's undated—that he probably did write it. He was always very all-encompassing in the reports that he did. And he talks about the background, and he gives the history, the interdepartmental relationships as they seemed to be, although there was never anything written about the purpose of the gallery. He talks about all the programs, the exhibitions, the frequencies and the quantities and the, about the changes that he saw for the future. He wanted to present larger exhibitions, and larger objects, because objects were becoming larger at that time. It's now more possible because of our improved budget and the contributions of the Henry Gallery Association. They had started by this time and I imagine this is just about a year after that. He speaks about one such exhibition, the Coles [ph] Collection—that's Charles—which filled every inch of our space, has already been presented; others are planned, one of them the new British painting and sculpture show, which was a wonderful exhibition. Okay, so he speaks about the kind of exhibitions that he hoped to be able to show, and the quantity. He talks about the problems of the collection. He talks about the present program in education, and we did have a docent service then, but that he hoped very much that there would be an expanded education program. He speaks about—well, there's page after page of changes anticipated. And they're all the types of things that a, an intelligent director would be thinking about when you're trying to develop a place, and you're working on a small budget, and you're hoping for more money, and he's thinking constantly about the quality. He talks about the student population: how many people come in, how many students come in every day, and how it was important to develop that ever more, about the faculty and staff population on the campus. He talks about the description of the present space, the amounts and types now occupied; and relationships to current and proposed staffing and students; inadequacies in terms of quantity, quality, location, storage. He says, "In nearly every aspect, the present building is qualitatively deficient. An exception is the spatial quality and sequences of the upstairs exhibition galleries, which are excellent. Otherwise the building is deficient in light, air supply, air cleanliness, maintenance possibilities, temperature and humidity control, and available electricity." He talks about the quality of what he would hope to present at the Henry Gallery. He talks about the problems of storage. The storage problems were especially difficult there. And about the problems for display. So what I can say about this, this report that I came across, it's an indication of thought, very deep thought and profound thought going into all the problems and the possibilities of the gallery many, many years before the late sixties.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He also spoke—I ran across another report; it's in an annual report. And this was also written by Gervais Reed; it's '67, '68, just about the time that he left there to become an art history faculty member full time, and he talks in here about the administrative problems. He also talks about his, his own, what he sees as his own, not such fine points as far as being an administrator. I think he felt at times that he wasn't really a very good administrator. I don't know whether he had questions about his, his other talents. I always considered that he had really fine talents as far as planning exhibitions, and like that. But he talks about, he says, after he talks about what he sees as his own problems—and he's very, very honest about these specific problems—he says, "In working on these problems,"—his own problems, which seem minor in comparison with the professional problems of operating an art gallery—" I've found two contributing factors, which in addition to my own ineptitude seem to have contributed to the growth and difficulty. These are one, a lack of any effective training program for university administrators,"—and of course, this was true for me too. I never had any training and if, if I ever stepped out of line no one told me that I did and try to help me, you know—and he says, "Number two is lack of clear delegation of responsibility to me." Well, I think we talked about this in the other part of the tape.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But it, it was not clear what his responsibility was, and it, it wasn't—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Or even what he really should be doing there. I mean, it was never defined.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. Now as far as my responsibility—of course, he became the director then soon after that, and his responsibilities were spelled out in a little bit better way. But it really wasn't until I was responsible for the full operation of the gallery that really a job description was made. And it was very good; it had a lot, I mean I had helped with the job description and by that time it really was. The only problem there was that I was made the assistant and then associate director but never the director.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. But you were doing the job.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So it was actually a job description for a director. Anyway, there were many problems in the past at the gallery, but many great aspirations for the program and a lot of very good work that went into, into the program of the gallery.

[Audio Break.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Do you have any other comments about the Henry Gallery Committee that you'd like to make?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, we talked a little bit about the consultants who were brought.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't know that we talked about all of them, but—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, I think we did.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Did we talk about Bill Seitz? Being interested in the job but—oh, I remember an interesting thing—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, we didn't talk about him.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —Bill's—Okay. Bill Seitz was one of the six. He had been—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I don't think we did.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He had a co-curator, I think, with Sells, hadn't he? At the Museum of Modern Art long before then. By this time, Sells had gone to Berkeley and Bill Seitz was in one of those little states—I can't remember which institution he was in, but he was teaching full time. And anyway, he was wonderful, and he gave a very good report about what a university museum could be, and he was probably in his sixties by then, I would think. You know he died not too long after that, I believe. But he was a wonderful man, and I think everybody on the committee enjoyed him a lot, as they did all of these people who came in. But it was an interesting thing- you see, one of the things about all of these consultants who may be considered, who might be interested in being considered for the directorship, it was important to know how they felt about a gallery, of course.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And this gave the committee and everybody a good chance to look them over, by making out their reports about what it might be like, and making comments about what they thought a university art museum could be, which would in effect say how they would feel if they were the director. Now Bill Seitz was one of maybe only three of those people who were actually interested, it became apparent, in becoming the director, and he was interested. But one thing that I remember that he was adamant about, that was that he would want to report directly to like the dean, or I think he said to a vice president. And in fact, I remember he made out a flowchart, a hierarchical kind of flowchart, administrative flowchart, and he had the director reporting to the dean or to a vice president. [Lawrence?—Ed.] Alloway was also a very extremely interested person. And did I say in the other tape that he was the one who had suggested the index of art in the Pacific Northwest?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I don't remember.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh he suggested that? I don't think you did.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He made a lot of—some of the other consultants were, it was more rhetorical in a way, but Alloway made specific suggestions about things that we might do. And this, he had this wonderful idea, about starting the index, which we then did and I think he was really surprised when we did it. And you know there are ten or twelve books now.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, one of the things that grew out of that was that he, Spencer Moseley asked him if he would curate an exhibition of the collection, or at least do a publication on the collection of Mrs. Wright, Virginia Wright's collection.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And he agreed to do it. So Moseley at that time had a photographer, who was a student in the School of Art, and I believe he was a student, and he was working, he needed part-time jobs and he was a photographer. So he did some photography of her collection. Then eventually Moseley hired Joselle Namkine, and every piece in Virginia Wright's collection was brought to the basement of the Henry Gallery—and I can't tell you how many there were, but it was a very big collection, even at that time. And Joselle Namkind—I'm almost sure it was Joselle—photographed- yes it was—photographed every single piece in color. Well you can imagine how much this cost—although, Joselle gave a very good price on this.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I had those color transparencies in my office then for years after that. And of course they were supposed to go into a book. And as it turned out, Lawrence never did write the book. And I, I never knew why. Now I must say that of course there must have been a lot of things that happened that I, even though I was supposed to be completely responsible for the gallery's program and curatorial aspects, of the administration, I'm sure there must have been a lot of things that I didn't know about.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think that Spencer dealt mostly himself with Alloway, and I really don't know why he never did write it. But as I recall he got paid for it, I think. But anyway, it never did happen and I never knew why he didn't.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It would be interesting to know.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, and it would have been a very wonderful addition to the—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —index you know. Also, there was something else. We were talking about the new building, and you asked me a lot of questions about that last week, and I've been thinking, and also I've gone over a few papers and it's amazing how your memory isn't exactly right sometimes. But you asked me if some of the community members had committed funds for that, for a new building, and I said at the time—I can't remember what I said on the other part of the tape—but I felt somewhat uncertain about that, but after looking in a lot of notes among my files, I do note that—and this is quote, "Wrights' visited the dean with offer of money for the museum." Now that would have been not a fact, but something that I had heard, this would have been hearsay. And I have no idea where I heard it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is a note. Your quote is from a note you had written to yourself.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, it's just a note that I wrote to myself. And also, on that same note, I must have also heard that part of this would have been the hiring of Van der Marck as the director.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Contingent upon that, you mean?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, but you see, stories were just really all over the place, so it's really hard to say whether that has any, anything or not.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I also remember from a note that I have among the papers, in the same respect, that—and I think I may have known this more as a fact than as hearsay, well I wasn't there, so maybe you have to say it's hearsay—but I believe that Dr. Odegaard, who was still in office at that time, had a dinner party, at which, which the Wrights, and maybe Saul Schluger, attended to talk about a new building. And that's, that's really all I know about that, to answer your earlier questions. There were a lot of things about on the campus, but plenty that I didn't.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] That became apparent as time went on, huh?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And actually, another thing I wanted to mention, while we're talking about buildings. Some of the consultants, you know, had ideas about a new building—and you may have read some of that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I read some of those, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I, what I did on that committee, along with George Quimby—he was also on the committee, he was the director of the Burke Museum. He and I were responsible for working out what the physical arrangements of such a gallery, such a new building might be. So I spent a lot of time researching other museum buildings all around the United States. By that time there were beginning to be quite a few, you know. Berkeley, and the Walker Arts Center, and some others. And, but I had my own ideas about what our museum should be. And this was based a lot on my own philosophy. It had, it had, for instance, it would serve the academic community, art history, and with, for instance, museum practices classes, study of the collection, borrowing masterworks from J.Paul Getty and Norton Simon and everyplace around the United States. You would have an art education division, because art education was very big in the School of Art, and they had some quite good faculty on that, in that department. There'd be a children's center, who would study certain collections. There would be service to the studio people through student and faculty exhibitions, and of course a great lot of the problem with the Henry Gallery all those years with the School of Art, for instance, was the fact that it was so small. And I really felt that if we did get a large building with say a hundred thousand square feet, most of these things could really worked into it, keeping in mind always that you don't step on the toes of the Seattle Art Museum or whatever museums there are around. Then there would be services to other departments, there'd be special programs in the evening and at noon—these would be active kinds of things with students heavily involved. There'd be special exhibitions: contemporary, national and Northwest, ethnic, craft shows, and masterworks, I had it divided into. There'd be artist services, which would be exchange shows, the archives, the Index of Art in the Pacific Northwest. There'd be traveling exhibitions to take state colleges around this state and maybe other states. And the collection would be American painting—I saw this as what we could handle.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], to focus on as your own collection, you mean?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Our own collection, yes. This was assuming we had a bigger building, of course. Ceramics, photographs, and prints and drawings. And there would be a media center, with a film study center, which it had, it had its roots at the Henry Gallery long before, a photography center, with a lab and a collection and exhibitions. There'd be a print center with workshop and collections and exhibitions. There'd be a video center with production as art and as documentation for the archives. There'd be a Northwest archives with memorabilia and slides and black-and-white photographs and video and sound tapes, and the index of art in Pacific Northwest would be under this Northwest archives. There'd be a cable TV, art station, equipped both for, one, the artists' use, and for the documentation of artists, which would be I felt a really dynamic educational tool, and it would be interdisciplinary among the arts and art-related departments all over the campus. So anyway, that was my idea about what a, what a gallery—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's interesting because as far as I know, they didn't ask you for any kind of a proposal as they did these other consultants. And I read theirs, but I didn't see anything from you in the file.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No. I never was really asked about that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yet you had been there and had had a lot of experience with the gallery, so—it's perplexing.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, that's true. Now of course they did ask me, with George Quimby—and of course I think I did most all the work on our little two-man committee—they did ask me to come up with an idea about how many square feet it might have and more about the physical arrangement of it, but I was not asked about the program. And you really can't do those, you can't do one with the other.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Without the other, yeah, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's true. So, you're completely right about that. No, they didn't ask me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I asked you last time about your accomplishments, or those at least that you think were the most important. I wonder if you had more to say about that, after having had some time to think about it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it was a constant balancing act at the Henry Gallery. And I always felt a heavy responsibility to the administration and also to the curatorial aspects—after all, I was responsible for that. And I think I carried out, I do believe I carried out both of those things effectively. And as far as being an administrator I made prompt decisions and took prompt action after thinking very carefully about what needed to be done. There were a lot of other things that you had to think about when you were, when you're running a museum like that, and especially a university museum. There's a great emotional burden of dealing with artists, both on campus and off campus. They have unique problems. And you really need to take time to talk with them, and if you care about art at all, which you hope that museum people do, that takes a lot of time, and I did a lot of that. I had to watch it all the time not to compromise the reputation of the institution. I also felt it was responsibility to counteract the conservatism of a large university, and in most universities and art department, where tenure is an important aspect about that—a little later on I want to talk about the good parts of tenure. But I had to think about that constantly. I had to balance the humanism, which was part of the purpose of the university, and as a matter of fact, in about 1972 I began to wonder what the purpose of the university was. And you know it was really hard to find out. [They laugh.] But I eventually found out, and it had to do with education and the upholding of humanism. And that's printed out there someplace. Well it was wonderful when I ran across this, because it fit exactly with everything that I had before and hoped to do you know. So I felt, well I'm not so far off. I think one thing I did was listen to all the voices, fulfilling the tax-supported institution's responsibility, I think. I kept my finger on the pulse of the times, and probably I would run a different gallery today than I did in say 1970, when the campus was, the social unrest and all. I think I had really very good relations with the, with the faculty—considering the terrible problems of space. And I don't know what the faculty would say, but up until a certain point, where there got to be quite a scramble, I'd say, for the space and who was going to bring the bus ph].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And politics came in.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. I'd say that I had really—considering that they were mostly all men, too—I think I had a pretty good relationship with the faculty. And certainly with groups on the campus and community groups. I was thinking of groups like—we had the jurying of the Bellevue film festival there for several years, in the basement. We had the right space for it and we had the, everything, the technical aspects that we needed on the campus to do it. It would go on for several days. And we had programs of Northwest composers, a composers' organization out in the community. And a contemporary dance group out in the community. And then of course a lot of visual artists' organizations. Also I think I listened to the, all the social voices, all the way from the most downtrodden to the most elite. That was something that I constantly had in mind and felt that it was my responsibility. And I think I had an understanding of the need for quality and how it can be endangered in a tax-supported institution. It's the same way with the government and the same, the same uneasiness I had when the National Endowment for the Arts came in and art was going to become democratized. That takes real leadership I think, to keep that from happening. But I think we also have a responsibility to the community. Although I can be as elite as the next guy, in certain situations. I also felt really strongly, when I was there, responsibility to future generations, just because of being in the middle of all of all the students all the time. It, it brought very sharply to my mind how important it is to think of the future rather than yesterday. And I must say I really did enjoy working with the students a lot, and I think that, that probably keeps you young, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You mean in terms of working with students, that's how you're saying to think of the future, or are you thinking of collections?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, just because the students were there all the time, it keeps the gaps, the gap between the generations closes when you're working with students all the time. You're listening to their needs, and you also have in mind that even though you're going to be gone one of these days those people are going to be here for several more decades, and their children are going to be. It's just as simple as that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And they will carry it on. I see.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, so I, I've always had a very strong feeling about the future, rather than to get what we need for now and forget about the rest, you know. Also, I think I kept in mind all the time the position of the Henry Gallery as regards programs at Seattle Art Museum, and even the Frye Museum, and the Tacoma Art Museum, and what other museums were doing around. So that had to be balanced constantly. There were constant problems, as I said before, with space and of funding, which, funding, which I began to solve, as far as the funding goes. The space was a more difficult thing. And I really have a feeling that the Henry Gallery probably got a better value for the money during the time when I was there than it had ever had before. This was—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Given your salary, I'm sure that's true. [They laugh.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, not only my salary but the other staff's salary, and the budget! And I'll tell you in a minute about what the budget was then, and you'll never believe it. But I think they probably got the best value—in fact, they have gotten the best value then, a better value then than ever before and ever since, possibly.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Ever since, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Also I think I had a creative approach to program planning, and I think I had a lot of credibility with artists in the community, and even the administration out there, although they never really patted me on the back very much. But I think I did have a certain credibility about being fair and wanting, I did really want the best to go on for everybody, and that's probably a problem [ph]. I think that in the program, I think that it was a broad and really dynamic and active program. And I think it was a high-quality and, program, and it had a lot of substantial content. Now—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And your record, I mean the record shows that, [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, a few years ago, I would have been, I would have felt embarrassed saying all these things, but I've had a long time to think about it and to compare it with others, and I'm glad the record shows it! [They laugh.] Because it was really wonderful! And I'd hate to think that I thought it was something that it really wasn't. I began raising funds with the help of one of the best people—well, she was among a number of best people on the staff—and that was Julie Anderson. She was fantastic. She was hired as a PR person, but grew to be quite good at fundraising, and we began to raise funds. I think I had tremendous fiscal responsibility. We had a budget of $22,000 a year. It's now $600,000, from what I read in the paper the other day.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now that did not include the staff but of course the staff salaries only brought it up to about $65,000.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's amazing.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And, and an insignificant budget for improving the building. And in the face of all that I had the walls painted, and before that Gervais was always a conservator, and he didn't want to put paint on those walls because he didn't want to see the nail holes in there every month after a show was put up, but it seemed to me that we had to get rid of that monk's cloth, it was so, it was just terrible!


