' ^ommy^ -^om^m^
^OFCAIIFOI?^ ^OfCAllFOff^ ^^\^E•UNIVER%
^lOSANCflfj-^ ^tllBRARYO^ ^\
. . ^ o
§ 1 1 1'"' ^
§ 1 I/—' ^
§ 1 1*-^ ^
>1 I ^»*T T O
^f^lDNVSOl'^ %a]AINn]V\V^ ^OJIWDJO'^ '^•iOJlWOJO'*^ -^I^UDNVSOI^ ■^Aa3AIN(13\Vv
... — 00
§ 1 ir^ ^
^ - — •§
^ ^—'1 I- £;>
\\^ElIUIVERy//;5. ^lOSANCEIfj-^ ^sMllBRARYQ^
^^.OFCA11FO% ^OF CAIIFOff^
'^■'" ■'-'•'■■-^ '^Aavaani'^
, ,\\\t UMVERy/A
'^'Vr, inyj j,.,>^ "^aOJIlV:
^vvlOSANCEl/jy ^^;0FCAIIF0% .^;0FCAIIF0% A«E UNIVERJ/Zi
^xiiJDKvsm^ %a3AiNii-3Wv^ "^'^o-muw^ '^OAavaan-1'^'^ <riuDKvsoi^
<finoNvsoi^ "^/^ajAiNd-jiw^ ^aojiivdjo'^ ^^mwy^^ -^smium^ "^/saaAis
, ^\^E l)NIVERJ/A ^lOSAKCI
S\ JP^ is it -
'^.yojiivj jo"^ '^♦'.yojnv
%Aavaan-^^ '^OAavaanvi'^ <rjuoNvsoi^
■S 1 J ("^ i
LOS ANGELES ART COMMUNITY: GROUP PORTRAIT
Interviewed by Gerald Nordland
Completed under the auspices
Oral History Program
University of California
Copyright (c; 1984
The Regents of the University of California
This manuscript is hereby made available for research
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript,
including the right to publication, are reserved to the
University Library of the University of California at
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted
for publication without the written permission of the
University Librarian of the University of California
at Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES ART COMMUNITY: GROUP PORTRAIT
This interview is one of a series, entitled "Los Angeles
Art Community: Group Portrait," funded by the National
Endowment for the Humanities and conducted from July 1,
1975 to March 31, 1977 by the UCLA Oral History Program.
The project was directed jointly by Page Ackerman,
University Librarian, and Gerald Nordland, Director,
UCLA Art Galleries, and administered by Bernard Galm,
Director, Oral History Program. After selection of
interview candidates and interviewers, the Proaram
assumed responsibility for the conduct of all interviews
and their processing.
Interview History j^j^^
TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (December 6, 1975) 1
Childhood in Indiana — Encouragement from
grade school and high school art teachers--
English, then art major at Olivet College--
Working one year as George Rickey's
apprentice on a mural — A teaching credential
and discovering the pleasures of art
education--Summer session at Mills College
with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Gyorgy Kepes —
Marriage to Kathryn Holcomb — Military
service — Transfer to Spokane — After a brief
stint in commercial art, enrollment at
University of California, Berkeley — Staying
on to teach the introductory drawing course
— Faculty appointment. University of California,
Santa Barbara--"Proper doctorates" and
TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (December 6, 1975) 19
Development of the art department, UCSB —
Sabbatical followed by department
chairmanship--Never enough space —
Increasing enrollment — Isla Vista rebellion
--Alfred Moir as chairman--Proposed
separation of studio and art history
disciplines — Faculty turnover — History of
the campus art gallery: Max Beckmann
exhibition, a Christmas show, Rico Lebrun
drawings, Esther Bear's collection — Sedgwick
and Story collections.
TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (December 6, 1975) 36
"What . . , gave me the notion ... of creating
works of art?" — Beautifully illustrated
magazines, traditional artists' tools, and
books by F. Hopkinson Smith — An impressive
boyhood trip to Chicago-- Vani ty Fair — Olivet
College and its celebrated visitors — Joseph
Brewer's collections of art and art books —
Bay Area artists, 1940s — Working in several
mediums concurrently — Solo exhibition at
Santa Barbara Museum, 1951--Diminishing work
with oils — A collection of antique Japanese
papers, first work in collage--A second
collection of antique papers, this time in
Florence--Beginnings of collage as a favored
TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (December 6, 1975) 56
The collage tradition as influence or
justification — Discovering, then abandoning
collage for descriptive (landscape) images:
"Making something look like something else
can get awfully cute" — "Memos" of an
office "landscape"--A more materials-oriented
approach--Procedures--Works : Ad Hoc , Haybarn ,
Strata Data , Bibliophile , and others — The
qualities of various papers — Printed or
written words as compositional elements.
TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (Undated) 74
Galleries and dealers; Geddis-Mar tin (Santa
Barbara) , Duveen-Graham (New York) , Edith
Halpert's Downtown Gallery (New York),
Bertha Lewinson (Los Angeles) , Esther Bear
(Santa Barbara) , Rex Evans (Los Angeles) ,
Jodi Scully (Los Angeles) , Staempfli
Gallery (New York) , Springer Gallery
(Berlin) , Sagittarius (Rome) , Antonio
Souza (Mexico City) , Neil McRoberts
(London) --Kurt Schwitters's work.
TAPE NUMBER: III, Side Two (Undated) 92
Schwitters — Scale — The collage work of
Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Max Ernst,
Anne Ryan, Alberto Burri, Jean Varda,
Joseph Cornell, and Saul Steinberg.
TAPE NUMBER: IV [Video session] (February 21, 1977). . . 100
Touring the exhibition "VJilliam Dole
Retrospective 1960-1975" at Santa
Barbara Museum of Art — At Dole's house —
In Dole's studio, making a collage.
This oral history records an interview with William
Dole (1917-1983) , who at the time of his death was the
senior professor of painting in the Department of Art at
the University of California, Santa Barbara. The interviews
were recorded in three settings, all in Santa Barbara and
all central to his mature life: the Santa Barbara Museum
of Art, of which he was an honorary trustee and where he
exhibited frequently; the house at 342 East Los Olivos,
where he and his wife Kate lived for many years and brought
up their seven children; and his studio on the UCSB campus.
In the first part of the video portion of this oral
history (Tape IV) , Bill takes us on a gallery tour of a
19 77 retrospective exhibition of about forty of his pictures
made between 1947 and the early 1970s. It opens with a self-
portrait in pencil and watercolor which he liked and which
has always puzzled me because it seems to show a man that
I never knew. We move quickly on, past affectionate
drawings of three of his daughters as young girls, and then
settle in to following him around the galleries as he
discusses the oil and watercolor paintings and the collages
in the show. He talks about them with characteristic
modesty and understatement. He's a little like an
instrumental musician who describes the great music he plays
only in terms of technique. Bill speaks primarily of
pattern, color, texture, shapes, density, the ground, and
other formal elements in his pictures. Of subject matter,
he says very little specific, and that little only in
passing. He describes a few pictures as "referential" to
architecture or landscape and makes a few comments about
weather conditions and locale. What he says about the
formal elements is disarmingly simple, but listening to him
makes clear why a critic once described his collages as
"chamber music for the eyes." He was interested in lines,
colors, shapes, and the like, but he was more interested in
what they did to each other and the meanings they conveyed.
The references in his pictures are not so much to landscape
or architecture or any specific object as to how all things
can work together agreeably.
In the second part of the video tape, we call on him
in his house with Gerald Nordland, a longtime friend who was
then director of the UCLA Art Galleries. It is a fine,
spacious, old, family house within sight of the Old Mission.
It is comfortable and unpretentious, but it seems strangely
silent and empty without its accustomed swarm of living
beings. I can't even remember being there when there weren't
three or four cars parked on the street in front, when the
front door wasn't wide open, and when there weren't half a
dozen children and friends passing from room to room. Bill
shows us some of the rooms and guides us through his
collection of curiosities--prints ranging from a fine
Japanese woodcut to etchings by friends and former
students--bef ore settling down in the study to talk casually
and a little disconnectedly about his life and his family.
He brings out a dismayingly posed portrait of the whole
family, so stiff and unnatural that I've always disliked
it. He is amused by it and explains why everyone seems so
hostile: it was taken early in the morning of the wedding
of his second daughter, Hilary, in 1976, and everyone was
tired and cross. It occurs to me that in the twenty-one
years I have known the Doles, I've never seen a family
fight or been aware of passionate tensions within the
family. And I realize that I've always assumed his serene
personality to be the whole family's, and that this is not
a reasonable assumption. Besides Bill and Kate, there are
seven energetic, intelligent human beings, brought up to be
self-sufficient and independent within a very close and
loving family solidarity. But if the whole family didn't
take its personality from him, obviously — with the apparent
exception only of this one photo--its members individually
and as a group learned like him to keep their composure in
the presence of nonfamily.
Finally, still with Gerry Nordland as interlocutor, we
arrive at the real destination of this interview. Bill's
studio. It's in one of the UCSB's large, impersonal
buildings, and before being converted to this good purpose,
it was a classroom for art education, if memory serves me
correctly. So, it isn't picturesque. But Bill wasn't
either, and it is as neat and organized as a 747 cockpit,
although a good deal more spacious. I remember Kate Dole's
saying one time in an interview that Bill planned everything
and wanted everything to go according to plan--except in
his art, which was the only place in his life where he
sought the unexpected and v/anted accidents to happen.
Anyhow, his studio was obviously to his liking. I've been
there just once, five or six years ago, when I spent an
afternoon with Bill going through all his drawings — I imagine
two or three hundred of them. I doubt that more than half
a dozen other people have ever been there, and few more knew
where it was or even that it existed. (Another memory:
someone who knew the Doles early in their years in Santa
Barbara, when they lived in a small tract house, recalled
Bill working calmly in their living room surrounded but
apparently not noticing the noisy swirl of five young
children around him.) This studio was the one place in the
world, I think, where he could be alone. Even in the
increasing isolation of his last years, he cherished it, not
simply because it was ideal for him and he'd waited so long
for it but because it was his own unique domain. During
his last years, he sometimes seemed to me a lonely man,
with his children all gone from home and his health too
fragile to permit so active a part in university affairs as
in the past. But I suspect he felt lonely only among people;
alone in his studio, he was in control, master of his space
and his art.
