Oral Histories

Interview of Mary Heebner

Book artist and owner of simplemente maria press, which produces artists books of Heebner’s work.
Interviews not in a series, part two
Books and Fine Printing
Biographical Note:
Book artist and owner of simplemente maria press, which produces artists books of Heebner’s work.
Collings, Jane
Heebner, Mary
Persons Present:
Heebner and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Heebner's studio in Santa Barbara, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and principal editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.Collings prepared for the interview by consulting secondary sources, as well as knowledgeable people in the UCLA Library on the topic of artists' books and reviewing Heebner's work housed in UCLA Library Special Collections and mounted on her website.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Heebner was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
12 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Early life; Parents' background; Mother's early employment in the music business; Parents' marriage; Family vacations at the coast in New Jersey; A Rodin watercolor provides an early art influence; Schooling; Vision problems as a child and the impact of this on Heebner's artistic work; Arts education and training; Father's early career as a musician; Father's parents; Father and friend innovate V-Discs; Sister Dorothy's proficiency as a singer; Hears Ella Fitzgerald live as a child; Sister, Lesa, mayor of Solano Beach; Sister, Toni, in real estate; Mother's Italian heritage; Learns about Georgia O'Keeffe from Life magazine; A profound influence in O'Keeffe; An influential friend, Susie O'Neill; Plays the flute in high school; The Dixieland Dads musical group; Adores the Beatles and pop music; Musical explorations; Spends a lot of time with a friend's family; The abundance of friends' parents at school who were in "the business"; Spends a lot of time at Dutton's Books as an adolescent; Heebner gives a signed copy of her On the Blue Shore of Silence to Dutton's Books; Uses her home bedroom as a studio; The political art work of Sister Corita Kent; Kent leaves the order to focus on art work; Kent's influence on Heebner while a teacher at Providence High School; Spends a lot of time in the art room at high school; The Pageant of the Masters production at high school; Produces an early book while in high school; The Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of Immaculate Heart; Exciting environment of high school during the sixties; Social impact of the Vietnam War; Religious education; Broad cultural sources form the basis of Heebner's education; Heebner's first husband; Designs her own clothes in high school; Involvement in campaign to save Watt's Towers; Performs in a jug band; A first job at Universal Studios; More on Heebner's first husband; Influence of archaeology and earth science on Heebner's artwork; Heebner's political interests; Attends University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB);Advantages of a girl's school for high school; Father's interest in classical music; The Vorsetzer; Goes to hear jazz on Wednesdays with father; The Ash Grove; Enjoys the outdoors; Early studies at UCSB; Steers away from formal art classes; Brings artwork into studies of literature and religion; A batik class; Lives in Isla Vista rather than the dorms; Counter-cultural scene in Isla Vista at the time; College of Creative Studies at UCSB; Kenneth Rexroth's class at UCSB; The riots in Isla Vista in 1970.
Finds a mentor in William Dole; Begins college work; Dole's collage work; Interests shared with Dole; Dole's teaching style; Finds a clientele for her work through Dole; The Art Rental Gallery; Representation by art dealer Peggy Walker; Aspects of Heebner's design process; Juggles art work with raising daughter; More on Dole's teaching style; Finds influences for art work in music; Chumash culture in the Santa Barbara area; Significance of Point Concepcion in Chumash culture; The struggle against liquified natural gas (LNG)drilling off the coast of Gaviota; A highly socially engaged lifestyle while working on the LNG struggle and as a graduate student; Chumash influences on Heebner's work; Elements of Heebner's work explore issues of "inside" and "outside"; More on Chumash culture; Makes art within the climate of vigorous social community; Exhibits widely; A job teaching art to grade school kids; Heebner's sense at that time that art plays an important role in society; Daughter, Sienna Craig; A paper-making workshop with Sukey Hughes at the home of Harry and Sandra Reese; How Sukey Hughes began making paper; Methods of making paper; Meets Carolee Campbell at the Reese papermaking workshop; First uses of the handmade paper as inserts; Dole's use of handmade paper; A period of expressive work segues into an interest in using words and making books; A stay on the island of Lambay off the coast of Ireland; Art work done on the island brings Heebner closer to using words with images; A stint in the Hebrides brings new inspiration; A first book uses Robinson Jeffers's poems; An intensive period of work leads to pieces based on the topology of the Outer Hebrides; Makes a gift for husband, which becomes a first book; More on the inspirational trip to the Outer Hebrides; The book based on poems of Robinson Jeffers; Coming to terms with entering a new phase of life, one which would include a great deal of travel.
Heebner's working methods; Old Marks, New Marks; Shapeshifter; Indigo Sketches; Heebner's sculptural approach to book arts; Heebner's press mark; Heebner's press name; Learns clam shell box technique from Sandra Reese; More on Heebner's press name; Production of the Old Marks, New Marks book; The clam shell box for the book; The book's contents; A foreward for the book by Carolyn Radlo; Marija Gimbutas's work on goddess worship in Paleolithic art; Impact of Gimbutas's work on Heebner's thinking; An invitation to visit the Lascaux cave; Heebner's use of prehistoric forms in contemporary pieces; A tour of Getty antiquities with Marion True; The possibilities of the book form; More on Old Marks, New Marks; A vigorous international travel schedule prompts new forms and new work; A trip to Iceland inspires Island: The Journal from Iceland; "Volcanic" paintings inspired by Iceland trip; Printing with Jack Duganne and Nash Editions; A satisfying juxtaposition of ancient inspirations and modern printing techniques; More on inspirational trip to Iceland; The construction of Island; Discovers Dieu Donne paper maker; Letterpress work for the book; Persons credited and materials used as indicated in colophon of Island; Rie Hachiyanagi; Papers used in the book; A plexiglass case to contain the book; Readings from Island; Friendship with Gail Berkus; More readings from Island; Making decisions about book construction; Meets Joshua Heller; Shows at the National Museum of Women and the Arts; The fine sense of concept and design in the Heebner work; Sandra Reese; A community within the book arts; Scratching the Surface; Visits the Lascaux caves; The discovery of the caves in the forties; Preparation to enter the caves; The interior of the Lascaux caves; Readings from Scratching the Surface; More on the interior of the Lascaux caves; The paintings that came from the Lascaux visit; The production of the book Scratching the Surface; Works with Dieu Donne in New York; More on the production of the book; Uses of digital printing; Hand embellishment of digital printing; Opinions in the field regarding digital printing; More on Scratching the Surface; More readings from Scratching the Surface; More on production of Scratching the Surface; The importance of Japanese papermaking for the book arts community