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So I took one big gulp and had the whole building painted on the interior, and then we filled the holes every month, and it really was in quite good shape when it got the new walls. I saw to it that the exterior was steam-cleaned—and it never had been before, ever in its 50-year history. I had the new security system put in, ADT, which most museums have and we had never had anything like that. I was able finally to close off the registrar's area and the collection area so that the maintenance people—this was Fred Dunnigan's area [registration—Ed.], and I think he must have just gone through very difficult times back there. Because he was an organized person and here would come these maintenance people through all the time, scraping through the back room, hitting the paintings. Well, he helped me to have the courage to fight that. And we eventually closed that off and I spent hours searching down keys all over the campus, or finding out how many there were, and then finally having all the locks changed. And of course this was very hard, because it took all of this scheduling then, for the maintenance people to get in, and well we became a real museum then, you see. But it was very, very hard.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was that all working towards the accreditation, as well?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It might have been. A lot of these improvements were toward working toward that. Some were probably done intuitively before that. But I, you're probably right; that might have been about that time. Yeah, because we got—well I don't know. We got accredited in '74 and I think this may have happened as early as '72.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But you were pushing for better quality in all of these areas, anyway, so—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  All the time; all the time. I continued Reed's efforts to protect the collection, although he was most responsible for doing the good things that happened for the collection. And I remember—I don't know whether I mentioned this before but there was an article, I believe it was Roger Downey that wrote an article that was a searing article, it really was, I—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah. You did talk about that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, I never, I never could understand why Roger did that. I mean there had to be something behind it, other than just that he was going to come to the gallery and do a report on it. Because it really was a deadly article. But he talked about the collection. Did I talk about that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, you, yes.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. And it was so utterly wrong that, about that collection not being care of. Another thing I did was to expand the exhibition space of upstairs into the lower gallery, and that was always a problem. Gervais had kept it for films. And it was always a question about what to do with that. But anyway it did make quite a bit more space. I think that the program covered a really broad range, content wise, as far as going into history as well as experimental and avant-garde. Let's see, what was that? As far as the historical aspects, Gervais had already started this, but I think that there was always a sense of Northwest history in what was going on at the Henry Gallery, in addition to a much broader kind of program. I think I, while I was there, more perhaps than when Gervais was there, or anybody before, I encouraged experimentation among artists. And a lot of the shows that we did were toured through the Western Association of Art Museums. Now probably most of them at that time wouldn't have gone back east, but they toured around the west. So we were getting some recognition that way. Another little thing that I did was get a truck. Maybe I mentioned that before.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-uh [negative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We had never had a truck at the Henry Gallery, and can you imagine a museum not having a truck?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, I was able to work out budget, and we had a truck by the door all the time, which you've got to have, absolutely. And one thing before that that Gervais had done, was the redoing of the offices in the lower floor, that all happened while Gervais was still there. And another thing that happened at that time was a, an elevator was put in. The gallery had never had an elevator. And everything had to be brought down the stairs and back into this little shipping room back there in the back. So there, he got the elevator and I got the truck. I put in a new registration system, and that was in preparation for the accreditation. I was responsible for seeing that it was done. It was Fred Dunnagin who planned the registration system, and he was very good at that. I increased the staff some, especially with a PR person and with a full-time registrar. And then of course we've talked about the accreditation. And one thing I noticed when I was going through the paper the other day—the attendance. Did I talk about the attendance at all?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No. I don't think so.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, in 1954 the yearly attendance was 23,000. And the year that I started being responsible for the gallery it was 53,000. Oh, 32,000.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The year that I started, '69 and '69. Now the year before that it had jumped very high to 53,000 because the crafts show, it was decided that year by Gervais and others, would run for two months instead of one month. And that boosted the attendance that year from like 18,000 to 53,000.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was, the craft shows brought in tremendous, tremendous attendance. Okay, so when I started it was 32,000. And in 1971 it was 90,000.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh my word! That's in two years.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. And then I was there for two more years and—of course now the tactile show brought in a tremendous number of people—but we were getting out to the community, you see, more. Julie Anderson was doing her publicity, and so I think that that was done while I was there. I hired a lot of students from ethnic groups, which hadn't been done before, and of course there was a lot of pressure to do that in those years.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. But you responded to that pressure; I mean you actually did it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, that's right. And the publications, which had never been a lot, although Gervais had continued to try to have more publications, but he was not fundraising oriented. And so the money was not going to just be dropped in our laps, you see. I think that had he had more money, we were, probably would have had a big publication program during his tenure. But because we started raising more money, we started the Index of Art, which is really a, I think a wonderful program, and I noticed that it's not going on anymore, and I'm really—I guess I mentioned that in the other tape—I'm really sorry about that. And Porteau, which I believe I mentioned before, and then a lot of odds and ends of, of catalogues. I think I mentioned before that I had done a lot of interdisciplinary programs.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  We talked about that, Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And the photography program, and the archives, and the artists' registry. Did we talk about that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The, I did some work on increasing the collection, but I was always uneasy about it, because there wasn't room. And one thing that happened under my administration, did I tell you about the, all the Morris Graves things that came in from the Velutini collection in California?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I don't think so.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I may not have mentioned that. Well, there were—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I don't think on the tape anyway.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They gave us about 35 drawings each year for three years, and one oil painting. And they were all early and rather peripheral kinds of things about Graves, by Graves. But they were really very interesting. One bad thing is that they were not preparing them right. They were on newsprint, and when they brought them in they had been adhered to, with I can't even remember what it was now, but it was not the best way to have done it. So we did acquire some things that I don't know whether they're going to last or not, but some of them were from that period when he was doing fantastic furniture. And then certainly while I was there Mrs. Gerber, Anne Gerber, gave the collection quite a few things, prints and we have to get the list to tell exactly what they were, but she really, a whole Rauschenberg, a—what was that series, with the skeleton, the huge full-size skeleton, and six other prints, yes.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh I know what you mean.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And she also gave us a series of Indiana, and well of course Sophie Krause, who was one of the beginning people in the Henry Gallery Association, gave us the whole Roault Miserere Suite.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, that's where that came from.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. And, well I'm really sorry; at the moment I can't tell you more about the collection. I also got money from the National Endowment for Arts to increase the ceramics collection because I felt that it had a really good start, and so a lot of pieces were chosen for that and I guess that is no longer being developed. I think I used the human resources on the campus to a great degree, including not only the kinds of things that might be offered by students around the campus, things that they might like to do, for instance a concert of guitar music, or maybe students in the music school or something like that, but in lots of different departments. I continued the docent program but I think I might have mentioned to you earlier that that had to change eventually, because the pressures were so great on the staff that it seemed to me that, until we had the bigger building, what we'd have to do would be lecture series out other places but not with the huge groups of schoolchildren coming through, which we did have for a long time. That was all happening too, when they were digging in the, digging the hole for the new undergraduate library and the parking spaces. We developed a really good volunteer corps while I was there. We had a lot of workshops, media workshops, for the community, which you might say is more of a [inaudible] educational program, and that might have been something that would have been better not to do. And I think the gallery had really quite good national—

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9952_m.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think while I was still at the gallery it was beginning to have some kind of national impact too, not only in the national shows that we organized. There was a, for instance, an exhibition by Roger Stein, who was a professor in the English department, and he was showing great interest between English and art history. And as a matter of fact I think his thesis for, his dissertation for the doctorate may have been on, not William Morris, but the critic—oh! Where's my mind today? The English critic [inaudible].