However that may be, in this portion of the interview,
he got rid of all self-consciousness. He seemed to have
relaxed at home, but now in the studio he becomes expansive
and reveals the warmth that made him so endearing a friend.
The diffidence with which he showed us his prints at home
disappears as he with much good humor drolly explains the
collages that have been his principal activity for the last
twenty years. We see the sheaves of papers, the shelf of
old books, and the two drawers of printed ephemera that are
his raw materials. He explains that he tries not to desecrate
books by dismantling them but acquires books that have already
been vandalized. He wryly speaks of the "secrets" of his
art, but that's a joke: he shows us how he colors, cuts, and
then assembles — the tweezers with which he handles the scraps
of paper "are almost an extension of my hand." He doesn't
seem to think about his hands, which are strange, long oblongs
with prominent knuckles, the four fingers almost equal in
length. But he uses them all the time, with slightly
fumbling gestures until he picks up the tweezers, when
suddenly the hands become elegant, organic precision tools.
He shows his tools, basically just four: the tweezers, a
straightedge, a knife, and a rculptor ' s modeling tool with
a spatula end. And he talks a little about his methods and
how he works. I think of a kind of nonverbal crossword
puzzle with a clue of an occasional word floating in. He
tells us that he works on several collages at a time, that
sometimes he gets stuck and it takes a long time to find a
solution, that "a little bit goes a long way."
I thought, seven months after his death, that watching
the tape for the first time would probably make me cry.
It didn't; it is too much like him: modest, gentle, serene,
detached, unpretentious, uncomplaining, and incredibly
patient. It's ironic that he who was so precise and
fastidious as an artist should be recorded so well on a tape
that is so imperfect technically. But it does give a good
picture of him, his working methods, and his personality--the
last emphasizing the irony by giving him more than ample
opportunity to demonstrate his legendary patience in grace-
fully tolerating the ineptitude of the cameraman or director
(or both) of the museum episode of the tape. Maybe he gives
a message in this too: you have to put up with a lot in life,
particularly from other human beings. But you should because
they're basically well intentioned. However incompetent
and inarticulate they may be, however obscure and
contradictory their motivations and actions, however elusive
their thoughts, occasionally a word or something we can
understand floats into view reassuringly to tell us to have
faith, that underlying it all are well-intended things we
can understand, that out of the debris of daily existence, if
we work hard enough at the problem and wait long, we'll find
that all fits together agreeably.
William Earl Dole, Jr., was born in Angola, Indiana, in
1917, son of a postal worker. He refused a scholarship at the
John Herron Art School in Indianapolis to go to Olivet College
in Michigan, where he had close contact with Gertrude Stein,
Robert Sherwood, and Carl Sandburg, and with George Rickey.
He taught in the Angola public schools for a fev; years,
studied at the Chicago Art Institute, and managed to emigrate
to California. There he studied with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at
Mills College, married Kathryn Lee Holcomb of an old
established San Bernardino family, and served three years in
the U.S. Army Air Corps before taking a master's degree at
Berkeley in 1947. After teaching two years at Berkeley, he
moved to Santa Barbara, where he taught until his death 13
January 19 83. When he arrived at Santa Barbara in 1949, the
university was still the "College on the Hill." During the
following years he saw it move to the present campus and
participated in the transformation of the college into a full
university. Serving twice as chair of the Art and Art History
Department, he was instrumental in its development from a
small service department oriented primarily toward teacher
training to a professionally oriented department with full
undergraduate and graduate programs. He served also on
numerous university committees and through his intelligence,
efficiency, and humanity did much to establish the recognition
of art as a serious and appropriate university activity.
Only two or three other permanent artist-teachers at any
branch of the University of California have achieved his
international reputation. He exhibited extensively in the
United States and in leading galleries in London, Berlin,
Rome, and Mexico City; his work is represented in more than
thirty public collections and in countless private collections;
he had more than sixty-five one-man shows; he was a member
of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was awarded
an honorary D.F.A. by Olivet College; and he was both Pious
Memorial Lecturer (1956) and Faculty Research Lecturer (1982)
He was a great teacher and an incomparable friend. Those
of us who knew him intimately recognize him as one of those
rare beings of whom it can truthfully be said, "He was
Professor of History of Art
University of California,
29 August 1983
Gerald Nordland, Director, Frederick S. Wight Art Galleries,
University of California, Los Angeles; A,B., University of
Southern California; J.D., University of Southern California
TIME AND SETTING OF INTERVIEW:
Place : The Santa Barbara Museum of Art; William Dole's
home, Santa Barbara; his studio on the campus of the
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Dates : December 6, 1975; February 21, 1977 [video session].
Time of day, length of sessions, and total number of
recording hours : Interviewing for the first session took
place all day on a Saturday, at Dole's home in Santa
Barbara. The video session took place during one day.
Five hours, 35 minutes of conversation were recorded as
he, the interviewer, and the video crew moved through
all three locations mentioned above.
Persons present during interview : Nordland and Dole. A
crew provided by the University of California, Santa
Barbara, operated the video equipment at the video session.
CONDUCT OF THE INTERVIEW :
The interview followed a thematic framework, although each
major topic was addressed chronologically. In Tape I, Dole
sketches in his family and educational background. He
then elaborates on his work at UC Santa Barbara. In Tape
II, Dole focuses on the primary influences upon his work,
touching on educators, artists who have inspired him, and
settings. In Tape III, Dole discusses the mediums in which
he works, the development of his style, and his experiences
In the video session [Tape IV], Dole elaborates the basic
themes made during the earlier interview session. He uses
his own works, on display at the Santa Barbara Museum of
Art, found at his home, and works in progress at his studio
to illustrate his points.
Lawrence Weschler, assistant editor, edited the verbatim
transcript, checking it for accuracy and editing for
punctuation, paragraphing, spelling, and verification of
proper nouns. The final manuscript remains in the same
order as the taped material. Words or phrases introduced
by the editor have been bracketed.
Dole reviewed and approved the edited transcript. He
made few additions or deletions, and he provided or
confirmed spellings of names not previously verified.
Final edit review was done by Mitch Tuchman, principal
editor. The index was compiled by Cheri Derby, assistant
editor. The introduction was written by Alfred Moir,
Professor of History of Art, University of California,
Santa Barbara. Front matter was prepared by program staff.
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS : The original tape recordings, video tape,
and edited transcripts of the interview are in the University
Archives and are available under the regulations governing
the use of noncurrent records of the University,
TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE ONE
DECEMBER 6, 19 75
NORDLAND: Why don't we begin by having you reminisce a
bit about your family and childhood and the environment
in which you grew up?
DOLE: "I was born in a small town in Indiana" is the
way I usually begin this — actually in 1917, on the day
of the second battle of the Marne [September 2]. The
town was Angola, Indiana, which is in the northeast corner
of the state, population of about two thousand, i guess
my upbringing was fairly conventional — middle western,
middle class. My father [W. Earl Dole] worked in the
post office, and my mother [Edna Cowan Dole] had inherited
a farm from her father [Elmer Cowan] , so that there were
these two sources of income that we had to fall back on
always. I was the oldest of two children. My brother
[Kimsey Cowan Dole] was five years younger than I, so
that in a lot of ways I was brought up as an only child.
The ways that I became interested in art are kind
of mysterious to me, even now. There was very little
art to be seen in a town of that size and place. But
when I started school — which I very much wanted to do;
from the time I was about three years old on, I could
hardly wait to get started — There was a very good
art teacher [Florence Parsell] who came to our room once
a week, and I was fascinated by the projects which she
set for us. As nearly as I can remember, I made up my
mind when I was in the first grade to be an artist.
Possibly not on my own. I think somebody said, "You'd
make a great artist," and that always stuck with me. I
was pretty good in school, and I went rapidly through
grade school. I skipped half of the second grade and half
of the fifth grade and half of the eighth grade and ended
up in high school at the age of twelve, I think. [laughter]
In high school, it turned out, I had another art teacher
[Wilma Ale] who was also extremely good and very encouraging
to me. I had gotten, in the meanwhile--! think on my own--
very seriously interested in art. I think I was only
eleven or twelve when I sent to Sears and Roebuck for a
set of oil paints, which were actually a box of twelve
little tubes about an inch long with colors like mauve and
Harrison red and so on. There were a couple brushes and
a tiny bottle of turpentine and a tiny bottle of pale
drying oil. I also had ordered six academy boards, nine
by six inches. I made a palette out of the top of a cigar
box and glued a metal bottle cap on it for an oil cup
because I'd seen pictures of all this in some old
magazines somewhere. My first painting was the head of
a German shepherd dog, in profile against a mauve back-
ground, pure mauve. [laughter] My dabbling in oil
paints went on for several years. Someone told me that
window shades made awfully good things to paint on, old
window shades, because they were cloth and they were already
sized. But I never had too much success against that
dismal green color that all window shades were in those
days. At any rate, I was greatly encouraged to try other
media by my art teacher in high school, and I took as many
art courses as I could in high school.
The teacher, who had been a student at John Herron Art
Institute, promoted [me], and I got a scholarship to go
to John Herron when I finished high school. At the same
time, though, I had visited Olivet College on one of those
promotional things that colleges did; and I was visited
by representatives from the college who said that they would
match my scholarship at John Herron. So I had this choice
to make. I chose finally to go to college instead of going
to art school, which I now think was a good idea, in spite
of the fact that when I got to college, I discovered that
there was only one art teacher there; and her best years had
past, I think is the kindest way of referring to it. So,
after taking a few courses my first year, I changed to
English literature as my major because it was expected that
there would be new teachers in art coming along and meanwhile
I had had a very heavy interest in literature all these
years. I had done a lot of reading and even aspired at
various times to writing, which I never got around to
doing. But at any rate, I did major in English lit. for
most of my first three years in college. Finally, George
Rickey came to the college as artist in residence and
was really the first serious artist that I worked with.
The [Andrew] Carnegie Foundation had sent him there to
paint a mural in fresco, and I worked more as his appren-
tice and assistant than in any kind of class situation. I
did plastering and underpainting and a lot of the documen-
tary drawing that went into the final design of the mural;
I spent over a year working with him on this. At about
the same time, Harris King Prior came out to teach art
history. My degree actually is in art history.
NORDLAND: Your Olivet degree?
DOLE: Yes. Shall I go on?
NORDLA^]D: Sure. That's good.
