The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Ted Hallman on May 23, 2006, and June 3, 2008. The interview took place in Lederach, Pennsylvania, and was conducted by Helen Williams Drutt English for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.
Ted Hallman has reviewed the transcript. His heavy corrections and emendations appear below in brackets with initials. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
HELEN WILLIAMS DRUTT ENGLISH: This is Helen Williams Drutt English interviewing Ted Hallman on May 23, 2006 in his studio home at 731 Cross Road in Lederach, Pennsylvania.
Good morning, Ted.
TED HALLMAN: Good morning, Helen.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Ted, why don't we begin at the beginning? Where were you born? When were you born, month, date, year and place?
MR. HALLMAN: Okay, I was born in Quakertown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1933.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Where in Quakertown, Bucks County?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, at St. Luke's Hospital.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And where did your parents reside at that time?
MR. HALLMAN: My parents lived out—just outside of Souderton, Pennsylvania.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you remember the address?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, it was the corner of Cowpath Road—one of the oldest roads in Pennsylvania—and Harleysville Pike.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And, what were your parents' names?
MR. HALLMAN: My father's name was Henry Theodore Hallman and my mother's maiden name was Mildred Brumbaugh.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Were they born in the United States?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Were they born in this area?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, my father was born in Milford Square, which is about an hour-and-a-half north of Philadelphia and my mother was born in Almont, Tylersport, Pennsylvania, which is also about an hour-and-a half north.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you remember when they met and where?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, interestingly enough you should ask that. My grandma Hallman always wanted special things made and she always had her clothing made for her and all that kind of thing. So, she heard about this woman up in Tylersport who did special crochet and special knitting so she—that's interesting—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: [They laugh.] Your sources—
MR. HALLMAN: —here we go. We're already in fiber arts.
So, she went up to see my Aunt Olie—Aunt Viola, who lived at home and she asked her to do special things for her, for her dresses and for her, you know, wear. And, on one occasion my dad went up with her and my mother was there and they met.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And when did they marry?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, you would ask me that question. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: I'm not sure of that date.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: All right, were there other siblings? Did you have siblings?
MR. HALLMAN: I had a sister, Eleanor Antoinette Hallman, and she married Tom Clyde.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Was she older, younger?
MR. HALLMAN: Older, 17 months older.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Did you have nieces and nephews?
MR. HALLMAN: I now have nieces from her family.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Would you kindly describe your childhood to me, where you were brought up and what it was like?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it was a multifaceted experience because we had—I had a very full, rich childhood, and my parents both had art backgrounds. My dad was an artist and my mother had been to art school, not full program in art school but she did some courses in art school, too. So, my parents were very excited by my creativity and I was extremely creative. I guess many children are creative.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: At what age of your—in your childhood—
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, well—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —did you emerge as a creative force? [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: I think at four and a half I made my first garment, but it was a very small one. I made some very small, almost like doll clothing, but they were—there was no doll inside of them. They were just clothing that stood up on their own. [They laugh.]
And, I did a cowboy outfit shortly thereafter. My mother was a seamstress and she had a sewing machine and she got this new-fangled sewing machine at one point and I just—I understood it totally and nobody could understand why I understood it. But anyhow, that was a great tool for me too, at a young age. But that was not when I was four and a half; that was later.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Sixteen? [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: No!
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Your mechanical inclinations.
MR. HALLMAN: That was more like 12. There was a mechanical side to me, no doubt.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Have the mechanical inclinations, you know, have they really moved and transmitted themselves into your childhood with computers, et cetera? [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Well, we didn't have computers.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, I mean now. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: I think so. I think so. They've updated. But, I'm not—I use the computer and find it a great tool, but I don't get into computer design.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What were the early years of education like? Where did you go to elementary school and high school? And, were there people in that educational system that, in some way, acted as catalysts for your continued creative forces?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, there's a lot there. [They laugh.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, I want you to have the—
MR. HALLMAN: Well, my mother took a job teaching at the one-room school a quarter of a mile below our place because when I was in first grade in the Souderton school system I got rheumatic fever and I had just had about one year in school. And they had said, okay, you want to come back? I had—my grades were high enough so I could go into the second year, but, at that time, my mother was offered this job to teach at that school, and she thought, well, my sister and I both had rheumatic fever.
So, she thought, "Okay, if I teach at that one room school, I can take care of the kids and see if they get their medicines, and all that stuff." So, she taught at the one room school, which was quite an experience, too. I mean, this is like old America because we had grades one to eight in one classroom.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And she taught.
MR. HALLMAN: She taught all of those courses at one time, so to speak.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And she was your teacher at the time?
MR. HALLMAN: So, she was my teacher and—which was not easy but not terrible either. But, what happened, I was there in that school for second grade and third grade and then my mother was offered to do this position of being the principal of the consolidated school, bringing all these schools together in the whole area.
And, so we moved to that school and she was, of course, the principal, which had its—it was okay, I mean, it was okay.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And I understand that because my daughter was in my kindergarten class and when she was sick she would make me write notes and then she would present them to me. [They laugh.] So, you know, it is a—it does present a problem to a child—
MR. HALLMAN: It does.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —when your teacher and your parent are one in the same individual.
MR. HALLMAN: It was tough. But, I'll tell you, my life as a child growing up with artistic parents was the most stimulating thing; actually, more stimulating than school because my dad was always running off to see the Moravian Tile Works or we would go to—hunt up the Curtis Pottery who did salt glazes up in Powder Valley. We'd go to Philadelphia to visit Violet Oakley and Edith Emerson—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Really? And, so—
MR. HALLMAN: And so, there was a lot going on in my childhood that I was included in.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you remember the visits to Violet Oakley?
MR. HALLMAN: At Lower Cogslea.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah.
MR. HALLMAN: In her studio. Vaguely, yes. I vaguely do. And this place, here, you know, is sort of the same idea, you know. Her place was a carriage house, I think, originally.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: In Germantown, and Warren Rohrer acquired that carriage house—
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, really?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —as his studio.
MR. HALLMAN: Warren who?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Rohrer.
MR. HALLMAN: Rohrer.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —right—who moved from Christiana, Pennsylvania and he was a painter of Mennonite descent who lived in Christiana, Pennsylvania and he acquired Viola Oakley's studio, maybe a decade before he died.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, interesting. Well, it was—it all, you know—later, Edith Emerson was involved at the—what's the gallery in Chestnut Hill?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Woodmere. Right.
MR. HALLMAN: Woodmere Art Gallery. And so, that was interesting because she was interested in my work and showed some of my work and then she—and dad—she, of course, moved up from that time, but we did a two-person show, dad and son at the Woodmere, later.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: How old were you at that time?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, that time I was in Tyler [School of Art, Temple University, Elkins Park, PA]; it was my later years in Tyler.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What were your high school years like?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, interestingly enough, my parents didn't—knew the art teacher there and they didn't want me to study with the art teacher in high school because they didn't want me to become inhibited over my creative work. But, so, I took band and I took—I was—I got the Latin prize and I was very scholastically involved at school at that time, so it was easy not to have art course because I was so busy doing band and other things.
So—but I was interested in looms, harps and pipe organs from the—I don't know when that started, but I know that in high school I used to sit in study hall and read about pipe organs and harps and looms and stuff.
So I did ask the art teacher there, if I could borrow one of her little STRUCTO looms, take it home. And it was set up for an overshot pattern and, so I worked with that loom. And I actually had had a previous experience when I was in Cub Scouts, there was a—you know, you'd try for points, you know; building up points. And, one of the projects that was listed in the manual for Cub Scouts was to do a weaving project and, somehow—even then I had one eye in the garbage cans, you know, every time I'd walk along.
I had seen this little frame loom in—somebody has disposed of in some trash can in Souderton and, so, it had little notches across the top; little notches—it was a frame. And, I just wrapped string around there and I started weaving this thing. I wanted to put a red C in a white, or natural color, cotton background, because I didn't have really good yarns to work with.
So, I discovered that I had to do, you know—put these yarns together when you change color, and all that. So, later, when I was at Cranbrook [Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI], my teacher, Marianne Hammarstrom [Strengell], who I liked very much, taught us this Swedish interlock tapestry technique, which is not just Swedish, but it's kind of a universal tapestry technique.
So, when she taught us how to do this, I thought, "Oh my gosh, I did that when I was in Cub Scouts," you know, when I was, like, 10 or something. I don't know how old you are when you're in Cub Scouts.
But, at any rate, I had done that kind of tabby weaving, so when I was in high school and I got this loom that was in a pattern thing—pattern four-harness, pattern setup, it was like I already had an understanding of how weaving really works. And so, I was able to, you know, really get into this and figure out how that all worked.
And, during high school, we were invited to Elizabeth Guest's place, up in Almont, close to where my mom was raised. She always gave these Christmas programs and she was the editor of the Junior Etude for Pressers Publishers in Philadelphia. So, she gave these Christmas programs and her brother would play the flute and she'd play piano. She was a composer, too.
And, this is where I met this lady, Julia Weder, who was a wonderful person in my growing up; in my grade school and also in high school. She was a nurse who also did ceramics and she knew Bill Swallow and the Allentown people, artists, and so forth. And so we got to know many people through her. And she just felt so drawn to me. I don't know why. She said, you're a person who makes me feel positive about reincarnation. Because one time when I was visiting her she said, "Ted, my lock on my kitchen doesn't work."
I said, "Well, I'll open it up and fix it," you know. And, she said, "Well, you can open it up;" but I opened it up and fixed it. And she said, "How do you know how to do that?" And, I said, "I don't know."
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So, there is this intuitive quality within you.
MR. HALLMAN: So, and she also was full of—it wasn't New Age knowledge at that time, but she had friends who were doing channeling. She was very broad in her idea of the human possibilities and capabilities and that was wonderful for me to have that contact. But, she knew a weaver, Grey Laspina, who was really a countess, who lived back in Spinnerstown up there. She married this Brooklyn man who was a count and they moved to the country, so Julia said, well, I'll take you over there to visit this weaver some time. So, I guess I was still in grade school; maybe seventh grade or something. I don't know exactly how old I was then.
So anyhow, Grey Laspina said, "Oh Ted, I'm a witch. Look, I can shake my hand like this. I'm a witch, as well as being a weaver and a countess." She said, "Look at what I'm weaving, and all this stuff." So, she was also very interested in far out stuff, which was great because it just kept my head open, you know. And, so, I guess, all through my life I've been refining all these philosophies that started way back then, you know; the broadness of the human psyche and the spirit and consciousness and awareness.
But, the bottom line is, when I graduated from high school, but that time I had gotten the cellar at home filled with organ pieces because I wanted to build a pipe organ. And I—every time a church was rebuilding their pipe organs, I'd get all this wood and say, "Mom and dad, can't I stick this in the cellar?"
You know, and I talked to this organ builder in Lansdale and he said, "That is not the way to build a pipe organ." He said, "You have got buy a complete pipe organ and then you'll have all the parts and you can replace certain things and change the pipes if you want, and stuff." So he said, "I'll keep my eyes open and I'll let you know."
But, at any rate, I had this wood in the cellar and wanted to build a loom so Grey Lespina said, "Oh, come up anytime and you can measure my looms and figure how it's made."
So, I used the organ wood to build my first loom and that was between high school and Tyler. Should I go on with that story?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: Because, that was a very intense time because I started weaving and I started weaving things for clothing, first of all, because of my interest in making clothing. And I often think that I should have been a couturier because I was interested from the time I was a kid. But my father, also, was an illustrator and he had studied with N.C. Wyeth and—at what is now the University of the Arts [Philadelphia, PA]. But, before the war, these magazines stopped, or slowed down, with illustrations and were going into photography. So my dad, you know, was struggling to keep two kids alive and he did—he worked for Sackman Brothers over in Telford and designed play clothes and cowboy clothing. And so, that's one of the reasons why I started making clothing as a kid, and cowboy clothes.
And he had all this paraphernalia, cowboy paraphernalia, around. I used to put the cowboy boots on and my feet were about half the size and I'd walk all around with these cowboy boots on, half the time. And think—tell Michael [Barnett], maybe this is the reason I've been so interested in the Southwest because you could go out there and be a cowboy.
But, anyway, to go back [… –TH]. I started weaving clothing for—fabric for myself and I would make the clothing and I did some bedspreads. I have a bedspread down there on the floor that I did as a reminder. And that was also exhibited at Woodmere, at one point, that bedspread, because it's a modification of an overshot coverlet.
So, that by the time I got to Tyler, I was really into weaving and really understood it very well, but I couldn't—couldn't take the weaving course which was on Monday afternoon from one to four. So, I would run into see the weaving teacher once and a while, whose name was—I want to say [Katherine] Fillmore. Sorry, I can't remember her name exactly, at the moment.
And, she would encourage me, but her students realized that I knew a lot about weaving because I dragged these big weavings in. And, so, she was only there Monday afternoon. Through the week, if her students needed help, they'd search me out in the cafeteria, or whatever, and they'd say, "Ted, come help me with my work. Can you help fix this?" [… –TH]
So, anyway, I'd help them and they'd say, "My loom is broken." Well, of course I knew how to—I had built a loom. I certainly knew how to fix looms. So, second year, finally, I was able to take the course; schedule it in, one to four. And I think it was Katherine Fillmore. The dean came in, Boris Blai came in, and said, "Well, we are sorry to tell you that your weaving teacher is ill and she has actually resigned because she doesn't think she's going to be able to teach at all this year."
So, after that little disappointment, but—Boris Blai asked me to come into his office and he said, "Would you consider teaching the weaving course?" Because, he said, "I hear that you have done a lot and you have a reputation already here?" So I said, "Of course, I'd love to!"
And, I had gotten a scholarship to go to Tyler—Senatorial, because I was valedictorian in high school and, so, with that additional money—and I was really paid beautifully. I was paid just like a regular teacher there. I was so thrilled that I was able to, sort of, almost put myself through college and it was a five year program at that time.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What year did you enter Tyler?
MR. HALLMAN: Fifty-one.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And, why did you select Tyler as a school?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, because my dad went there. He went back—he had gotten a certificate from the Industrial School of Art—the University of the Arts, it would be called these days—and he found that, as I said before, he couldn't really "make it" in illustration. He was such a draftsman. He was an amazing draftsman! From the time he was five, his first grade teacher, even, said, "This is an artist, because he observed." He wasn't like other kids that would just look at the paper and draw, draw, draw. He would observe and draw what he saw, right from the beginning.
So, he was such a, you know, an artist and so intensely involved that way. So, they told him to get into illustration, which he did, and then that failed. So, he wanted to go back to Tyler to get a Master's degree to teach.
And so, I'm sorry, you had a question?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, I was just wondering if there was any connection—do you see any connection with your father's visit as a young boy with his mother to that woman who crocheted and who worked with her hands? Do you see any link in that connection with your own interest in textiles?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, yes, I do because my Aunt Viola was always exploring different kinds of patterns and different ideas. She would read and get things, you know, they would put things out with crocheting, put things out. But she had a way of designing and making it her own, so that she was doing things that were very unusual; very unusual things to do.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you remember the names of other students in your class at Tyler at that time?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes. Louise Davis. Oh, I mean, I don't know, but I have to think about it for a little bit. Helen Drutt, was not in my class there, but—Helen here, interviewing me—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: —was in Tyler at the same time—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —a year ahead of you.
MR. HALLMAN: And, I was certainly aware of you, but it was like you were a year or so ahead of me, so that we didn't have so many mutual friends or know each other very well. But, certainly our teachers, you know, [Alexander] Abels and [Herman] Gundersheimer, Dr. Gudersheimer and Raphael Sabatini and Boris Blai was one of my teachers too, and Ferman—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Ferman Fink.
MR. HALLMAN: And, his oil and damar mixtures. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Damar varnish and oil, right.
MR. HALLMAN: But, anyway, teaching there at the—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And Emlen Etting.