SUE ANN KENDALL:  You don't mean—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, Ruskin. And, he did a wonderful show for us called the view and the vision. It was an American landscape show. And it was wonderful working with Roger. He came over and used what he could from our collection and he borrowed from all over the United States—major collections. And there is a catalog on, about that show.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That was I'd say one of the first shows at the Henry Gallery where masterworks were brought in from around the United States. And there were works from the Metropolitan and the national collection and every important collection in the United States, actually. And of course that required all of this care to the security system, you know, and all.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So we were really becoming a real museum, a grownup, sophisticated kind of museum. It was at that time that we also borrowed the, from the Getty collection the classical sculpture pieces, 56 of them from Getty. And a lot of very fine masterworks from Norton Simon. Also, Hal Opperman did a wonderful exhibition of 17th- and 18th-century drawings from Italy with his students. The students did it. And it was the first time that the graduate art history students were involved with the Henry Gallery. They met there regularly. I talked to them about how to do a show. It was the middle museology course, actually. And they did the whole catalog, and there's a wonderful little catalog. And these drawings were borrowed from all the major museums all around the United States. And of course, and every art history student had a little section in it. You'd be interested in looking at that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I'm sure that if, at that point—this was very early—and at that point, if we had had more money there would have been a much bigger, better publication, you see. The quality was wonderful. I had always hoped to increase that association with the graduate at, in the School of Art. Somehow it didn't ever materialize. The photography program of course was having national impact, because we were inviting all of these very interesting photographers from all over, and that went on for about four years. One year was Paul Kaprow and Arnold Newman, and Robert Heinekin, and Robert Vestal. And those are all very big names.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they many times would do a workshop along with it. The publications distribution, especially of the index, had national and international impact because the University of Washington Press has an office in London too. So I know when I was in London the last time here were some of our index volumes in the Victoria and Albert Museum and in some other museums there. So they are being circulated. Also, my traveling of course increased the national impact, and my professional association with the museum did, and so forth.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So I think we were just beginning to make some kind of national impact.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And then politics took over, it sounds like. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes. And I wanted to tell you just one little thing about the budget. I told you a minute ago that the budget was $22,000 for operations the last year I was there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Or maybe it was the year before that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That late it was only that much?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Twenty-two thousand. Two years before that it was $7,000.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's incredible.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Seven thousand a year. Now I'm guessing at this point at two years before. But it did not rise to $22,000 until just before I left. And of course my fundraising and Julie Anderson's fundraising—For instance, between 1972 and 1974, we raised, we were responsible under, I have to say, under my administration, for something like $174,000 coming into the museum. Now this included the Henry Gallery Association members. Most of the members—and I saw record the other day that there were about two to three hundred members. I think I said 500 the other day. And of course the majority of those were people who had been coming to the Henry Gallery for years, and all putting in their little bits of money. I raised $70,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for the index. Julie raised a lot of money from Washington State Arts Commission, the King County Arts Commission, the Seattle Arts Commission, the—what's the name of the corporate council for the arts?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We got a $10,000 grant from the NEA for the tactile show for the sighted and the blind. And of course one way to get money was to present a really good exciting idea for a show.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So that sometimes if you presented just your usual idea for an academic kind of show, you wouldn't have gotten the money. So you had, and it's still that way, you had to be very creative about the way you do it. We got, we started making profit from the index, and of course that only started about the time I left the Henry Gallery, and that's really too bad because it sells so well that I think there would have been enough money to keep, keep that thing going, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so it's a very far cry, the last year that I was there, from what the budget is today. And as I understand it, it's somewhere around $600,000 with $225,000 of that coming from the university, today. That's what was in the newspaper the other day. So that was quite surprising.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Also another thing I wanted to mention to you. We talked about this the other day but there were some interesting exhibitions at the Henry Gallery, during the, sponsored by the Henry Gallery Association. And that would be either officially sponsored by them but paid for either through the Henry Gallery Association memberships or through the Henry Gallery's budget. But they sponsored, from the time they started, most everything that was contemporary, I always assigned to them, and if they wanted to sponsor it fine, and they did. Most everything. For instance, while Jan was there we had the Two Happening Concepts of Vostell and Kaprow.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now, that was a photographic documentation of happenings.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And it was an interesting thing that Jan really didn't organize and curate most of these shows himself, but he knew where to find them. That was one that he found from somebody else. There was one called Young Artists of the Sixties, organized by Stanford University, and it was from the collection of Charles Cowles. Now this was I think before Jan, yes, the Two Happenings Concepts. Those were before Jan too; as a matter of fact it might have been that Gervais planned those for Henry Gallery Association sponsorship. The Cowles collection came, I'm sure, because of the acquaintanceship of perhaps the Wrights or somebody like that with Charles Cowles. Serial Imagery was a very important show sponsored by Henry Gallery Association and organized by John Copelins and, at Pasadena and brought here. That one was a high-priced one; it was $7,600, which was high for us. The New British Painting and Sculpture show, organized by UCLA art galleries, that came during I believe Gervais' tenure. The Tony Smith exhibition, organized and circulated by the Museum of Modern Art, six plywood mockups, and I think—yes, that came under my administration and I was able to find that. It was, actually it was a traveling show. And it came with all these mockups and then our whole staff put a different Tony Smith piece in each room—and they filled the whole, whole galleries. It was wonderful. Recent sculpture of Dwayne Valentine. That came down—oh, that was organized by Alvin Balkind up at the University of British Columbia. That was a wonderful plexiglass sculpture exhibition, or cast resin. George Rickey Kinetic Sculpture was organized by Susan Barrow, who, the curator of the Whatcom Museum. She was a former wife of George Rickey. And she asked me if I would like to have that. New Works from the Walker, I believe I told you about last time you were here.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Which came as a result of my visit to Walker Arts Center. And Piero Manzoni was one that Jan was able to find, organized by the Sonnabend Gallery in New York, a retrospective. He was one of the earliest conceptual artists. And he also, Jan also was able to get a show from the John Webber Gallery called Da Europa. It was European paintings, of 1972. Then Jan organized this one himself, a competition involving suggestions for possible art projects on Mount Vesuvius, which was called Operation Vesuvial. And you may have heard of David Ross, who was curator at the Emerson Museum.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], sure.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He organized the video show, the big video show we had.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And Christo's Wrapped Coast was shown in a documentary, in photographs. That was from the Australian coast. And then the main show that Jan did while he was there was Intentional Impurity, and I think you mentioned that the other day.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That was a, that was a very important exhibition, and it showed what his potential was for putting together shows, I felt. Frank Stahl Constructions was organized by the Portland Center for the Visual Arts in Portland, and Jan found four other works from paintings in the Northwest collections to go along with that. And then Tony Berlant, The Marriage of New York and Athens, was a fantastic exhibition, sculpture exhibition, furnished through the cooperation of the Museum of Art at the University of Utah. [turns another page of notes—Ed.] Those were, I think those are all the shows that were done, sponsored by the Henry Gallery Association between '68 and maybe '74.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And one thing that Jan did during all that time, and in the, I forget which year, '72 or '3, during his time there anyway, that was important, but which was not done for the Henry Gallery was done for the Seattle Art Museum and was called Third Quarter Century. Do you remember that one?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I don't think I saw that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And it used a lot of the paintings from local collections, and he was really able to make these collections very, to really show how important all these collections were, by doing this wonderful catalog which summed up the third quarter century of 19, of this century in other words. But the problem that I saw with that was that he did it on, the university apparently gave him permission to do it on gallery time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Also he was [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He was also a half-time teacher, and although I don't know that I was consulted about it, he was on the staff of the Henry Gallery about that time.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But it was a wonderful show, and I was just sorry that it hadn't been done for the Henry Gallery.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It also showed his great potential, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[Audio Break.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Everything that you did while you were at the Henry Gallery is indicative of a certain philosophy, philosophy of life perhaps, that you have. Can you talk a little about what went behind what you were doing? And what still is behind the kinds of activities that you do?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I don't, at the time, I don't know whether I really thought about these things, just specifically. I think sometimes when you're really busy doing something that you think is important—ph, now wait a minute. There's one think I've got to say before I go any further. And when you, when I talk about doing things that are important. All the time that I was at the gallery, especially those heavy years from '69 to '74, heavy from the standpoint of activity that we plan [ph] and so forth, and the problems that were all around, like the excavation that caused us so much problem, and, you know, the parking garage and all that, and the social unrest and all.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  As well as all of the search for a new director and all of that was going on.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. It was a tremendously dynamic period, in many, many ways—dynamic for good and dynamic for not-so-good. But I've got to say that I never could have done what I did there—and I think I did a lot, and probably too much—I never could have done it without the staff I had. It was an amazing thing. Somehow I drew into the gallery people who believed [Laughs.]that what we were doing was very important! Nobody ever said this is important, what we're doing, but as I sit back now, what I realize that, is that every, every motion, every thought that anybody had in that gallery on the staff was based on the fact that what we were doing was important!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But it never occurred to me to think about this is important or this isn't important.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Fred Dunnagin and Julie Anderson and Jack Mackey and Warren Wilkins, later Vicky Ross to a certain degree, except she was not there very long while I was there. I mean, I was not there very long when she came. And I know I'm leaving out people, because they were like dozens and dozens of students who worked with us all the time and they were just as dedicated as all these other people were. And there was no question when I asked somebody to do something that they were going to do it! They did it! Even when the going was so tough—and I hate to make this sound so dramatic, but it was a dramatic period! Everybody had to be at attention. They knew when they came in there in the morning that they perhaps weren't going to get to go home. They knew that I expected a lot of them, but it didn't seem to make any difference whether I expected it or not. They were ready to give it. And it was because we all felt that we were doing something that was very important. I will never, ever able, be able to show the gratitude that I feel to that staff, all those years, in addition to all the part-time students and so forth. They were wonderful. They were not only—you see, their salaries were low. They were not getting anything out of this except the satisfaction and joy of doing a job that they felt was important. So I've got to say that. But anyway, I, as I went along—to go back to the other—I guess I just assumed all along that what we were doing was important and that's partly because of the way I feel about art, of course. But also the way I feel about society and so forth. And maybe if you were to have asked me earlier to talk about my, you know, six years ago or seven and I'd thought about it deeply I would have answered you in a different way than I do today, because I have been through quite a bit in the meantime. At this point, as I look around, I realize that the relationship of people is the most important thing in the world. There's nothing that's more important than that—how people treat each other. And you can carry that into almost anything that you talk about. I think. I may be wrong about that; I'm still thinking about it.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I believe that that's true. And I, I think as far as, I've always felt this about the, the leaders of our country and the society and the democracy and all that, the most important thing is—and this is not a moral issue; it could be a moral issue, but in my case it's not—it's an enlightened self-interest kind of thing, where I think that it is very important for us to have leaders who help the people treat each other better.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think that's the only way we're ever going to come out of, of what we're in. And we don't have very many of those leaders these days, I feel. Now maybe I'm just looking back with nostalgia or something like that. I think there's a lack of intellectual individualism, and it worries me that our system has gotten so fouled up that it, it might be irreversible. And I think we have a great lack of leaders bringing a balance among all these diverse opinions and these terrible needs. Now that's a simple thing that I'm saying. But, and I think that that is, the same thing is true with every small group of people. So the, I bemoan the fact that we don't have more courageous leaders. Now it's possible that when, if things do get to be irreversible, well maybe nobody wants to have any part of it, you know. Speaking about democracy, I've always hoped socially for one world, but the other thing about it is I really dislike the mediocrity and the grayness that that brings. It does! I mean everything becomes one, you know. So it's really important for these differences to be.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  To exist, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But it's also important for, somehow, for, the pendulum is going to swing both ways, and if it gets going too far for the individual over the society it's, it's just going to be destroyed. So that's a common thing that you hear talked about today. And of course I think the leaders are really important because I finally realized that the public really wants to be led. I couldn't believe that for a long time, that there were individuals out there who would prefer being led. [They laugh.]


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, I think that's the way it is and you have to have a good leader who is not going to take advantage of their wanting to be led.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Having just reread Orwell's 1984 [they laugh]. It's just—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh, I didn't ever read that; I never had time, and it's only been lately that I've been hearing about what's in it.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I suppose what I'm talking about has a lot to do with that. But you know one thing that is terribly important to me personally—and I'd love to see it in other people—is incorruptibility. And you if aesthetics has to do with beauty, I think one of the qualities, one of the reasons I like incorruptibility is aesthetic. There's something that thrills me no end to watch someone be incorruptible.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I have exactly the opposite feeling about people who are corruptible, with very little respect, I mean, that's a negative kind of aesthetic, if you can call it aesthetic. For instance, I can, I'm only going to mention one person right now, but I'm thinking of Victor Steinbruck, who—and there is an example of what tenure can do for the good of society. I can't believe that that man wouldn't have somehow been run out of his job at the university by corporations, by the powers that be who want more for themselves, if he hadn't had tenure. I may be wrong about that. So that helped him. But he also has taken great risks in doing what he's done, and he has never to my knowledge let himself be corrupted. He, he is like an angel, from that standpoint. So I don't even look at that as moral; I just look at it as beauty! Seeing him able, to see an individual able to do that. Of course the second reason, other than just that beauty, is that it does so much good for society. And I think that's the only way that we ever get anyplace is when people like that take those tremendous risks.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Another thing. I feel that the press is terribly important to us. And I, frankly, although there are many, many good people in our society, I really do feel that the press is about all we have left, all the society has left. And I really hate it when they don't stand up to their responsibility. And of course the press does a lot of really bad things. There again, you get the individual who wants more for himself. But when the press realizes what their responsibility is and also takes it as a challenge, and also when they are incorruptible—because they're leaders in that case, and they've got to be incorruptible or it's going to, you know, it just won't work. But there again, a find, a fine journalist who is not corruptible is also a beautiful sight to me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative]. I came more to, more to appreciate that just through the little experience that I had.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you're still pretty young, too. Oh, your experience with the—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  As part of the press, right. And it made me do a lot of thinking about how important the press is, and—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And the press not only in politics and social situations, but you know in art how important it is.

[Part two tape 3, side 2]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I mean we could talk for an hour about criticism and, and what is a critic's responsibility.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. What do you think it is? Let's do that!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Nobody better than you to say that!