DOLE: Well, following graduation, I had a job promised
with the Lakeside Press in Chicago and was very pleased
with this, except that there was a recession and the job
didn't materialize. After a quick trip to New York
with letters of introduction to everybody from Carl Van
Vechten to Julian Levy, and having no success, I went
back to college after Christmas to get my teaching
credential. My idea was to get a teaching credential
in English and keep my art separate from my teaching.
But when it came to doing practice teaching, it was learned
that I had majored in art, and since they had no art
teacher, I was forced to do my practice teaching in art.
I discovered after only one day that I loved it. Working
in art with young children particularly is very rewarding
and very pleasant. I could see how trying to teach gram-
mar would be a real drag in comparison, so I ended up
being an art teacher. I went that summer to the Art
Institute in Chicago and took a crash course in methods
of art education and also a very interesting course in
figure drawing with an artist named Kenneth Schopen--! ' ve
never heard anything about him since. Then I got a job
teaching, curiously enough, in my own hometown.
NORDLAND : Remarkable.
DOLE: Eleven hundred dollars a year, beginning salary,
NORDLAND: What year was that?
DOLE: It was 1939. I taught there for three years.
Being close to Olivet College, I spent a lot of my week-
ends up there and kept my intellectual interests alive.
There was a sculptor in residence named Milton Horn, who
now lives in Chicago, and I worked--well , I guess it was
later--I worked one summer as his assistant.
But in the summer of 1940, I came out to Mills Col-
lege for the summer session, when [Laszlo] Moholy-Nagy
and his faculty from the then Institute of Design in
Chicago were in residence. That was a very exciting and
rewarding experience I think. Particularly Moholy-Nagy
himself. And also Gyorgy Kepes was really a very, very
good teacher. And that was where I met my wife [Kathryn
Holcomb] , that s\immer.
NORDLAND: Then it was getting to be wartime,
DOLE: Then it was getting to be wartime, yes. And it was
getting to be married time. I went into the army in '42,
the spring of '42, and I was in the army for three and a
NORDLAND: What year did you get married?
DOLE: In '41 I think it was.
NORDLAND: Did you go back home to get married?
DOLE: Yes. It was a kind of mixed-up thing because Kate
was still in school and out of school, one way and another,
following me around, and it got very complicated. By
accident, I was in the air corps, and I was trained as
a radio mechanic, although I could never decide whether
electricity flowed from positive to negative or negative
to positive. And not being able to make that decision in
my own mind, I never could learn anything else about radio
NORDLAND: But they called you a radio operator?
DOLE: No, mechanic, radio mechanic. That was my official
designation. I was shipped off to Alaska as a radio
mechanic. But I quickly got a job there as a--two jobs:
one as a weather clerk, posting weather information in
the information center, and one as the squadron artist.
I had a tent as my studio, which was so dark I never even
went in it, much less used it. [laughter] But I had
some nice materials to work with, in exchange for
occasionally doing a poster for the day room and that sort
But then they changed the requirements for vision for
cadet training, and I applied for cadet training. I was
accepted in Alaska and got shipped back. Kate was then
living in Riverside--her family, you know, is from San
Bernardino. I was sent first to Camp Hahn, which is
approximately six miles from Riverside, which I thought was
zeroing in pretty close [laughter], lucking out in the
army in a way that very rarely happens. But then I
caught cold and lost the few pounds edge I had on the mini-
mum weight thing, and I was washed out before I ever got
started in cadet training. Then began a long migration that
we made-- That was in Denver. Kate came out to Denver, and
we went from Denver to Fresno, to someplace. Oh, on the
way to San Francisco, Billy got chicken pox, and we had
a nice emergency layover there. I finally ended up in
Spokane, in aviation engineers, in demolition school, of
all things. [laughter]
But then I got mononucleosis, which they thought was
rheumatic fever, and they put me in the air force
convalescent hospital there. While I was still a patient,
I ingratiated myself in the program as an artist and
finally got transferred there as an instructor in drawing
and painting, which is how I spent my last year in the army,
And it was probably the most rewarding-- It was one of the
really strong, developing periods inmy development. I
didn't have to do anything if I didn't have any students
to work with, and there were long periods of time when I
didn ' t have any students to work with. I had a big studio
and all the materials I wanted, and I could do my own work.
NORDLAND: What happened? You say it was a period of
development. What kind of development?
DOLE: Well, it was the first time that I had, you know,
really complete freedom to work on my own. Teaching in
public schools is such a murderous routine that you just
don't have much left over to do your own work. Being on
KP in the army normally isn't a very good way either. I
had this real freedom. At the same time, I was developing
a lot of interests, more serious interests somehow, in
technical matters and all sorts of-- Well, for example, I
was permitted to go into town one day a week, or half
a day a week, maybe, to do whatever research I wanted to
do. I spent my time reading the art journals — you remember,
Magazine of Art at that time was a very good magazine--
and looking into a lot of books that I hadn't-- One book
that I found at that time was Erie Loran ' s book on Cezanne
[ Cezanne's Composition ] , which was pretty important in my
development at that time. Also, Glen Wessels was teaching
at Eastern Washington State and doing an extension course,
which I enrolled in, and that was very important to me too.
Then I finally got out of the army. By that time
we had three children, and I took a job with an advertising
agency in a kind of training program that was supported
by the Veterans Administration jointly with this company.
NORDLAND: What city?
DOLE: In Spokane. Virgil A. Warren Advertising. Virgil
was a big wheel in Lions International. [laughter] After
about three months of that, possibly a little more, it
became pretty evident that I wasn't going to cut the
mustard as a commercial artist because I wasn't tempera-
mentally adjusted to it. I ' d be given a project to do,
and I would have in my mind a beautiful solution to this.
So, I would go to work on it and get it just right, and
then on a cost basis they would figure out that my earnings
for this was fifteen cents, or something of that sort. And
I'd spent three hours on it. My weekly checks were begin-
ning to get smaller and smaller, coming to sometimes — I
think thirteen dollars was the point where I decided that
I was wasting my time in that field.
So, I began applying around to various places to go
to school, to get a graduate degree on the GI Bill. I
applied to the School of Architecture at Harvard and was
accepted there with a personal letter from [Walter] Gropius
It was apparently on the basis of my study with Moholy-
Nagy that the thing was granted because there was nothing
in my academic background that would prepare me. But one
way and another, we finally decided that-- Oh, I was also
offered a job by George Rickey to go back and teach at
Muhlenberg College, where he was then teaching. But we
finally decided that I would go to Berkeley and get my
M.A. Glen Wessels was going back there to teach, and he
sort of encouraged me to do this. And Kate being a native
Californian, going back to California seemed like a good
NORDLAND: Loran was there too.
DOLE: And Erie was there, and it was actually Erie who
approved my admission after seeing some of the watercolors
that I had done when I was in Spokane. (At that time I
had wanted to be the world's greatest wa tercolorist ; that
was my real major interest in painting.) Then I entered
graduate school at Berkeley in the summer of '46, and by
just concentrating very hard, I finished the degree in the
spring of '47. it was a very good experience, I think,
for me because I had the opportunity of working with more
people than I had ever worked with in all the rest of
my previous training. I was particularly grateful to
have the opportunity to work with Margaret Peterson
O'Hagen and with [Chiura] Obata, as well as doing a lot
of work with Loran and Wessels and John Haley, I guess
those were the only ones I worked with very much. Oh,
I also got to know Neuhaus very well, but mostly drinking
coffee with him in the afternoons.
NORDLAND: I don't know Neuhaus.
DOLE: I guess he was before you were there. He goes
way, way back in Berkeley history. One of the first people
to teach art there. Eugen Neuhaus. He's from Munich.
He was the person who translated [Max] Dorner ' s Materials
of the Artist , you know.
NORDLAND: Oh, the translator of Dorner. My goodness,
that would take care of him for life, wouldn't it?
DOLE: It did. He was able to live the life of the real
traditional prof essor--gourne t cook, all the rest.
NORDLAND: Well, tell me more about your years there. Now,
up to that point you'd had the grammar school teacher, you
had the high school teacher, you hadn't had much of all
of that except that when Rickey came.
DOLE: Rickey came: that was the real beginning.
NORDLAND: You'd had Wessels in the army. Talk about
these people. What kind of example or what kind of
inspiration — What did they do for you?
DOLE: Well, an example of what they did, I suppose,
among other things: Rickey gave a series of lectures,
that were open to everybody, in which he talked about
the elements of drawing and painting, as I recall.
He'd been a student of Andre Lh6te--I don't know if
you knew that; you probably knew that. I took very
copious notes on this; that must have been in 1937,
say. Well, then, ten years later, when I was a graduate
student at Berkeley and thought that I had learned so
much from Loran about drawing and composition and so on,
I happened to run across these notes and discovered that
they were exactly what I had just relearned ten years
later, which, you know, demonstrates the notion that you
can only learn what is relevant to your experience. I
hadn't had the experience at the time that I learned
this from Rickey. What I did learn, I think, in all
these procedures were a kind of precocious (but not very
good) facility at drawing and a certain amount of technical
skill in painting. But I really hadn't had all that much
of the kind of hard day-after-day-after-day work that one
would get in an art school, for example. It was all very
flashy, of f-the-top-of-the-head kind of performance. I
was really a very late bloomer as an artist. In spite
of these teachers, I was largely self-taught.
NORDLAND: If you hadn't run into Wessels up in Washington,
would you still have gone to Cal, do you think?
DOLE: I think very likely I would have because Kate had
gone to Mills and two of her brothers had gone to Cal, and
she was very familiar with Berkeley and the whole scene
there. And the art department there had a very good repu-
tation at that time. They talk about the Berkeley school,
you know, of painting and all. All of those things together;
probably I would have gone there anyway.
NORDLAND: But you had thought about architecture.
DOLE: Yes, I had this idea off and on over a long period
of time actually. Strangely enough, one of the things that
discouraged me from pursuing it was reading, when I was
in Spokane, that book of William Lescaze, On Architecture ,
in which he pointed out the fact that the architect is
always working for a client. It occurred to me that it
would be very much like my experience with the advertising
agency, and I wanted a little more independence than that.
