Oral Histories

Interview of Willow Young-Friedman

Assistant and later Director, Craft and Folk Art Museum Festival of Masks, 1977-1986; Museum Special Events Coordinator, 1984; Coordinator of Exhibitions, 1985; Member, ArtTable board, 1985 – 1989.
Craft and Folk Art Museum Oral History Project
Biographical Note:
Assistant and later Director, Craft and Folk Art Museum Festival of Masks, 1977-1986; Museum Special Events Coordinator, 1984; Coordinator of Exhibitions, 1985; Member, ArtTable board, 1985 – 1989.
Benedetti, Joan
Young-Friedman, Willow
Persons Present:
Young-Friedman and Benedetti
Place Conducted:
Young-Friedman's office 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. Researchers can also access the Craft and Folk Art Museum records, ca. 1965-1997 (collection no. 1835) in the UCLA Library's Department of Special Collections.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Joan M. Benedetti. B.A., Theater; M.A., Library Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Related Experience: Milwaukee Public Library Decorative Arts Librarian, 1967 – 1968; CAFAM Museum Librarian 1976 – 1997. From 1998 – 2012, Benedetti worked to process the CAFAM Records, 1965 – 1997, which are now part of Special Collections at the UCLA Young Research Library. She is the author of several articles on folk art terminology and small art museum libraries and the editor of Art Museum Libraries and Librarianship, Lanham, MD: ARLIS/NA and Scarecrow Press, 2007.Benedetti prepared for the interview by studying Young-Friedman's resumé and searched for references to her in the finding aid for the CAFAM Records: 1965 – 1997. She also reviewed the CAFAM timeline developed while working on the CAFAM Records at UCLA and looked through those files concerning CAFAM's Festival of Masks.
Processing of Interview:
Young-Friedman was given the opportunity to review the transcript and to supply missing or mis-spelled names and to verify the accuracy of the contents. Benedetti added full names and opening dates of CAFAM exhibitions where appropriate. She also added some information for clarification and deleted some back-and-forth comments that did not add to the reader’s understanding of the narrative. Time stamps have been added to both the table of contents and the transcript at five-minute intervals; the time stamps make it easier to locate the topics in the transcript that are mentioned in the table of contents.
2.25 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), founded in Los Angeles by Edith and Frank Wyle, grew out of The Egg and The Eye, a commercial art gallery/restaurant devoted to international contemporary craft and folk art—and (in the restaurant) omelettes. The gallery opened November 1, 1965 at 5814 Wilshire Blvd. and transitioned in 1973 to a 501(c) (3) non-profit, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, in the same location. From 1973 to 1984, Edith Wyle served as program director; in 1975 Patrick Ela was hired as administrative director. Wyle retired in 1984, going on the board, and taking the title of founder/director emeritus. Ela was then appointed executive director, and he added design to the museum's program. The restaurant closed in 1989, but the museum is still operating in the same place.The CAFAM Oral History Project was conceived by former CAFAM museum librarian (1976 -1997) Joan M. Benedetti, during her processing of the CAFAM institutional archives (Craft and Folk Art Museum Records: ca. 1965 – 1997), donated to UCLA Special Collections when CAFAM closed temporarily at the end of 1997. At the time, it was thought to be a permanent closure: all staff files including papers, catalogs, ephemera, clippings, press releases, photos, posters, videos, audiotapes, films, and some non-accessioned objects were given to UCLA Special Collections; the permanent object collection was sold at auction; the library collection was given to LACMA. While working on the archives, Benedetti determined to further document CAFAM's history through interviews with persons who had participated in that history. She conducted seventeen of the eighteen oral history interviews and transcribed seven of them. The rest were professionally transcribed with financial support from Frank Wyle. All transcripts were edited by Benedetti and then reviewed and edited by each interviewee. When the recordings and transcripts were completed, they were donated (with the interviewees' permission) to UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.The interviewees were selected by Benedetti based on what she knew of their involvement with CAFAM. These persons are by no means the only ones associated significantly with CAFAM's history. Quite simply, they were both significant and available during the time Benedetti had to work on the project as a volunteer.Of the seventeen people Benedetti interviewed over twenty-seven months (January 2008 – March 2010), ten are former staff and six are former board members, including co-founder and board chair Frank Wyle. Wyle's daughter, Nancy Romero, who had worked on several CAFAM exhibitions, was also interviewed. (Edith Wyle had been interviewed for the Archives of American Art in 1993.) When Benedetti completed the CAFAM Records processing in 2012, an interview with her was recorded by Joyce Lovelace, contributing editor for American Craft magazine. As the topic is CAFAM during roughly the same time period, the Benedetti-Lovelace interview is included here.