MR. HALLMAN: Emlen Etting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Remember?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, well—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And Morris Blackburn—
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, if we want to go into the teaching—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, right.
MR. HALLMAN: —Rudy Staffel—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Staffel—
MR. HALLMAN: —was, of course, one of my very best and most intense teachers. I think we had a very good relationship.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you think that's because Rudy also was interested in things that were—
MR. HALLMAN: Broader.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —broader, and mystical and beyond the reality of the present moment?
MR. HALLMAN: Probably. He talked about music. He would use music as a symbol or a metaphor in talking to me, sometimes. But he got me into doing very interesting things and I don't know how that exactly happened. But, possibly, because of my father's study at Tyler previously, but not with Rudy. He studied with somebody else whose name I'd have to think about for a minute.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Combs? Alex Combs.
MR. HALLMAN: Alex Comb or Combs. Okay, so my dad had done Pennsylvania Dutch stuff with slip and all that kind of stuff and I had done that at home. Everything my dad did at Tyler, I was doing at home, you know, as a kid, so that by the time I got to Tyler, I was—well, then, why did I go to Tyler? Because my dad went there and it was so comfortable and I ate at the Kretchma when I was a little kid, and all that stuff, you know?
And, Mr. Abels had been out to the home when Dad was in school there to see his mural that my dad painted on the ceiling [at home –TH] because it was part of his project for Tyler, and all that kind of stuff.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Most people will not know what the krechma was.
MR. HALLMAN: The Kretchma was the Russian name for the kitchen, which was our dining space, which was—the dining space at Tyler when my dad went there. By the time I went there, in '51, we had President's Hall already.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Really, because I had the Kretchma.
MR. HALLMAN: Right. [They laugh.] But just in those few years, you know, things had changed—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. There was a—were the nuns still in residence when you were there?
MR. HALLMAN: No.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Next door to the property?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, next door—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: —but not at Tyler.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, but next door.
MR. HALLMAN: Yeah.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We shared a common road, right.
MR. HALLMAN: Yeah. So I better go back to Tyler just for a minute of weaving—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: —I'm weaving there—because I was in a five-year course, and so I had four years of teaching weaving at Tyler, which was very important for me, because I had this understanding of the loom and how it worked and all that stuff, but to learn how to get yarns for the classes and how to get more information and so forth—we did not have much in the way of [weaving –TH] books in those days, you know, so it was tricky.
Also at Tyler I continued my music, because even in high school I had studied—in grade school I studied piano, and in high school I taught piano. That's—my parents, they never gave us money to work with. This is Pennsylvania Dutch thrift. Parents never—I had to earn my own money. So I taught piano lessons when I was in high school, and that's how I earned my money.
But the Pennsylvania Dutch thing—really going back to that—certainly has had some effect on me because of the beauty of the woodcraft and the pottery and that kind of stuff, which is pretty—was pretty much dying out when I was a kid.
But as I said, my dad took my sister and I, and he wanted to also research around to see where in Lancaster they were doing exciting woodwork or doing pottery— continuing that.
So that certainly was a factor in my interest in weaving and working with my hands. Certainly pottery and weaving were some of the strongest for me. I was very much—and always have been—interested in working with my hands. And when I graduated from high school, I was not sure whether I wanted to become an osteopath, working with my hands—because in those days osteopathic doctors did a lot of manipulation on the body, a lot of work with their hands—or whether I wanted to go to Tyler and work in the arts.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: This is when you left high school. So the notion of being—
MR. HALLMAN: When I left high school, I had to make that decision. And so later, after I graduated from Tyler and got into later life, I went to Esalen [Institute, Big Sur, CA] and studied Rolfing, ultimately—Alexander [Technique –TH].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I do remember when you studied Rolfing. So the notion of physical manipulation of the body—
MR. HALLMAN: There is a connection back to that. Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —right—and its healing processes.
MR. HALLMAN: Manipulation and healing through hands. And that's why Ida Rolf said to me, Ted, I am accepting you to become a Rolfer because of your hands. She didn't say talent—[laughs]—unfortunately.
But people have commented a lot about my hands through my life. And now I'm starting to use them as we talked about. I'm good in Italy—using my hands when talking.
So anyhow, Tyler was a wonderful, wonderful experience for me, because high school was absolutely the pits for me. I was so—I didn't realize it, but I was so compressed in high school. As a child I was very open and free and had amazing—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, also your parents structured you in a way that you weren't permitted to explore something that was central to your creative being. They—you know, they created a situation in which you had to leave your creative self outside of the school, you know, outside of school.
MR. HALLMAN: Outside of school.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: They—they made it—
MR. HALLMAN: Well, particularly high school.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, they made it—
MR. HALLMAN: High school.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: They put you in a compartment.
MR. HALLMAN: Yeah.
So—but it wasn't just my creative suffering in high school. I was socially very uncomfortable. I just had—I palled around with my cousin. I couldn't find anybody, you know, as friends, other than my relatives who were in school then.
And so when I got to Tyler—I don't know—I just, you know, was—everybody was wonderful. And I started doing all the high school stuff. I think that Tyler for me was like my high school.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, Tyler was a creative—
MR. HALLMAN: Open—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —open, free—
MR. HALLMAN: —space.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —space.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And you could explore mentally, intellectually, aesthetically; you could be a person.
MR. HALLMAN: Exactly.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You—in your high school years, you were not permitted to have that opportunity.
MR. HALLMAN: And Marion Alexander taught dance. And I got started—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: At Tyler?
MR. HALLMAN: At Tyler.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. Is that before or after Hanya Holm? That was—
MR. HALLMAN: After what?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: After Hanya Holm? Because Hanya Holm—
MR. HALLMAN: After.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: After Hanya Holm.
MR. HALLMAN: I didn't know her.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah.
MR. HALLMAN: And who was the lady who played the piano? Oh, she was wonderful. The—but anyhow, Arnold Taborelli, who was kind of like a choreographer, and there was a black man there—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Oh, not Robert; tall and I just saw him recently.
MR. HALLMAN: Anyway, those two guys were choreographers. And Marion [Alexander] would, you know, just, you know, fan the flames for their choreography and they made dances for all of us.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah, I just saw him recently—why can't I—
MR. HALLMAN: It'll come to me.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, right.
MR. HALLMAN: It'll—and I just haven't thought of it in so long.
But Tyler dance group at that time was hot. And we performed at every garden party in Elkins Park. I'll tell you, we were running up and down hills. We were at these estates. We would dance. We'd start here, and by the time we ended, we'd be down the hill and—[laughs]—because we weren't used to dancing on these inclined planes. And we had the funniest experiences on funny stages, and there's this art center at that place and just were all over the place. It was fabulous. And we all had our own dances, choreographed for ourselves by Arnold or—I don't know—his name is not coming to me. But anyway—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It's not Robert.
MR. HALLMAN: So I wanted to become a dancer. That was the first thing that hit me at Tyler, you know. But I realized that I just couldn't let myself go that way, because being a Capricorn—I don't know, how do you explain this—there has been a practical side in my existence as well. I mean, I just couldn't be, you know, almost a street person. I just couldn't live that kind of life. I have to have a certain life standard. I knew that then.
So I knew that dancing wasn't going to get me there—[laughs]—as much as I just love dancing and movement—movement study has been through my whole life. I've loved teaching movement as part of my classes and bringing movement into it. And of course, now I'm still in Alexander [Technique –TH] teaching Alexander teachers.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Among your associations were there individuals with whom you truly bonded and developed friendships that were, you know—[off mike]—
MR. HALLMAN: Well, May Hsu, I still am in touch with. I'm not really in touch with Anne Uhara very much, but they were interesting people there. Charles Schneweiss—did you know him?—became a very good friend of mine, and I even boarded at his place in Willow Grove for a while while I was in my last year at college. I don't see so many kinds of people. It's—I've gotten in touch with Louise Davis recently, and she—I'm a friend of Paulus Berenson, and she's a friend of—Paulus—and we sort of keep in touch, and—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Were they members of the faculty—
MR. HALLMAN: Well, if I talk about it more—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —members of the faculty. Were there members of the faculty who you felt—
MR. HALLMAN: Palled around with? Well—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Not palling around with but whom you felt some kind of a sympathetic dialogue.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, just Rudy and Doris—Staffel, too—I think were my closest connections really. My connections to Abels were friendly because of my dad and all that, but it wasn't like we had such a rapport, you know.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: [Inaudible]—Sabatini—
MR. HALLMAN: Not really.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Not really.
MR. HALLMAN: I was not so close to him, no. But I liked all my teachers because—even that horrible jewelry teacher, whatever his name is.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mr. Rogers. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Because he loved it when the girls would breathe in rather than breathe out when they were using the torches. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Asphyxiation.
MR. HALLMAN: We had the most primitive equipment.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: But I loved the course because I loved to make jewelry. I loved working with metal.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What are your memories of Boris Blai?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I just really had—well, I think because he was kind of surprising as an individual. He was just pretty far out as an individual. But I had such respect for him because of his work and his—you know, whatever happened with Stella Elkin, and I loved the way he took the required curriculum for the state of Pennsylvania and turned it into an art curriculum, because Phys. Ed. became dance and fencing, both of which I love—and I was on the fencing team for a while, too. And science requirements became Science of Painting, and of course, Art History was the history course. We did have to take a Pennsylvania history, too.
But that sort of approach to everything was translated into art and health requirements. I was fortunate to be in that period of time when we went to Temple Med School and studied anatomy.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And he was extremely innovative in the way in which he really altered the curriculum requirements.
MR. HALLMAN: More about what he was doing was exciting for me than I felt about my connection to him personally. And of course, he brought, you know, Frank Lloyd Wright there, and we had—you know, we had interesting experiences. And I was maybe the first and last person there to receive that Pew scholarship for study at Fontainbleau. So I don't know whether—that must have been the whole faculty body that decided that I should be the person to do that. I don't know how it was decided—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Would you discuss the Pew Fellowship?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, Mrs. Walter C. Pew gave money to a student for summer study at Fontainebleau Fine Arts and Music School. So that I was aware of this—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Where was that located?
MR. HALLMAN: That is Fontainebleau, France, and I studied there with Jacques Villon and Michel Ciry, the painter. And I've studied with—[name off-mike]—[off mike]. But—and I met Nadia Boulanger, and Nadia Boulanger loved me not because I was a student of hers, but she heard me practicing organ and she said I just knew how to practice. And she invited me to dinner parties, and I had amazing experiences because she spoke English, French and German so fluently you'd be sitting with this group of people at the table who all—because nobody would speak to each other, really—and she was able somehow to make you feel like you knew everybody. [Laughs.] [… –TH]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I know but it was a wonderful experience. And how long were you there?
MR. HALLMAN: Just the summer, but I had connected to Michel Ciry that—when—my painting teacher—my second painting teacher, and I had visited him in France since that time.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, I do know about your lifelong love of music, and I remember at some point you were building a harpsichord.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What year was that?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh my gosh. With Cranbrook. I started that because next door to Cranbrook there was a person that I heard had a virginal in pieces somewhere in their cellar. And I took it upon myself to find out the name of that person and to go and visit them and to convince them that they should sell me those pieces because it was not doing them any good to have all those pieces of an old virginal in their cellar. So they gave it to me, and we had a wonderful shop at Cranbrook.
So I used all the facilities in the shop at Cranbrook to rebuild the wrest plank and the soundboard of this instrument and got it working. And then, the next thing was—I found out about a man who was building harpsichords about 30 miles to the north, so I went and visited him. And he said I have a harpsichord, which is that harpsichord, and there was another, too, behind you that I also got involved in. But this one I rebuilt at Cranbrook, too. So fortunately, we had single rooms, and my room was so full of a number of things. My closet was just full of weavings, and the floor was filled with musical stuff.
So, yes, I have had an interest in music. And my friend Michael Barnett, who's here—present, you know, as we're doing this interview—and I have written some songs, and we've done a CD, and we've done two residencies in music in Ireland. So we have explored music together, too. Michael has an amazing voice, a beautiful voice.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I do know that. [Laughs.]
I would like to know when you graduated—when did you graduate Tyler?
MR. HALLMAN: That was '56. Then I began Cranbrook.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: And '55 was Fontainebleau.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And why did you select Cranbrook as your graduate institution?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, mainly because of my friend Julia Weder, whom I mentioned before. She was very involved with Bill Swallow and knew a lot about people in the craft field. And she said, "Ted, why don't you consider Cranbrook? Because the people I see getting prizes around the United States seem to have studied at Cranbrook."
So I applied in painting, and didn't realize that, you know, the weaving would be so strong there as well. I had no idea until after a year after I had got there. So I sent the photographs, and they accepted my application. And so I did a master's in painting with a minor in weaving during my first year there.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Who was your weaving teacher?
MR. HALLMAN: Zoltan Sepeshy was my painting teacher.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Okay.
MR. HALLMAN: And a very interesting time. And Marianne Hammarstrom—Marianne Strengell she used professionally—was my weaving teacher. And she was—some people deplored her as a teacher, but she was wonderful for me. She was all for encouraging you, totally encouraging you, but really did not teach much. But she kind of knew how to just sort of speak to you in the right way to get you moving in the directions that you wanted to move in. And so I just did so much in textiles there as well as my painting, and it was—my output was unbelievable.
And there was nowhere to go. The only place I went was to Detroit Institute of Art [MI] to teach weaving there at night, one day a week. And otherwise, there wasn't anything to do. You were just there. Your constant meditation was work, and it was fabulous.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And nature? [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Well, yes, but it got very cold in the winter, and so nature was snow. But also the environment. It was like Tyler. The environment was so beautiful and so rich. There was so much Carl Milles beautiful sculpture there. There were pools and a man-made lake there. And the buildings by [Eilel] Saarinen were—you know, the environment—and that's why, as part of my thing, I like—I want to be in an environment, you know, that I enjoy. I enjoy high ceilings. That's why I'm here—but it's a part of the, you know, lifestyle and all of that, the whole thing, too.
[END TAPE 1 SIDE A.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —English interviewing Ted Hallman on May 23 in the year 2006, side two.
Ted, you were discussing Cranbrook.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes. My question is whether I should pop back for a minute to Tyler or pick up a few loose ends as we go.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You may pop back to Tyler.
MR. HALLMAN: Because during the break, I was thinking of some people from Tyler. Because my acquaintances there, I think, that were most powerful—not that we were real close friends, but Natalie Charkow, whom I would love to see again—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: She is now married to John Hollander, the poet.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm. And living where?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Living in Providence, I believe.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Or they were living in Providence, if I'm not mistaken.
MR. HALLMAN: Interesting. Well, her sister—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Because he was at Brown.
MR. HALLMAN: —Anita, was a pianist.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mednick—Anita Mednick—and she was first married to Max Raub. Remember?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes—whom I didn't know, really.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: But I knew her name was Raub.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: And —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It was Raub before it was Mednick, and then she married Armand Mednick.
MR. HALLMAN: Lowell Nesbit—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Oh.
MR. HALLMAN: —was in my class and an acquaintance, and we communicated a lot; Dennis Leon, who passed away, I hear.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, he did pass away. And he was my lead in The Chocolate Soldier by George Bernard Shaw. We performed together at Tyler. [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, my gosh. Oh, my—and Rick Lafean was a fencer.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: And so I got to know him, too. And as—you know, if I just sit with this a couple of minutes, I could think of anybody, you know—many people whom I knew there, whom I liked and communicated with.
So—and I think of some of the models, too. But—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Who was the male model whose jockey strap always had butterflies on it? [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: We didn't have him. But what was the gal's name who was a singer, the model who was a singer?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I do not remember.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I do remember the male model. [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: She was a professional singer, and she was incredible—Nina. Nina—yes—would sing her nightclub songs for us.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You know, I think that that community was such an intimate community at that time, because none of the classes had more than 25 people in them.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So there was this incredible, isolated community that was like the 19th century communities of writers and poets and artists all living and working together.