I had one other alternative, and that was to go back to
my teaching job in Indiana, which didn't appeal to me at
Well, then good fortune smiled on me as soon as I
finished my degree. Stephen Pepper offered me what was
a marvelous opportunity: that was, to stay on as a
lecturer in the art department and teach the introductory
drawing course for two years. It was a terminal kind of
situation and well understood on everybody's part, but
it gave me the opportunity of getting teaching experience
at that level under people that I knew and respected very
highly and with a kind of protective guidance and an
opportunity to do a lot of work on my own too. So, I
stayed there two more years as a lecturer. And because I
still had a little left over on my GI Bill, I was able
also to take a few more courses in the psychology of
perception, for example.
NORDLAND: Was [Rudolf] Arnheim there?
NORDLAND: He was there at one time, and the University of
California did publish his book.
DOLE: Yes, I think it was after I was there though. I
took this course with a psychologist named [Egon] Brunswick,
who has passed on long since.
While I was there, I began to exhibit a little bit.
One of my first exhibitions was some sort of a juried
exhibition at the Oakland Museum . Then I was
accepted in a national show that the [California
Palace of the] Legion of Honor put on , I can't
remember what it was called at that time; it was a
survey of painting [Second Annual Exhibition of Paintings],
Those are the exhibitions I remember most clearly.
NORDLAND: So, you completed your M.A. in '47, in one spring,
and then in '47-'48 and '48-'49 you were a lecturer. So,
it was during that period that you began to exhibit
seriously for the first time?
DOLE: Or tried to. Well, during the second year that I
was a lecturer, since it was understood that I would have
to find a job elsewhere, I began sending out applications.
In those days we didn't have a Xerox to make a hundred
copies of these, and I didn't even have a typewriter; so
I had to write all my letters of application by hand. I
made a very select list of about twenty-four colleges and
universities where I thought I might like to teach and sent
those out. Only three of these places eventually responded
favorably, and as it turned out, the only one that came
through was Santa Barbara, where I have been ever since.
And I must say, it's been a very good place to be. [laughter]
NORDLAND: Driving around today, reaching this place, made
me feel that at least from my point of view — of course, it
is something of a holiday--that the pressures seem to be
somewhat less here than they are in San Francisco or Los
DOLE: Very true.
NORDLAND: What was the college like when you came here?
DOLE: The university had taken over this campus in 1946,
and it had previously been a state teachers college or
a state college and before that a state normal school with
an emphasis on training teachers in industrial arts and home
economics and elementary education. The art department
had been geared to that service responsibility. But
when the university took over, they tried very rapidly
to upgrade the institution, to change the image. Among
the other edicts that came down was that no one could
hope to continue with tenure who didn't have a doctorate
degree. It didn't matter whether it was an Ed.D. or
whatever kind of degree as long as it said "Doctor."
There was a great rush on the part of faculty to begin
work on doctoral programs, mostly in Ed.D.s, in education.
Oregon State was a very popular place to rush off to.
Well, I decided very early that either I was going to make
it with my master's degree or I wasn't, but I wasn't going
to go this route, which I didn't do. As it turned out, I
was one of the first two to be promoted to tenure without
a doctorate on this campus.
Well, anyway, the art department had begun to evolve
from a program that was very heavy in crafts — There were
courses in weaving and ceramics and basketmaking and
leather tooling and artistic needlework and toy making,
if you can believe it, as well as lettering and photography
and drawing and painting and methods of art education for
the elementary school and for the secondary school and a
survey course in art history, I believe. Most of the
faculty were people who had been trained in the art
education field. Some of them had had experience as
teachers in that area. There was one Ph.D. in the department
who preceded me by one year; this was Elliott Evans,
who's been at that Society of California Pioneers Museum
[in San Francisco] ever since he left here. His Ph.D. is
in history and not in art history. But that didn't matter,
because he was a proper "Doctor." He became chairman the
second year I was here and was chairman for five years.
He was very influential in developing this department
in the right — and strengthening it a great deal.
My initial appointment was as an instructor. It was
kind of a two-year appointment to serve as a sabbatical
replacement. None of the regular faculty members had
ever had, previous to my coming, a sabbatical; so they
were lined up for their turns at this, and I had to
replace each successive one with a rather wide variety
of courses. [laughter] In my first two or three years,
I taught thirteen different courses: drawing, painting,
printmaking, ceramics, both of the art education courses,
the art appreciation. God knows what else.
NORDLAND: That's seven.
DOLE: Well, the beginning and advanced in all of these,
NORDLAND: Well, that's fourteen.
DOLE: That's fourteen, right. We taught four studio
courses a week in those days, six-hour courses each. So,
we spent four full days — long, hard days — in the class-
room. Which meant that one's ov;n creative activity and
research was done nights and weekends.
I launched into this very ambitious program of
submitting work to every possible exhibition that was
available or open to me. My idea, which worked, was to build
up as rapidly as possible a long exhibitions record to
present as evidence of research in place of the doctorate
degree or publication. As a result of that, and because
there were at that time a lot of exhibitions available to
painters, there were many opportunities, and I got together
a pretty long list.
TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE TWO
DECEMBER 6, 1975
NORDLAND: We're discussing your experiences at the
University of California, Santa Barbara, and the tv;enty-
seven or twenty-eight years that you've been here. I'd
like to have you talk about how the department has changed
and grown, your memories of it.
DOLE: Since this goes back twenty-seven-odd years, it's
a rather long story, I suppose, but I'll try to touch the
points that seem of importance to me. The department, when
I came here, was largely directed to courses for people
who planned to be public school art teachers, or service
courses for people who were going to teach in the elemen-
tary schools as elementary teachers, or for home economics
teachers. As a result, there was this emphasis on crafts,
and the courses in drawing and painting were more directed
to the kinds of techniques that would be used in the schools
The students had to make things like color wheels, and they
did all of these projects in perspective that could be
taught to eighth-grade students, that kind of thing. Art
history was purely a very casual survey kind of thing.
But by the time I came here, there was serious considera-
tion given to going into more depth in painting and sculp-
ture and [so on]. I took over a course which had to do
with printing on textiles--I forget what it was called.
Out of that I made the first printmaking class.
NORDLAND: It was block printing on textiles?
DOLE: Yes, block printing on textiles, and I think they'd
gotten a little bit into experimenting with silk-screening
on textiles. Anyway, I introduced intaglio printing and a
more serious use of silk screen within the limitations of
the facilities. The weaving program — after a couple years
here, the woman who taught it made a survey of all the
high schools in California to discover what courses were
indeed taught in high schools, or what activities of
that sort, and discovering that weaving was only taught in
a couple high schools, she resigned her position. [laughter]
It was only a part-time position anyway. But on the basis
of this survey and other studies, we began to divest our-
selves of some of the courses. Lettering, I think, wasn't
offered after the second year I'd been here. Leather work
had never been taught since I'd been here. We continued
photography. And ceramics was quite a strong program even
then. It was taught by Jacob Lindberg-Hansen, who'd been
trained in the Royal Academy in Denmark and was really a
very accomplished person technically.
From the time I came here until 1954, the university
was on the Riviera campus, which was in Santa Barbara, up
on the hill. The original plan had been to move the campus
after the university took over to another campus which was
down near the beach, called the Mesa campus, where
[Santa Barbara] City College presently is located. But
between the university taking over and the time I came
here, the present campus had been offered to the university
by the government. It had been a marine air station during
World War II. The federal government sold it for a dollar,
or something like that, to the university — four hundred and
some-odd acres —
DOLE: Which made it then the biggest campus in the whole
system. I believe Irvine is bigger now and probably also
Santa Cruz. But the stories that came through to Berkeley
about this dream campus, with all of these stone officers'
quarters that were going to be turned over to the faculty
to live in and this idyllic beach setting, made it sound
like a terribly attractive place to come to. The officers'
quarters we never were able to find here, and it was, of
course, five years before we did finally move out here, and
then under rather primitive circumstances.
The art library, when I came here, consisted of maybe
a couple hundred books, it seems to me, most of which had
to do with topics like--one of my favorite books — How To
Design Period Furniture . [laughter] And the usual old
editions of Helen Gardner and that kind of thing. But the
acquisitions librarian at that time [Hobart Berelsheimer]
was a terribly understanding, very conscientious man
totally devoted to building the library, and he established
a policy of being extraordinarily generous with the guide-
lines for acquisitions in art books, a policy which has
continued until today, which is why we have a really good
art library. One of my first responsibilities was being
the departmental liaison with the library, so I v/as very
closely involved with that early development.
Well, anyway, when I first came here, the enrollment
was fairly large, around 2,400, I think, because of the GI
Bill. But by the time we moved to this new campus, the
enrollment had dropped to around 1,500, I think, as the
GI Bill was working out. The prediction was that nobody
wants to go out there and live in that mudhole, that slough,
that the place "is going to fold up; it'll never go."
Well, now that we have 14,500 students, this theory has
been refuted. The original plan for this campus was to
limit the enrollment to 2,500, to have only undergraduate
instruction, and to develop a liberal arts college which
would be the equivalent of distinguished, small, liberal
arts colleges in the East, like Swarthmore. By the time
we actually moved here, the figure'd been moved up to
3,500. The art building had been in the planning stage
since before we moved to this campus and had been predicated,
originally, on a 2,500 maximum enrollment, which would
anticipate, at the most, something like eighty majors.
The original buildings that we moved into on this campus
were three of the two-story barracks-type buildings. We
converted the bottom floor of one of those into an art
gallery, which was really quite a handsome thing, with cork
floors; the walls were covered v;ith plywood, which was covered
with cloth, and we had very good lighting, and it made a
very satisfactory gallery situation. The space that we had
was in some ways more flexible and usable than our present
space, although we didn't have quite as many studios.
The first art historian with a proper Ph.D. was hired
around 1953; Mario Del Chiaro was the first one. No, it
was after we came to this campus, so it must have been '55.
Then I left on sabbatical the following year and went to
Florence and stayed for two years actually.
NORDLAND: How did you arrange a two-year sabbatical?
DOLE: I took the second year as a leave of absence, with-
out salary--used up a nest egg that had been earmarked for
buying a house. When I came back, the present art building
was pretty well under construction. Ground had been broken;
the plans were all jelled and everything. I was dismayed
at the way the plans had developed from our years of very
careful planning and so on, which is another story alto-
gether. But the department was slowly growing, but really
rather slowly growing. Howard Warshaw came as my replacement
while I was on sabbatical, and then stayed on as a regular
appointee. Shortly after I came back--
NORDLAND: When? In '55- '56?