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You tell me what you think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, since I'm interviewing you, I think you should tell me. [They laugh.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I've got a lot of—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think you should know, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I have a lot of mixed feelings, of course, about what the responsibility of a critic is, because I sort of do that myself a lot of times, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Sure, you write!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But here again, incorruptibility is very important to me, in the case of a, of a critic. I've seen a case of so many critics who—this is an aspect that I don't see discussed very often—who—I head Lawrence Alloway talk about it one time. He talked about the complicity of the critic with a group or with an artist or with somebody out there that this critic wants to please for some reason or other. And the range of reasons that a critic needs this recognition or this approval—when I've begun to look into these things it's really amazing the range. You know, there's, of course there's money, advancement, and there's social prestige, and there's professional.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Friendship.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Friendship. I mean it could be as simple as that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, I was going to get to friendship last. That's the one that puzzles me more than almost anything else. Now of course all this that I'm talking about right now has to do with being an individual. I think maybe almost everything I've said in this part of the tape, you could get right down to that, to my view about the individual being important, although I see the importance of the balance with society too, and that's the problem that comes up all the time. But how a professional critic can allow some group or some artist to influence what, what that critic is going to write is beyond me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Just because the critic wants a friend! And I think that this friendship is very, very important to a lot of critics. I can remember, for instance—I have a lot of respect for Matthew Kangas in many, many ways. I think Matthew is sometimes his own worst enemy. I do have quite a bit of respect for what he's been trying to do, and for somebody to make a living the way he does is unbelievable to me. And I love to read some of the things he writes except he goes off the deep end every once in a while. But when he came back from—I think he had gotten a grant or something from NEA or someplace; anyway, he'd been away. And he wrote an article about his homecoming. And I don't know whether it was in Openings or in some magazine. I just remember reading it. I don't have a copy of it, so I can't be sure about it, except that this article was about his homecoming and being met by this crowd of people who were so happy to see him, and they were all, I think, mostly artists! Had a big party for him at some tavern or something like that. Well, that's wonderful to—naturally, we all like to be recognized by people in the community; there's no doubt about that. But to be that close to the whole community of artists I think is a very, very risky thing for a critic.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Do you feel that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, definitely. And it's hard because there's some artists with whom I would like to be closer friends, but it's difficult if you're in the position of writing about their work. You really can't do that—very easily. You can, as long as you're still willing to say what you think, but it can cloud the issue very quickly.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I would think so, and you know your being an artist too, you must have a much greater understanding of all this than a lot of just critics alone. Because you do have that creative—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I've had a little of both, right.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  On the other hand, artists will respect you if you call the shots where the need to be called as long as you're fair. I don't think you have to side with an artist or try to promote that artist's work because you like that artist; that's the worst thing you can do, in fact.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But if you like the work, I think that you're okay as far as keep those.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  If you keep them separate.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  As far as you keep the two things separate. Because I see nothing wrong in writing about work that you like, by an artist that you also like—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, of course not.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —as long you do keep the two things separate.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Of course then again the problem of, depending on what publication you're writing for, whether you're really just reporting or whether you're really assessing. And sometimes that's up to the editors as much as yourself. I mean I've had that experience, depending on what the publication is and what they view criticism as. So it, it depends. But I'd be curious to know, I mean, from you, how you feel about the critic's role. Are they there to keep people honest? Are they there to—get the word out that these things are going on, that this show is here, and this is what it is? Or is their role—in Seattle let's say—to really critique the work?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, this would be self-serving, I suppose, because I have had a certain amount of art history, and have written a, read a lot of criticism and a lot of art history. And the other thing to take into consideration when I answer this is that in my view about what art is, and how you cover art, I really am quite all-encompassing as far as what the aspects that I think should be covered in reviewing some works of art. Which goes right along with the way I ran the gallery and it's all-encompassing nature. And it also explains my discomfort over a lot of years when I was trying hard to get settled in my own mind about what art history and art criticism was all about.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  When we were so inundated with [inaudible] Greenberg and that view of—and [inaudible] Kramer and a lot of the others, about what it is that you're eligible to look into and write about, about a work of art. I'm very, very all-encompassing, and I think that a critic is there—yes, what did you say—to keep people honest. I think that's one thing. I don't think there's any reason at all why a critic shouldn't do that. That's being, that's playing an, almost an investigative kind of role and I don't see anything wrong with that. I also think, number one, that the art critic needs to have a fantastic base of knowledge about art in order to even begin!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  To draw on, right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I think that, I think the artist's background—and this is why I'm such a devotee of archives—I think the artist's birthplace, the early parts, all these things that you ask about when you interview people.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  What influences the artist feels that he or she has. And after you find out all of that, and you compare this, these social inroads on the artists and so forth, this is just bound—when an artist gets a divorce, for instance—that's very important to know precisely when it was, and if you were able to know what led up to it, you would be able to look at the painting and see evidence of it in it. Now you can't always. But if you put all of those tools together you've got a lot more to try analyze a work and of course it's especially important after the artist is gone, too, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. That's hard to get all of that in when you're writing for a daily newspaper, when you have to do it 10 inches. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It's probably impossible!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It is, and that was what was so frustrating for me, but I agree with you because I tend, I like to be all-encompassing, I like to look at a lot of different angles. But it's, I found it very difficult to do at the Seattle Times. And sometimes you have to go review a show about, hardly even seeing it, maybe you have an hour to write it in. Now that's where you need your background. Because you draw upon—but when you're talking about the big, the big people, when you get into the New York Times and those places, yes, then you have more time and more space and can get into all those different angles.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I guess you would, couldn't you? That's true.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh much more.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's been the scourge [ph] of Seattle.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh much more. And also your audience here. The editors of the Times don't feel we have an audience of people who want to hear about all the things you're talking about. They want something feature-oriented and cutesy, preferably. So it's a real struggle for critics in a city of this size, I think, with the daily newspapers believing the way that they do. And I don't want to get into that here, but it's a real problem. So it's, now when it comes to institutions or their interest in investigative-type stories that might expose an institution that's gone awry, that's another matter. But when you're talking about art and aesthetics, they don't think that Joe Blow wants to hear about it. And so it's a real struggle for that. Along the same line, I'd like to talk to you about—or not quite the same line—I'd like to talk to you about "arts" and "crafts," and I know it's a topic that you're interested in and so am I, so—[laughs]. So, I guess we can just start with question, where do you draw the line? What makes something craft, what makes something art?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it's a tough questions and even after thinking about—I really have spent a lot of years thinking about it. Probably I've spent much more time thinking about it than I should have.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Me too. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But it's been a fascinating subject to me. And I think part of the reason that I've been interested in it is because I have a great need to expose any discrimination, no matter where it happens in society, whether it's—see I've, I can see, I can see loads of problems in our society between the elite and the monied group and say the Blacks, or the Chicanos, or the, the—I mean I can see those problems. And somehow we have to try to solve them. So it's important to me to at least admit that there is discrimination. Now that's not going to solve all the problems, but with the crafts the very same thing has been true, as far I'm concerned, there. I began to see this years ago, ten or twelve years ago, and at that time I was still humble enough that I figured that all of these very highly recognized critics and art historians, and art historians and certain faculties all over the United States, that those people of course know way more than I, but then I'd think, "But I don't understand this!" [Laughs.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So I would try to find somebody who knew all about who would explain it to me. Well I could never find anybody who'd explain it to me, and art history faculty continued to ignore crafts and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And there's still lack of scholarship on crafts. It's better, but there still isn't enough.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think there's hardly any!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, so I suppose that you'd say that, just like almost any other discrimination in any area, I find myself digging my heels in when I realize it's there, and I'm going to take whatever time it takes to really prove that it is there. Because I'm too rational to do something emotional, so I have to prove to myself that it's there first, and sometimes it takes quite a while if you have any humility at all, you know. And then to try to do something to change it, and crafts—well, there's just no doubt that it's, the media, especially, are discriminated against. And I think it's, well there are, there are so many reasons for it, and they're only now beginning to come to light I think. But I think if you work your way through this maze of reasons for all this that you eventually end up to the fact that crafts have not made, been made to be valuable, monetarily, by education from art historians, curators, and the reason they haven't been brought up to the same monetary level as other art is that these people that I'm talking about who haven't educated the boards of museums and this board or that board, who might be then able to begin to collect this, is because the curators and the art historians don't know anything about it themselves. And it does seem to me that there are a lot of shows that go on around that have to do with the crafts that critics don't even touch it! And I used to think that that was deliberate because they thought it wasn't any good, but I'm beginning to think now it's because they don't understand it!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They don't know how to write about. I've, I know some people who don't know quite what to do with it when they see it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And so you get a good crafts show going, and it doesn't get any coverage. And probably there could be a criticism of the critic not being willing to say I don't understand about it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], or putting it down when they don't understand it, or whatever. How do you draw the line, though, between what is, you would just call craft and what you would call art?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, of course the word craft gets all mixed up with a lot of things like function, and design, industrial design, folk art, a lot of things like that. So you've got all of this that's, that's so cumbersome. You don't know how to handle this thing called crafts. And I feel that folk art is not really original. It's beautiful, but it actually is based on not creativity, but doing the same thing over and over and over, and each person who does it does it a little differently and that's where a lot of the fascination with folk art comes in. But I don't that it's base is creative. Design is all involved with industry, and the artist not creating and carrying the thing all the way through to the end, so that becomes difficult. And there again, an industrial designer has to depend so much on input from whoever's going to buy this, as far as how this thing works out. So a designed object really isn't built on pure creativity either. It's built on a lot of other considerations about what'll sell or what'll fit in the kitchen or what'll, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And function is so—I'm speaking now of maybe what you might consider to be original pots—function is terribly important and does place certain limitations on the craftsman, on the potter for instance. I mean you have to have a teapot that will pour and all those functional things are very, very important. And of course the problem with that is that most people who are potters tend not to do pots that just please them and nobody else, but they do their pots for the market. So there again you've got the market impeding any kind of progress. And so you end up then with this little group of people who, in the fifties, decided that there was more to crafts than all of these other things that I've just been talking about and so they began to do their own original ideas. And they've been mostly in the universities all these years, but that's really the only group of what has been called craftsmen that I consider to be truly creative, one-of-a-kind—or maybe a few-of-a-kind—works of art. And they all happen to be in clay or fiber or glass or one of those media that art historians and art critics have relegated to this minor arts category over here. And I think that there are a lot of inroads being made into that group of artists, craftsmen, who are doing that kind of work. Because they are truly one-of-a-kind original works. But another thing about it is I have very big questions about the quality of an awful lot of that. Now there, I'd like to say that there's just as much bad quality in painting as there is in this group of types of things that I'm talking about, but you know I think that the people, the artists who create those things—that I've just talked about, in those various media—are oppressed. And they're just like any other oppressed group in society; they're working in these media that have been oppressed always, so they have it built into them that they can't do as well. They're like women or Blacks or anything else. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Self-fulfilling prophecy, almost.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. So that, so the best thing that all of us can do is to begin to make the public and art critics and so forth realize what wonderful things can be made out of all of these media that have thus far been considered to be minor, or decorative in the pejorative sense, or whatever. And so a lot, I think a lot is being done along those lines.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So you don't define craft, you don't connect function with craft then?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No. Now, and with this group that I'm just talking about the only solution I see to that is for those artists to become as good and as creative and as committed as they can in their media and join the painters and the sculptors. And the production potters, the way I look at today, are never going to reach the creative levels of these other people: the painters, the sculptors, and the people who work in various media in a more sculptural kind of way. I said production potters aren't. That means people who spent all their time turning out pots for the market.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  One pot after the next, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now I, the thing that troubles me more than anything today, is that I think there are a lot of artists, artists—and I'm talking now about artist-craftsmen—who work, for instance, in pots, or certain other kinds of things that are functional, who if they could get away from that production all the time, could make some knockout works of art, that would be usable—and you see some of them around, but not many. Who could, then those things of course, the only way they can ever make it is either have a job teaching.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Or for society to begin to realize that those things are worth painting and sculpture and bring the value up, so that, so that an artist can live.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What about the concepts behind works? I mean, do you think that that somehow distinguishes, say, a teapot, the fiftieth teapot that somebody has made from an individual work of art. I mean do you attach that to it?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. Yeah, I think that the concept is terribly and terribly important in what we're talking about, but I can't see why—now look back—and I can never remember the names of those teapots that were made in China, that are, oh, a couple of centuries ago. I'll get a magazine sometime and show them to you. The concepts of those teapots are some of the most original things I have ever seen. And they poured tea like a whiz. And to have one of those teapots on my table every day would bring me as much joy as any other work of art ever could. Maybe as much as the Mona Lisa! But you don't see people, you don't see people who are working in folk art, industrial design, production, crafts—you don't see those people spending—Either they don't have the ability or it hasn't been nurtured to have them—

[Tape 4; Side 1]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —to have these artists begin to see themselves as, as creative fine artists! And why not bring these things above, I mean a lot of notches up as far as creativity goes and still have something that you can use. Certainly Japanese pottery is like that, a lot of it, and Greek vases.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you can think of a lot of things through history that have been that way. But I think that our society could encourage a certain stratum of artist-craftsmen to think of themselves as artists. You have to use that word, because that's the only one you have you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But these people are way more capable than they know they are. Now a lot of them aren't.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, on the other hand I think there's a place for those that do want to just do the production.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's almost like industrial design.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You can have a finely crafted teapot that maybe isn't original; it's sort of like folk art: It can be repeated and it can be very beautiful to use. I do tend to put that in a separate category from some other craft work, though, if that's all a person is doing is sort of repeating a design and doing it beautifully. That's a real shady area, real [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well it is shady, but a lot of it has to do with the fact, has to do with the purpose of its having been made.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  If it's pure creativity and expression from the artist, you're going to get a completely different thing than you do when you have all those things that are being affected by all kinds of other things. And another thing, for instance, public art is the same way. The public art that causes the most trouble with the public are the ones that are the most creative. The ones that are easy to take probably in many of those cases, the artist is being affected by, well we can't have any censorship here. This is going to be viewed in corporate art, for instance.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  What corporation is going to allow even a figure on the wall? It's all got to be abstract, and it has to be quiet abstract.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Musak. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. That's exactly, to me, that's what corporate art is.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So that that also doesn't fall into the really, what I consider to be fine art. A lot of it is really good, but I mean that's where you have a lot of considerations coming into it that have nothing to do with creativity.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, and architecture is the same way, in a way.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  And so you get very few really fine creations because so often it's, all these other considerations overrule.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Of course, how artists are going to make a living and address themselves to this creative thing, that's another question.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, a whole other story.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's a very hard question. It's like the production potters. My heart really goes out to them, because they are able to make a living that way and so they continue to do it, and pretty soon I would think they would get really bored with these, I would think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Well, you've certainly done something toward producing some, at least, documentation and scholarship on the crafts, through your book and through your work in this area—and even beyond this area.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, and I haven't done nearly as much in writing as I could I think, because I'm only now beginning to feel—I feel really confident today about a lot of my views about the art world. I've been able to sort out an awful lot of things over the last few years and I, I feel so much stronger about it—and I suppose it's a matter of discipline, actually, to get myself down to it to write about it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think it'd be valuable if you could. It would be a very, it would be a contribution.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think maybe it would if I can write it so that it's flowing and—I'm not, I don't write easily, so I need to work a lot more on that. But also, in recent years I've come about my own definition of art, of the importance of art. And I have a lot of files on this that are kind of basic things in my mind. And I keep finding clippings and I'll throw them in a file, and I have just marvelous resources right here. For instance I have one folder that says, "What is art?" And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I've got a file cabinet too. I love it!


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes. [They laugh.]


SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's gotten huge, with clippings and—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. I have one called "Artists using craft media." And I have one called, let's see—Oh, I can't remember all of them now, but they're things that you finally realize are basic to the way you think about art and it's important to get those folders going because then when you write you really have a lot to work with, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I know in recent years I've thought so much about how is—is it 25 after three?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, we're okay.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. I've thought so much about what is important about art, and I used to go to a concert or I'd go to a show and see the painting or listen to the music, and I'd be thinking mainly about the technique and the musical, the musical ability of the person, or the expressive aspects of the painting, and also the technique and the medium and all of that. And I would just get overflowing every once in a while, because these things were so wonderful. But it was only since I've been away from the gallery—and I go to an awful lot of concerts now—that I went, that one evening, one evening I sat there listening, and I was overcome by the beauty of a work, of a music, of a musical work, and what I began to realize was that what was important about that was, in addition to the beauty of the work or the—not necessarily the beauty, the ugliness of the work or whatever—the strong expression, the important thing as far as I'm concerned is that that performer, or that composer, or this artist, the discipline it has taken to create this thing at difficult odds and that every aspect of what that artist is doing is positive all the way along. Even if it's political satire, or even if he's angry with the world, doesn't make any difference. It's that ability to discipline himself or herself and create this thing and make it better all the time and never quit until it's good. That's all that constructive activity going into this—and it will occur for an artist's entire life, that as far as I can see is the only thing that counteracts all the negative stuff in the world. So that my feeling about how important art is today is beginning not to have anything to do with the artist. It has to, well it does have to do with the artist, but not with the object. It has to do with the activity. And what's inside the artist.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What that represents, in other words, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And the fact that the artist is able to do this thing, which nobody else can do! Now, not only artists, but there could be scientists. I mean this creative thing then begins to run all through society.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course, in science that's where you find the negative—it's not always so constructive.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But as far as art goes it seems to me that almost every aspect of the creation of art—all kinds of art—is positive. So, I don't know whether that's true or not. That's the way that I feel about it.

[Audio Break.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  There's another question about is art for democracy or not? I mean, should, should all society like art? Should we be working so hard to get all of society like it, to like it, to appreciate it, to understand it? Or are they only people, certain people who will ever understand it so forget about all the rest because it takes so much money and all that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. Is it, is it elitist or isn't it, yeah?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I'm really split about this, actually, in my mind. Because I do appreciate quality, and so it's constantly a little problem for me. But you asked me one time about how I felt about a museum, and whether it ought to be an active one, or a quiet one, or whatever, you know. And—did I mention the Pompidou Museum in—[In Paris—Ed.]


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh I did. I already talked about that. It does seem to me that that museum does make it possible to do both of these things under one roof. Now of course, you don't walk up to it and have it be a quiet monument to start off, because you're really aware of all that activity going on. But I do think that that's possible. And you know, going back to commerce and creativity. The artist really needs to sell. It's too bad when they can't. And so it's really important for them then to deal with commerce. And there again, you've got restrictions coming on the outside from creativity, which we just talked about a few minutes ago. But there also are, are restrictions on creativity through religion. And of course we know that from, from art [ph] history. There was a time when there, when everything was restricted by religion, and of course a lot of wonderful works of art were made during that time. But you do have to consider that that is certainly restriction on the individual artist. There are also, maybe you could say that there are a lot of social and political issues that restrict art, and especially, for instance, in Russia and other places where you can only do social realism, and so forth.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I don't think an artist should stay out of making statements against society. I mean I think that's one of the purposes for art. Do you feel that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh definitely. Oh definitely.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I figured you did.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah. [Laughs.] Well, it's interesting—I think artists tend to impose restrictions on themselves, of their own choosing now, whereas so often in the past they were imposed by the church or the state. And an artist has to; I mean you can't do everything. You have to impose your own restrictions if you don't have some givens. But we're getting very different kinds of art because they're different for each individual now. Which I think makes it harder for the general public, however, to understand. Whereas when it was imposed by an institution, where everyone shared common values, then it was easier for the public to understand that art that came out of that, came out of those restrictions. So I think that alienation of the artist from people, general, people in general, has come about as the result of a lack of some of those restrictions.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course those very people were being told what to do. They were the masses who wanted somebody to tell them.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. It's a sticky question. Because you could say well maybe they still need to be told what to do. But I really don't, I don't want to believe that. But there, they can't understand say the art that's being produced now because it's so individualistic. So it's real hard to—and then, and that in itself isolates the artist from them, you know, that makes that gap all the wider.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And when you talk about how it's easier for people to understand the art then, you know that's another question about should you be—and I'm going to talk to Alden about this when I talk to him about his art. Some people say you should be able to look at the art and it will tell you and you don't need to look any further. But that just can't be true!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, I dispute that very strongly. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And when you talk about the artist, this individual artist that we're talking about, that's different from the one in the renaissance, for instance, some of that art gets really very esoteric.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well it does, and I guess when I say people understood it, they understood it on a particular level. But they didn't probably understand all of the nuances of meaning, all the different ways that we can now in hindsight look back and say, you know, dig out all these meanings that were there. I'm sure that that's true; they didn't necessarily understand all of that.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  But I wonder if now, I mean, often then just, they don't even look at, at art at all now, partly because it's isolate in galleries and museums, perhaps. It isn't part of their life; they don't walk into a cathedral on Sunday morning and see it. So it's, it's a, there, it's more complicated than I've stated it, certainly.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You know I've seen situations too, where an artist will do something that's rather esoteric. The critic will delve into this, and really begin to find out what that's all about. And if the public had gone to see the painting, the public would not have understood the painting any better than the critic did—well—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Initially.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, well the critic may understand more about just because the critic is educated in materials and techniques and like that.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And also certain styles. But once the critic then begins to delve into it, and begins to find reasons for it to look the way it is, the public is going to enjoy, understand and consequently then enjoy it way more. They will not be so—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's part of the role of the critic too, because that, is to educate. And that, that's another function that doesn't always go along with the critical one. But I think that you need to do both, as a critic myself. But that's another whole question.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And see that's what a museum needs to do too.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, your education department should go along with your exhibition department.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. But there you have this terrific split—and I feel this tremendously—for instance we had Northwest coast Indian art at the Henry Gallery for many years when we didn't have the Burke Museum. And it was installed in the basement as art, not with the diorama [ph] and you know, and all that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  In context?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It did have, we made, we made labels, as discreet labels as possible, but was also tried to have an educational program going with it, so that when you walked in that room you really only saw the art. And to me that's the way I looked at, liked to look at art. And this is probably the reason that I instituted the thing called the orientation gallery at the Henry Gallery. Because this way, you can do away with all of those labels and dioramas that really screw up the art, you know.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I've [ph] got to go.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is an interview for the Archives of American Art with LaMar Harrington on February 10, 1984. The interviewer is Sue Ann Kendall.