MR. HALLMAN: It was wonderful. It really was. I loved Tyler.
Well, I could even go back to high school, for my dad. He studied with Walter Baum when he was in high school. And then when he went to—I'm having a problem with my throat. [Coughs.] Pardon me.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Perhaps you should eat more greens. [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Then when he went to college, to art school, he studied with N.C. Wyeth and Thornton Oakley, and he carried on his connection with the Wyeth family, Andrew and Jamie. He would visit them when he was teaching and head of the art department at West Chester State University [West Chester, PA]. So there were those kind of connections, you know, that were very interesting through my earlier years.
What else can I say about—my dad as an illustrator did a cover for the Saturday Evening Post. He did those kinds of things. And he worked for Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, as well. So he had a lot of connection into Philadelphia, into the Wanamaker Department Store. And I loved the Wanamaker organ.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Of course.
MR. HALLMAN: Still do.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Of course.
MR. HALLMAN: And one time I was there, and Phil Spitalny and the All-Girl Orchestra were playing with the organ [accompaniment –TH]. And I went over to see the console, and one of the Wanamaker men said, "Ted, do you want to play the organ?" And I said, "Yes." So after the concert was over and the crowds were leaving, I was playing one of my piano pieces, really, trying to put in a few bass notes on the pedal organ while I was, you know, in that spot.
So I guess I want to say Philadelphia, the connection to Philadelphia and to things in Philadelphia. And later, in my harpsichord rebuilding thing, Maurice Ben Stad, who had an early music group, borrowed one of my harpsichords for one of his performances. It was at the—one of the auditoriums at the—what is the art school, the art school on Broad Street?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You mean Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
MR. HALLMAN: Academy of the Arts is where they performed, yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: It's funny how some of these things get—you have to be with it a minute to get them back
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We have to—who was it, Oliver Wendell Holmes, said there are certain concessions one has to make due to the shortness of life. [They laugh.]
It may interest you to know that yesterday in the paper there was an article about the fact that Wanamaker's, which was then sold to Lord & Taylor and has now been sold to Macy's, and Macy's has decided to keep the organ—
MR. HALLMAN: Yay!
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —and to keep the eagle.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, the eagle.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, bravo. "Meet me at the eagle."
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: "Meet me at the eagle," right.
MR. HALLMAN: So anyhow, those are some little notes that I had here that I thought I'd like to go back to for a moment, just sort of the richness of my childhood, of meeting people and the connections.
My dad also loved to—he was such a draftsman. He really got into art because of his drawing ability. And he got the drawing prizes when he was in school. And he loved to go to the ballet and go backstage and draw Sadler's Wells. And in New York he'd go to the various auditoriums; you know, City Center, some of those auditoriums, and see the ballet companies, the visiting Ballet Russe and all these companies.
And I'd go with him many times. And we'd go trundling backstage. And he was such a regular that these dancers would just come over and talk to him, say, "Hi, Ted, how are you?" And all this kind of stuff. So it was an interesting—that was another dance connection. My dad used to go to Jacob's Pillow [Dance Festival, Lee, MA] in the summer, and he had a great interest in the dance, too. So I'm just saying that my childhood was very rich.
And also on my mother's side of the family, she was a Brumbaugh, and her father was quite a scholar and spoke German as well as English because of his German lineage, but also he was a minister. So he would read the Scriptures in German, and he was a preacher and a farmer. And he was of this literalist, like the Mennonites were, and he would go down in the creek right up here. It's interesting, it's not very far away, Indian Creek. He would baptize people in the creek there, and then he'd go up and do his sermons. And it was his daughter who did the crocheting and so forth.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And what was her name?
MR. HALLMAN: Viola Brumbaugh. But the Brumbaughs really had an interesting part in American history because one of my mother's—great, great grandfather, I think it was, performed as an Indian in the tea ceremony in Boston, and there's a statue to him in Broad Head City here in Pennsylvania. So my family has a lot of tradition and background.
And the Brumbaughs started Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania, and they wanted me to go there when I graduated from high school. Fortunately, I didn't. But, you know, there are a lot of richnesses in my family. Harold Brumbaugh used to come in in the summer, and he would be out looking for students to go to Juniata College from all these areas. And he always attended the Bach Festivals in Bethlehem, and I would go with him up to the Bach Festivals.
So I thought it was an extremely rich childhood. And there was a lot happening in Allentown. A lot of cultural stuff is sort of dying down. Allentown had been a very great cultural center. And Bill Swallow was a great influence on my life, too.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And who was Bill Swallow?
MR. HALLMAN: He was a sculptor, a potter and sculptor who died at a young age. He had gotten a disease, and I don't know what it was. He lost the ability to use his muscles too, and maybe it wasn't even identified in those days.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes. It was probably the same disease as —
MR. HALLMAN: But he was a teacher in one of the elementary schools in Allentown, and he did such creative stuff in his school. People came from all around to see what this educator was doing. But personally he used the wheel, the potter's wheel, and he'd turn these into animals. And then he did sculptures, amazing sculptures that were very simple. And the Metropolitan [Museum of Art, New York, NY] acquired some of his work, immediately, you know, before he died. But also the Allentown Art Museum has maybe a few of his pieces. But very simple, but very powerful, grounded sculptures that were abstractions. It wasn't realistic at all. But he was somewhere between a potter and a sculptor.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, he worked in clay.
MR. HALLMAN: He worked in clay.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And so he did vessel-making as well as sculptural pieces.
MR. HALLMAN: He was like a renaissance person. He would make practical things, but this outstandingly powerful, beautiful sculpture of birds and animals. And I feel that his life is somehow in my blood, too. He was pretty amazing.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: There are many people—
MR. HALLMAN: So—you ask about my childhood, and I sort of can't just brush by without talking about some of that richness of all of that. There was a woman, Gertrude Camp, who ran the Chestnut Hill Tea Room, and she had a community of people—artists. Edith Emerson would go there, too, and Violet Oakley would eat there. And people would dine there. And she herself was a very open thinker. And she had other ideas, more mystical and gnostic, almost, ideas that she would talk to me about. And during my first year at Tyler, I didn't want to commute from home—I started by commuting, and then I didn't like it, from home. I would go [by train –TH] to Fort Washington and Dr. Abels would pick me up and then take me into town, and to school. Anyway, she [Gertrude] offered me a room up in the top of this apartment building where the servants used to live—just a bed, and I had to walk down the hall to get to the bathroom. So I had a semester living in Chestnut Hill. [… –TH]
So anyway, Gertrude Camp. Because of her, it was almost like having a group of people that she would feed, but she was concerned about their health, their well-being. This wasn't just food, she was conveying hospitality through her little Tea Room there, and the kind of people that would eat there were just amazing people. So she was an important person in my life because of her kind of sharing and outreach.
I think of Margaret Fuller—[off mike]. It was a philosophy in the way of her idea of giving.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Where was the Tea Room?
MR. HALLMAN: Chestnut Hill on Evergreen Avenue, just down from the station. Do you know Evergreen?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I do, I do.
MR. HALLMAN: Near the train station.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MR. HALLMAN: She and her husband were antique dealers of the highest quality, and they sold things to Winterthur [Museum and Country Estate, Winterthur, DE] a lot. And in some of the museums and other places, they have pieces of theirs. And during the Depression, her husband got very [… low –TH], and he killed himself, actually. So she had to basically fend for herself. But her apartment! She had the most gorgeous Philadelphia Chippendale chairs, I would have died to have had some of her furniture.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, you don't die for it. [They laugh.] You would have liked it, but you do not die for it.
MR. HALLMAN: Anyway, there was something about her being that spoke to me. And then in my second year at Tyler, when I was teaching, I was able to go into an approved home and live just a couple of blocks from the campus. And so that's how my dwelling and all that sort of happened. But that was very interesting to have had that connection with her.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I'm not going to ask you any specific question at this particular moment, because I know that there are things that you wish to say, and to discuss, that are perhaps not related to some of the formulated questions, so go for it! [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Go for it! Well, I just feel like here I am all the way up to Cranbrook already, and beyond maybe even, and I sort of haven't put in some of the little details from my early childhood. So I just want to say a few things here and there along the way. And basically, that my Aunt Viola, yes, she was very innovative in her working with textiles, and worked with interesting colors. Because I remember, she got the most unusual colors and would put—maybe it was totally bizarre stuff, but it was also very compelling and very interesting. [Phone rings.]
So in my childhood, my other aunts also, several other of my aunts were involved just as, you know, many women are, in knitting and crocheting. But my Aunt Margaret in particular baby-sat me, and she was great. She had been a teacher, elementary school teacher, so she knew how to keep you entertained, you know? And so she taught me how to count on and on and on to 2,000 or something, while she'd sit there and listen to me. But she also would be crocheting and knitting, and she taught me how to tat, also, which is very unusual. And I was sort of learning all these techniques that were so unusual, and I think I was interested in the way you use your body while you were doing this, too.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Was your sister taught in the same manner that you were?
MR. HALLMAN: No. She was not interested. She had the same babysitters, the same story, but she did not do any of that. No interest. Isn't that interesting?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah, that's why I asked.
MR. HALLMAN: So that in a way, I was seeking it out. I mean, they weren't pushing it on me at all, but I was just really fascinated by this stuff. You know, I still know all that stuff. Now, my mother—somehow, my mother knew all this stuff, too, but she didn't have time. She—even some of her sisters would come to her and say, "Look, I have this bedroom slipper-knitted. I can't understand it—it's turned inside out and upside down and backwards." And my mother would look at it, and she'd figure it out and tell them how to do it. So my mother knew all this stuff, too, but I didn't learn that much from her. Sewing, I learned more about sewing from my mom. So all of that stuff was going on when I was quite young. And I was really doing it as well as watching it. I wanted to really learn it, you know. So that was "in" there somehow.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: And I understood that knitting was not just something you do on knitting needles, it was a—it was a texture, it was a structure, really, is what I was learning—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And it had multiple possibilities.
MR. HALLMAN: And that it had endless possibilities, exactly.
So I wanted to go back and just mention that a little bit more because that was really interesting. And in sixth grade—I think it was sixth grade—I call it my first fiber art project. We were studying the nervous system, and I thought it was so exciting how, you know, there was the brain here, and then all of this stuff going down the spine, and then all of these things came out as nerves. So I just made this figure, and it was quite tall, you know, maybe it was 18 inches or something—probably 18 inches. It was a common size; I guess that was probably what it was. I made the figure, cut out the figure, and then I put the nerve from the finger moving all the way through the arm. I put all these strings, and finally got them up into the brain, and then I kind of platted them all together when they got up there and sort of made them all , like a brain is [… –TH]. But it was an expression of how the nervous system works. It was almost like a tree except—a tree, the branches come out, and then it comes into the trunk and then it goes out as roots but it's—all that connection, through these cords. And then it also was a rather attractive, interesting piece. So that was my first fiber art piece! [Laughs.]
And I think I had this really strong interest in cooking. I'd say, you know, "Mommy! Mommy! Can't I go bake?" She'd say, "Oh, if you have to, bake a cake." And I'd bake a white cake and I put icing on it.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And what about your sister, did she have a culinary interest?
MR. HALLMAN: No interest.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: She had no interest in any cooking or—
MR. HALLMAN: No interest in cooking. None of those female things! [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: None of those—well, cooking isn't necessarily female.
MR. HALLMAN: No, it isn't. It isn't.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Cooking is really an honored profession for men.
MR. HALLMAN: No, but she didn't have an interest in those things either! [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You mean domestic things?
MR. HALLMAN: No domestic things.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I wouldn't say female; I would say domestic.
MR. HALLMAN: All right, thank you. That's very good. Thank you.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You're welcome! [They laugh.] But I know why, because we had a very interesting cooking experience once.
MR. HALLMAN: Yeah, we did.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: Blinis.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Blinis.
MR. HALLMAN: Helen taught me how to make blintzes and the filling in there. And I loved it. I loved it! [They laugh.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: All right. But—
MR. HALLMAN: So anyway, there was cooking in there. And my mother also had a bent toward natural foods and natural cooking, and I picked up on that too. And my Aunt Ruth in Philadelphia, who was a secretary to the president of one of those major banks—I can't remember what bank it was. But she would come up [to visit and to cook –TH].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Philadelphia Savings Fund Society?
MR. HALLMAN: Maybe. But there was one on Chestnut Street around 16th, around 16th—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Provident Trust and Fidelity. Fidelity and Provident—Provident Bank, 17th and Chestnut.
MR. HALLMAN: Provident Bank. That's probably it. That's about where it was, 16th or 17th on Chestnut.
Anyway, she would come up and talk to my mom about natural foods. [… –TH] And I think something about authenticity of food, you know, something has to be authentic, it has to be the real thing. And also, that aunt taught me shorthand, which was very interesting for me because I had this interest in making alphabets and different kinds of alphabets and how you could write something and nobody else could read it, you know, because there were different alphabets, and all those kind of things.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So you were really nurtured—
MR. HALLMAN: I was nurtured.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —by a community of women in your family —
MR. HALLMAN: Mostly women.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —women in your family—
MR. HALLMAN: Mostly women.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —who—to whom you responded and who nurtured you and taught you—
MR. HALLMAN: All these things.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —all these—you know, taught you textile techniques, and taught you how to cook, and allowed you to enter into that realm.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes. At the same time, my father was a rather distant parent, for some reason or other.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But you admired him—
MR. HALLMAN: However—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I'm sorry, yes.
MR. HALLMAN: And I admired him.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Because you speak a great deal about your father—
MR. HALLMAN: Oh yes. Oh yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —and his artistic bent—
MR. HALLMAN: He had his Saturday afternoon art classes in which Ann and I were permitted to participate [… –TH].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Now, did Ann participate in the art classes?
MR. HALLMAN: She did. She did.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And did she show any talent in art?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And has she continued to show talent in art?
MR. HALLMAN: No. No, she does not—she doesn't continue that. And she also was interested in music. And she and I played two-piano music together for a while, while we were in high school, and that was a big thing which we enjoyed part of the time, and sometimes we didn't enjoy it so much. [… –TH]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I think at this point we should begin to talk about Cranbrook and post-Cranbrook.
MR. HALLMAN: Okay. Just a few notes here. My dad was a friend of Harry Bertoia's.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: And we used to go up there. He went to see George Nakashima. He was not as close to him.
What else do I want to say?
Oh, while I was in Tyler I went to Camden, Maine, summer theater to make posters for them for the summer, which was an interesting experience. Of course, when I got there, I found out there was a harp colony there, Carlos Salzedo. So I was—of course I couldn't resist studying harp with one of his major students there—[inaudible]—I can't think of her last name at the moment. Anyway, so I had a master class with Carlos Salzedo, and he offered me a scholarship to go to Curtis [Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA]. And I just couldn't do it. I struggled with that because I wanted to go and I wanted to go back—I was in my third year at Tyler, the summer of my third year at Tyler. I wanted to finish Tyler, and I also wanted to go to Curtis. But also, I didn't have the money for a harp. And I went to my grandfather, who was the entrepreneur of the family, and he was not interested in my playing the harp, so he didn't budge at all.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But Curtis would have given—
MR. HALLMAN: But it was interesting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Curtis would have given you a harp.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, they may have. And now they certainly would.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: But in those days, there didn't seem to be that possibility open.
Anyway, I made a connection to Curtis, and I used to go to Curtis, then, for concerts.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So was Carlos there before Marilyn or while Marilyn Costello was there?
MR. HALLMAN: Before.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Before Marilyn Costello?
MR. HALLMAN: She was a student.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MR. HALLMAN: Because this was back in the '60s.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Isn't it amazing how all your journeys took you into the realm of music—I mean, into—
MR. HALLMAN: No matter where I went.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —yes—but it took you into, you know, situations in which you came in contact with major figures and teachers and educators in that field without you even thinking about it.