DOLE: In '55- '56, '56- '57, yes. Then I became chairman of
the department in 1958 and was chairman for five years.
And my second year of the chairmanship, we moved into the
new building. I think it was at that time that I hired a
second ceramics instructor, Jiggs [Conway] Pierson. We
hired a printmaker. We made several attempts to enlarge
art history, but we didn't make a regular appointment until
Alfred Moir came, more or less specifically to be my
replacement as chairman (but he came a year before I finished
my five-year tour) .
Well, first of all, shortly after we moved into the
new building, the regents declared this to be no longer a
limited-enrollment campus; it v;as to become a general campus
and to develop an enrollment as large as Berkeley or UCLA.
At the same time, they ended the program in industrial
arts, with which we shared space in this building. In fact,
industrial arts had two-thirds of the original space. So
after [that] program was phased out, which would take four
years, we were going to get a tremendous -^:^ount of space
and be able to expand. Well, as it turned out, by the time
industrial arts phased out, a wholly developed college of
engineering was brought in, with a complete faculty.
already intact, brought in from Yale, They went into the
space that we were to occupy, vacated by industrial arts.
The art department has lived in continual hope of getting
more space in that building, and we've gotten a little bit,
but a very little bit. Now that a new engineering building
is built, electrical and mechanical engineering moved out,
but their space was filled by the expansion of chemical
and nuclear engineering. Now chemical is moving out, I
believe, but the nuclear people are expanding into that
space. We never seem to get the space.
NORDLAND: How large is your faculty now?
DOLE: We now have around twenty-eight FTE [full-time
equivalent] faculty positions. I think there were nine
or ten when I first came here. But the big expansion
happened after my chairmanship, which terminated in '63.
At that time, Alfred Moir took over as chairman, and this
was the time when enrollment began to expand very rapidly
here. We began to get a great number of additional
positions and increases in the budget. I think one year
we got as many as five new positions. The whole art history
program developed from that time on. In addition to Del
Chiaro, who is an antique man, we hired a medievalist, a
Renaissance person, an Orientalist, first one nineteenth-
century person and then another, and so on. I think there
are now eleven art historians, all Ph.D.s, and the rest
of the people are in studio. But we expanded ceramics,
for example, to three people, and printmaking to two, and
sculpture to two, and the rest of them are all painters.
NORDLAND: Who double in drawing?
DOLE: Yes. Well, we had one person who taught photography
also, as well as painting and drawing, but the demands
in enrollment have made it impossible for him to--
Well, to continue this chairmanship thing: Alfred
was chairman for six years and then Mario Del Chiaro was
chairman for two years, and then I took up responsibility
again for three more years, from '71 to '74, And it was
during this time that, although the campus enrollment
was dropping, enrollment of majors in the art department
was expanding at a phenomenal rate. I don't have at hand
the statistics, but in the studio area I think the majors
more than doubled within those three years.
NORDLAND: When was the period of the Isla Vista riots?
DOLE: That was in — what? — '69, '70, '71, around there.
And I think, as a department, we had rather less trouble
than most or a lot of departments. Our students somehow
didn't seem to be as actively involved; and although we
established workshops for students to do posters and so
on, after the first week of activity, no one seemed to be
very much interested in making posters in that situation.
NORDLAND: I remember now that the time that I had made
the big loan to you from the San Francisco Museum [of
Art] was when it happened, which was somewhat scary to me.
That was ' 70.
DOLE: Yes. There was some minor vandalism around the
department, but not anything extensive. Only one of
our faculty members [David Kunzle] was very much involved;
he's no longer with us.
NORDLAND : Are there any particular faculty people, either
in history or studio, that have played special roles in
the development of the department?
DOLE: Well, I think probably because of being in charge
during the period of greatest expansion, and because, I
think, of all the people in the department he has a greater
interest in both art history and studio, Alfred Moir had
a great responsibility for its development. There is
presently a growing interest on the part of the art
historians to secede from the studio area and form a
separate department, which is a notion that is rigidly
opposed by this administration.
NORDLAND: You mean the chancellor?
DOLE: Yes, and the vice-chancellor.
NORDLAND: Does that include also the faculty in studio?
DOLE: The studio faculty, I think, are not actively
engaged in trying to keep the art historians with them,
but I don't know of any person in the studio area who, at
the same time, is actively agitating for separation from
the art historians. On the other hand, I think Alfred is
almost the only historian who doesn't want to break off
and form a separate department. Historically, as you know,
the development of art departments in the West, west of
the Mississippi, has always been, first, the studio area
and, then, art history develops out of that later,
whereas nearly all of our art historians have an eastern
background, where the horse came before the cart or the
other way around, [laughter]
NORDLAND: Well, even at Berkeley, the authenticity of a
studio program has been challenged, the feeling being
that art is not really a discipline and it's not really
something that can be measured or adequately studied.
But art history is a discipline, and it can be studied, and
it can be measured, and therefore it's a proper subject
for a university degree and a university department.
DOLE: The argument for studio though is that it's one
of the rare disciplines which can produce the subject of
its own investigation. Pure history isn't able. It's
maybe not a very good argument, but it's an interesting one.
NORDLAND: Has there been a lot of coming and going, a lot
of turnover among your personnel?
DOLE: Actually there hasn't been a great deal of turnover.
In the studio area in my time, apart from people who have
retired — Renzo Fenci, the sculptor, left to go to Otis,
where he's been ever since it was originally founded as
the Los Angeles Art Institute. Thomas Cornell left to
go to Bowdoin College, Don Lent left to go to Bates College,
and Thomas Bang left to go to SUNY [State University of
New York] at--
DOLE: Yes. Of art historians, within my chairmanship,
I had to let one go, two go, because of inadequate
evidence of publication and research, and a third more
recently was given a terminal appointment for that reason.
We lost a medievalist for similar reasons, two medievalists,
but not during my chairmanships. But that's a pretty modest
record of turnover.
NORDLAND: In so large a department.
DOLE: There have been people who've been on temporary
appointments, acting assistant professors, associates, and
acting instructors, and so on. But of regular ladder
appointments, that's kind of remarkable.
NORDLAND: Well, maybe you could talk a little bit about
the history of the art gallery here at UCSB: where it's
been and where it's going and how long its building has
DOLE: The original activity in the way of exhibitions was
on the old campus, where there were maybe eight or ten
glassed overcases, which could only be reached by a real
gymnastic effort because they were all located over
stairwells that went into the basement areas. These
were used to display student work, and changing these
exhibitions was the responsibility of a small committee,
of which I, as the newest faculty member, v;as usually
the responsible person. We had a kind of hallway that led
to the upstairs area which was used for student exhibition,
but I seem to remember a couple small exhibitions of
some kind that were done in there. I have no idea what
they were anymore. Then, when we first moved to the
new campus, we had the downstairs of one of these barracks,
which I mentioned before, and we borrowed some exhibitions
of drawings, for example, from the Santa Barbara Museum.
We had an exhibition of the work of Donald Bear, who, of
course, by that time had died. I had a one-man show there
one summer I recall. We showed a lot of student work.
The whole program was very casual. There probably was a
committee responsible for it, but the whole department
sort of worked on the thing.
Then, after we moved to the new building, we had
planned for an exhibition gallery space. And the first
battle that we had to solve was that the industrial arts
people, since it was in this building that we shared
jointly, had the idea that it was also their exhibition
space. They wanted to show the history of transportation,
you know, the development of the bicycle and all that sort
of thing, industrial design, and so on. Somehow, we ini-
tially won that battle to make this purely space for an
art gallery. In addition to being chairman when we moved
to the new building, I also assumed the position of
acting director of the art gallery, which position I
maintained for two years until David Gebhard was appointed
specifically to be director of the gallery as v/ell as
NORDLAND: He was professor of architectural history?
DOLE: Yes, architectural history. The first exhibition
that we had in the gallery was the Max Beckmann paintings
that belonged to Stephan Lackner, which he very graciously
loaned to us; and I must say, it was a spectacular exhibition,
NORDLAND: What year would that have been?
DOLE: That must have been — I have the catalog for it.
I think it was probably in the late fall of '59 or early
winter of '60 [September 16-October 6, 1959]. I remember
it was raining the day that we moved the things from his
house to the campus in a couple station wagons, and we
discovered that to have them under cover all the way from
the car to the gallery meant unloading them down in the
engineering department's loading room and taking them up
in the elevator, and then a roundabout way through all
the covered passages, because this building was designed
for — Well, for example, on a rainy day, you can't go to
the men's room unless you have an umbrella if you're in the
south end of the building because they're all upstairs and
the stairs have no roof over 'em. We had a similar
problem. Anyway, that great self-portrait of Beckmann's,
you know, with the hunting horn, we had positioned opposite
the glass front (the front doors were then glass) , and
just as the hour of opening the exhibition came, the sun
was quite low in the west there, and it shone through those
doors and just picked out the marvelous orange shirt and
the brass horn. It was, you know, like almost a biblical,
triumphant thing. That must have been early fall when we
did that, because Ala Story assisted with a Christmas show
that we did which followed that. She laid the groundwork
for making the loans from a number of dealers in Los
Angeles and from private collectors. We borrowed Margaret
Mallory's baroque angels and hung them from the ceiling.
And that huge wooden thing of Wright Ludington's of one
of the saints. And some marvelous Neapolitan cr&che
figures from a woman. And what was the name of that
dealer in Los Angeles? Adolph Loewi. He loaned us some
really beautiful things. And there was a very old dealer
here in town, now dead [A. Falvy] ; he was no longer
actively dealing, but he had some great things that he
loaned us. And that was such a beautiful show. Then
we showed [Rico] Lebrun's cartoons for the Scripps
College murals, one of the early shows. And we showed--
Well, we actually showed Esther Bear's private collection,
which in a roundabout way led to her establishing her
own gallery because the walls were bare and she needed some-
thing-- I mean [this show] went to several museums. But
the whole gallery operation was done without any additional
clerical help either or staff. The hanging was done by
a faculty committee. I had only one and a half people
in the office staff for the department, and they doubled
up and did all of the additional gallery work too,
NORDLAND: Clerical work and catalog preparation.
DOLE: Correspondence and so on. Well, in 1960, we
acquired the Sedgwick collection, and from that time on
we began to develop a budget for supporting the exhibitions
program, creating separate staff, and so on.
NORDLAND: Are you actively collecting?
