Oral Histories

Interview of Marcia Page

Assistant to Registrar, 1975; Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator,1978; Registrar, 1979 – 1989; Director, Exhibition Development, 1989 – 1996.
Series:
Craft and Folk Art Museum Oral History Project
Topic:
Art
Interviewer:
Benedetti, Joan
Interviewee:
Page, Marcia
Persons Present:
Page and Benedetti.
Place Conducted:
Marcia Page's home in the Mt. Washington tract of the Highland Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, 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 reviewing the CAFAM timeline developed while working on the CAFAM Records at UCLA. Benedetti and Page worked at CAFAM during virtually the same time period (Page, 1975 – 1996 and Benedetti, 1976 – 1997) and their relationship was close during that time, working together on several CAFAM projects, so both parties were very comfortable during the interviews, which proceeded more like guided conversations than formal interviews. First session is more or less chronological, with many conversational side tracks; later sessions were guided mostly by topics presented by Joan.
Processing of Interview:
Page 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, and she added 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.
Length:
7.50 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
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.
Birth in Greenwood, Mississippi--Aurora, Illinois--Catholic school--05:00 Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker Movement--Interest in textiles, needlework--'70s Women's Movement--UCLA fiber art class, Neda Al-Hilali--10:00 Chicago after high school--University of Illinois, Chicago; Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology--Marries systems analyst Patrick Page--Proofreader, book designer at Henry Regnery Pub.--15:00 Typographic Arts award--After two children, part-time at home--1968: husband’s California job opportunity: San Clemente, then Malibu--Another job change, back east--Marcia is cook at Stage Coach Tavern, Newburyport, Massachusetts--20:00 Back to California--Small house in Santa Monica--Children in high school--"Special program" at Immaculate Heart College---The Egg and the Eye gallery--25:00 John Browse--Sam Maloof pieces--Enamel jewelry, handmade clothing--Ann Robbins, Susan Skinner--30:00 First museum shows, 1975--Volunteer while finishing B.A.--35:00 Chef Ian Barrington--Karen Copeland, Registrar--40:00 Ann Robbins, John Browse--1976: Patrick Ela hires Marcie part-time--Parade of Masks--45:00 Karen wants to be Educator--Edith Wyle: hard to "step back"--Edith hard on preparators; designs all shows--Show taken down, re-installed, as paint color wrong--Sometimes people walked out, usually came back--50:00 Patrick: connections between traditional, contemporary, later adds design--Restaurant again--Some people didn’t notice galleries--Marcie stands up to Edith--"Screaming matches," but always friends--55:00 Edith: her vision, painting career, difficulty articulating vision, “intuitive”--Frank Wyle: At openings, supportive of Edith; busy at Wyle Laboratories in mid-seventies--1:00:00 Very supportive of Edith later when sick-- Board: Bernard Kester--1:05:00 Frank Wyle president first year; Mort Winston, CEO of Tosco, board president 11 years--Ruth Bowman, education advocate--Collection management policy--1:10:00 Proofreads Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) publications--Karen full-time Educator; Marcie full-time Registrar--Being Registrar: permanent collection--Edith: museum must have collection--First accessions,1975--Edith donates first objects; no good place in museum--1:15:00 Cooke's Crating until move to May Company--Problems moving collection to May Company, May Company to Curson Avenue duplex--Attitude of board--Not a priority--Lloyd Cotsen, intelligent, concerned--Gere Kavanagh--Board wants to include artists; Frank Romero added--Maloof and Kester on board in '80s--1:20:00 Disconnect (in every museum) of board members with staff--Long-term support from Mort Winston, Frank Wyle, Lloyd Cotsen--Festival of Masks-- 1:25:00 "Entirely new idea": involvement of neighborhood ethnic groups--How to represent themselves with food, artifacts, performance--Idea of using masks?--Festival three-day affair during 1984 Olympic Arts Festival--Problems with 1984 Festival. Mark Gallon "on loan" from Tosco--1:30:00 First development officer--Annual fundraising gala, Primavera Ball, started 1977--Marcie attends as Registrar to care for auctioned objects--Others involved--Max King, invitations, etc.--Wealthy ladies hand-address invitations--Donna Wheeler, Chair; Darcy Gelber food, décor--Staff allowed to go--Centerpieces: Marcie packs them--Primavera fun, a lot of work--1:35:00 Concept of "ethnic attire” --Maskerade Ball--“Great Chefs" series, Joachim Splichal, Patina--1982: 12 famous L.A. chefs--Some great craft artists, e.g., Dale Chihuly, showed at museum in early days--1:40:56.