MR. HALLMAN: It is. It is. And that was one of the most amazing things about Fontainebleau, because I suddenly was with those teachers, and what I felt that was the whole teaching was the intensity of these people and the awakeness—the awakening that they had within their being.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: That's really—
MR. HALLMAN: That was the message, I thought.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah. Right. So somehow or another—
MR. HALLMAN: Because that's what I feel so strongly about life philosophy. I mean, it's about waking and becoming more conscious, being more aware. That's my—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And it's about those energies that are there. And you either are receptive and responsive to them or you're not, you know.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, some you are or some you're not.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. I know Stella Kromwell used to say that everybody has the same opportunities for unique experiences in life; it's just that some people don't recognize them when they come.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm. Interesting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It's like The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James [Kentfield, California: Allen Press, 1963]. You can spend your whole life searching for something special, and the search becomes so intense that when it comes, you don't see it or know it.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm. Hmm.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So there you are. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: There I've been.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And there you've been.
MR. HALLMAN: But I just feel—that's why I get so excited talking about my life, because I have loved my life. It is so—my life is so interesting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So may we take your life back to Bloomfield Hills? [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: May we? (Mais oui?) So—yes. And what can I say? We were talking about people at Cranbrook and, of course—is that where you were to come? Well, I've mentioned Marianne Hammarstrom. She was Marianne Strengell Hammarstrom.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Oh, right.
MR. HALLMAN: She was such a champion of me that after I graduated, we were able to do a master's there in one year, and I did a master's in painting in one year. And I'm telling you, I worked so hard, because the thesis there is not only a written thesis, but we had to do a tremendous amount of photography and to document our whole thesis, which had to be bound with photography. So I was so busy doing my painting, but I was also doing this work and so much work in textiles and in weaving under Marianne.
[… –TH] Marianne said, "I want to go to India for a year, will you teach for me while I go for a year sabbatical?" So I said, "Yes," because I wasn't ready to leave Cranbrook anyway. So I went in there as a—in a teaching capacity. But before I was in there a week, I realized—you know, I went to Tyler and I became a teacher in textiles. I went to Cranbrook. And am becoming a teacher at Cranbrook in textiles, I started getting the message, you know—"I'd better look at this textile thing," and I thought, "Why don't I get a master's in textiles as well while I'm here? I'm going to be in the studio." [… –TH] So I thought, "I'll have all this time. I'm just going to create all this work and do another master's here."
So I asked the powers that be at Cranbrook if I would be able to do that, and they said yes. And I had so many projects there. I was working with the transparencies, weaving transparencies into textiles and doing things like weaving and knitting in the same piece, trying a lot of technical things. I was doing a lot of multiple harness things, because we had a dobby loom there that had 27 harnesses—some odd number—a Swedish loom that had all these harnesses there we could program; and they also had a power loom there that I had worked on. I had my fingers in so many things there. So it was a great possibility for continuing a lot of these things that I was already working on. And I would go to the science institute [Cranbrook Institute of Science] and work with gemstones, because I thought initially I was going to put more gemstones in the textiles. But then I got into plastics. I would go to the science institute and smooth crystals and make them into forms so that I could weave them in the textile. And I also used copper sulfate, water soluble crystals that I wove in the textile, but it wasn't stable enough.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: At what point did you begin to use plastics?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, just right away there in my—I was just working with all these things that would really—in my second year at Cranbrook that I really got going.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Who introduced you?
MR. HALLMAN: And that would have been—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Must be the late '50s.
MR. HALLMAN: Here—yeah. It was '57, '58.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah. I'm saying late '50s because I remember I saw the [New York City] Commission for Jack Thalheimer in New York around 1969 or—
MR. HALLMAN: Might have been around '70.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Seventy. Yeah, in '69 or '70.
MR. HALLMAN: Yeah.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: The Skylight.
MR. HALLMAN: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.] You saw it?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah. That's how I met you. Don't you remember that?
MR. HALLMAN: No, I don't.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You don't remember that?
MR. HALLMAN: I don't. Isn't that interesting?
Well, tell me more about it, and then I'll remember it.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I went to New York to see the exhibition ["Contemplation Environments," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, 1970]—was it "Object Environment," I think?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I think this was called "Object Environment."
MR. HALLMAN: I think it was more in the '70s, I believe.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It was the early '70s.
MR. HALLMAN: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And—no, it wasn't. It was the late '60s.
MR. HALLMAN: No. No, it was—I'm sorry. It was—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It was the—because that's how this commission came about.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It was in the '60s.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes. It was—I'm sorry. I jumped a decade.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah. It was in the '60s. And I went to New York, and I saw The Skylight in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, which is—
MR. HALLMAN: That is very similar—was very similar to the one with Jack Thalheimer. Wasn't that one very similar—mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, but it was similar. But it said, commission-based on—[inaudible]. And I saw The Skylight. And I came home and I called the museum, and I was very curious about it. And I asked who did it and where you lived, and I didn't recognize your—you know, I knew your name from Tyler, but I asked where you lived. And you lived around the corner from me. You were at—you lived at 24th and Spruce.
MR. HALLMAN: Spruce. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And I lived at 22nd and Rittenhouse. And I was really upset—
MR. HALLMAN: And I was just a few blocks away.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —that somebody could be working like that and living in my city, and I didn't know about it! [Hallman laughs.] And that's one of the catalysts for the PCPC [Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen]—
MR. HALLMAN: Really?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —that that moment in which I realized that there was information that pertained to artists working in my city, in Philadelphia, and that information was not part of a public forum, and nor did we have any idea that there were artists who could create works like that, living in our community. And that's when I met Dick Jones at a—[inaudible]—lecture, and that's when I got the idea for PCPC. It all had to do really with seeing that Skylight at the Museum of Modern Art, and I was incensed that I could not know about—
MR. HALLMAN: In your own backyard.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: In my own backyard.
MR. HALLMAN: It was literally in your backyard. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah, it was an amazing moment for me.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, thank you for telling me how PCPC started.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, it was—no, it didn't start—
MR. HALLMAN: But it was—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —but this was one of the germs—
MR. HALLMAN: Germs, hmm.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —that acted as a catalyst for me to realize that something had to be done.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm. Interesting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And I remember calling you. I remember visiting you, and the Lenore Tanney was hanging on your door. Do you still have it? Where is it? [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: It's not on now.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Who introduced you into the use of plastics during that period of time? Because that was a very early moment for that material to be used with weaving.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it came about by walking—see, Cranbrook had all of these ponds and beautiful things going on, and I found out that in the winter there was still some of this blue crystal around that they were putting into these ponds. And it had snowed and I saw these copper sulfate crystals in the snow. And they also used it to dissolve ice.
Oh, now I remember. The Italian gardeners there didn't know the difference between regular salt and copper sulfate for melting snow, and they got the wrong thing. That's what happened. They had all this copper sulfate for the pools there, but in the winter they put it down in the snow thinking it was going to melt the snow. It didn't seem to have very much effect on the melting of snow, but it did on me because I saw the light, and these crystals were slightly dissolving with the dampness and so forth, and that effect of that color was so powerful that I just—all I could do was get down and start picking them all up, these pieces. And they were little nugget sizes like the size of an acorn or something.
And I just went and got some little container and I was putting all these things in, because I didn't now that material, copper sulfate, in that form. So I immediately—I just didn't—almost didn't hesitate. I had some plastic yarn that was stuff that Marianne had gotten from one of her dealers or something that she hadn't used, that was sort of like in a leftover pile there, and I made a warp of this yarn. It was really fiberglass yarn that was coated with—I believe it was an acrylic plastic.
So I made this web and I designed a pattern to make little pockets, so as I wove this thing, I would make these little pockets and then stick these pieces of copper sulphate in and just finished it off. And I had samples, you know, little samples maybe 14 inches by—square, 14 by 14.
So from then on it was just trying to find the—because I was so excited at having the backlighting—but trying to find materials that would work for me.
So the next thing I went to were crystals, and that's why I went over to the science institute, and I would buy, you know, white crystals and amethyst crystals and all these different kinds of crystals, because they were stable. The copper sulfate was water soluble. And even though it was doing what I wanted to do visually, it was not working the right way.
I also went to pottery, to ceramics, and fired up different batches of Egyptian paste in all these turquoise and blue colors, because it had a lot to do with color. But then as I wove that into the fabrics, I realized it is not just the color per se but it's the backlighting and the transparent color that is really the thing that was getting me here, that I really wanted to work with.
So nobody at Cranbrook seemed to know very much about plastics at that time. So a couple people had some general ideas about plastics. In fact, the whole field of plastics was not like now, you know, people know so much about it. But somebody suggested Bakelite, and I was able to get sheets of Bakelite material that I cut up. And I worked with long strips of Bakelite, and I also made special warps just in stripes, and then I cut the Bakelite with little notches so that the strips would fit into these grooves, the warp would fit into the grooves of the Bakelite.
I was trying for a stained glass effect in that time because I wasn't sure how this was going to go. And I thought, well, it's sort of stained glass; what if I blocked out all of the light? And I did that with the Bakelite strips, so that when you look at that, you don't get very much light coming through, just a little hint of it. I still have that piece. [Inaudible.] So that was the first entree into the plastics.
Then I went down to Detroit and poked around, and there was a plastic company down there and they had acrylic plastics. And the first thing they gave me were samples, square samples, packs of them. And I said, "Well, now, I want to get more of these," so I started buying these packs of samples, all these colors—they were already cut into squares.
And there's something else I have to put in here but I can't think of the name of the person I wanted to talk about. There was somebody in the community that was watching me do all these experiments. He was from England. And later when I went to England to RCA [Royal College of Art] to visit, I met this man, who introduced himself and said, "You know, I was watching all the time you were working with plastics at Cranbrook. And you didn't know it but I'd come in on weekends sometimes to see what you were doing."
But anyway, I wove, then, these squares. I would make fabrics that were more—some that used plastic, this plastic material that I talked about before, and some that had linen. Linen seemed to be pretty sturdy. But also I started putting things on these to make them a little bit stiff, some acrylic sprays and things. And I found out that the plastics didn't work so well always with the plastic spray. There were some things that didn't work together, but the linen was wonderful. But so anyway, I used mixes of things to try to find out what was going to really work best.
But for those squares, I also wove pockets into the fabric, and then I'd slip these in at a certain point and then close those and then move on. But I had to learn how to roll this in—there were technical problems but they didn't seem to be at all insurmountable. And before I knew it, already I got a commission just from doing experiments, from a place I don't even remember—I don't even have photographs of it—but a residence there in Bloomfield Hills, where somebody else was in the studio and they saw some stuff. It was interesting how the community—the studios were not theoretically open, but somehow the community knew what you were doing.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: And how that happened is, you know, anybody's guess. But people got in, and they looked around.
But I did a rather large commission for—using these squares that I was putting into pockets, because structurally—it was just a family that lived there, that had a home there—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you remember their names?
MR. HALLMAN: I don't know whether I even have it listed anywhere.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Really?
MR. HALLMAN: But it was a problem for me, design-wise, because it was sort of a Palladian window, and hanging these squares in front of the, you know, arches and things—I was struggling with that in design. But it worked out.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: At what point did you begin to use these rather organic and disc-like shapes?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, then the next step after that, using those squares, was to really come to grips with how to work with cutting the materials. And I didn't like the colors enough. I had to learn how to dye the materials. And —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And you moved into using jute with the linen also?
MR. HALLMAN: I used jute and I used cotton.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah.
MR. HALLMAN: I really used a lot of different materials in the warps.
And it was different—you know, I'm amazed that this screen hanging here from that time—it still has that much color in it. I'm amazed, because I had no idea. But it looks like all of the colors have held up very well.
But I had to find out how to cut acrylic plastics without having it crack—and I started using metal—had to use metal saws, band saws—and how to dye these things in a way that would—I really was not so interested in making pictorial things on these pieces of plastics as much as I was texture and getting colors that were different than those—you know, the plain colors that you could get from the plastic company.
And so I ended up by dissolving—
[END OF TAPE 1 SIDE B.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: This is side three of an interview with Ted Hallman for the Archives of American Art on May 23 in the year 2006.
Ted, you were describing the techniques involved when you began to fabricate plastics in—with your weaving structures. Would you continue that discussion, please?
MR. HALLMAN: Okay. So I had to—I'll repeat a little bit of that. In order to dye the plastics, there was no one who could—they had dyes. They actually had commercial dyes that I could use. And I did use those, too, and I did use some of those on pieces. But—it was wonderful, but I wanted more texture. I wanted to break that down sort of deadly texture of the plastic material.
And I liked working with the plastics. But, in a way, I wanted it to be as rich as glass, and I felt it could be. I knew that was possible. And by texturing the plastic and coloring it, I was able to get that richness.
Anyhow, when I would cut the plastic, there was a lot of chips of plastic and so forth that would fall down, and powder and all that. And I could collect that up, dissolve that and add dyes to that and then put it back on to the plastic. And sometimes it was quite controllable, and sometimes it was not so controllable. There was always a struggle to get more of what I was wanting, working with the materials. And I just didn't—the people who were technical were not—they just couldn't get into my space of wanting to use plastic artistically. They could not get into my space and imagine what I wanted to do. So I had to do it all myself.
So unfortunately I had no mentor in that way. And my only concern was, I was using dyes that were also used in photography, and I knew that color photographs were disintegrating in light. But I just had to go on, and I—as I said, I'm surprised that even though in many cases the yarns have started to deteriorate in these pieces, that in most of the pieces, the acrylic—the plastic itself has not deteriorated at all, or very little, so that's—you know, it's all in the realm of experimentation.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. At what point did you stop using the plastic?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it was—I guess it was in '69, when I moved to California. That was the end of it.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And how long were you in California?
MR. HALLMAN: Till '75.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And then you returned—
MR. HALLMAN: And then I moved to Toronto—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: —because I had met Kenneth Mills—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: —in Berkeley. And it was like meeting him in a way that was more like a friendship, more than—at first, at any rate, more than like a teacher. And I just heard about all of the interesting stuff that was going on around him and in his spiritual teaching and in that community—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: —which is a very large community. People were coming from New York and from California and—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: How did you support yourself during this period of time?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, at Cranbrook I had a scholarship—if we're going to get back to Cranbrook.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, no.
MR. HALLMAN: [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We're going—we're back to California.
MR. HALLMAN: We want to move along?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: All right. So you don't want to talk anymore about Cranbrook?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Not—right this moment, I want to know how you—
MR. HALLMAN: All right, because if you'll let me go back later—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, I promise. [Hallman laughs.] I promise. You can always return home. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Thank you. [They laugh.]
Well, that was very seamless, in a way, because I thought, gosh, I would like to spend some time here. I visualized six years that I wanted to be in Canada.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I'm talking about California. How did you support yourself in California?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, in California.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, well, that is a whole story unto itself.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, I understand. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Now let's see—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Ted, I just want to tell you one thing. I only have 10 years—[laughs]—for this interview.
MR. HALLMAN: [Laughs.] Well, are you sure you couldn't give me nine?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I'll try. I will try, but 10 is my limit! [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Well, California was a whole other thing, because I had taught at Penland and one of my students, whose name I have written down here somewhere because she was instrumental in getting me to go—oh, darn—Betsy Fox is her name. I was teaching this class in weaving at Penland and she was one of my students. And she was from Esalen. And she said she had been a masseuse at Esalen. And she started talking about Rolfing and her life at Esalen, living at Esalen. And her husband was a Rolfer. And before we knew it, everybody in the weaving class wanted to have a massage from her, so—including me. And I had two massages. [Laughs.]
But at any rate, I got so interested in Esalen that I thought I must explore Esalen. So I did go out in the summer, I explored Esalen, and that's when I decided I wanted to have some time in California.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I asked you how did you support yourself? [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: So—[laughs]. So, I just got out there, and actually, I wish I could answer that question very easily. But somehow people knew who I was, I guess, and I just filled in on sabbaticals one after another.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I see. So you were teaching?