NORDLAND: Was that a policy decision?
DOLE: It's hard to know what it is. This all comes by
gift, as you know, and the Art Affiliates have been very
helpful from time to time in this.
NORDLAND: Did they sponsor one show per year?
DOLE: They've now established a program doing that,
but they didn't have a regular program for doing that.
They didn't really even have a specific acquisitions program,
Most of their acquisitions recently have been directed
toward the Ala Story Print Collection, which is a separate
thing, you know, which Ala herself started with her
purchases from the — what is it? — the Achenbach collection
in San Francisco, you know. VJhen Gunther Troche began
weeding that out, he gave her first choice of a lot of
duplicate materials, and she bought maybe fifty prints
from him — beautiful Hans Burkmeyers — really nice stuff.
And that is the basis of the Ala Story Print Collection.
But the example of the Sedgwick collection has never
borne fruit as far as being bait to attract large gifts.
NORDLAND: Do you find it useful to have a gallery devoted
100 percent of the time to the Sedgwick holdings?
DOLE: I don't personally. I don't find the material that
NORDLAND: Is it used that much by the faculty for study
DOLE: The faculty, I think, has not developed the kind
of interest in it that one would hope they had, either for
their own research or as teaching material.
NORDLAND: One of the problems, I think, of art history
teaching is that it's often more convenient to deal with
slides of familiar things, with a rich literature, rather
than to deal with real works of art which are seen and
understood, examined personally, but that do not neces-
sarily have that rich literature connected with them,
DOLE: I think there are a lot of very interesting art
historical problems there, but there are probably other
more interesting ones that they'd rather get involved with
On the other hand, the [Sigmond] Morgenroth collection of
medals has been used by graduate students for a number
of papers, much more widely used.
NORDLAND: I saw today that there were students working on
classical material, undoubtedly assigned by Del Chiaro.
NORDLAND: There was also a couple of kids that were
working on a baroque painting.
DOLE: I think that baroque painting is from Alfred Moir's
own collection, and he's occasionally made available these
things for classes.
TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE ONE
DECEMBER 6, 19 75
DOLE: The thing I'd like to talk about now is what
the resources in a small midwestern town were for the
inspiration and information of somebody who was inter-
ested in art. If it's true, as I believe it is, that art
begets art, I can't for the life of me figure out what
art it was that gave me the notion of being interested
in art or being an artist or of creating works of art,
except that somewhere something struck a chord. It must
have been pictures I saw in magazines because there
certainly were no original works of art that I could see,
and — I'll get to this a little later — I don't really think
I saw an original painting of any consequence at all until
I went to the World's Fair in Chicago in 1933, when I was
fifteen years old.
One of the most vivid memories I have--and I already
must have had a very strong interest in art by that time —
was discovering, in the attic of a cottage at Lake James
that we acquired and where we spent a number of summers, a
pile of old women's magazines. The ones I remember best
were Ladies' Home Journal , which must have been published
around 1900, or possibly even earlier. They were very
lavishly produced magazines, I recall, and in each one
there was a center section, a kind of portfolio of drav;ings
that were reproduced in sepia; apparently a lot of the
drawings were done in red chalk or red conte crayon,
and they were reproduced in those colors. There were some
landscapes that were done in traditional, Barbizon school
style of drawing, and there were a number of figure
drawings. I'm sure that among them must have been a lot
of drawings of Edward Burne-Jones . I don't specifically
remember the drawings, but I do remember that name, which
always stuck in my mind. I must have been eleven or
twelve years old at the time I ran into these, but the ele-
gance of these drawings and the enormous finish that v/as
characteristic of all of them was very impressive to me.
At the same time, in various places, I was acquiring
information about what kinds of equipment and tools and
materials and so on artists used. It was very much like--
and I'd gone through this earlier — how a kid who's hooked
on baseball '11 cut out all kinds of things from newspapers,
everything that has to do with baseball: I was continually
looking for things that had to do with artists. I recall
that somewhere I saw a picture of the kind of crayon holder
that was used in the nineteenth century and discovered that
I could get one of these from Sears and Roebuck too. So
I got one of these brass crayon holders and some black
conte crayons and white conte crayons and five hundred
sheets of gray manila paper, also nine by six inches,
like my academy boards for oil painting. But somehow,
in the pictures I had of artists with a crayon
holder, I didn't get the idea that you had to sharpen the
crayons, and it was a terribly crude drawing tool to use
on sheets of paper only nine by six inches. [laughter] I
really never liked the work that I did with them, but I
felt obligated to carry on the tradition with this material.
Apart from magazines, which-- Well, that was the age, in
the twenties and early thirties, when magazines were rather
lavishly illustrated; and illustrators like McClelland Bar-
clay and John La Gatta and that man who did the Arrow Collar
things were very impressive to me.
I also had the resources of the public library, which
was one of those Carnegie public libraries. The total
resources in the art section were very slim. There were, I'm
sure, not more than a dozen books altogether on art. In
addition to the inevitable Helen Gardner--in one of the
very early editions; those little tiny, smudgy black
illustrations — there vjas a book with the baffling title of
How To Judge a Picture , which I never read because I
couldn't understand what the title meant. There was a
book, one of the standard histories of sculpture I believe,
and a book that really was most impressive to me , a book
by a writer named F. Hopkinson Smith called Outdoor
Sketching . Smith was, I think, a professional writer, a
novelist probably, but an avid amateur painter; and the
book Outdoor Sketching was a kind of series of reminiscences
of his own experiences drawing and painting out of doors.
I think there was another book of his called Under the White
Umbrella which was a similar series of reminiscences. (The
white umbrella, of course, is the traditional v;hite
umbrella that, when one painted out of doors, one put over
the easel to protect it from the direct rays of the sun.)
But these were beautifully inspirational books for me
because they talked about real artists working with real
artists' materials. The whole romantic basis of the
Munich school of still lifes, with the light shining from
old copper pots and brass candlesticks and crumpled velvet,
that sort of thing, created a whole kind of aesthetic for
me that was very vivid.
In high school, though, I did learn from my art
teachers a lot more about the history of art. I suppose
a lot of my romantic illusions were corrected in that time,
so that I probably was quite a bit more knowledgeable than
I recall nov;.
When I finally did get to Chicago to see that
tremendous loan exhibition at the Art Institute which filled
all the galleries in the place-- I remember my mother went
with me to this exhibition. We went rather early in the
morning, and I made her, poor thing, go around with me. Vie
just barely got through the last gallery by the time they
closed at five or six o'clock in the evening. She was
terribly exhausted, of course, but I v;as so stimulated
by this--I couldn't believe my-- Well, just eating up
the pictures in one gallery and going into another huge
gallery and discovering another whole room full of paintings,
real hand-painted oils: it was just a staggering
experience. But the curious thing is, I can only remember
a few of the actual paintings. I haven't looked recently
into the catalog, which I still have, to discover what it
was I did see. But last year, or about a year and a half
ago, I was at the Smith College Museum, and I, by chance,
walked into the gallery where that big Courbet, The
Preparation for the Wedding , is, you know. I almost fell
flat on my back because that was one of the paintings
that I remembered from Chicago, very vividly. I had
forgotten it was at Smith, and running onto it cold like
that was quite a surprise. I also remember a painting by
Rockwell Kent called Mount Equinox , which impressed me
very strongly, and a painting by Edward Hopper, which must
have been that one called [ Nighthawks ] , the girl sitting
in the all-night cafe. But strangely enough, those are
the ones that stick in memory.
NORDLAND: Were you there only one day? You saw the show
DOLE: I can only remember spending that whole day in the —
NORDLAND: That was at the World's Fair? It was not
at the actual museum building?
DOLE: No, this was at the Art Institute itself. The other
thing I remember from that fair v;as Buckminster Fuller's
Dymaxion House, which impressed me enormously. It v;as
that circular house.
NORDLAND: Hung on a pole?
DOLE: Yes. And I have always sort of had an interest in
Fuller since that time.
In contrast to this kind of naive, provincial,
underprivileged background, I should bring in a very funny,
and curious I suppose, thing, which is how I was spending
my summers. Beginning about this time, for three or four
summers I caddied at the golf course. And the money that I
made from this, part of it, I took and subscribed to
Vanity Fair , which I found in the corner ice cream parlor
newsstand; and of all places, in Angola, to find Vanity
Fair on the newsstand is a staggering accident. I
subscribed to Vanity Fair , well, until it finally folded
and was absorbed by Vogue . So, I did have those beautiful
color reproductions in that magazine and quite a lot of
pretty sophisticated articles about modern painting.
NORDLAND: While you were in high school?
DOLE: While I was in high school. I think it was just
after I went to college that Vanity Fair folded down. I
remember several extraordinary Picasso reproductions
and a Manet that was a knockout.
NORDLAND: And people like Gilbert Seldes and e. e, cummings
would write articles for the magazine too.
DOLE: Right, yes.
NORDLAND: Well, then at Olivet you had really a general
education. This experimental educator, Mr. Joseph Brewer,
had quite a few unusual ideas about education, didn't he?
DOLE: Yes, I should mention that. Olivet College had
been a Congregational college, founded sometime back in
the 1850s or late forties as an offshoot from Oberlin
College. During the Depression, it became increasingly
difficult for the church to support the college. So,
in 1934 there was a kind of financial arrangement under
which Joseph Brewer came to the college as president
and was permitted to initiate some rather sweeping
educational changes, which began the same year that I
entered there as a freshman. What he did was, in fact,
to initiate the tutorial system, as it is done at Oxford.
Joe had gone to Dartmouth and then had gone to Oxford
and taken his degree there. He worked in London on the
London Spectator for a considerable period of time before
moving on to New York and getting involved in publishing
with [G. P.] Putnam, who was Amelia Earhart's husband.