[Audio Break.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  LaMar, I'd like to pick up where we left off last time. And you had mentioned that you wanted to talk about John Hauberg's contribution to the Henry Gallery.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, I would. I've known John and Anne Gould Hauberg for, probably it would have been the early sixties, I think. And we saw each other over the years some, but toward the end of the sixties—You may recall that John Hauberg—well, he has the property up north of the city where Pilchuck school is now. And Pilchuck school, of course, only comprises a small amount of the property he has there. It's basically a big tree farm. And he has been operating that tree farm for quite a lot of years. I don't remember which year he started. But John has always been a patron of the arts, and also of society in general. I always look at him, and also Anne Gould Hauberg, as being people who are wealthy to some degree or another in the community, who really have, really have the good of the community at heart, probably more than—I think they understand the need for, I think they realize that they have a responsibility, or they look at it as if they have a responsibility to society. And I think a lot of people with wealth don't even think about that. And of course, that's an idea that has been basic to certain wealthy people forever, actually. Well, I think that the Haubergs have been the perfect example of that. Anyway, toward the end of the sixties, John had begun to get this idea—and they are both very creative, too, in their thinking—had begun to get this idea that he wanted to do something on the property up there that had to do with culture or the arts, other than the tree farm, and so he set about to do something with an organization, a nonprofit organization, that was eventually called the Pacific Northwest Art Center. And, for quite a while it was not based in Seattle; it was, everything having to do with that organization was centered on and directed towards this, whatever this would be that would happen up at the tree farm. And he started the organization and Jim Plaut, that was P-L-A-U-T, a man from the east coast, was one of the, he was a consultant for it. And the idea was to build a building up there which would be eventually a Tobey, Mark Tobey museum. They, the Haubergs had always been great supporters of Mark Tobey, and in fact contributed funds to him on a monthly basis for several years before he died, before Tobey died.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, John got an architect in Mt. Vernon—and all I can think of is Henry right—Henry Klein, K-L-E-I-N, I think—to design a building and this consulting information was coming in from Jim Plaut, Plaut, and then John had a board, of course—and I was on that board for quite a while—meeting regularly to consider what this museum might be like. And of course there were a lot of problems being that far away from the city. And I suppose even today—what, 12, 13 years later—it seems way easier in my mind now to have something that far out of the city, but it still was a difficult concept to be certain that there would be audiences coming in to see the museum and all of that all the time. Now in addition to that museum, Anne Hauberg, they both have always been very supportive of handicapped people. This is another indication of their great, I think, humanity towards society in general. And Anne had always wanted to start something up there, near the Tobey museum, which would be called a crafts center—and of course she's always, and so has John, always been interested in the crafts—where there would be craftsmen working, and maybe shows of crafts, but also there'd be this community of handicapped people. And Anne always had the idea that she might be able to find certain craftsmen around who would design objects that these handicapped people would then be able to produce, either on a limited basis or a big basis. Because Anne always had the feeling that if a handicapped person, any person can get up in the morning and feel that they've got something worthwhile to do, that's what makes life worth living. And so I think that was a wonderful idea. And Anne has also been totally optimistic about the potential of handicapped people. John was a bit more conservative in his estimates about what you could expect from a handicapped person, but they were both very much into this idea.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I didn't realize that, that that was—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, actually, going back to John Hauberg again, another fantastic thing that he did—and I can't remember which year it was—but have you heard of the Center for the Mentally Retarded [Child Development and Mental Retardation Center—Ed.] at the University of Washington, down on the south campus?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, he started that.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He gave quite a lot of money, and I can't tell you how much, to get this thing going and then was, as I understand it, very instrumental in parlaying that money into millions of dollars, like in gifts from the government and like that, and I think they ended up with a $12 or $14 million complex out there, for a mentally retarded institution. And Anne was behind that of course too. He worked very, very hard at that. And one of the ironic things about that whole business was that Anne Hauberg especially and John to a certain point having this feeling that there is no, that there is endless potential, if you just pay attention to the mentally retarded, it's amazing what comes out of them. And I believe that too. The interesting thing was that all that money went into that out there because of them, and it turned out that the department that was formed—or maybe had been formed before—was a very what you might call behaviorist or determinist philosophy—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —with great limitations as far as what you could expect from retarded. So it was wonderful and it was kind of difficult for, especially Anne too in a way.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  All right. This is what they call the CDMRC?



LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And since that time great strides have been made in that department out there. And as a matter of fact, I was reading an article just the other day where they have all kinds of new programs going now to cultivate this potential in the mentally retarded as if it were their idea, you see. And I know a lot about this because my daughter got her master's degree out there in special education, and she has a retarded child, my granddaughter, and so I've been in the middle of all of this, well, all of her married life. And I watched her go through her master's degree out there with her naiveté. She was trying to change the philosophy of the University of Washington. [Laughs.] Anyway, she made very good strides in it too, I'll tell you. I have a feeling that she pressed so hard during her graduate days there that that may have been the beginning of their turning around! I like to think that at least. Anyway, so the Haubergs did do that. Another thing along these lines that they did—there's an institution right by Pilchuck school—that's north of Marysville, which is called Victoria Village. And Victoria Village started out in a farmhouse—it also was a nonprofit institution, and John was instrumental for starting it. I don't know how much Anne was. And what they did was accept mentally retarded, maybe only boys in the first place—I'm not sure about this—to do farm work. And then they would live there and the hope was that within, say, 18 months, they would be able to do certain chores around the farm and be able to go back to their community or whatever, and have learned something, so that they could make a living at it. And that has continued to go on. It's still called Victoria Village, I think, but the bigger name may be the Resource Center or something like that at this point. They also have a branch down here in Seattle. But—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And the Haubergs were responsible for that as well?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And there again, John went out and was able to get the backing of certain state agencies, and he built what he was able to put into it—and it's on his property up there—he was, he built and developed whatever he was able to put into it to a much greater degree. And I think they have other buildings now, like a school and so forth, and I can't tell you exactly how broad it is, but there are a lot of retarded people being educated up there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], that's wonderful.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So that was another thing he did. Anyway, going back to the Pacific Northwest Art Center, one thing that happened—I bring this up partly to say something about what I see as the Haubergs' contribution to the arts and other things around this area, but also John had asked me early in those stages to be the director of this museum up there, the Tobey museum.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I was of course still at the Henry Gallery at that time, developing a lot of programs that I was happy and excited about, and I did have big questions about leaving the university and going that far away, out of the mainstream, Seattle mainstream. And actually what happened was that I continued to work on that steering committee for a long time, and I always told John that I really loved the idea of what he was doing, but I didn't feel that I could accept the offer. So he told me that he, to keep thinking it over, and he, because he really wanted me to do it. Eventually, about 1969, I believe that his accountant and his bookkeeper, both of whom were on the board of the Pacific Northwest Art Center, convinced him that he probably should give that up and put his entire—they were also on the board or very close to the Seattle Art Museum—that he should probably give that up and put his full support behind the Seattle Art Museum. Now he had contributed heavily to the Seattle Art Museum over all the years—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —way back when Dr. Fuller was still the person in that. So he did give it up. Now in the meantime, Pacific Northwest Art Center did get an office and a gallery downtown here.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  You remember that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It was in that building on, in Pioneer Square right next to the space that Polly Friedlander had her Galleria.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, Uh-huh [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And there were a lot of shows down there. Oh. Then the Pacific Northwest Art Center became a subsidiary of the Seattle Art Museum.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  SAM just took it over lock, stock and barrel, the membership and all, and that is what now is the—what do you call the Northwest Art Council?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  The Pacific Northwest Arts Council, I think.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So it ceased to be as a separate, separate activity. Well, so anyway, during that time, John was very supportive of the program that I was doing at the Henry Gallery, and his, in a monetary kind of way. And I think the reason that he wanted me to do this work there—he said he had admired what I'd done at the Henry Gallery, and the way I operated and so forth, but also all these programs that I was doing there were exactly the kinds of things that he could see in new Tobey museum, perhaps, up there, and in this entity called Pacific Northwest Art Center. I can remember, he gave us, oh, one year—I found some notes the other day and I was reminded that he had given us one year $12,000 in 1971 for doing that show, Art of the Thirties, which Martha Kingsbury did.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh yeah! Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you see that was a Northwest-based thing.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Also, some money towards the Callahan show, which, the retrospective Callahan show which I did and the, and the big book that was published with the index, in conjunction with that. He also, part of that money also went for four solo craft exhibitions that traveled around the state of Washington. More of it went toward a Northwest film festival, and also some went toward the Archives of Northwest Art, which was still based at the Henry Gallery; it hadn't gone over to Suzallo by that time. So it was most, and that's only one year's contribution. So he really was very helpful to us. Also, of course, you know about Pilchuck school.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Which is John's—It started actually with, we think of today as really three co-founders. It was Dale Chihuly's idea. That's C-H-I-H-U-L-Y. And a glass, a glass artist, and then with the help of John and Anne, the three of them got the thing going and really kept it going. And in recent years, Anne Gould Hauberg, whose heart is still very much in it—and she's a very close friend of a lot of the artists up there, and of Dale particularly—is still very much interested in it, but is not so active on the board. She resigned from there about two years ago. But John has, the thing that has always impressed me about John is that he, when he starts something like this, he, he doesn't give up easily. He keeps going, and carries it through the tough times to see that it, it really is safe. He did this with the Seattle Symphony too. I was talking to a violinist the other day who'd been there for 30 years. And I knew that John had been instrumental in helping the Seattle Symphony do a turnaround financially, back I don't know when, maybe fifties or late fifties or early sixties. And this man said that that was true. I mean, he said it in his own words that John had really single-handedly turned that thing around so that it, the symphony didn't die at that time. He also, as you probably will recall, in recent years was instrumental in raising how many million dollars for the Seattle Art Museum, or at least getting pledges for the building. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Which has yet to be, but it—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. But it did seem to me that he, along with the development officer, and I can't think of her name right now, he didn't give up. He stuck with it, and that was a very, that was a very big and difficult challenge, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was that Dea Dorsey? Perhaps, when she was here?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, Dea Dorsey.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right, that's right. He also is still, after all of these years, on the board of the Victoria Village, up there. And I, and of course, he has never given up on Pilchuck and he has continued to pour money into it every year. It's, it's really amazing to see the way he has stuck with a lot of those things.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], and a broad range of things.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  A broad range of things.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, really broad. It's a societal kind of thing, I think, his feeling of responsibility.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. You also mentioned the LaMar Harrington Guild, and I'm curious to know more about that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, that was a—let's see, did I already say on this tape that one of the things I did when I first came to the Northwest after the war, while my daughter was still very young, I did some volunteer work around, and one of the things I did was work on the Bellevue Fair.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I did talk about that. Well then, over the years, at first there was just the fair; that went on for quite a while. And then I can't remember which sequence, but the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Association also then bought a little red building—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —and they made into the schoolhouse over there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  A little red house, uh huh, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So that was another one of their projects. And then eventually they went in, oh, they got Finacca, the shop in the square in Bellevue, and then eventually they went into Green's Funeral Home, redid that, and were there for several years with the museum.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, in the meantime, they began to realize—this may have been as much as ten years or more ago—they began to realize that they needed support and they started a guild system like the Seattle Art Museum had. And when I learned that they had, I think they had the Mark Tobey guild, and the Miller Freeman guild, and one other one, and the LaMar Harrington guild, which was a surprise to me. And I had never really had any association with them; they were all very young, mostly housewife types from Bellevue. And one day not too long ago, one of them called me [laughs] and she was, you know, in her conversation with me. And she said that they were having a luncheon and they all had gotten to talking about it, and wondered if I might come to a luncheon with them at one of the houses over in, someplace in Bellevue. "Well, sure, I'd be delighted to do that." And she said, "Do you drive?" And [they laugh] I'm sure that they all thought I was 95 years old or something like that. So anyway, I said, "Yes, I can drive, and you just tell me what the address and I'll get there, and I'll be wearing my jeans." I wanted to warn her about the jeans because I, you know those young women in Bellevue, I thought they might dress quite, quite a bit when they go to lunch, but anyway [they laugh]. I had a wonderful time, and they said, "We'd like for you to talk to us; talk about anything you want to." So I decided maybe rather than talk about my career, here are a whole bunch of young women in that group who are like a lot of young women these days, wishing they could spread their wings, you know, and, and so I told them that they could do that, you know. I didn't know what their husbands would think about all this, but, because they're all fairly young and have young children yet, you know. And so I was careful to talk about their responsibilities to their family, but the interesting was I was at a concert not long after that and a woman behind me came up and sat down with me, and I thought I recognized her and it turned out she is a member of the LaMar Harrington guild. And she mentioned to me that she just wanted me to know that after I'd been there that day, that it had inspired her so much—she has five children and her husband is a doctor—and it inspired her so much that she started this wonderful new training down someplace, down the coast, and her doctor husband had agreed to take care of the five children while she gone.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Fantastic.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  She had been a nurse in the early days, and she was being very creative, which is what I urged them to be. She was learning how to use her nursing ability among the airlines and now she's doing that. And an airline will call her because they need a nurse to, to accompany someone on a trip—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —so she's getting to travel all over the United States now.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Fantastic.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, there, there, I've gotten to know them better now, and I go to have lunch with them every once in a while. They're a really nice crowd of young women.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But that was formed because of your activity over there a long time ago.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, I'm sure so.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So it's a tribute to you?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I appreciated that greatly. Let's see, what was I going to say? Well, they had, earlier than that there were a few of us put on the board as life members, and so I suppose this was just a, kind of an extension of that I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But we have, we have a very nice time. I go once in a while and I help—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's nice to get a pat on the back, too, for some of the things you've done.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it is, yes. It was nice.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It was volunteer work that you did, and so it was nice to have the recognized.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes. Yes, it was. Another, another, that reminds me of another funny thing. Did you ever hear about the LaMar Harrington band?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, when I was at the Henry Gallery, you know, it was during the revolutions on the campus and so forth, and, in the late sixties, and, oh there were lots of wonderful students who came to work for us. And at one time, there were two students, you know, there, they were having their beards, and the long hair and all of that, their rock music.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they came, they came to work for me as part-time people and it was just at the moment when I was beginning to expand the exhibition program and there were valuable works of African art, all over the basement in a certain room down there, and I'd just had the security system put in, and we were becoming a real museum. And these two youngsters, we were all sitting around talking one day, the staff and I, and we had a faculty show on, and I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could get the students and the faculty associated a little more than they have been before?" It just seemed like there wasn't much communication between them. And they were thrilled about this, and I said, "Why don't we have a grand closing?" So we did. So they said, "Well, could we play, could our band play?" Well, I thought, that's okay. And I'd find a way to protect the paintings and all of that. So this developed gradually, and they asked if they, they said they would have to come and practice. So several nights, one night wouldn't do it, because they just weren't that good. And several nights they practiced till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and I stayed there, because the first night when they came, there were quite a few in their band! I didn't know it was going to be such a big band. And so past my office in the basement came boys, and girls, and a dog with one green eye and one blue eye—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh dear. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —and what do you call the equipment to make the blasting of the rock music?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  The sound system?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, so they went back in the, in this one back room and they practiced. Well, I stayed with them. I couldn't not stay with them.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They were—yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I remember going over to the bakery at, just before they closed at midnight and getting them some goodies, and I did, got a lot of work done those nights. So we had the grand closing. In the meantime, they had made 600 pairs of rhythm sticks.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] Fantastic.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So they handed them out at the door, and that was one of our first big crowds at the Henry Gallery, the faculty turned out and everybody danced! And I was really frightened—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Great. Just the art faculty, or this was any faculty?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anybody could come, but it was especially art faculty and art students that I was hoping to have, to get together.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I began to realize, because of my, my strict training from Gervais Reed earlier, that I had better watch those paintings, because we'd never had a crowd like that before. So while I and some of the staff were busy moving paintings down into the basement where they would be safe, they announced—they had four bands that played—and then, they, this one that had practiced at the gallery announced that this was the LaMar Harrington Memorial Marching Band!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's wonderful! [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So I didn't hear it! So two or three weeks later—do you remember about Seattle magazine? Wonderful magazine. It had something to do with King.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Somehow the name is familiar but I can't recall the magazine.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it had something to do with King Broadcasting System, I think. They're not, I can't remember now exactly who was the editor of it, but it was a wonderful magazine, and it went for quite a long time. It was good quality. And I'd go home to read that sometimes after a very busy day at the office, and I saw this article about the auditions for Hair, when it was in town here, maybe late sixties or early seventies. And it started out with a kind of catchy paragraph, and I thought that sounds fun, so I sat down and read this article and suddenly there was my name in the middle of a column. I was skimming. And I realized that this band—eight girls, seven boys, and a dog—had gone down to audition for "Hair!" [They laugh.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And they were listed?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The whole article was about this! It was a, it was very funny article. Well, I almost died, you see. By this time they were calling it, I think, the LaMar H-A-I-R, Hairington Band. [They laugh.] And it told about how the man who was doing the auditions got so upset with them because he said, "Who is it that's auditioning?" —"We all are!" Well, this started a series of—as I look back at it now—very, very funny things. But also, it was touchy, because here they were out there in the community—when I would go away on a trip, there would be posters around, here and there on fences, about the LaMar Harrington Band and where it was going to play next. And one day the dean's wife came in—that was Mary Phillips, before they were divorced, she and William—she came in to see me in my office, and she pulled me in, in my office and closed the door, looking furtively around to see that nobody was watching, and she said to me, "Bill and I were out at the grocery store on 75th the other night, and when we came out of there, here was a poster on the fence, and it said, 'LaMar Harrington swings'. And I clutched Bill's arm. He said, 'What's the matter, Mary?' Oh," she said, "nothing." So they, they walked away, and she said, "What does this mean?" I said, "Well, I didn't know anything about it, but it must be that band doing this!" Well, and lots and lots of things happened. You can't believe.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We did the tactile show, and Dr.—oh, I can't think of him. The blind psychologist, had worked very closely with us, with the tactile show, and we got to be very good friends.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And he called me one morning, and he said, "LaMar, what does this mean?" This morning at 7:30, I heard a big announcement on KJR, that LaMar Harrington jumped out of a cake at Jolly Roger last night.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He said, "What does this mean?" Well, I don't know what the cake was they, but they were all artists so they probably built a cake and jumped out of it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, a keg, or a cake?



LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Jumped out of a cake. So then the plot thickened. And there were, you can't believe how many things there were. They were all artists and they bought a bus, a school bus, and decorated it all pale blue with pastel colors all over, and flowers all around my name, printed along the side. And Rick, the big one, he's about seven feet tall or something, and really sweet, you know. Not quite as intellectually endowed as the rest of them, but—anyway, it was wonderful to see them all, and they had, and they kept trying to get me to come to someplace where they playing and sing!


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I couldn't bring myself to do that. So the Northwest Annual came up at the Seattle Art Museum, and later Alan Frankenstein, who became, Alfred Frankenstein, who became a very dear friend of mine in later years, and I didn't know it at the time, was one of the jury, and Kenneth Callahan, and I can't remember who the critic was, but one of the big critics from New York had come back, the three of them. And my band had entered their living room; they had a commune, and it, the commune housed anywhere from 35 to 200 people, as I recall. And I always wondered what their main way of making a living was; it always worried me slightly that maybe they were a drug front, or something like that; I never did know. But they entered their living room of thirties furniture in the Northwest Annual, and won the first award. And—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You mean they entered, they entered their furniture, you're saying?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Their living room, as an environment.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, and they—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They took their whole—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  To the museum?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —all the thirties furniture out of their living room and entered it as an environment in the Northwest Annual.



SUE ANN KENDALL:  And it won?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And it won a first award. And it was called LaMar Hairington, I think, H-A-I-R. So it was installed so that everybody who went to the exhibition had to walk through this living room. And they had certain of their personnel on hand all the time. And at the end of the show, as I understand it, they went down there one afternoon and auctioned off the furniture from their living room. And poor Dr. Fuller was—he was still living at that time, and he was in a wheelchair all the time, and at the opening—this is probably the part that was the hardest for me of anything—at the opening, the Whiz Kids showed up. Do you know what the Whiz Kids are?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  On their rubber-wheeled skates?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They showed up, and also the band personnel were there, mingling around you know, with their artists' hats on, and lots of costume, and the Whiz Kids came with cotton balls and threw the cotton balls at the paintings.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now of course, not of course hurting the paintings at all, but I mean, it, it was really terrible.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And of course up until that night, time, I had no contact with them. And I really didn't know exactly what to do. There were times when I wondered if I should be doing something about it.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But there was really very little that I could have done, because—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's kind of out of your control. I mean, they were using your name—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it was, and one thing, what I knew was that they had done this because all of those youngsters appreciated the Henry Gallery greatly.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What you had done, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And it was a time when other departments on campus were having graffiti put all over them, and there was this anger over the administration, and nobody ever touched the Henry Gallery.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They liked you. Obviously, you were [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, and they liked the program is what they liked, I think.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They felt that we were trying, at least, to address the needs of the day. Anyway, that night one of the girls who was there, who sometimes danced out in front of the band—you know, they had the gyrating girls with all the rock music and all of this, which I didn't know about, much about until I heard about this happening—anyway, she came dressed very scantily and I've heard that she dropped her clothes. Now I did not see that, and I don't know that for sure.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  This is at the museum?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  At the opening. And there was a, there was another one of them then, who had his pallet and he, she was being the model and he was painting her.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh! Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, the next morning, I had a call from Thomas Maytham—do you remember? The associate director—and he was just irate. He said, "LaMar, what are you going to do about this?"

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] Everybody's asking you all the way along, "What are you going to do about it!"

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Of course. I was really able to keep my, I think I was able to keep my cool through the whole thing, and I really think I did the right thing. I do not believe there was anything I could, that I could have done about it. Because in one way, taken in the scheme of things at that time, what they were doing was really not all that bad.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But the difficult thing for the traditional community out there to take, was that my name was connected with it. Now I sat at a dinner party not long after that with Mrs. Fuller; she sat right next to me. And I wondered what I was going to say to her. I felt I really needed to say something to her, because she was there that night that these Whiz Kids were throwing these cotton balls at the paintings.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they had no association, you see, with this other group, but they were all there together and it looked like it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  They were there, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so I brought up the fact of this group, and I had hardly gotten a sentence out of my mouth when she said to me, "My dear, it isn't your band that bothers me." [They laugh.] And then, I'll be darned if I can remember what the rest of her sentence was, but it had something to do with the cotton balls and the paintings, you see.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But the funny part of that sentence was that she was calling it my band.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Your band! [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I had nothing to do with the band!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But of course people would assume that you did. I mean the LaMar Harrington band? One would assume that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, anyway, I won't go into any more about that except they had, they were kind of entrepreneurs in a way. They had, I've seen labels on dresses in used dress shops around. They had a label. Some of them went down to Oregon and started a couturier, and it's called the LaMar Harrington Fashion something or other.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Then they started a little shop over—every time I'd go on the bus, and I had to there for a while when my car didn't work, the bus would go by a shop under the freeway bridge that said "LaMar Harrington" on the outside. And they had used furniture in there that they sold all the time. Then they did record, and there is a recording of their music, and I'll tell you, I've got a copy of it someplace, and they could have been better.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The quality of their rock music, and I love rock music. But anyway, it was an interesting time. And as I look back at it, I really have to laugh really heartily.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, but it shows how that you were responsive to those people, cared about them, and so on, or they wouldn't have done that, and I think it tells, tells me something about your relationship with, with the young people at that time.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think it does, and I think the other thing about it was that my relationship with all these non-young people was good too. What I mean is—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. You were a serious person doing your job and so on.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I was listening to what the people needed at the time, you know, and trying to keep the quality as good as possible. But anyway, anyway, that was, that's a very funny part of—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. It certainly is. [They laugh.] You, yeah, mentioned Alfred Frankenstein, and I'm interested in him because of his role as a critic in San Francisco, of course.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I guess I knew Alfred for about four years before he died. And the way it all happened—I'd heard of him of course before, especially when he did the John Peto Harnett scholarship that he did, earlier. He'd come up and given a talk at the University of Washington and it was a fabulous discovery he made.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you know—I don't know those two American painters well enough to know which is which, but—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I don't what you are [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I think it was Harnett—well, he was the, he was the—oh! What's the name of the realism? The still lifes?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, trompe l'oeil

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. He did a lot of those trompe l'oeil paintings.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].What about the discovery? I don't know what you're [inaudible].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, the discovery was that all the paintings that both of these artists, Harnett and Peto, had done were ascribed to one only, and the other one was almost unknown. And Alfred did scholarship to learn, and he had a really wonderful eye, and was able to divide these and actually give this credit.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think it was Harnett who was known first, and then he [Frankenstein—Ed.] made the discovery that a lot of them were by Peto.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So it was pure scholarship, is what it was. Anyway, I was on a jury down in Santa Barbara Museum of Art one time; we were both on the jury. And Paul Mills was the director at that time. Anyway, we'd met jurying for about three or four hours one afternoon, and then we were all going to go back home. And there was a little bit of time, and so Paul suggested we go look at the exhibitions while we waited to go to the airport. So we got to talk to each other and he was really a very fascinating man, and we had wonderful times after that. He came to visit me then within about a week or two after that. And I guess we probably traveled back and forth to, between San Francisco and Seattle, oh, maybe once a month over the next four years. And one of the interesting things was the he was a musicologist, you know, having studied at the University of Chicago, and he came directly from there with his wife and maybe they, they probably had their children after they got to San Francisco, and his wife, Sylvia, was a violinist, and she had died several years before I met Alfred. They came to San Francisco because he was offered the chief, well, it was the only critic on the Chronicle in San Francisco.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And he covered both music and the visual arts for 20years, and then it got to be such a big job that he was offered either one that he wanted. And it was interesting that he saw, even at that time—way back, see—that the visual arts would be where the interest would be in the future. So he gave up the music. And he was so right about it, because there was so much more interest in the visual than the music as time went on, compositions of this century.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so, in all—I can't remember; I knew at one time—but he was on that staff for something like 50 years, before he got sick.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], a long time.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And just at the time—I think where, he failed quite a bit in the last year that I saw him. I think just at the last there it was going to be obvious that he might not be able to keep it up much longer. And the, de Young made him the—oh, what was that woman's name that, she was a patron of the de Young Museum? Her last name was Root, I think. But he became the scholar, her name scholar, of their American collection. And set up—have you ever seen the American collection down there?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, he assisted and was instrumental in setting up—I don't know whether there have been changes in the last three or four years now in that installation, but it was to be a semi-permanent thing. And he was doing all this work, curatorial work, then he moved over from the Chronicle over to there, which was a very nice thing for him to do in that last year. But then he, he became ill and it was very difficult for him, I think, at the last. But the thing that I remember about Alfred—we, you see, we used to go to concerts all the time. I'd fly down there for a concert or he'd come up here for one, or we'd go to special exhibitions, or perhaps even some other city. And it was, it was a most interesting time of my life. He was a very, very interesting man. I grew to feel a great deal of affection for him too. He, he was a person who really fought for the underdog, and I think he was constantly trying to balance that—and his Jewish background may have something to do with that, you see.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think that people who are oppressed are going to understand oppression, and perhaps have a greater, more humanistic attitude about the whole thing. But I think he was constantly balancing the need for quality with the need for, for, the need for lack of the elitism that was around so heavily.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So his, his criticism—I would say that he may be one person, one newspaper critic, who—of course he'd been at it for such a long time—who tried very hard to get as much substance in as possible and still meet the needs of the newspaper.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Of a newspaper, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The limitations of a newspaper, which as you know is not an easy thing to do. [Sue Ann Kendall formerly served as art critic for the Seattle Times—Ed.] He also, I think, probably made a lot of people sore.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, any critic does, yeah. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyone would, but he had a lot of power.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He had the absolute support of the newspaper for 45 or 50 years!