MR. HALLMAN: Trude Guermonprez was the first one who offered me to fill in at the California College of Arts and Crafts [San Francisco].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Thank you! That's what I'm trying to get. I wanted to get to your relationship with Trude Guermonprez because so few people really knew her. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Well, she was an interesting person.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: And she was married to someone who was a natural food person. Well, we—this is a marriage made in heaven. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But—
MR. HALLMAN: [Off mike]—I visited her home and she thought that I was the person to fill in on her sabbatical.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But it's important for people to know that she was among those artists who immigrated to the United States as a result of the fascist regime.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You know, and that information is almost lost.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm. Is that right?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes. So I wanted you to talk about Trudy and your relationship to Trudy and her husband.
MR. HALLMAN: All right.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And the fact that you—
MR. HALLMAN: I wish I knew more about her—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, no. But the fact that you did do sabbatical teaching. So that was your source of support.
MR. HALLMAN: I don't know why we clicked so much. But maybe the Germanic—I have a lot of Germanic blood in me. And my one grandfather was not Pennsylvania Dutch—he was in a way, but he was really Germanic. And we just communicated. You know, we were both experimenters. And she loved my work and I loved her work. So, what can I say? We ate together, we walked together, we talked together.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What was she like as a human being?
MR. HALLMAN: Very warm, very gracious, and a very heart-felt person, truly heart-felt person, which pleased me tremendously. Very hospitable. And—ask me questions. I don't know what other to say about her.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Where did she go during her sabbatical?
MR. HALLMAN: I mean, it's just like I had this feeling—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah. Where did she go during her sabbatical?
MR. HALLMAN: I don't think she really—she traveled a little bit, but it wasn't a sabbatical like going anywhere particularly. I think it was basically a sabbatical to do her work, to become more healthy, to be with her husband, and to—I think it had a lot to do with health and just being able to, yes, take short trips, but mostly she went to—I think she went to Europe and Asia. But it wasn't about that really.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And did you not study with Ida Rolf at that time as well?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes. Yes. In fact, I did get into going to Esalen for short periods, and I went on the massage staff also at Esalen while I was there. And I was picking up on Betsy Fox's thing and I was having Rolfings deciding whether I wanted to become a Rolfer. And Ida Rolf, you know, looked at my hands and said, "Yes, you may be a Rolfer." [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And when did Kenneth Mills come into your consciousness?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, that was '75. But there's a little bit more to tell about California.
So I finished at California College of Arts and Crafts. And then Marge Livingston at the University—at San Francisco University, went on sabbatical and I became her fill-in. And then I decided to go back for a Ph.D. And at the same time, Ed Rossbach wanted to go on sabbatical, so I filled in for Ed Rossbach while I was starting to work on my Ph.D in ed psych. And so that's the way the cookie was crumbling.
But meanwhile, there was a job opening up at San José State [San José, CA], so I got a part-time teaching job down there. I went down there two days a week to teach weaving. And that picked up after I came back of course, because the Ph.D. program was about three years. And I was doing San José State even before I got involved in the Ph.D. program. And I loved being in Berkeley. So many harpsichordists there. [Laughs.] And I took classes in early music performance—[off mike].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: There are many other questions that I have to ask you about your life in California, your life in Canada, your return to Philadelphia, the beginning of the program at Moore College of Art [Philadelphia, PA]. But those questions can be asked if we continue this in Santa Fe.
But we're now sitting in your studio, and I would like you to discuss your studio, and I would like you to discuss this chapel in Lederach. I would like you to talk about the work that is on the walls and the things that are of importance to you, because we're here now. And we can come back to the other aspects of your life without this environment.
MR. HALLMAN: All right. Okay.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So, when did you come to the chapel? At what point did you acquire the chapel?
MR. HALLMAN: This was when I was teaching at Moore College of Art, and it was in the '60s. I had been looking for a property with high ceilings and that was comprehensible, and I was looking in Bucks County. I wanted to be over on the Delaware really. But things didn't open up there. And this place was on sale for years and years. And finally I thought, this is—really should consider this place because, you know, it was intact, it was in very good shape. It's a stone building with very heavy walls. I love the deep window sills. And high ceiling, you know, 12-foot high ceiling. And the light is good in here. Because light is so important. And I can put these shades up and of course the drapes come down usually earlier, but this has been such a cold spring, so I haven't gotten the drapes down yet. So light is crucial and that's why—[off mike]—and so purchased this even before I went to California.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But architecturally, what—
MR. HALLMAN: And I've kept this all the time I've been away. Architecturally, it's really like—very much like a Mennonite meetinghouse inside. Now, the Mennonites would not have put a steeple here, but this was built as a community chapel—non-sectarian. It had no—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What year?
MR. HALLMAN: Eighteen eighty-eight. And there's a little platform just one step up on the other side of the room, which you can't see from here. But they brought lots of African-American people from Philadelphia, too, to perform for the community. They sang here. They did all kinds of studies, though—biblical studies and all this, but it wasn't a church until close to the end of this chapel—before the time I bought it. It was purchased by a group of UCC Church—United Church of Christ people. They had the church I don't know how long, but they—their congregation dwindled, and they decided to join another group—[off mike]—so I bought it from them when they were kind of on their way out—which worked out beautifully for me.
So I bought it and just hung onto it through all my—my California period, my Canadian period, and then—was still—when I come down to see my parents—I would stay here, come over here, maybe do a little work here, keep a minimal amount of food here, and it's just an amazing place to be able to close up.
But also the double doors were nice because I've taken some big commissions out these doors, and so it has worked out very well. And the room—being interested in sound—I don't have a huge sound system, but I have harpsichord and piano equipment so I didn't want to ruin the sonoric quality of the space. So by putting these room dividers in here to separate a "more sleeping area," although I have a loom back there as well, it just sort of separated the space a bit without ruining the acoustic value—[off mike].
Now hanging here is a very diverse group of pieces, and that's part of the reason why I put it up […–TH.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You have to get close to the mike.
MR. HALLMAN: So it's a lily pad piece that you had at your residence for a while, and it's been rewoven. And I don't know what its destination is, but—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: [Off mike; walking around pieces]—
MR. HALLMAN: [Off mike; walking around pieces]—I do know the retrospective show possibly coming up at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem in '07, so it might get in there. It could end up in a collection. So that is an historic acrylic plastic piece —it actually has some wool in there—some wool fabric in there as well. Now let's look and see what I have in the other room. After Cranbrook not only did I do those pieces with the acrylic plastics, but I did a lot of rea pieces. This piece was actually done toward the end of Cranbrook [… –TH] I did a lot of rya rugs and some of them were wall rugs, and this is actually a wall rug. I did a lot of sketching with the idea of working from dark at the bottom into light at the top, the weight of the ground and moving through—in different ways—up to the sky, you might say.
So that idea certainly worked very well for wall pieces—[off mike]—it was so interesting when I got to Japan and met Mr. [Itichiku] Kubota. When I met Mr. Kubota in Japan, who was really one of my major reasons for going to Japan, I found out that he made many of his kimonos in a tradition in Japan of working dark and earthy at the bottom leading into light at the top. So it was a great discovery for me, and I really enjoyed having that compositional idea confirmed by such a great artist as he.
Anyway, this was a way in which Marianne Strengell worked very much. She liked to work with this rya technique that was so popular in Sweden. So that piece is like Cranbrook and then I did a lot of that afterwards as well as the plastic pieces. So these are some of the earliest pieces right here.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: [Off mike]—
MR. HALLMAN: Now, these three [pieces on the wall]—I have them together because they're kind of lace pieces, but they're really totally different constructions. The top one is crocheted, and this is a way in working with rags. We call it rags, but they're not really rags. They're surplus from the industry—the textile industry, which are cut in strips, and then I spin them. So it's fabric cut in stripes that I spin, and then the top one is crocheted.
And it's a very organic way of working, and I do enjoy it. And of course, it harkens back to my Aunt Viola, you know, who did the crocheting, but it's not like anything she did. But as I say, it's a very organic way of working. I can just start there.
And this piece is a labryinth. Actually, while I was at Moore College of Art, I did a large exhibition of large-scale textiles mostly from Britain that I discovered when I visited in London one time, and I wanted to do an exhibition at Moore. And I did a space for a maze, a labryinth exhibition at Moore College of Art. [… –TH] Then I developed some twills that were maze-like in quality, and they had a labyrinthine aspect to them. And one of those twills got into the Larsen line. [… –TH]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You've just stated that one of the twills became part of the Larsen line. Would you like to discuss how Jack Larsen discovers various fabrics and techniques and works by other artists and incorporates—incorporated them into the Jack Larsen—Jack Lenor Larsen company?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I will tell you how—[inaudible]. I submitted two pieces for a wall-hanging exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. And one was a double-weave pattern piece which ended up in the Smithsonian collection. And they wanted to also verify that piece. They also bought the way it was constructed and the pattern and the loom, and it ended up in the Smithsonian Institution.
But I submitted these two pieces for a wall-hanging exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They were approved. I was ready to send them. I called the MoMA and asked about sending the pieces, and the curator said to me, "One of the jurors does not want to have your piece in the exhibition." And I said, "That is strange." I said, "I can't believe that." I mean, I wanted to be in this exhibition so badly. And she said, "No, Jack Larsen does not want your piece to be in the exhibition."
So, subsequently I talked to Jack, and he said, "Oh, I want to use your pieces for production." So I was heartbroken, but I decided I would follow his idea. And one of the pieces, I said, "I'm sorry, this could not possibly be put into production." The other piece I redesigned for a piece that was woven in Ireland. They called it "Celtic Fret." So that was one experience about that, to answer your question.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: The piece that was not put into production, was that permitted to be exhibited publicly?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it didn't get into the MoMA show, but it has been in the Larsen Collection.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I see. That must have been a very difficult moment for you.
MR. HALLMAN: It was difficult because it was exciting to be produced by Jack Larsen, Inc., but it was a trade-off. [Laughs.] It turned out to be a trade-off. But the fabric was in the line. It's interesting, that fabric, "Celtic Fret," was in the line, I believe it was, about 13 years. And he said, "Do you want to be paid a royalty or do you want to be paid for it straight out?" I said, "I'd like a little of both." So the royalties kept coming in for about 13 years. [Inaudible.] But it was interesting as a way of keeping track of it. It's still being sold. And when I moved to Toronto, the people in the design department said, "Oh, Ted, your work has preceded you; Primavera is still selling your 'Celtic Fret,' and it's very popular here in Canada and many people have 'Celtic Fret' in their homes."
All right, I'm going to just say a little bit about pieces. Not very much, just a little bit. So that these pieces—I got into the study at Moore College because these relate to labyrinths, these three pieces. The bottom one actually is backwards. But these pieces are also open pieces, and I loved this idea that it really could be hung out a bit from the wall, and back-lighted, as well, to get more interest out of it, which is what I felt in that way of working.
At any rate, just that the labyrinth has been an idea for recent works. I did an exhibition at the Decorative—the Kemmerer Decorative Arts Museum in Bethlehem of labyrinths. [… –TH]
The mobile, of course inspired by Calder, is a piece that I did for actually a show at Fox Optical of paintings, and I did this piece for Fox Optical with lenses. And I love the idea of getting the light under this thing and then having it project onto the ceiling. If I get the right light under it, it projects beautifully onto the ceiling.
And I did visit Calder's residence in France when I was at Fontainebleau in 1955. I did not meet him, unfortunately. He was not home. But I met his wife and we had a very nice time visiting there. But of course, he was out of Philadelphia and I had really been excited about the motion in space.
Now, the circular pieces behind the loom over here, actually I built that loom. It's a six-foot loom. And I built that. It's very sturdy and made of maple. Very heavy. And I did lots of rugs on that loom of these pile kind, high pile, and did a lot of those when I was able to get Persian yarns quite reasonably. Now if I did those rugs, they would be thousands of dollars because wool has gone up so much. But behind that loom are two circular pieces, and I did those actually for an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts. So they're quite recent.
Over here on the wall, on the left is a piece that I call Blood Into Rivers. And that was done on this loom also. This large, heavy loom for rugs, I've also adapted for a draw loom, and so I'm able to do this kind of draw loom work on that large loom. So I'm able to get somewhat pictorial, somewhat representative. I've always loved checkerboards, and checkerboards that are not quite true are even more exciting for me. But this was part of the Red White Blue exhibition, Blood Into Rivers .
Now, this piece over here is from the Visual Rituals exhibition. They're actually torsos that are made from knotting. They're female torsos. And David McFadden juried an exhibition of pieces to go into SOFA [Sculpture Objects & Functional Art exhibition, Chicago], and this was one of the pieces. It's one of the few pieces he selected out of a group of 600 pieces that were submitted. So that has a little history.
And it's about lace. I've been interested in the idea of lace, and particularly over here is a piece called Lace Hiding Lace , which is really about relationships that are hidden. And the lace can represent—I think lace can represent femininity or something delicate. Lace is also something you put on the windows to hide or protect, and so it's dimensions of lace over lace. And so that—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: This is Helen Williams Drutt English continuing with side two of the second tape interviewing Ted Hallman on May 23 in the year 2006 in his "chapel," in quotes, in Lederach.
You know, before I forget and before you continue, Ted, what is your full, real name? We never discussed that.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, my gosh. Well, professionally, I use Ted.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right.
MR. HALLMAN: Ted Hallman—H-A-L-L-M-A-N. But my grandfather's name was Henry, my father's name was Henry, and I'm Henry III, Theodore II and Hallman. So I'm Henry Theodore Hallman.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Uh-huh. [Affirmative.] No II, III?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, sometimes I've used—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: III?
MR. HALLMAN: II.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: III?
MR. HALLMAN: Or—even III, because of being Henry III. But—[they laugh]—anyway—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: As long as you're not Henry VIII. [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: Exactly. But now professionally I'm just Ted Hallman.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: All right.
MR. HALLMAN: And—so there you go.
So, shall I continue around, looking at these pieces?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, since—the idea of labyrinth has struck me through my life at various times. I did this labyrinth show—and this is another piece from the labyrinth exhibition. There's a place of a far lower right—in the bottom margin in the far right, you can enter in the green and come up and meander through the entire piece, and you can move through these stairways that take you up through the fire and then take you out the other side, and you'll exit way up at the top on the green at the far upper left.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Does this work have a title?
MR. HALLMAN: It is Stepped Journey Through Fire [Lodoiaca, 2001].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Okay. Is it possible that we could get a selection of slides of selected works that are hung in this room to give to the Archives with the interview?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, since we're talking about—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
MR. HALLMAN: I think that's possible.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: If you have that.
MR. HALLMAN: As long as they don't have to be such high quality—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: No, no. Just so that they—
MR. HALLMAN: I have a Nikon camera but lighting can be a little problem over here.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right—unless you have slides available.
MR. HALLMAN: No—well, some I do.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MR. HALLMAN: We're doing more digital, you know, now. But—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, that's okay. Digital would do all right.
MR. HALLMAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: That would be—
MR. HALLMAN: Now, this piece over here is called Makayta .
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]
MR. HALLMAN: It is an energetic piece. And when I was working with interlacing tapes, which I enjoy doing so much, working with tapes and interlacing because it's sort of like harkening back to weaving. The tapes are woven, and then I can interweave those. It's like weaving on weaving on weaving on weaving. But it also has fringing. And this is more about energy, working with energy. And there's a lot of writing underneath, stories that I had that I wanted to work with more as a texture of writing and sort of the energy of writing, of the writing but not—that the story is, you know, such a literal thing. So I love working with writing.
This is an early piece working with strips that I did in California and—interwoven in a twill—[inaudible].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What is the title of that work?
MR. HALLMAN: That is a portrait of me, actually.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It is.
MR. HALLMAN: A self-portrait.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I see that. I now see that, with your hand and your head.