They had published a number of very adventurous books.
like the first books of Gertrude Stein's which were
published in this country and the English edition of
Le Corbusier's first books, and they published Count
[Alfred] Korzybski's Science and Sanity , the semantics
book, and a number of other things. All of these people
eventually came to Olivet while I was there: Gertrude
Stein, Le Corbusier. Korzybski spent about a year there,
giving a series of lectures for the college. At any rate,
we had this tutorial system. He brought in a number of
faculty members, young faculty people, several of them from
Oxford. Then, during all the years I was there, there was
a great resource for faculty members in the refugee scholars
that were leaving Europe at that time. Quite a number
of the faculty were drawn from among these refugees. But
the important thing to me , I think as far as my educational
experience there, was the fact that knowing all of these
people in literature and the arts and so on and Olivet
being located sort of on the way from New York to Chicago
and points west, Joseph was able to entice people to
stop at Olivet for a weekend or a few days, or for longer
periods of time sometimes, but at least to give a lecture
or to talk to students or in some cases even to stay on
and give courses, but within a very informal kind of
atmosphere. I should sometime try to sit down and
reconstruct the list of people that I not only heard
lecture but in some cases got to know fairly well. Just
off the top of my head, besides Gertrude Stein, with whom
several students and I spent a very pleasant evening
chatting, and Le Corbusier, who gave a lecture in French,
which I didn't very much profit from, and Korzybski, who
taught there, Carl Sandburg came over frequently to give
readings and singings and whatever. Sherwood Anderson spent
all of a winter; I guess he lived in Olivet maybe six months
and went out and drank beer with us and had a jolly time
all the way around. Ford Madox Ford lived there for the
last couple of years of his life and wrote one of his last
books, called The March of Literature [ from Confucius' Day
to Our Own ] , while he was there. He would have regular
meetings with students in which he would read chapters from
his book as they were completed. He was married to a very
interesting painter. She painted under the name of Biala.
Her proper first name was Janice, and she was Jack Tworkov's
sister. She's still painting and had a show in New York
just in the last couple of years I think.
NORDLAND: Janice Ford?
DOLE: Yes. She was later married to a guy who did covers
for the New Yorker , a French name — can't remember [Alain
Daniel Brustlein] . Anyway, Olivet also had a very active
program of summer writers' conferences, and I spent several
summers up there working in various capacities and met
people like W. H. Auden , Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon,
and Jean Starr Untermeyer. Klaus Mann was there for
a while. Well, anyway, that was the general milieu.
The other tv/o things I'd like to speak about in
relation to that, quite apart from my academic matters,
was that Joseph had a considerable collection of works
of art of his own, which he very generously put in the
commons rooms and throughout the college, and they
included, among other things, a rather large selection
of very beautiful, early Eugene Berman drawings, which
impressed me a great deal. And there were also some
Vorticist works —
NORDLAND: Wyndham Lewis?
DOLE: Wyndham Lewis and so on. And a big [Fernand]
Leger lithograph, a colored one.
NORDLAND: What period would that be?
DOLE: The Leger? It must have been from the twenties
or so. And there was a small [Pavel] Tchelitchew painting
that I remember, which was very handsome.
NORDLAND: Did you say that he had Berman paintings too
DOLE: Well, he had mostly the Berman drawings. He had
some paintings of Barman's brother, Leonid. And this
necromantic thing was his. Most of his collection, even
today, is centered around that kind of thing. He also
made available in the library a selection of books, which
I think was a very casual selection as far as he was
concerned, books on art which were of enormous interest
to me because they were not duplicates of anything
available in the rather small library of the college. They
included some of the early Museum of Modern Art catalogs,
and among them the most impresive, I think, to me was
the Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism catalog and the
Cubism and Abstract Art . There were several books on
African sculpture, which I had not been familiar with
before, which were very interesting, Le Corbusier's book
Toward a New Architecture and the others, and some of
the Bauhaus books (I think Moholy-Nagy ' s New Vision was
one) . Then there were also books on this necromantic
thing and some books on Mexican art and that famous book,
called The Painter's Object , of Myfanwy Evans. But those
things were very important to my education and totally
outside the structure of any classes or formal study that
I was doing. That's about the extent, I guess.
NORDLAND: Let's break there, then, and begin a new section
talking about the development of your art from the time
that you came to the University of California at Santa
Barbara, having completed your work at UC Berkeley. You
had two years of work as a lecturer, teaching the
beginning drawing class, had begun to exhibit your work.
and you had decided that you were going to succeed as a
college professor and secure your advancement based on
your professional achievement as a painter. Let's talk,
then, about what the problems were in 1949 and '50, and
let's talk about your content and your techniques and hov/
you proceeded to develop your art.
DOLE: When I came here, I was interested in and using
a rather wide variety of media. I suppose I was using
a wide variety of approaches to images also. Coming out
of the Bay Area in those years, I was very much aware, on
the one hand, of the kinds of things that Clyfford
Still and Mark Rothko and people at the California School
[of Fine Arts] were into. I'd seen a lot of the early
work of [Richard] Diebenkorn and Hassel Smith and those
people, and I was intrigued by this. It seems to me that
this was a lot closer to abstract expressionism than most
people give it credit for, and I was surely aware of that
long before I was aware of what was going on in New York.
At the same time, in my own work, I was involved in a kind
of romantic approach to Ash Can kinds of subject matter,
back alley things, which, I suppose, is a hangover from the
social realist background of a lot of my training during
the war, my interests during the war and earlier. As a
matter of fact, that was the aesthetic within which George
Rickey worked when I was working with him. He was not, you
know, a sculptor; he was a painter with a very strong
social realist conscience and direction.
At any rate, at Berkeley, though, I was thoroughly
conditioned to respect the picture plane, the integrity
of the plane, the flattening of space, the avoidance of
any suggestion of deep space, and so on, so I had a funny
kind of system of taboos within which to work. I was still
terribly interested in continuing ray work in watercolor,
which had begun when I was in the army. But by this tirae
I also had begun doing oil paintings on gesso panels, using
very thin color and a lot of glazes, and generally working
very transparently with oil, even to the extent of putting
on glazes over the white gesso with my fingertips. I think
eventually it got so precious, the technique and the meager
effect of it, that I really gave up oil painting because
it turned so artificial for me. [laughter] I got my
fingers so dirty too.
At the same time, having been involved with teaching
drawing at Berkeley and using charcoal mainly as a
medium, I'd never gotten around very much to exploring
charcoal myself as a drawing medium. So, I made a big
series of charcoal drawings extending over several years
after I got here, which were very much admired by Donald
Bear. I think at some time in this tape I should make
a special tribute to Donald Bear and the influence he had
on my work and all the things this meant to me. But
meanwhile in my own work at that time, I was working
with a variety of media, and my early exhibitions were
made up of oil paintings and watercolors and drawings
all put together. I was also doing a great deal of
small drawings in pencil on this miserable kind of yellow
paper, which I've never been able to show because they're
so cheap and the color of the paper changes so radically
if they're exposed to light. I must have hundreds and
hundreds and hundreds of pages of these, which I gathered
primarily simply as material to work from in my water-
colors and oils, which were constructed in the classic
way, beginning with a few thumbnail ideas and developing
them and changing and manipulating, gathering details
from here and there, and putting it all together, and so
on, and finally getting to the point of setting it down
in a completed statement. Increasingly, I began more and
more to be interested in architectural subjects as far as
my paintings were concerned. I roamed around in the back
alleys of lower Santa Barbara, lower State Street and
around in that area, where I found a lot of fascinating
material, fascinating to me in the sense of the color and
texture and pattern of worn, faded, ruined walls and
surfaces of that sort. Then I began also making a lot
of synthetic architectural things, which came very close
to being purely abstract, except that they revealed a
rather shallow space.
NORDLAND: Now, in 1951, you had a one-man show at the
Santa Barbara Museum. How did you gather your strength
for that, and what did you show? What was the thrust of
DOLE: The thrust of it was a kind of collection of every-
thing that I had done up to that point that I thought was
worth showing. [laughter] It was a very diverse group
of works. There were oil paintings on panel, watercolors.
I think there were some charcoal drawings. There were some
drawings in pen and wash and some watercolors. I recall
when I took the paintings in to the gallery, in to the
museum, and set them around the gallery wall, I took one
look at them, and I said to Donald Bear, "We can't go on
with this show." The work looked so unrelated and so
irrelevant from one picture to the next. And something
which I didn't know at that time: how bad pictures
look when they're just standing on the floor, leaning
against the wall, and how differently they look later.
Don was very kind, and he said, "Why don't you just
go over to the drugstore, have a cup of coffee, walk around
for a little while, and come back and tell me how you
think about it then."
By the time I came back, the paintings were all up on
the V7all, and I changed my mind and permitted the shov;
to go on.
NORDLAND: \Vhat gallery was it hung in?
DOLE: It was hung in the Von Romberg gallery, I think
it's called, the one on the right as you go in, the
one to the right off the Ludington court, which Don
said was the best gallery. Light is the best, and it's
most accessible. But it's not a gallery that you walk
clear through, as you do the one that's directly ahead,
so there's no way of missing the show. And the next show
that I had, at the Geddis-Martin Studios , was
mostly a show of drawings, these charcoal drawings that
I was talking about, quite a lot of them drawings of my
children at that time as well as a bunch that were made
around the railroad yards and architectural things.
But I began working more and more in watercolor and
less in oil. I don't know if this was because of my
interest, because of the time that was available to me,
or because there were certain advantages as far as exhibi-
tions were concerned, sending out to exhibitions; there
were more watercolor shows maybe. I'm not just sure
what the reasons were. At any rate, I was painting less
and less in oil. Then, by the time that I went to
Florence, I remember I only took watercolor materials with
me, although while I was there I did buy oil paints and did
several oil paintings on canvas.
NORDLAND: You lived in Florence really in '55-' 56,
DOLE: Yes. We left here in the summer of '55.
I guess this would be the place to introduce two
events that probably lead to my working in collage more
than anything else. One was that one of my colleagues
on the faculty in the art department [Elliott Evans] had
acquired from a relative of his wife a large collection of
Japanese papers. The collection was made in the 1870s
in Japan; this relative had been a mining engineer with
a kind of very thorough packrat instinct of collecting
all kinds of strange things while he was in Japan acting
as a consultant to the Japanese government on mining
problems. He apparently collected six pieces of every
kind of paper he could find while he was there. Half
of this collection, that is, three sheets of every kind,
were given to the Smithsonian Institution, and I was
given the other three sheets of all these marvelous papers,
And having worked with Obata and knowing something about
Japanese papers and Japanese techniques, I was intrigued
by this but also a little bit puzzled and baffled because
every sheet of paper had been very neatly folded in the
middle, and this made it a little awkward to work with
(a); and secondly, some of the papers were very, very
thin and absorbent and delicate but very, very beautiful
in color and texture — not so much color, but the textural
Sometime in '53 or '54, I got the idea that I could
paint watercolors with my usual techniques on this
Japanese paper if I mounted it on a piece of stretched
watercolor paper. That would give it the substance and
structure and reduce the absorbency. I'd learned from
Obata one technique for mounting paper, so I began mounting
some of this paper on stretched watercolor paper and then
painting watercolors on it. It made a beautiful surface
to work on. At the same time, I did several oil paintings
on gesso panels, where I also glued on pieces of this
Japanese paper and painted over them or left them as
collage elements, which were probably my earliest efforts
at collage, technically,
NORDLAND : Those would have been around--
DOLE : Around '54, I think, would be the earliest, '54
and '55. At any rate, this whole activity was sort of
abandoned when I went to Florence and got involved with a
great deal of drawing and mainly watercolors still.