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So you can imagine how much power he had. And I really looked at him as somebody who never compromised himself. Anyway, that was a very interesting time of my life, and I, I'm always grateful for having known him, during that period.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Can you talk any more about his, the basis of his criticism? Did he talk much about it? I guess one can deduce that from reading what he wrote.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  But I was curious to know on a personal level if you had talked about it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think that his view, he was not what I would I would call an elitist critic. Does that mean anything to you, when I say elitist?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He definitely—Do you, do you think—I've got to, I want to begin to study more about these classifications of critics and so forth—but do you see a Marxist critic, as one who is oriented perhaps equally to society as well as to the art? Or do you see a Marxist critic in some, or doesn't that term really mean anything to you?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh it does. But it depends to whom they're referring.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  People throw it around a lot.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  People throw it around a lot. Yeah, you think of a Marxist usually as basing their judgments, to a certain extent anyway, upon how politically or socially relevant the art is. I mean that's a very loose definition and it varies, but—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, so that it perhaps is not, you know, what I think of Marx, I think of Marx so often in economic terms.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think that perhaps doesn't have so much to do with economics as it has to do with society probably.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Probably not. Yeah, I think that, yeah, I think you're right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well anyway, I would, I would look at him in our conversations and also in what I've read, that he did tend to be somebody who was weighing carefully social aspects of whatever was going into the art, as well as the art itself.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So he would have—yeah, so he would have opposed someone like Clement Greenberg, and he would have been doing criticism at the same time.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. That's right. And I, we didn't ever talk about Clement Greenberg. You know, we were just getting to the point where—I had talked with him, I was beginning to ask him about critics that he had known over the years, and we were just getting to the point where we were going to begin talking about things like that when, when I didn't get to see him anymore then, and then he died.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I think that would have been interesting to discuss, a lot of those critics with him. But he also was very much tuned into the formal aspects of art.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  In other words, so he was concerned with quality.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], he was.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And having the form match whatever the content was, in terms of quality. Yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And he, he definitely wasn't someone who demanded realism or anything like that.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I mean, he could see—well, for instance, I remember going to a show with him of Clyfford Still, when, when the San Francisco Museum of Art had made that coup of the collection and some of those things.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And he had known Clyfford—

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9956_m.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —Duchamp and, oh, all kinds of people. And he was in constant demand for seminars, from the very beginning coming right up till the time that he died. He also wrote quite a lot.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  His books are interesting. I think he had a, a wonderful way of writing. He did a wonderful little book called Angels Over the Altar. Have you ever read that?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  No, I don't know as much about him as I'd like. He's one person I'm going to explore.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's a fairly small book, but it was—what it was, was a commission to go over to the islands in the Pacific and study the religious imagery over the altars and in the churches. And all throughout the southern, the islands in the South Pacific, and in Hawaii. And, well it's just charming book, and it has a lot of good scholarship in it too. Well anyway, that was a nice period and I enjoyed knowing him a lot.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I suppose we should deal a little bit with how you left the university.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  And the effects that that's had on you, and so on.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, let's see. I had come there in '56 or '57, and I left the Henry Gallery after, it would be about 18 years. I stayed on the campus for a little bit after that. I had not, when I left the Henry Gallery, I had not been there, I was not yet 60. I was a little bit over 57. And age 60 was an important part as far as my retirement. And it was very important that I, although a new director was hired and I did not get the job, it was really very important for me to stay at the university for that much longer, especially considering the manner in which I left. And so I stayed for another two-and-a-half years, and in all I was there for about 20 years, on the campus. But I guess you'd say that the actual event of my leaving the Henry Gallery came as a kind of culmination to a period of say two or three years, maybe a little bit longer than that, and I think I've alluded to this perhaps in this interview earlier, to some degree. When, at this time, when a lot of people, including even the dean and the upper administration on the campus began to realize that the Henry Gallery was a valuable institution, for whatever reason. The School of Art had always understood that, and I think I made that clear earlier. They had been the administrator for all those years, and I think that they realized its importance to the School of Art, for showing and education and so forth. And more recently, before I left, for the two or three years, I think that a few people in the community began to see its value to them, in certain specific ways. Now, when I talk about the community, a really large group of community members and also staff and faculty and students on the campus had been an appreciative kind of clientele for decades at the Henry Gallery. But this was not for any specific reason, only, or personal reason, it was that they enjoyed what went on there. And at the time that I left—I, didn't we talk about a search committee meeting and a director being hired?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  We talked about that some on this tape? At least there was to be a director hired, and as you recall my title was associate director although I had the full responsibility for the administrative and the curatorial aspects. And there was a search committee, and a new director was hired, and I did not get the directorship. Now, assuming that the problem, if you can call it a problem, in the later years in these various groups beginning to realize what, that there was a certain value in the Henry Gallery, and assuming that that was not a problem of getting, say, like a power play, getting complete power over the gallery's program, assuming that, then, my opinion is that the needs of both the School of Art—both studio and art history in the School of Art—and the few members of the community could have really been easily satisfied as the exhibition space at the Henry Gallery had been larger, or could have been made larger. But this wasn't the case; the space was minimal. And it was really impossible to meet demands of all these, the School of Art and the people in the community who began to see the value. Now, I think in the case, in a case like that, where a new director is to be hired and you have groups who are seeing the value for whatever reason, it's really important for those groups to cultivate and to hire eventually someone who is of a mind to carry out whatever the groups wishes are.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I think that in this case, the people in the community, I think that their wishes were not perhaps the same needs as the School of Art had. So then, as in almost any case like this where someone is to be hired, you find various segments of the community having different needs, and so there are conflicts and eventually somebody is hired who, whichever group it is that seems to be able to muster the most power hires the person who's going to carry out the thing that they want carried out. My own way of administering the gallery I think was a very objective kind of way. And I was probably, I was trying to do too much in a small space. And, because we didn't have a larger space, it was difficult for me to say, when I hadn't been told by the administration what I should be doing, what I would want to do with the space.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And so, anyway, I was not hired as the director, anyway.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And that must have had a substantial impact on you personally.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, it did have a, a very big impact on me. I think I've mentioned before that I'd been pretty naive all those years, as far as what various people in society want, and why they want these things, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Naive in terms of sort of taking care of yourself in all of that too.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, that's right. That, yes. And so I had been very naive about it, and of course when I left there, it, I was left at a time, it was a very difficult time for me to leave because I feel that I was on my way. I'd already done a lot of what I feel were important things at the gallery, both on a local and a national scale, and I had a lot of other ideas in mind of things that I wanted to do in the future. And I was only, I was 57 years old—I started to say only 57; I was only 57 in that there should have been a lot of years left that I would have been very, very productive. But another way of looking at it at age 57, I now realize that it's not easy to start another career at that age, even if you have the desire and the courage to do it, it's not easy, either, to find something that will be just right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I also, I began a long period of trying to understand more about life in general and about motivations of people and why things like this happen. It was a great disappointment to me. And I think sometimes when you, well almost always when you have a big disappointment, if you've got any strength at all well good things come out of it because I think you're able to solidify your, your understanding. You can focus your understanding better then about what's going on about you and you can handle things better in the future. One thing I learned is that, although I had thought about it very much before, but I know now that no one is indispensable, no matter how good you are.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And many times there's somebody else around who is just as good as you are, and if you have equally endowed people, talented people, I, I also learned that many, many times a political situation will make the decision, which it was, when I say I was naive, I didn't understand that before.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. It must have been hard to leave a lot of unfinished business behind, all those ideas that you had and things that you would like to have done. I'm sure that was hard to put down, in a way, for you.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  [Well, they were] just right in middle of it. You know, I was at the point where I was, and the staff were successful at raising money, and we were, I would have loved to have continued our publication program. And also I remember I had an idea for, it was in a file folder when I left there, an idea for showing—although we had showed a lot of community artists over the years, as well as School of Art artists—of showing a lot of artists from the community. I had a plan for showing, I had the problem of not being able to tie up the gallery for too long, because there were so many needs, but I had come up with this idea of showing them perhaps for only a week, a group for only a week at a time, and having like 12 or 16 shows like that over a reasonably short period of time. The staff was willing to do it; they were going to have to really work hard.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's a lot of work.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. But, and there was going to be a small publication for each one.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And, well I never got to do that. And after that, the director who came right after me was not really active in much of anything as far as program at the gallery, is my view at least. Then a director came who has been more active, and a program of Northwest artists has been done.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, there were a lot of things that I would have, I would have liked to have continued and developed those ancillary educational events with the exhibitions. A lot of things like that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, I'm sure that the gallery has gone direct, a direction that's not necessarily what you would have done, I suppose. Or is that true?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I guess, well—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Would you have gone in different directions than it has gone?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't know. A lot of, I admire a number of the things that have been done out there, for instance the American impressionists show I think was a contribution, no doubt about it.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, definitely.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The present exhibition of Chase is a contribution. I think that that, what was called the Washington Year, with all of the artists being shown, I admired that. And it was almost precisely what I had in mind, except on, I would have had to telescope the time, because, because certain decisions had not been made when I was there, which would have helped me to focus and plan things that wouldn't have had to be put in such small periods of time, and so forth, and under such restrictive budgetary conditions.



SUE ANN KENDALL:  What decisions are those? Can you mention those?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Like as far as budget?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, no. You were just saying that decisions have been made now that make it easier.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh. Well, there were, there were such things—let's see. There have been decisions, for instance—we talked about this earlier—right or wrong, the School of Art was, the Henry Gallery was taken away from the School of Art.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay. That was one decision that was made that solved the problem for the director of the Henry Gallery. Because although I'm sure that the art history division and the studio division in the School of Art must not be totally happy with the way things are going at this point, it at least addressed the problem of not having enough space to do everything. So that when the administration did finally do that, and of course that decision did not help me at all during my time there, it was, was the beginning of a decision of some kind of policy for what should the—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What the gallery should do.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, the director is shielded from, because it came from above, the director of the Henry Gallery is shielded from any kind of criticism.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Now had the administration decided instead that there would not be any more community shows there, that would have been a show of some kind of responsible decision-making too.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Because there again, maybe all of the School of Art things would have been shown and again the director would have been shielded from any criticism from the community.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So it's the top administration that has to make those decisions in order for a director to be able to focus and work in any kind of quietude and in an atmosphere where you're not being pounded with criticism all the time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Another think—and I think I mentioned this before—the budget is tremendous now, compared to the amount of money that I had to work with.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Why, why did that happen?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, remember I mentioned, I think the last time you were here, that our budget was something like $22,000 for a year.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That didn't include the salaries, but the salaries wouldn't have pushed it up too much more than that, because they were so low.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Okay, I read in the paper the other day—and then, over and above that amount, Julie Anderson and I went out and raised money—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Raised money, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —to bring it up to quite a bit higher than that. But still it was nothing compared to, for instance, what I read in the paper the other day, that the total budget out there now is $600,000, and $225,000 or $250,000 is coming from the university. $250,000! I mean, when I think of what I could have done with $250,000!

SUE ANN KENDALL:  With that, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I can't even believe it.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Also, speaking of the programs that were done there, have been done since, I think that one definitely, although I probably would have liked to have shown this so-called Leonardo, there's no way that I could have put my professional stamp on that as an authentic thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Good for you! [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I mean, it would be an arrogant, arrogant kind of thing to do. So that would be a place where I wouldn't agree with it at all.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I probably, I would have, if I were still here, there, there would have been a lot more events going on with the exhibitions and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  More interdisciplinary things, perhaps, as well.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  More interdisciplinary things, as well?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  A lot of interdisciplinary things, yeah. And I would have included a lot more of the resources of the campus and what's going on, and it would have been, it probably would have been a very, very, very active program, just the way it was when I was there before.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  When you there, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I'd hope that I would have had more money to pay people to do all of these things, too.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], right, right. It would have eased the situation a lot. Yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But there were a lot of, there are a lot of things now then that, that have made it much easier for a director to operate the gallery. Another thing that happened was that, for the Henry Gallery Association board, who are the ones who really ran the Henry Gallery Association earlier, and the member were people who had—and there just isn't time to go through the bylaws to show the, the impossibility of those bylaws for a tax-supported institution as it was at that time, when I was still there. The members had no annual meeting. They had no vote about anything. All they did was send their money in. And a very small board ran it. Well, that's an elite board and that's the way they wanted it. Now today, there were about nine or ten board members to start with, and then I think that grew to about twenty, while I was still there, at my urging. But the extra ten were of the same type as the, of the same mind as the first nine or ten, and consequently it made no change in the Henry Gallery Association at all. But now—I saw a list the other day, and they've got a huge board, and it's very varied. So that that, again, is, unless it's just a show, to have those names on there, I would think that those people would all have input and you would begin to have a more diverse kind of direction from the board of—well, they don't really direct the Henry Gallery, but suggestions—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Still, they have some kind of input, yeah. I understand you had some job offers after you left.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, I did. Actually, before I left the Henry Gallery, I had had some job offers. I may have mentioned the offer from Otis. Did I?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, you did.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And that was a couple of years before. And then, also another great possibility for a job that came along before I left there—do you recall when the Renworth Gallery started, in the Smithsonian?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, my name had been suggested as a possible director, and I don't want to seem too arrogant or positive about it, but I think I had a very, very good chance for the directorship of that museum.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That would have been fabulous!

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But you know—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Did you apply for it?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No! They asked me to apply and I didn't, because I, I loved the program I was doing at the Henry Gallery. So I didn't even apply for it. And of course it's turned out to be a really wonderful institution, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh! It's fabulous, yes.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I had very good support. Joshua Taylor was a supporter of mine.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Really, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  At the national collection.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That would have been wonderful.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  He certainly would have carried weight on that too.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  He would have, and Don Wyckhoff, who was the director for several years of the American Craft Council, was also a, he was ready to write a letter for me. But anyway, there was that. Then very soon after I left the Henry Gallery, two or three other things happened. One was, Susan Barrow, who is George Ricky's earlier wife, who was the director for many years of the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, that nice little building up there, and who had been responsible for redoing that building and all of that, asked me if I would be interested in taking her place as the director up there. And she had already talked to the president of the board, I forget her name right now. I think it might have been Betty someone. They came down for lunch with me, and I thought about that some. Somehow I had a feeling that I didn't want to live in a small town.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I was going to say if anything Seattle isn't quite big enough for you, I think. [Laughs.]