MR. HALLMAN: Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.] So it was a study of—in weaving, you're always working with verticality and horizontality. And to deal with that in a design way in this portrait, I was playing with the places where the portrait could be straight horizontal, where it could go straight vertically, and push it, you know, into places of verticality and horizontality.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Ted, we're going to have to stop at this moment.
MR. HALLMAN: Do you have a minute for the jewelry pieces?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Absolutely. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: All right. I love working with wire, and I've done some—many pieces with wire. And, of course, the whole business of minerals and gemstones keeps coming back into the work.
And over there on the window, you'll also see a little piece of wire with little fulcrums of glass. That was a design for a fountain, which I was commissioned for a residence of a landscape architect over near Doylestown.
But the wire—working with wire and gemstones—this has been ever more enriching. I did these—I've done a lot of pieces in frames earlier with fabric and threads, so I've enjoyed setting up grids and putting things into them, including stones and bones and all kinds of things—with—in these grids. So this is an extension of all of that.
And then somewhere along the line, I also learned about the breastplates of the [Jerusalem –TH] priests, and [… these were –TH] breastplates.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, the breastplates—did they come from the chasubles or are they different?
MR. HALLMAN: Michael, do you know more about the history of the breastplate?
I think that in the Jewish tradition—
MR. BARNETT: Well, in Judaism, at the temple in Jerusalem, the high priest wore the breastplate with the 12 [tribes –TH]—
MR. HALLMAN: Tribes.
MR. BARNETT: —stones, which represented the 12 tribes of Israel.
MR. HALLMAN: So when I heard about that, it clicked. I liked that aspect. It made it also possible that some of these had a practical resonance. But they're mostly pieces to refract light, to work with color, to work with the energies of these elements. In other words, you have the wires and the stones and the interlacing of them.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But that also connects with your interest into moving into realms that extend beyond the known factor.
MR. HALLMAN: Definitely. Definitely.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Whether it's with human beings or materials or—
MR. HALLMAN: Oh yes. And I have a—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: —or the hand. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: A friend near Toronto saw these pieces and she actually jumped up and down, and she said, "Ted, you have invented something. Not only are these stones projecting their healing energy, but because of the copper wires—and even the gold plating," she said, "You are projecting this energy out into the room, and there's a convective aspect." She said, "The energy comes back, and it's like a renewing machine if you stand in front of this."
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We're going to end this interview for today, but I want you to think about your life after Cranbrook. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Life after Cranbrook—
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Life after Cranbrook, right.
MR. HALLMAN: That's a pretty good place to stop.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Is that all right?
MR. HALLMAN: I think so.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, I think so. And then we will continue.
[SECOND SESSION; June 3, 2008]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Ted, we mused about the fact that what happened to your life after Cranbrook [Academy of Art, MI], and it suddenly occurred to me that around 1960 or '61, there was an exhibition in New York called "Object-Environment," and in that exhibition was a skylight that you were commissioned to do for Tallheimer and Dwight, if I am not mistaken. And that skylight was the catalyst for our dialogue and the first time that I ever saw colored discs of plastic interrupting a structured linen-and-jute environment. I would like you to discuss that work and how that work evolved in your creative life.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, the whole idea of working with transparent materials came about, really, through my working with color because, even before I did that, I was trying to use the most gaudy reds, the most gaudy greens, and put complementaries together, oranges and blues. And I did some checkerboard things; that one checkerboard thing ended up in the Metropolitan [Museum of Art] collection, actually, in New York. But it was really just struggling to get this luminescent color in textile.
So while I was at Cranbrook [Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI], I took a walk after a snowstorm. And the Italian gardeners there had thrown copper sulfate crystals on the snow because somebody told them to put salt on the snow, and they went and got what they thought was salt out of the bin there, which was something they had been using in the swimming pools. But — so they got the wrong thing and they put these blue crystals all over the snow. And all I could do was get down and pull these — pick up all these turquoise, incredible turquoise, transparent-colored crystals and take as many back to the weave shop as I could. Even though I was a painting major there, I had this minor in weaving that was very powerful for me.
So the first thing I tried to do was to see how I could put these crystals into a web that would hold them and permit you to get it up somehow and get backlighting in there. So I found a plastic yarn that I had gotten, I don't remember from where; it was of vinyl-coated fiberglass, gray. And I made a weaving structure with little pockets in it, and I started pushing these little crystals in that, and so that was the first experience with [transparencies –TH].
The next thing was — I hung that up in my dorm room, and as the winter came in and the condensation and everything is happening, the piece started to melt with all the water — [laughs] — what's happening. And if I had been able to control that, that might have turned out to be an interesting thing unto itself. But it wasn't looking as exciting as initially. So the next thing I went toward was crystals, you know, like quartz crystals and rose quartz crystals and that sort of thing. So I went over to the [Cranbrook] Science Institute and started tumbling stones and polishing stones because to buy them already finished was too expensive. [… –TH]
Then, I got into Bakelite and cut sheets of Bakelite, and it was a softer material and in those days, you could not get — you could only get green and blue. So I did compositions with green and blue stripes in Bakelite, and I actually still have that piece here. I cut notches in so it would fit into the fabric, so that it would turn out to be almost like a stained-glass effect, where very little light would come through only through the Bakelite. But then I got into acrylic plastics and believe me, that was a very limited field in those days, in the late '50s, '57, '56 I started.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So was that commission your first commission?
MR. HALLMAN: No, the commission from Tallheimer came much later, after I actually evolved pieces with shaped elements in them at Cranbrook, exhibited the first one in '58 in "Young Americans", and got a prize for excellence in the show, the textile prize. The ones with circles actually came quite a bit later, and they were in the '60s as well. So much of it evolved in the '60s because I started getting commissions.
The piece that Jack commissioned was for a skylight for his residence, and we developed circular hoops with transparent elements in them, and the top elements in the top group were translucent, white and cream, and then on the bottom level were transparent elements so you could look as you walked underneath, you could see the change of the colors. And the top layer would hold the light in a way, the top translucent layer. I don't know if I described that well or not.
But anyway, a photograph of that piece appeared in one of ACC [American Craft Council] bulletins. But that piece itself was not in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts [Portland, OR]. I did two pieces for the Museum of Contemporary Crafts that were hoops from that idea, but it wasn't Jack's actual piece that was the one you saw. So there were two subsequent exhibitions there, different ones, in which hoop pieces appeared. And I don't know which that might have been, you say in —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: In '60 or '61, at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, and an exhibition called Object-Environment, I believe.
MR. HALLMAN: There was an Objects USA show, but that didn't open there.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: This was not Objects USA. This was an object relationship to the environment, and the other piece that I remember in that exhibition was Don Mason's Doorway for Sterling Hayden.
MR. HALLMAN: Hmm. But I can't tell you which piece that —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I know it was in that exhibition because I saw it and I can still see the piece.
Now, were you teaching at Moore at that time? And if not, when did you begin teaching at Moore College [of Art & Design, Philadelphia PA]?
MR. HALLMAN: I started at Moore in — you know, it was an interesting situation. I have to look in my notes a second here because I have to get the date, but it was in the — it was about '64 I taught at Moore, they said, "Can you come?" And shall I tell the story?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: If you wish.
MR. HALLMAN: [Laughs.] They said the textile department had deteriorated down to four students and there were four teachers, two of whom were retiring. And they said, if you can develop a program here, this program will survive. If you don't, we will take it out of our curriculum. So it was a challenge, but the wonderful thing was, they did not have a weaving studio, they did not have a printer design studio, and there was space for me to create that there.
So I insisted that we get enough looms so that every student would have a loom. And I was hired there in '64 to teach drawing and color and design whilst I was in the midst of recreating the textile department. So my —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Who hired you?
MR. HALLMAN: Doctor — sorry, his name may come to me, can't tell you just right off the top. But it was a challenge and when we opened the department in '65, we had about 14 people. We had a lot of people right from the beginning, 12 to 14 people.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Now, I remember something very particular at that time. I remember visiting you in the textile department and you had created a house, like a hut, a structured environment.
MR. HALLMAN: That was in '69. That was an environmental study that I did for an exhibition coming up at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts [NY], that really was in '70, opened in 1970, but I was doing it in '69. I had this project of making a web around a six-foot cube and then fringing the whole thing on the inside. And so I thought well, maybe some of the students would enjoy helping me with this project because it had a definite place it was going to go, and it did turn out that I think two or three students really got into assisting me with that. But mostly, I did it myself and we sent that to the exhibition "Contemplation Environments" at Contemporary Crafts.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So you're teaching at Moore and the — you know, the ability to exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts at that time, also happened during the time in which the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen —
MR. HALLMAN: Yes, it was blooming.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. So I would like you to discuss your participation in that organization and how you felt that organization, in some way, mentored the craft community.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, the — I thought it was wonderful. You had a wonderful idea of getting this going because it seemed to me that everything that I was going to connect with was in New York, and all of the focus seemed to be out of our area. And also, I was interested — we were developing students also to go into the industry, if they chose, but everything was in New York. There was a little bit of industry, though, in Philadelphia too.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: The textile — the Stetsons and the Philadelphia Textile Institute, on Schoolhouse Lane was still training people for industry and Jacquard looms. Remember that? And LenoreTawney had an exhibition there in Jacquard, remember that?
MR. HALLMAN: I didn't see that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And Stetson's industry, the hat people, had children from the Stetson family studying at the Philadelphia Textile Institute.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So that they would go into industry, and also Philadelphia was surrounded — and north Philadelphia with knitting mills.
MR. HALLMAN: That's true, but it diminished. And I had some connections with Kent Manufacturing Company myself and also Orinoca.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And Fleischer knitting mills?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, I don't know — I didn't know that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, well that's Jill Bonovitz path.
MR. HALLMAN: Is that right?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yeah, her father was Robert Fleischer. And his sister is now married to Ralph Roberts, who was the man who started Comcast. And the Fleischer Art Memorial —
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I was just going to ask you about the art memorial because I just went down there about two weeks ago and said, "Do you still have sketching here, you know, that you can" — and they said, "Yes, in the winter you can do it."
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It's a very rich legacy.
MR. HALLMAN: Because I used to go down there and sketch all of the time when I was at Tyler [School of Fine Art, PA].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And I just remember the young man who went to the Philadelphia Textile Institute. His name was Victor Chezler. I think his father had something to do with the Stetsons.
MR. HALLMAN: Interesting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So there was a real textile aura.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, between that time that I graduated from Cranbrook and the time that I started at Moore, I did teaching there at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences, it was in those days. But my timing there must have not coordinated with Lenore's. My meeting with Lenore was —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, she had only an exhibition, but she went there to look at the Jacquard looms. I remember that in particular. I would like you to talk about your philosophy of teaching.
MR. HALLMAN: But let me finish, though.
May I finish though?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: But I just was, you know, saying that Philadelphia had these sort of commercial things going, but it seemed that the Philadelphia — the PCPC [Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen] was going to bring more focus to Philadelphia, and it did. I mean, you really were amazing because you set up exhibitions. It seemed to me, in my recollection, that there was a connective thing to architecture, too, that, you know, I kept running over to that architects' bookstore and stuff.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We used the American Institute of Architect's gallery.
MR. HALLMAN: We had some interconnections with architecture, which I really have always felt was wonderful because I love to meet with architects, talk to architects, you know, interact with them [… –TH].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It was Samuel Carothers who was the president of the American — the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects who was our liaison for using the gallery at 17th and Samson for our exhibition. So we used their gallery and we used the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
MR. HALLMAN: But my major idea here is that it brought — I was excited to be somewhat part of that, you know, bringing focus to Philadelphia in textiles and crafts.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: In some strange way, your piece in New York was the catalyst for PCPC because I saw it in New York and came back to Philadelphia to find out the name of the artists who had created the piece and to find out the whereabouts of that artist, only to discover that you lived a block and a half from my house. And it infuriated me to know that I could live in a city and not know the resources that existed in my city. So that moment, in some way, was a very important moment for me.
MR. HALLMAN: Wow, that's exciting to hear about, very exciting. Thank you for telling me. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You are welcome. I would like you to discuss your philosophy of teaching and why it was so central to your existence.
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, Helen, I have to make two confessions. I think I'm a slow [piano –TH] learner — [they laugh] — because in high school, when I was trying to learn the scales and play [… –TH] comfortably, I thought, "If I could teach this, it would bring it into my experience more and more and I can make it more a part of my being." So I love teaching, even teaching high school students. I redesigned how to go from the [piano –TH] keyboard, I had made drawings and charts that you could turn on your side, to show how the keys became the staff and had little felt notes that you could take and stick them up on the staff [… –TH].
So it was early on that I was really interested in it [teaching –TH]. But, of course, my family were teachers, too. I mean, too many of my family were teachers.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, not too many.
MR. HALLMAN: [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Not too many. I don't know if we discussed the influence of your father. I think we did in the previous —
MR. HALLMAN: Well, certainly in the interest in painting, my interest in painting, because my dad had art classes and he had the most jazzy people come in on Saturday mornings. My sister, Ann — and I attend[ed … –TH]. So we loved it because we were the kids in with all of these adults. They'd tramp around the countryside and I remember —here funny thoughts pop up, but through cow pastures. And what you have to do to go through a cow pasture with paints and [… canvasses –TH].
And, you know, it was wonderful. I had such support at home in my creative work because I was able to work on the dining room table. Mother would say, "You've got to push your stuff off to the end of the table so we can have supper — and you can push it back afterwards — but you've just got to get off so we can have supper." So both of my parents were very supportive for my funny projects.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Aside from your creative life, you've always found a way to develop interest in music, singing, and the music and the singing, in some way, has infiltrated into the actual creative designs of your work. I would like you to discuss this aspect of your soul.
MR. HALLMAN: All right. Well, you know, I always say, I started weaving when I was a Cub Scout. And I certainly started playing the piano when I was five. And it was not just that I was interested in the music, but there was always this other part; I was interested in the instruments, too, and instruments that I wasn't even playing. And so I had a kind of a deep interest in music.
Now, I started weaving seriously after high school by building a loom. And I rebuilt harpsichords. And some people would say, "Well, Ted, it's all the same. Don't you see? The harpsichord has all of these strings on it and the loom has all of these strings on it." But, somehow, yes, there was something of a visual relationship of harpsichord to loom, it was different.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I don't want you to move away from those pieces that you did when you were in Canada that had an amazing relationship to music.
MR. HALLMAN: Okay. They were a little later, actually, though, much later.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. But they were inside of you for a long time.
MR. HALLMAN: I think so.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: They could not have evolved so profoundly consistently in your relative, you know, esthetic intention had they not been there. They're not spontaneous by any means.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it's generally easy to talk about, but maybe not so specifically, but, you know, when — I was so interested in tuning instruments and so forth. And there's a geometrical aspect there in music of bringing things into pitch. And certainly there is a geometrical aspect to weaving. And although there wasn't a one-to-one relationship in those pieces that I did as inspired for music often would take geometric forms that I would engineer twills to create because twill — I love twills; I don't know why. They bring the diagonal into warp and weft. It's diagonal and you can do all kinds of — circular stuff, you can play with it, and engineer them.
But, certainly, the twills are geometrical things. And, in some cases, I actually had to figure out every thread on the loom in relationship to how the geometry would work. And I think it's very much like the underpinning of tuning and temperament and various ways that music rests on certain mathematical structures of sound and, in this case, the visual structures rest on some mathematical thing. So that when I came to work with the expression of music, I couldn't separate the geometry necessarily from — or the geometry helped me to express what I was feeling from this music of the Star-Scape Singers, who were very — Kenneth Mills was working with a concept of an open voice that was different from other vocals.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Tell us more about Kenneth Mills.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, Kenneth Mills I met in Berkeley [CA] in '75 and got to know him as a person. He was a musician, initially. And, at some point, he — through his intuition, broke into ways of becoming more shamanic, moving through other planes in his experience. But he was a very kind, loving person, who was no doubt a charismatic person. And he talked about his projects in Toronto [Canada] in music and poetry, and inspired me to go to Toronto and I got a job at the Ontario College of Art and Design to be in the ambiance of his lecturing and music. And he became interested in — more interested in visual arts, maybe through me, too, because I did all of these projects relative to his work.