Plainfield, Vermont--Parents’ economic cooperative, goats--1954: Nantucket, MA--1959: Alexandria, Virginia--[05:00] Virginia repressive, segregated--Start of interest in art, world cultures-- [10:00] Bus to Washington, D.C.: Martin Luther King-- [15:00] Unitarian Church and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)--Drops out of high school--New York City--Enters D.C.’s primarily black Federal City College--1969-72: Peace and Action Coalition; organizing demonstrators’ food--Bread and Puppet Theater--1973: California--[20:00] Psychology and art--Judy Mitoma, UCLA's Ethnic Arts program--Young-Friedman accepted to “holistic look at culture" program-- [25:00] Patricia Altman, UCLA Fowler Museum--Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), summer 1977--Patrick Ela, Edith Wyle--Sharon Emanuelli developing Festival of Masks--1978: UCLA President's Grant-- [30:00] Researching Guatemalan masks--Five months alone by bus--[35:00] Researchers often "used people of culture to support careers”--[40:00] Edith’s social conscience--B.A., Ethnic Arts, 1979--Festival Coordinator--[45:00] Festival of Masks history--Ethel Tracy--Mask-making workshops--[50:00] Lay-out--Food booths--Community volunteers--[55:00] Mask exhibitions, 1980, 1984--[1:00:00] Max King--Festival posters--Emanuelli works more on curatorial--[1:05:00] Ron Katsky, contracts--Deadlines--Grant proposals--Emanuelli, Contemporary Craft Council--Young-Friedman, Folk Art Council--[1:10:00] Tomi Kuwayama, Joyce Hundal, Pat Altman, Pat Anawalt, Caroline West--Folk Art Council: folk art exhibitions, lecture series, 21 years of Folk Art Market--Karen Copeland, Janet Marcus work on Festival in schools--[1:15:00] Museum staff, CAFAM culture--Entrepreneurial spirit--Staff relatively young, energetic, mostly women, something to prove--[1:20] “Ethic of hard work”--1979-1982: Maskerade Ball--Santa Monica Place--Gallery Three--David Hockney, Rudi Gernreich, Rose Slivka costume judges-- [1:25:00] Other venues--"Today" shows--CAFAM L.A. coordinator--Egypt Today, 1981--Mme. Sadat--[1:30:00] Importance to Egyptians of social relationships--Patrick Ela good at that--[1:35:00]--Documentary, 1980 Festival--Dorn Hetzel--1984 International Festival of Masks, official summer Olympic Arts Festival event--[1:40:00] Much more complicated--Tom Friedman helps with Festival--John Outterbridge, Aboriginal dancers--[1:45:00] Financial issues--CAFAM must pay for fence, other unplanned expenses--Budget overwhelming--Festival biennial--Scandinavia Today--Five countries--1984: Edith retires--Emanuelli to New York City--[1:55:00] Young-Friedman Coordinator of Exhibitions--Edith’s "influence still present”--Curates L.A. Collects: Functional Fantasy Furniture--Director, 1986 Mask Festival; baby Maia born three days later--[2:00:00] Patrick Ela adds architecture, product design--[2:05:00] Young-Friedman less involved after Maia born--ArtTable--Part-time, then consultant--Other organizations all want "bridge to ethnic communities”--Field Museum wants something like Mask Festival--Leaves CAFAM after 1990 Festival--Enters psychology program, Pacifica Graduate Institute--Remains close to Edith, Wyle family--Nancy Romero, Patrick Ela, the Tuttles and their children--[2:10:00] There were fights--Benedetti says, "like being in sunlight or shadow”--Young-Friedman says, "Standing up to her a sign we could carry even greater loads”--[2:15:00] Doesn't remember May Company or merging of 5814 and 5800 Wilshire; had shifted away from CAFAM--1992: She has cancer--Moves with Maia adjacent to Wyle ranch in Sierras--Family to Carpinteria--Cross-cultural differences remain important-- [2:20:00] CAFAM so ahead of its time--Edith understood importance of food to culture--The Egg and The Eye restaurant embodied it.