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Washington, DC, might have been a good one.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think maybe that's true. I did think at the time that, well, I could probably run up to Vancouver often, which is a most cosmopolitan city.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I also knew that when you've really got your heart in what you're doing in a museum, and developing it well, you don't run around much, that far.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You don't—Yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. And so I turned that down, and another interesting thing. Did I mention when the visual arts faculty of the Cornish School asked me to be their dean?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yes, I think you did you mention that here.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That came along. They came to visit me, as a matter of fact, and then I went to have a meeting with, with Mel Strauss, the director, and he wanted very much for me to take that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Was that after you left the Henry?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], yes. Well, it was while I was still working that two years and eight months after the Henry Gallery in the archive out there.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And I think it was during that time. Anyway, somehow I turned that down. And then, later I had a letter from the Philadelphia College of Art urging me to apply for the deanship there. And here again, Joshua Taylor was behind this. And it was during the time—I guess we hadn't talked about the fact that after I left the Henry Gallery, sometime after, I went through a very difficult period at that time, and eventually sued the university for sex discrimination, which I didn't realize when I was going through earlier, that I was being discriminated against that way, and you learn a lot of these things as you go along. But anyway, it was during the period that that—which took quite a few years, by the way, to settle—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], and a lot of energy.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Uh-huh [affirmative]. And which settled very well for me. But it was during those years that I got this I guess you could call an offer, from the Philadelphia College of Art to, to apply. And so I didn't do it. And so those are the, I would say those are the main things that happened.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Do you regret not applying for some of those?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't regret the Otis at all. I'm really not all that anxious to get in actually as the dean of the school. I've seen too much of that and it's, it's not really a very creative thing, you know. I look at, although I'm not an artist creating objects, I look at the possibility for creative action in something like a museum to be much greater than—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], than a dean.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  The Renwick would have been wonderful.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  The Renwick would have been wonderful, and I can't say that I regret it, and I don't regret having turned down John Hauberg on the Tobey Museum, even though if I had taken it maybe I could have whipped it in shape and we would have done it after all. But I suppose the Philadelphia College of Art, I realize now, would have been a fairly honorable job. [Laughs.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh, indeed! I think I'd call it that! [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Anyway, things are—Actually what happened to me, in losing that job, probably had a great effect on me. Not only in—one thing that I did of course was spend a lot of time trying to figure out, well, I wonder what's important in life, because I hadn't, I thought I was doing what was important in life—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Laughs.] Right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —and I really didn't realize until later that, well, perhaps that wasn't all that important. One thing that I deplored about it, and I deplore about so many situations exactly like this, and I continue to be amazed, is how things are done, how such things as my not having gotten the directorship of Henry Gallery, or loads of other people around the United States who are turned down for this or that. How these things are done.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  How it happens, yep.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It's, I've seen it happen since that time so many times, and I recognize it so easily. You know when Lee, the superintendent of schools, just recently resigned from the superintendency [of Seattle Public Schools—Ed.]?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  No, was it Lee? I don't know—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's not Lee, its—


SUE ANN KENDALL:  [Don—Ed.] Steele.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't know anything about his ability, I don't know whether we would be better had he stayed or left, but what I do know is that watching what was in the newspaper, if it's true, about the way that board handled that, is deplorable. How, how intelligent people can handle something like that, number one, from a humanistic standpoint, when they're dealing with an individual like that, is beyond me. But if I'm too idealistic about this humanism, just from the standpoint of upholding at least a perception of their intelligence for them to handle something like that, is beyond me. I mean for them to have forced him to apologize to somebody that worked for him, publicly, no matter if they did not want him there, is an unbelievable affront, to him and also to me as a taxpayer, to think that there are such stupid people running the school district.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  The school, yeah; it's frightening.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  After what you've been through, though, I guess maybe you should understand it more than most. [They laugh.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I think I recognize now that people that I used to think have so much intelligence, are so smart, and are such, should be such great administrators, and all of that—it's just like fumbling around all the time.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Without a lot of, lot of thought, it seems to me.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, you didn't take those job offers, but you have been very active on a lot of other things in this community, recently. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and a lot of other things. And I'd like you to talk a little bit about those activities that you've done.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, let's see. Activities that, that I've been into since. One thing that saw me through all that business at the university was that I had such tremendous support from not only the professional museum community—and also, and art history academic communities, some of them—but also from just the community at large. Tremendous support, a lot of letters of support, and I appreciate that so very, very much. And it helped me a great deal live through all of that. Also after that, I began to take a new look at competitive activities, the competitiveness within our society, and how some people seem to thrive in that kind of atmosphere and how others don't, and—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Others are just really squashed.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right! Okay, so, if, is there another level, besides getting, jumping into the middle of it and thriving on it or being destroyed by it? The way I look at it is that I've sat off for about four years now and watched this all, which I didn't realize was so prevalent in our community. And have begun to wonder if you don't really respect that—see, there's a way to be competitive, I think, that is not what you might call mudslinging, or going for the throat of other people. And I admire people like that, but it's very hard if you are a person who can't bring yourself to what I consider a very low level in a competitive field to find a way to deal with all of this. Do you know what I'm talking about now, or—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think I do. In other words if you don't do that mudslinging, you're not going to get where you need to go?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And so how do you—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So how do you—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  —how do you get there?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Right. And if you as a person feel that, if you don't respect that very much, right or wrong, I mean, if you as a person, if that's the way that you're going to go, there's no way that you can be happy yourself by trying to beat the next guy out—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And being political, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. There's, and there's, what I know now, after five years of thinking about this, is that to me I have absolutely no respect for that. None whatsoever. So—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  So how do you make it, I mean how, how could one who wanted to make in that world make it, unless they did that, is what you're asking.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, and, make it, or be involved with it in some way, especially when watching all of that and being knowledgeable enough to know that it's going on all the time. When that is so sickening to watch, it—what I've been doing for, I suppose for about five years, is watch it all go on like a sort of a stage out there, and maybe enjoy it a little bit like a play, you know. But I also am, as you say, very active in a lot of things, and I find that a, a constant question in my mind, about how to deal with that. Because I—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What's your answer?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I really don't have an answer. And it may take me the rest of my life to find an answer and I may never find it. But the, but the thing I know is, I really don't respect the hard-core competitive community.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. I don't either, and yet I'm faced with looking ahead into that.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right. [Laughs.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And I wonder what I'm going to do.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I know. Well, I think it takes a lot of courage to, to deal in it. I think you've got, I think you have to know that what you're doing is important in order to carry on.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative]. You have to believe in what you're doing.


SUE ANN KENDALL:  I think that's true.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's right.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  I've always viewed academics as people who could stay out of that, but then you find out that isn't true at all. And I've always thought that people who were, that's been my goal, but then I look around and it's as bad if not worse in academia than it is elsewhere. I don't mean the administrators are people I was looking towards upholding necessarily; I'm talking about the, at the professor level.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But even they can get directly involved, as you well know. And so it's real hard to—

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, competition in our society runs very, very deep. And how people handle that is a very—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And egos are tied up with it, so it, egos are tied into it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah, they are.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  And you get all those egos bumping into each other out there, and you have a real traffic jam.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  [They laugh.] Well, let's see. Anyway, you asked me a question. I've become very selective since I left the university. I decided that I had to do that because I'd always pretty much done what was needed to be done at the moment, and was never—I just worked longer hours every day, to try to get it all done.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  To try to get it all in, yeah.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But I have been very selective recently. And decided after I left there that—maybe I mentioned this to you before—that I'm really not interested in public relations or pumping up something that, for the sake of pumping it up. Or, I never have really been interested in that. And most of my PR at the Henry Gallery was really in the guise, or education was in the guise of PR, you know. There again, it was boosting something that I really believed in, and it turned out to be public relations, actually, that way.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Well, you had enthusiasm for it, I think is, that's the most important thing, and it does, that sells it. I don't want to use that word, but it, it's infectious.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And you know it seems like what, the thing that you're doing now, and may do in the future, this business of the archives. I think that's a perfect thing to get really excited about. [Laughs.]

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. I hope so. That's the way I feel about it.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I think so. It's a little bit like—well, of course, looking at art, and criticizing art, and dealing only with these things rather than politics, that's all really important, and a wonderful activity to do.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But you know, while I realize also that politics enters into archival work all the time—it does into everything I'm sure, but powerplays and all of this—I think that there's something, you know, about motherhood and apple pie and all that stuff, it used to be. I just think there isn't much you can fault the archives, archives activity for, as a, as something to do.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. It's relatively pure. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  It's, it's a very positive thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Maybe not 99-and-a-quarter percent, but relatively. [reference is to an old Ivory soap slogan that their soap is 99-44/100 percent pure—Ed.] [They laugh.] Relatively speaking, it is.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Let's see. Some things that, as you mentioned, because of my interest in music earlier, in studying and then also, although I was pretty busy over the years and didn't go to a lot of concerts until about the last five years. Now I go about three nights a week. And most of it is not symphonic music. I've learned that I don't enjoy symphonic music all that much. I like, there's something about chamber music that is very appealing to me.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I guess I mentioned that to you before. Did I?


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, I've realized lately that there are a lot of activities that I enjoy that are very much alike. And it's partly because of their, the directness of the activity, the transparency of the activity, the ability to see everything that's going on at once, not to have any chaos around. It would be a rather quiet intellectual kind of thing that one is doing, although the heart and the emotion runs into it too. But one is chamber music, where you see four to six people on a stage, and you can hear every instrument if your ear is trained.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  But you can hear them all together and you can see them collaborating, playing back and forth to each other, speaking to each other. The same thing is true with what you might call chamber dance—small groups of dancers. The same is true with a team of glassblowers, working in a, around an oven. The same is true with kilnmaking. Anytime it's something rather intimate and small, somehow I think that seems to fit my personality, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  It's interesting that you put all those things together from these different fields.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Is that [ph]?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  You said, "they're similar in this way." Yeah, I think it's interesting.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I've only begun to realize that lately. Only about the last year. And so I've been paying more attention to what other things there are like that in the world, and I got to thinking, wouldn't it fun to do a book on those things?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Sounds wonderful.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Just on those particular things that seem to have those—I can name some more too.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, what about those things is there that, that makes them similar is sort of what you're getting at, would make, to bring that out, would be an interesting angle to go at it from.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And that, and I think chamber music has always described, been described as being transparent. And I think that that word will apply to almost all of those things. You, you're really able to see into the heart of the matter, although there's a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty and mystery and all of these things, that you find in, for instance, any good painting, or any good work of art of any kind. They're still, there's a transparency somehow, and it's, and in fact probably I need to work some more about, on this question why do I like this?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]., it's an interesting one.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  There'll be a lot more things that occur to me. So, let's see.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  What other boards have you been on?


SUE ANN KENDALL:  Are you on Pilchuck still?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yes, I am on the Pilchuck board and I really enjoy that tremendously. It's one of my highest priorities. I believe in it tremendously. Also, I, I've, let's see, I was on the Friends of the Philadelphia String Quartet board for about seven years. Only about a year ago I gave that up; I felt that I had had contributed about all I could there. And I heard them play for many, many years. Then I was on the Northwest Chamber Orchestra board for a while, and that was a new and interesting experience because, just because of the size of the orchestra, sometimes 15, something like that. It's a little different from the small group. And of course just the business of running that, that orchestra is a much bigger, more economically larger kind of problem than you have with a small group, although the small group can be high too. Then, I've, just about a year now, have been on the advisory board for the Santa Fe Chamber Festival, and that's very high priority. I think it's just, it's a perfect example of one of those high-quality, artistic kinds of activities that comes from some other place and infuses the community with wonderful quality and, and a new perspective on the whole thing.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right. Very important.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I believe in helping the local artists and the local composers and all that, and enjoy it very much, but I also—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  But they need that, they need that influx of something else, that infusion, as you say.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  They do need it. And it's very hard; they don't know they need it. What I mean is, there again it's very hard to bring something in from outside because the local people tend to get tightened up immediately and feel that their not getting as much as they should, the local artists.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  That's like the local artists or the local musicians, whatever, yeah, so it's the same struggle.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So and I do think it's important not, not to do it all the time, but to bring in something, and the Santa Fe is—oh, it's such top quality. And Elisha Schacter, the program director, is, she really knows how to put together a program with the most perfect performers, and the most perfect music, and she is out of this world. And I would certainly hate to see competing groups in Seattle threaten that, because it's a very wonderful thing that's happening for us.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And there is, there is at least one competing group who started their group by saying, "Well, we want our own chamber music society," and they actually bring in performers from out of the area. So I, all I can conclude is that what they wanted was their own board, regional board. And the board for this Santa Fe, you see, is based in Santa Fe.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And they raise money for the other, the other festival, and the other festival, I feel that it has not been put together as well, quality-wise, as the Santa Fe. So I feel very protective about that. Also another thing that I've been involved in just over the last year is Gene Branzell, that's G-E-N-E B-R-A-N-D-Z-E-L—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Oh right. The museum.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  —is an attorney in town who wanted very much to have a new building for the crafts, and he hadn't had much experience at putting together anything like this, and so I've been a kind of consultant for him in a volunteer kind of way, and he asked me if I'd be the director of this whenever it happened, it happens. But I, I really don't know. I told him from the beginning, and I told him recently again, and just recently I told him that I really couldn't put any more volunteer time into it right now. But my feeling about that is that it would do a lot more good for the crafts not to have a new building, but to hopefully get it under the aegis of some other institution; and the best one would be the Seattle Art Museum, of course. And if they're going to have to broaden out, for instance, to bring in more support for the Seattle Art Museum, which I'm sure they'll have do, there's nothing better for bringing in support of the so-called people than a craft, folk art, and design project.


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So if that could happen I think it would be wonderful, but I don't know, I think that Gene wants very much to it, for it to be a separate institution, and of course the big question everybody's been asking for where is all the money coming from?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, right.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So anyway, I don't know whether that's going to happen or not.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Well, in looking back do you think your real calling is administration? Or do you think that you, there's something else? Or which do you prefer, maybe I should ask it that way?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  [Inaudible] is running. Ah, I wonder—Sue Ann, would you repeat that question?

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, I'm sorry. I just wondered if you feel that in thinking back over your experiences if you feel that administration is your real calling, or if doing as you're doing now with writing and so on, is your, more of your calling.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Oh! Well, um. You know I think I'm, I don't know how to answer that. I think I'm just sick of administration. And I think I'm really a very fine administrator; I believe that. I think I faced every problem head on. I never let anything sit. I made fast decisions, and I think they were based on what was the best for the institution as I saw it, at least. But I'm just sick of all of that.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  So, I found that I enjoy research a lot, and I found that I'm very good at it, and I think as I mentioned once before on this tape, I've found that with writing—over the years when I'd write a personal letter to someone, sometimes those personal letters are really good. I know they are. I find that when I write for the public, so-called, I tighten up.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  And that has to do with lack of confidence, I think.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Yeah, it's a problem. It's very different.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Yeah. So I think that, I do think that I can do a good job of writing if I can just get over this, I'm in a kind of a strange hump.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Writer's block.

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  I don't know whether I'll make it or not. But I don't know. Anyway, I, I enjoy that a lot.

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Uh-huh [affirmative].Well, if you had it to do all over again, what would you choose as your career?

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  Well, in, assuming I had hindsight—

SUE ANN KENDALL:  Right. [Laughs.]

LAMAR HARRINGTON:  What I mean is assuming I'd been through what I've been through—


LAMAR HARRINGTON:  That's, that would be rather important to assume. For one thing, I think I would spend more time—I think something I would have enjoyed tremendously—and this is sort of fantasy, I suppose at this point in my life—but I think that I might have spent more time on the piano or the cello or some musical instrument and would have tried to become as good as I could at it. And I have a hunch that I could have been very good at it. So that might be one thing. But surprisingly, the other thing is that I think I would have liked to have been the director of a beautiful—

[END OF TRACK AAA_harring83_9957_m.]


How to Use This Collection

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

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with LaMar Harrington, 1983 November 28-1984 February 10. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.