In two cases, he said, "Ted, these 16 pieces, I feel, could be more complete if you did two more pieces and this kind of finishing, that the whole [… group –TH] would move consciously to an ending." So he would sketch designs and then I'd use them as inspiration for those final pieces. So, did I stay on track?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: A little bit.
MR. HALLMAN: [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I'm not going away so I'm letting you off-track a bit.
MR. HALLMAN: I can say a few more things about that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right, but I would like you to talk about Kenneth Mills and the performances and relationships to the twill pieces because there seems to be a unity between them.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, just that in experiencing that music, a lot of it on a lake in Canada — [… –TH] and I somehow would be hearing these sounds and looking at the lakes and seeing these forms, you know, that were occurring. And there were some islands that I could see the images of the twill expressing the sound.
So, I don't know; it was maybe so personal because I had been working with twills a lot and even before I went to Canada I had done a very complex twill design that Jack Larsen wanted to put into production. And the instructions were, we have no repeat [… limit –TH]. And even though I had had industrial experience, I was told by the design studio in New York — Larsen Design Studio, that I could just keep on going and going and going, but I said this is not going to be done in any commercial way that I've experienced.
So, I went ahead and designed this whole thing. So, you had almost a yard without a repeat in this pattern and then it would go into repeat. So, as it came about, they were having it woven in Ireland. And they called it "Celtic Fret" because it was very labyrinth-like and maze-like. But in the actual repeat, they had to reduce the repeat size to a little more than 12 inches, but, nonetheless, I was disappointed that Jack didn't ask me to do the reduction because when they reduced it, it got all these Hs in it.
And so, okay, it's a signature piece, but I would have much rather had it more, you know, so that you wouldn't find images in it, but nonetheless, that piece was in the line for, I don't know, 13 to 15 years, which was very interesting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I'm going back to Kenneth Mills and the twills. In my memory bank, did you encourage the performances to also occur during the exhibitions of the twills?
MR. HALLMAN: We used — at the Royal Ontario Museum, where the exhibition began in '79, that opening was celebrated by bringing the Starscape Singers into this fiber-art gallery and it was so interesting because the cutoffs of the singers, you know, would be very quick, for example, and then you'd hear the echo moving throughout the whole, this old museum —you could hear the sound going through all the galleries, all the Egyptian galleries and everything else and then they would come back in [as an echo –TH].
It was really sensational to hear that in that space. But, I did some things. I did at the Roerich Museum in New York, the Nicholas Roerich Museum. I did a lecture in which I showed those 16 pieces that I called "Sunrise Titles and Twills" and I gave some musical background. So, I used it in some of my presentations so that people would get a sense of the feeling that inspired me while they were looking at the pieces.
And so, I used that a bit. Does that answer your question?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, and your interest in music has also incorporated the frame of the harpsichord and the harp? Did you not build your harpsichord at one time?
MR. HALLMAN: I rebuilt harpsichords. I rebuilt a virginal while I was at Cranbrook. And I rebuilt a harpsichord in the shop at Cranbrook too. And I got another harpsichord at Cranbrook and I built a positive organ that Temple Painter actually played — a positive, small, portable, medieval type pipe organ that Temple Painter used — he actually bought it — but he used it in a performance at the Philadelphia Art Museum.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So, your interest in music and your interest in art —
[END TAPE SIDE A 01.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: — you know, would you say, kind of, mental, cerebral interest is not also divorced from your interest in the body because there was a time when you were a serious student of Dr. Ida Rolf. Would you like to discuss that period and what brought you to that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I remember when you started Rolfing because you [… Rolfed –TH] my leg. Can you still do that?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I believe we were discussing your interest in the body and, in particular, initially, your interest in Rolfing as a technical means of working with the body. And I remember when you talked about studying with Ida Rolf? Is that correct? Would you kindly explain?
MR. HALLMAN: There is a back history to that too because my interests seem to go back to my childhood and my parents then to an osteopath in Lansdale [PA]. And I saw this osteopath working and I had treatments. And I think it was the hands, working with his hands and the way he would manipulate. So, when I was graduating from high school, I was the valedictorian. I had these scholarships and I was struggling to see whether I should go into osteopathy, which is a medical degree, or, whether I should go to Tyler Arts School where my father had gone when I was a young boy and had developed this heartfelt feeling for.
So, I opted toward going to Tyler. However, this interest in body work has surfaced intermittingly through my life and actually there are other little points along the line. When I was teaching at Penland [School of Crafts, Penland, NC], I had this student, Betsy Fox, who lived at Esalen Institute, and she was a masseuse there — but she talked about Ida Rolf.
And we ended up, the whole class attended, every student in my class attending ended up having a massage with her. So, it was almost like, you know, getting this radiation fromDr. Rolf. And so, it was one of my reasons for wanting to go to California. And I asked at Moore, if I could have a leave of absence to go have a California period in my life. And I asked Dr. Brice is the name — [inaudible] — I ask him —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Millard Brice.
MR. HALLMAN: Is that his first name?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Millard, yes.
MR. HALLMAN: And I ask him on several occasions if I could have a break from teaching because I needed to have this California period and he said, "Oh, Ted I don't know. I don't know how we could get somebody to fill in, you know? How would we do that, you know?" So, I said, "Well, you know, if you're not going to make this work into the, you know — the easy way of doing it and going away for a while, two years maybe and coming back —" I said, "I think I'm just going to have to resign," which I ultimately did to have my California period, which really revolved around this body work.
And, it turns out, that there was a lot involved in working with Dr. Ida Rolf. But I met her, we talked, and I had many Rolfings in the meantime. But to get into her process, I had to become a masseur myself. And I became a member of the California Massage Association and all these preliminaries before I could actually study with her, but she said, "Well, Ted, I really want you as a Rolfer because of your hands." And so she said, "I have all these people here who are psychologists, psychiatrists," and she said, "They just can't come through their hands. It's just — they don't — you know, they've got it all intellectually," but she said, "You're really the kind of person I'd like to work with."
So I did the preliminaries and started that training in '71 and — just amazing — finding about the body and actually doing this. So in four years, I hung up my shingle, so to speak, in Berkeley, even though I was weaving and teaching in all these schools in Berkeley simultaneously, you might say, almost simultaneously because I'd mentioned — [inaudible]. I started getting connected with all these schools where I was teaching you but I also was doing Rolfing.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So you were teaching for Trudy [Guermonpres] from London?
MR. HALLMAN: She asked me to fill in for her.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Did you know her?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, we knew each other in a very — not real deep way but we connected. You know, we connected emotionally.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Do you have any remembrances of her? Because there's so little.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, she, of course — one of the things — it's funny how one connects. We connected over health foods. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: That doesn't surprise me.
MR. HALLMAN: Because she lived along the side of this incline in California, as many people did, but they had a garden, she and her husband. And he was raising all this — we didn't say organic in those days so much, but it was natural food and we talked about food, a lot. That was almost more than about our textile fit.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Did she ever discuss the Bauhaus [School, Germany] and her —
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I didn't feel — as we close as we felt —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Her movement to America?
MR. HALLMAN: As close as we felt, together, in this. I just felt it — a little uncomfortable asking her questions about it.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Really? How sad.
MR. HALLMAN: I know.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: How very sad.
MR. HALLMAN: I know.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Because I think that part of our history in the field is — has not really been written yet.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: The whole influence of the, you know, of the Europeans and the Asians coming to America during that time and how it altered the craft movement. We were teaching through the presence of, you know, people like Trudy [Guermonpres] — [inaudible] — Heinemann, Annie Alberts and Joseph Alberx, in addition to, you know, Mies Van der Rohe, and Albert Einstein and Albert Kaufmann and all — and Eric Kohler. You know, it was not just potters and ceramic artists and metalsmiths and Jack Ripken coming from Denmark, but architects, designers, filmmakers; there's a history there that has to be written.
However, were there other —
MR. HALLMAN: Well there was a — we had empathy. We had empathy. We felt like we were heart friends and some things, I just — if it had come up, you know, if she had brought it forth, I would have let it flow.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We're going to now go back. So you had your sojourn in California. Were there other travels in your life that were essential to your emotional and creative development? And spiritual development?
MR. HALLMAN: Were there any travels that I did that weren't. [Laughs.] Because —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Kindly discuss them.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, here we go. I'll just say, you know, I was a different kind of kid.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You keep going back to your childhood —
MR. HALLMAN: It goes all the way through
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And we want to go life.
MR. HALLMAN: It's all the way through.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: All right.
MR. HALLMAN: I always was looking for the utopia and I found it everywhere I went. You know, I sort of didn't like coming back to —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So where did you go?
MR. HALLMAN: So-called on reality.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Where did you go?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Where did you journey, Mr. Theodore Hallman, Jr.?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I really journeyed wherever I could, in a way. I went to —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You're talking about —
MR. HALLMAN: Jamaica.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Mental journeys. [Laughs.]
MR. HALLMAN: I went to Jamaica because I got a job for things Jamaican through International Labor Organization; and it was quite an experience. And I went down there on numerous occasions. I set up a studio there and then I went down — I showed you the design there — and loved a lot of the experience. And it fed me and it was taking some of the stuff that I knew commercially and putting it into practice and in a very practical way.
And I went to Europe, went to Fontainebleau in 1955. That was fabulous. I met NadiaBoulanger, the amazing teacher of many American composers and had the fortune of attending one of her dinner parties. I went to the [Alexander] Calder's residence — [inaudible] — in France and I had a wonderful time meeting wonderful people [and studio –TH].
I studied with Rollande Falcinelli — pipe organ and turned pages for her at Sacre Coeur — in Paris while she was playing concerts and other things. I was with her at Notre Dame, when she played at Notre Dame. So I don't know; I went to, in Paris, I went [… the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts and Music –TH] and met — [inaudible] —wonderful people who were teaching [… there –TH].
Then in teaching in Toronto, I developed programs for my students because our school had studios in Florence [Italy] that they never used in the summertime. So I thought, "Oh, here we go," so I got started taking students to Florence and I did four trips to Florence realizing how rich Como was for printed textile design [… –TH].
So I took my students to Como as well and what I found out was the students that came back from these three-week or four-week sessions [… that they –TH] were always ahead of the other students. It was fabulous. I could just see how they would grow — a couple students of those people who were in the class would trigger everybody else, bring them onto working more efficiently, more directly — they were more involved in their work. I also took students to Paris, [… –TH] Kyoto, and Tokyo and so forth. [… –TH]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: During what decades were these travels?
MR. HALLMAN: Never stops. [They laugh.] Well, during the European thing, well — Fontainebleau was '55 and I got a Pew, Mrs. Pew, Walter C. Pew did a one-year scholarship at Tyler to study at Fontainebleau. How I got that, I don't know. I just — it's a miracle because that was just amazing. But, so that was the first — my first — I'm going back just to visit — Fontainebleau. I like France very much. I keep studying French, I keep studying Italian, even yesterday, to keep — my German is [… going –TH] and I have a little of this, a little of that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: What is your fascination with Santa Fe?
MR. HALLMAN: The light, I think, is incredible there. And the altitude which seems to, you know, have something else to do with the light, but there's a quality of light there that is very powerful. I feel that there's a lot of ultraviolet in it, that's the way I describe it, because I see beyond a regular spectrum there. And it's a little bit like Mediterranean light, I think, that it's energizing.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It's golden.
MR. HALLMAN: It energizes me — that kind of light.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: When did you — when did you begin going to Santa Fe?
MR. HALLMAN: I went — I've gone a couple of times. I went during the '60s briefly because I went — I went after Cranbrook to see Alice Parrott. Alice had a reputation at Cranbrook for being a colorist, a color lady and so I kind of liked to see what she was doing. Now, she was making a life with her weaving so that was my contact in the '60s. And unfortunately, I didn't meet Georgia O'Keefe. I had the opportunity but I was leaving the next day. I kicked myself too many times since because I would have loved to have met her.
But anyway, going back then in '92 on my sabbatical, I went back to Santa Fe, a lot because of Mary Kahlenberg. I developed a friendship with her at some conferences and various places we would keep seeing each other. And she'd always say, "Oh Ted, I have a guest house; you know, you can just come, you just stay as long as you want." And so in '92, I decided to take my sabbatical in Santa Fe. I forgot you could be on sabbatical — [inaudible]. But finally, we got this sabbatical going and I stayed with Mary while I found a residence and so it was really wonderful. She would show me her collections and we'd talk and we could just talk textiles.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Have you maintained that relationship?
MR. HALLMAN: Yes, and we also danced. We like to dance.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: All right.
MR. HALLMAN: So we'd go to [… "Rodeo Nights" to dance the two-step –TH].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So you continued your journeys to —
MR. HALLMAN: Santa Fe. Now, I met Michael Barnett in '92 in Santa Fe. And, you know, we became good friends and lifetime friends — and found out that we were born about 20 minutes [distance –TH] apart. He was born close to Bethlehem and I was born in Quakertown, but, of course, different times. At any rate, Michael and I have been back to Santa Fe every summer since '92.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And you continue going back.
MR. HALLMAN: So we continue going back, yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Are you able to work in Santa Fe?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, interestingly enough, Michael made a loom. Michael has been interested in looms. He made a loom in a weekend project in El Rito [NM], which is a school where I've actually taught — [inaudible]. So we had a loom there that we leave at EVFAC, Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. They use it through the year. When we go out in the summer, we take the loom apart, bring it to wherever we are, put it together, and that's where I weave some of these rugs that — not that top one, but some of those that are in that stack there are rugs that I have made in Santa Fe.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Are there publications, national or international publications, that have been of interest to you during the course of your career?
MR. HALLMAN: Journals, magazines?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Craft magazines, art magazines. Have any of them been of interest to you?
MR. HALLMAN: I get annoyed with these journals, for some reason or another — I mean, art magazines. And, you know, maybe it was terrible teaching, but Marianne [Strengell] Hammarstrom at Cranbrook, my teacher there, she said, "Okay, now that you're here, I don't want you to look at any magazines or any books for at least a year." [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Great. Have there been peers?
MR. HALLMAN: So that has been powerful for me because I encourage students to work out of themselves more than out of looking at magazines.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Have there been figures in the art world that have been your mentors?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, certainly, this Marianne was. People would always complain about her being such a terrible teacher; but, for me, she was perfect because she kind of would say, oh, Ted, that's so exciting. Think about doing more with this or think about that or something. But she really had a way of helping you be yourself and your own expression.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Did you have relationships with other figures in your field like Lenore Tawney?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And what were those — what kind of dialogue did you have with these individuals?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I taught at the Chicago Art Institute and had the opportunity of meeting Claire Zeisler and going to her place, but not often and I didn't know her well. But I found her very interesting and her collections. You know, speak about people with collections. You could just sit there and walk around her place for hours, this penthouse apartment, but what a collection of art from Africa and [Europe –TH] —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: [Robert] Rauschenberg, [Joan] Miró, Louise Bourgeois baskets.
MR. HALLMAN: Do you know her collection?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Very well. I knew her very well.
MR. HALLMAN: What happened to her collections?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, many of the works were given to museums. I remember, if I'm not mistaken, that the William Wiley — not the William Wiley — but the Franz Kline that was in the hallway when you ascended from the — when you, you know, got out of the elevator, went to the Chicago Art Institute when she was about 80 and she didn't realize that it was going to leave while she was alive.
So, when the Franz Kline left, she bought a William Wiley for that spot. Unfortunately, her daughter Joan Florsheim-Binkley died at a very early age, but she had three children. Collections were dispersed among the three and many works were given to museums. Then I suppose, a lot of works were also sold.