Typical day as Registrar--Many late nights--"Keep-Out room” --Mexican folk art from Artesanos Mexicanos exhibition--Cooke's Crating--5:00 Karen brings baby to work--Edith, Patrick family-friendly--Wyle grandchildren--Marcie’s office back of shop--Staff curators: Shan Emanuelli, Willow Young--Laurie Beth Kalb, 1987--10:00 Registrar’s tasks once show scheduled: “A lot of paperwork, telephone calls” --Go to people's homes, pack things--Northern California for toy exhibition--Insurance company; arguments with Edith--Learns from Southern California registrars group and Karen Copeland (trained by Pat Nauert)--15:00 Many variables--Some shows come fully organized; others from collectors who may not know about museum standards--Mannequin creation--20:00 Edith: 10+ years' experience at The Egg and The Eye--Turnaround time: one week current show down; one week new show up--Annex space--25:00 Registrar and whoever is exhibition organizer; preparators and designers--Designers: how it looks often more important than security--Edith: Marcie is “conscience of the museum"--1984 Olympic Arts mask show enormous--Brenda Hurst keeps it organized; masks, films from all over world--30:00 Consult educators about labels--Accessibility issue--35:00 No elevator huge issue for staff because of stairs to third floor gallery--Objects cannot go through restaurant during lunch, dinner periods--40:00 Marcie's other job: Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator--Like curator, but exhibitions produced for schools, corporate venues considered “secondary” --Los Angeles Unified Schools grant; Edith’s "Museum without Walls" idea--45:00 Collection development policy with Ruth Bowman--No thought of "Can we care for it? Can we store it?"--Trustee training must be part of it-- Whirligig left at back door--50:00 1987: First PCs--IBM Displaywriter first, donated by Getty Center--All puzzles information: packing, display lists, insurance information; helped with Customs--55:00 Puzzles Old and New, Jerry Slocum's collection--800+ mechanical puzzles--All staff helped catalog--Shan "Directing Curator"--“Puzzle House" in Slocum’s backyard--Marcie spends lots of time there--1:00:00 Michelle Arens packs puzzles for travel; writes putting-together instructions--Marcie, Shan to Tokyo for Puzzles installation--Huge Japanese crew at Matsuya Department Store--Previous show down, space ready overnight, installed in 12 hours--About 50 people worked on it--1:05:00 Travel in Japan before returning--1:10:00 More about PCs--Marcon database---Marcie used for object collection; Joan used for CAFAM exhibition history--Early preparators: Gustavo Montoya, Patrick McCarthy--1:15:00 High turnover among preparators: Roman Janczak, Brent Rummage--1:20:00 Curator Laurie Beth Kalb leaves; Marcie then Director, Team Exhibition Development--Registrar needed; Carol Fulton takes job--At May Company, Carol designs installations while still Registrar--Gallery 3, Santa Monica Place, lasted one year--"It nearly killed us"--Too much space to manage, not enough people; commuting miles added--Getting in/out shopping mall; security issue--1:25:00 Ann Robbins, Susan Skinner oversaw shop; curated Introductions: Twelve Artists, An Invitational--Why Gallery 3 not successful--1:30:00 University of Southern California (USC) also failed to make it work--Maskerade Ball: David Hockney costume judge--Graphic designer Max King--Marcie did proofreading: the other "hat"--1:33:49.
Sam Maloof--Educators Karen Copeland (1975–1981), Janet Marcus (1982–1989)--Karen Educator and Registrar--5:00 Both "new breed" of educator--Visitor experiences more interactive--10:00 Phyllis Chang, Educator, 1991--Patrick’s friends in design community--Edith has hard time letting go--CAFAM Library named for her--20:00 Patrick wants to "leave his stamp"--Joan forms board/staff committee to locate adoptive home for library--25:00 Library moved to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 1997--Patrick sees continuum between folk art and contemporary crafts--Economic downturn--Patrick Ela works very hard--Many social events after hours related to fundraising--30:00 Friendship with Al Nodal, Manager, L.A. Cultural Affairs--City helps museum reopen after 1997 closure--Administrative assistants--Brenda Hurst, Lisi Rona--Must be creative to survive--A lot of unpaid labor from staff and volunteers-- 35:00 Early nineties: over 100 volunteers, good volunteer coordinators--Laurie Beth Kalb (1987-1989) curator--Capital Campaign announced--Laurie a folklorist--Dissertation subject: Santos--40:00 Laurie curates/organizes twelve exhibitions--Art Dolls--Mahabharata show curator, Pratapaditya Pal--Painting on Clay--45:00 New Spirit in British Craft and Design; Modern Jewelry, New Design--None are folk art--American Visions: Arlette Gosieski's Applique Paintings, odd one: "folky," not folk art--Trustee Caroline Ahmanson connection-- Santos, Statues, and Sculpture--50:00 Palms and Pomegranates: Traditional Dress of Saudi Arabia; money for education activities--Guatemalan Masks: the Pieper Collection--Jim Pieper, collector and trustee, didn't want curator--1993 Malibu fire--Reaction of local Guatemalan community, mostly refugees-- 55:00 Involving people whose culture is exhibited--Laurie buys some things for opening show, Hands On! at May Company-- 1:00:00 Marcie visits Elizabeth Mandell home for contemporary craft items--Laurie has trouble getting some items approved: corona made of bread dough, a saddle, a piñata doll-- 1:05:00 Partly "connoisseur's" point of view--"Rapidly vanishing traditions"--Some people think if object isn't old or if new materials used, it isn't good--18th century French embroidery company in Guatemala-- 1:10:00 Caroline West, huipil expert at Fowler Museum, notices "outside" influences--Marcie wants people in communities today involved in shows--“Cultural context”--Hands On! shows range of CAFAM interest: folk art, contemporary craft, design--Mort Winston steps down--1:15:00 Frank Wyle, chair; Museum Tower, developer Wayne Ratkovich--Space Planning Committee--Start of economic downturn--1:20:00 CAFAM gets major grants, both private and government-- 1:25:00 Marcy Goodwin, building program consultant--Minimal needs covered, then downsized--None of Museum Tower plans materialize--5800 Wilshire building--1:30:00 Leased, never owned by CAFAM--1976, building available for $360,000--1993, costs CAFAM $17,000 a month--Why CAFAM left original building--May Company gives CAFAM free space; very functional, board hates it-- 1:35:00 Earthquake retrofitting; 5814 Wilshire vacated; restaurant closes forever--Ian Barrington--1:40:00 Mutual interest in food/ wine--Marcie ran restaurant in Newburyport, Massachusetts--Egg and The Eye great idea, successful for long time-- 1:45:00 Final staff lunch--Ian sick; passes away not long after--Original chef, Rodessa Moore, famous for omelettes--Mayor Tom Bradley gave her City of L.A. plaque-- 1:50:00.