MR. HALLMAN: What an exciting person she was!
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: She was amazing, totally amazing. Did you have a relationship with — Lenore Tawney?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, definitely. She was in the body category. We went — but I can't tell you the year — it was in the '60s. I think I have a postcard of hers in there that might give a date, but around that time — sometime in the '60s — she talked about — I was with her in New York — [inaudible] — and she talked about going to Monhegan Island in Maine for a study with Charlotte Selver and Charles Brooks.
And it was about zen movement, movement and zen. And so, I said, "Well, you know, how would it work if we went together?" Well, she thought it was great. So, we went to Monhegan for seven days and stayed at the Trailing Yew Inn and took all these classes with Charlotte Selver. And it was very esoteric work; at that time [… –TH] — "let me give you my arm" and you would lie there and give someone your arm and then you would learn how to give your head to [a partner –TH] who wanted to lift your head.
And we would lift these pebbles from the beach. We were out looking at pebbles and lifting pebbles and then we would lift somebody's foot. And we were relating body to all the environment and it was very interesting, actually. That was one of the first, our first —
And then, she started — she came to Penland one time with Toshiko [Takaezu] and I and that was a very other intense time with Lenore because [we were together every day in Monhegan –TH].
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And did you have a relationship with Toshiko as well?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh — still do.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Still do? You still go to see her?
MR. HALLMAN: Oh, yeah, yeah, definitely.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: If you had to project about what is central to your life and what you would like to have happen for yourself in the future, how would you verbalize that?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it's mainly to be more used — in a good sense, used — because few workshops come up here — Ideas and a few workshops — there's one in San Diego coming up you know for next year or something like that. And there's a one-person show coming up here in, like, maybe, two years, but it's just not quite enough.
I would like to accelerate for myself, that interaction. It's funny, the interaction with the outside world, so to speak, because I must have my own, sort of, integration time and so forth, but it's that outreach part that I would like to somehow just sort of happen. I don't know how that just sort of happens. I don't want to necessarily make it happen so much, but I just like it when it happens.
And I guess it's coming back from Toronto. Now we're back eight years from Toronto and it's sort of still reentering into the United States because I just vowed I was not going to keep running to New York to try to make things happen or keep running to here and there to make things happen. I just want to see if things are going to evolve or what will evolve, but in an acceleration of my career because I'm not — I'm still doing my thing, you know, and it may or may not indicate what trend somebody else is doing.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: The past 45 years? [They laugh.] Have you perceived any changes in the world which surrounds your creative life, that are — you know, that mark a certain transition in ideas and relationships?
MR. HALLMAN: That's a big question. [Laughs.] I have to think about that one. Are you thinking of some like pivotal places or ideas or something?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Shifts in emphasis in changing in the — in the art world. I mean the changes in work itself. I mean, you know, if we were in the '60s or early '70s, we couldn't possibly name the five to eight great textile artists that we knew. Where are we today? And what is the quality?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it's different. It's so different and —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: The whole time sequence and — [inaudible].
MR. HALLMAN: And the computer has had such an incredible effect on everything, really.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: They don't use dictionaries anymore. They just push a button right now for the word they need.
MR. HALLMAN: And how to spell it. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And how to spell it.
MR. HALLMAN: Yes.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: In trying to put some kind of culmination on this discussion, what are your thoughts?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, just that you know, doing installations and environmental studies and so forth, [always developing my interest, –TH] I think I got into it very early because of the contemplation and we saw that, we said that [meditation environment –TH] that we saw, which was really a meditation environment.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right. What would you like to do for the future?
MR. HALLMAN: Certainly, what I'd like to do — I'd like to do some architectural things, [… –TH] I want to do a lot of installations or environmental things.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: But could you find contentment here in this space which has such a sense of embracing one mentally and emotionally?
MR. HALLMAN: I do. I do find this —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You talk about acceleration —
MR. HALLMAN: And going out. I want to also find more outgoing things happening. Not that I want to cut off this experience. I like this experience. We've had some time in Ireland, you know, and going into some of those old buildings has been so exciting. I love old buildings, dilapidated buildings, but one has to be very careful. I mean even here, we have to be careful because of mold.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: I thought of falling rocks and stuff. [They laugh.] So I would like to thank you for this opportunity to move into the inner thoughts —
[END SIDE B TAPE 01.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: — to move into the inner thoughts, the inner thoughts and to recapture some of the moments of the past into — I think if there are — is there anything that you would like to say before we end this dialogue?
MR. HALLMAN: Well, I find that teaching is very exciting because that interaction with people, that triggers things within myself too. But I don't mean that I'm taking their ideas. But it's just that interaction with people is very exciting for me in my life and in my work. And I think that that has been very strong for me working with people, teaching. And also going back to the body work —
MR. HALLMAN: Okay, I wanted to include while we were talking about the body stuff or connect this in with the body stuff my interest in movement studies. We did this at Penland and we had occasionally a movement teacher come to Penland and I was involved in movement studies there. But also in California, Anne Halprin, I studied it there and the relationship of movement to textiles and how that can integrate with teaching and helping students' thoughts — helping me, helping students. The interest with working with textiles in the air, in movement, in draping, as in clothing, and working with textiles and with movement — is related to the body work — and so this goes on as well in my own work. And so just as part of that same breath, I just wanted to say that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: During the course of years, you have had contact with many well-known figures, such as yourself, and the world of crafts, you know, people like Yvonne Bobrowicz, who lived close to you on Spruce Street and who also went to Cranbrook, Rudolf Staffel from Tyler, Paula and Robert Winokur, yes. These were all part of your community of relationships. And it would be interesting to hear you address those relationships.
MR. HALLMAN: Thank you because my friends have been very influential and very meaningful in my life. And there have been clusters of people that have come out of different kinds of situations, that as you say, Tyler and the people who came from Tyler and the people you've mentioned, and I don't need to mention again particularly, but Rudolf certainly was a powerful influence in my life. He gave me a kind of support that — I would have been a potter, I'm sure, except that I just knew that wasn't my medium. But because of the way I felt and worked with him, I could be so strong. And our dialogue was wonderful. So he gave me a lot of confidence in my being, you know, who I am, what I can do and working with this medium.
So Tyler, also more recently, RebeccaMedel, I've really appreciated her being an acquaintance, not so much of a friend. Maija Grotell, also Cranbrook, was kind of "leaving the plane" already when I took a minor in pottery with her. But she sat and spoke with me for quite long periods of time about my work in weaving, which is interesting, not about my work in pottery, but my work in weaving. And she was an incredible support.
Certainly Toshiko has been as well. And there are, of course — Aileen O. Webb, I just feel that one has to honor her and I knew her. And I went to her, visited her home. And she was always in the office at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts. She was a diligent worker there keeping hours. And so I would walk in and talk to her, have visits with her [… frequently –TH]. And I was at Haystack in the early days back at Belfast [ME], and she had come out there to spend a couple of sessions doing pottery there. And that was another time when I had a deepening friendship with her. So these people were tangible and accessible. They gave me very good support in what I was doing.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And you made blintzes with me.
MR. HALLMAN: This is true. And I thought at least I'd get that recipe again, Helen, because I've lost it. But Paul Smith was also close to Aileen O. Webb, but I mentioned Alice previously, Alice Parrott, but we more recently in Santa Fe, she has been the — I would like to think of the right word. There's a special word that is not coming to me [perhaps a craftsmen's' focal point –TH], but she has been the person in Santa Fe where the all the craftsmen have come to visit through the years and she has been very generous in inviting Michael and me to her dinner parties, some of which were sprawling outside, and some of which were inside with her dogs and everybody else's. And she has quite beautiful collections as well. But Bob Turner came and his wife.
MR. DRUTT ENGLISH: How old is Alice Parrott?
MR. HALLMAN: She's in her 80s, but I think maybe around 83.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: So she's young? [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Bob Turner, Sam Maloof came in every year. What's her name, the 13 — [inaudible]?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Jane?
MR. HALLMAN: Jane Sauer visited there a couple of times when I was there. But that was a wonderful kind of focal point for being with people, and people from the West Coast too that I didn't see normally so much. I juried on an Army crafts show with Karen Karnes many years ago, and then she came to, well, her friend Ann Stannard invited me to teach at — West Deans College in England, which was a wonderful experience. And so I've seen Karen and Ann intermittently through my life as well.
And Karen has that amazing presence when she's working, particularly when she just — I speak about the body as in at ease and yet intention, amazing dynamic she has when she's working. I just can't forget these things. Haystack [Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME] and Penland have been very interesting. At Haystack, I metPaulus Berensohn,Mary Nyberg, and of course Fran Merritt and Priscilla. They both were wonderful. Priscilla was in charge of food the first years of Haystack. She taught me how to use herbs, because she could use herbs for a whole group like that. It was so effective and I really learned how to use herbs from her. Arlene Fisch was one of my students at Haystack. And then I have also — she knew that I was working with these metal pieces, these breastplates and so forth and has used some of my work in her book and M.C. Richards as well at Haystack.
And then Penland, of course, I said that Lenore, I got to know Lenore more at Penland when she was there. Other people, Mel Someroski was a student of mine at Cranbrook when I was teaching summer school there, and Rita Adrosko, who was the curator at the Smithsonian, also was a student of mine when I taught summer school at Cranbrook.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It's almost as if you're dipping into objects — [inaudible]. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: Well, you know, my connection to these people — well, the Santa Fe group is very much ongoing. Now, some of these other people are from the past, of course, but they have been important people. And I also wanted to mention Jacques Villon at Fontainebleau who was our master teacher in painting there. Karen Karnes, I think that just about names some of my favorite people that I'm still — oh, I'd like to say just a few things about Japanese.
Yonoko Watanabi came to Toronto, gave a lecture at the Ontario College of Art and Design. I didn't know her. She was the chairman of the Tokyo Fine Arts School. So I asked her if she would enjoy coming over for lunch the next day. I hadn't booked her, so I didn't really know much about her. At any rate, she came for lunch. Everything she ate, she wanted to have the recipe for, but that was fine. I said, "I have an article that was in a Japanese magazine that I'd like you to translate for me, if you wouldn't mind."
She said, "Oh, yes, bring it up." So I brought the magazine out, showed her the picture, and she said, "You're the one! You're the one! You're the one! I lost you and here you are in Toronto. I didn't know you were here." So she said, "Oh, you must come to Japan." She said, "I want you to show in Japan." And so she ended up getting me into her Ginza co-op gallery and [later when –TH] I was in Kyoto I had another one-person shows in Japan due to her.
And also very importantly was Toshi Horiuchi who is a contemporary artist in Japan, Junichi Orai who I then later hosted in Toronto, and Ichiku Kubota, the absolute master of kimono making in Japan died. And he — everybody said the first time I went to Japan, they said, "Oh, Mr. Kubota, I know him. I know of him, but he will not receive you. He's very much a hermit." So [serendipitously –TH] I met him at an opening. He came over. The first thing he said to me was, "Would you come and visit me at my studio?" [Laughs.]
So he came to my exhibition in the Ginza and he kept saying, "Well, this [your work –TH] relates to Japanese tradition. This is — you know, I can see you're coming out of Japan, all of this, seeing it from a Japanese standpoint". But it ended up that he invited the gallery owner and me to dinner at his place. And we just had a — we "tried on" all his kimonos and just had a wonderful time. [Laughs.]
So these pockets of people, he was just so — he's passed away unfortunately, but incredible, incredible artist, craftsman. So those are some of the people. [Laughs.]
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You have several novels. [They laugh.] However, I do believe that we should close at this point and simply I would like to hear you express your expectations for the future once more in relationship to the past.
MR. HALLMAN: Now?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes.
MR. HALLMAN: In this moment?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: In this moment. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: I think it's more of the same, but in new ways, different ways because, in a funny way, I have been tied to textiles. In a funny way, I have been connected to textiles. I don't know why.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And music.
MR. HALLMAN: And music.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Yes, and instruments.
MR. HALLMAN: Painting.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And painting.
MR. HALLMAN: I know. Why I have that — I keep coming back to textiles as a way to express. So I just go, I keep going back, it seems like, to go forward. I go back into deeper aspects of —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: One must go back in order to go forward.
MR. HALLMAN: That's interesting. That's very Alexander too.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Is it? He said what? A foot in the world, a foot not in the world?
MR. HALLMAN: That's very good.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: And then you bring it into yourself like a sponge and then you wring it out. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: It's always — you know we are fiber. We are fiber.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: That's it also.
MR. HALLMAN: We're fiber and we're vessels.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: We are vessels. We are containers.
MR. HALLMAN: And we're layers. Just like in anatomy, there's the outer and the middle and the inner and then the guts inside of all of that.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Succulent. [They laugh.] Succulent.
MR. HALLMAN: So the body certainly is to be reckoned with too. And I'm not sure I have resolved that completely in my profession.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Just don't leave it. [They laugh.]
MR. HALLMAN: So what's the future? I don't know, but I know it's going to be more and more exciting because I feel I have more to bring to it. Does that make any sense?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It does make a great deal of sense. To be able to say that you have more to bring to it also reflects the fact that you feel a richness of the past still within you that you can still bring forth into one's atmosphere and environment. And if you didn't have that, there would be nothing to bring.
MR. HALLMAN: Good point.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Thank you.
MR. HALLMAN: When you write your next book, we'll see that that gets in there.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Let's hope so. Thank you very much for participating in this interview at this particular time. And if you have something you'd like to say in closing, please do so at this moment.
MR. HALLMAN: I don't think so, Helen. I think that if you said that if there's some things that come up that we want to add, we can — we can do that at your place then.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, I think we can read what has already been transcribed and then study it. And then if you feel the need to embroider it in some way or to fill in pockets of information that have not been there for the future, then you are free to do so.
MR. HALLMAN: I have that feeling that I'd like to say a little bit more about my work in terms of — shall we do it now?
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Absolutely. Here we are.
MR. HALLMAN: Here we are.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Well, you see in the opera you end and then everybody comes out again clapping — [they laugh] — and bowing, so here we are. The curtains have opened.
MR. HALLMAN: A reprise.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Right, right.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, let's hope it's not —
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: Musician comes on and then he plays two encores.
MR. HALLMAN: Well, it's just to say something about this incredible richness of tradition in textiles and that how these structures, it relates to Alexander in a way because I'm looking at structure of the human body and how we're not posturing, but how we are moving in balance and freedom. But the structure, like the knitting structure, has to do with how this web works so that everything's interlaced and interconnected to form the structure, the piece.
And if you're weaving, there are like two elements that come together and it's pretty prescribed that they're interlaced and all of that, but that any particular expression that you're working with of emotion or if you're wanting to do some feeling that you have about the way certain things relate or something, I feel that one can choose crocheting or choose because it's so free and you can just do some very organic things with crocheting or with knitting. And then even just looping things or netting, which are structures you kind of go, you just sort of take a bite and another little bite and another little bite.
You don't have to set up a whole loom or set up a whole frame or anything to do some of these structures. And knotting and, for example, some pieces I have composed completely by knotting and putting things under tension through knotting. And then other pieces I have put together by knitting and looping and interlacing and layering — so I just want to say something about how I am with structure and how that really is part of my expression and it may be in a way subliminal because [… –TH] it doesn't matter if anyone thinks of it or not.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: It relates to the body also, the way the body is built, the layering, the looping, the interlacing, the structure. So it's always body, motion, and what else that you said?
MR. HALLMAN: Rhythmic, it's rhythmic. And the music is rhythmic too. There's a pulsing and an energy that comes from a structure itself which can kind of even be a basis for energy in the piece, or the structure itself can even be what I want to talk about in waves and emotion and in energy. So that, my dear, is something I represent.
MS. DRUTT ENGLISH: You have said it.
[END SIDE A TAPE 02.]
[END OF INTERVIEW.]