It wasn't until after I'd been in Florence for some
time that at a secondhand store I found a very beautiful
leather portfolio, a very old one, a tooled leather cover.
And inside it was a collection of odds and ends of various
kinds of papers again. There were some letters that were,
not dated with, like, 1850 and so on, but were rather
dated such and such a year of the Risorgimento; and they
were letters from the revolutionary elements during the
Risorgimento from one cadre to another. Very interesting.
But there were also pieces of marbleized paper. There
were some pieces of the old kind of paper that was imported
from Japan to make artificial roses, for which the term
rice paper was originally used. There were some maps.
There were a number of pages, printed pages, of a book on
art history which had never been bound, never been made
into a book; there were just the flat sheets. And there
were all kinds of printed ephemera, I guess you would call
it. Well, suddenly, sometime toward the end of my stay
in Florence, all of these things came together: the idea
that I had this Japanese paper, I had a technique for
gluing it down and using it constructively, and I had all
of this marvelous material out of which I could make
images. And I think it was from the confluence of these
two things that the notion of going ahead and doing collages
NORDLAND: How many did you do while you were in Florence?
DOLE: I only did about four finished works that I recall,
and then I sort of put the technique aside after I came
back and got involved with teaching again until the summer
of 1958, when for no particular reason I started working
in collage. And it's been the major medium for me to
work in ever since.
TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE TVJO
DECEMBER 6, 19 7 5
DOLE: At this point it might be apropos to bring
into the discussion some of my thoughts about influences
on my work, and particularly in relation to collage. I
continually get this guff about Kurt Schwitters and that
working in collage I'm just doing Schwitters over after
nature, as it were, or something of that sort. But in all
honesty, I don't think Schwitters was that much of an
influence on my work. For one thing, I didn't know all
that much about Schwitters, and I had never seen an
actual Schwitters, so far as I know, until the big show
at UCLA of his work, v/hich was in--what? — 1965.
NORDLAND: Around that, around '65 [Spring 1965].
DOLE: I had seen a very interesting article in the Magazine
of Art [v/hich] was published sometime in the early fifties,
and I had a great admiration for the works I'd seen in
reproduction, not because they were done in the technique
of collage, but because of the extraordinary elegance of
his composition. I think when I began working in collage
myself, it was not so much the example of other artists'
work in this medium that inspired me; rather, I looked to
them as a kind of excuse or justification for doing
myself, pursuing an interest that really grew out of the
materials and not an attempt to emulate somebody.
NORDLAND: You got a kind of a permission from them to go
ahead with this thing that you had come to want to do and
had acquired the skills to do.
DOLE: Yes. And I recall in cataloging for myself the
precedents that I could point to, in addition to Schwitters
there were the early collages, of course, of Picasso,
which I had seen--I saw the big Picasso show at the
Chicago [Art Institute] when it came there in--what? —
NORDLAND: That was the one done by the Museum of Modern
DOLE: Right. What was it called? [ Picasso: ] Forty Years
of His Art .
NORDLAND: Something like that.
DOLE: And then I saw the same show again in San Francisco
in 1940. So I was very familiar with the actual works
Parenthetically, I should say that until I went to
Florence, actually, I was not very familiar with art in
the original, I mean, with original works of art. Growing
up in the Middle West, as I've mentioned, outside of
occasional trips to Chicago and seeing the museum there,
I didn't have much opportunity to go to museums or to
see exhibitions, actual works.
Well, anyway, in addition to the Picasso things, I
also admired very much some of the collages of [Georges]
Braque, the ones that were a little bit later than the
first essays, those kind of very linear ones with just
a few planes of collage material.
NORDLAND: A few sparse elements.
DOLE: Yes. I was aware of the fact that an artist named
Anne Ryan worked in collage, and I'd only seen, I think,
a couple tiny reproductions of her work in Arts or Art
News . Then I had seen a number of reproductions of — this
will interest you — of [Alberto] Burri ' s Sacchi , v;hich
made an enormous impression on me, not, you know, the
material things, but I still think they're among the most
elegant compositions that I know. And then, finally,
there was the example of Joseph Cornell, v;hose work I'd
seen reproduced. Interestingly enough, because I'd never
seen any of the boxes, the reproductions in my mind weren't
all that much different from, say, the reproductions of
Schwitters's work--obviously , combinations of images brought
from various sources and put together. So, those were the
main references that I made. In a kind of a different
context, I also considered Chinese paintings, for example,
and the kind of visual pattern that they make, where the
accumulation of seals that different collectors have
added to them, the written inscriptions and so on, the
combination of these printed and written elements in
relation to the pictorial elements suggested a kind of
image that was related to what I was, in my first collages,
very much interested in doing too. [tape recorder turned
NORDLAND: If you feel that you've completed that section,
let me return you to your European sojourn and have you
tell us about those collages that you made while you v;ere
in Europe, particularly those that had to with drawings
(that you made reference to) [that you did] while riding
DOLE: I had made, during a lot of the journeys I made on
trains to Switzerland and all over Italy and so on, a great
many little, tiny drawings in pencil of different landscape
elements as they flashed by the window. They were very
quick, of necessity, and very fragmentary also, and I had
no particular use for these things in mind as I made them,
except they were just kind of aids to memory. The idea
was that possibly I would reassemble parts of them into
a painted landscape. When I began to toy v/ith the idea
of working collage, I got the idea of translating some
of these little sketches in pen and watercolor onto frag-
ments of Japanese papers and cutting out shapes based on
shapes I'd drawn or tearing shapes that were similar to
them, shapes that referred to hills or mountains or
clouds or trees — there's a pattern of irrigation ditches
in one of them — elements of this sort. And then in
shifting these around on the page, I finally composed
a landscape out of these separate and disparate images.
So, this was the procedure and the nature of, I think,
all of the collages that I did while I was in Florence,
a technique that I then abandoned after I came back to
this country for a year. I later picked it up with a
different point of view in mind altogether. In fact,
when I did start working in collage more or less contin-
uously later on, for a little while I worked back and
forth between using the technique in a kind of descriptive
way to do landscapes (or do things which referred to land-
scapes ) —
NORDLAND: Architectural things.
DOLE: Well, there were only a few architectural things;
I think of more examples with landscape. Strata Data ,
(laughter] But I finally abandoned that because of the
curious danger I think that's inherent in using collage in
this way, of taking something that means one thing in one
context and making it look like something else in another
context. Well, a very specific example, the museum here
[Santa Barbara Museum of Art] has a picture, a collage of
mine, which is called Mono Lake . It consists of several
horizontal bands of color that refer to sky and distant
mountains and the water and the shore, and there are
two shapes that refer to those two islands in the lake,
one of which is black and one is white. And in the fore-
ground of the picture there is a piling in the water.
It's a red strip of paper with some black on it, and
what it actually is is, you know, the rolls of caps that
you shoot in cap guns, and after they're shot, where the
explosive was, the red paper is discolored by the flash
of the powder. I'd taken a strip of this--v;hich means,
you know, outside of the pictorial content, it's just some
burnt-out caps — but then moving it into the picture it
becomes a piling with this particular color and texture.
It's that kind of making something look like something else
that can get awfully cute and tricky I think. It was in
order to try to avoid this kind of trickiness that I think
I increasingly began to abandon this descriptive use of the
technique. And as a matter of fact, the descriptive
pictures that I've done have since then been mostly water-
colors and not collages.
NORDLAND: Well, somewhere around '58, '59, '60, you really
got a considerable confidence in what you were doing and
your work really became quite a different thing than it
DOLE: That's true. I kept working back into this land-
scape thing, still using collage, but increasingly I began
to develop these images that are not referential in that
sense to an actual visual experience. I got started
on a series which I called "Memos," and my explanation
of this, both the nature of the images and also the
reason for the title, I explained in a way that is per-
haps a little romanticized, but — By this time I had
become chairman of the art department, and I explain
always to people that the landscape which I was familiar
to work from, when I had more time to get out into the
landscape, had been abandoned to the landscape I saw on
my chairman's desk in front of me; these piles of papers
and reports and documents and so on became my visual
environment. And these collages were a recording of
that kind of visual environment instead of the environ-
ment of hills and clouds and ocean and so on. I say it's
a romanticized explanation because the materials that went
into them-- If I were going to be consistent, they would
be on university letterhead and done in blue papers that
one uses for interdepartmental communication and so on,
and instead the materials are much more varied and inter-
esting. But I called them "Memos" for their reference to
this office procedure environment. I did a series: there
are about twelve or more of these which were varied enough
to suggest directions of moving out into a whole variety
The excitement of this different medium and the
potentials of it were a great discovery as far as being
very productive, and it hasn't stopped being this for me
yet. I think I'm now interested in other kinds or other
aspects of it. But in addition to being a way of working
that offers me great advantages, there are things that I
can explore--well , like color, for example--in a much more
direct way for me than if I were working in oil paint,
or acrylic, or any other medium.
NORDLAND: Well, how would it be more direct?
DOLE: It's more direct because, by preparing dozens
or hundreds of fragments of papers to choose from, I
have available for my visual experience thi s vast array
of colors; and to make use of it, all I have to do is
reach out and pick it up and put it on the picture's sur-
face. Whereas with a palette covered with paints, I would
have to mix it up and test it and so on. There's nothing
wrong with this; it's just that I have available to ray
immediate experience this wide range of colors, and I
can, by juxtaposing them, see these relations immediately.
This is what I mean by its being [more direct] .
NORDLAND: Now, in the "Memos," were you working in a
manner analogous to the manner you had worked with your
landscaped elements in Florence? In a sense, you had
a ground, say, a manila color, and upon this you disposed
these printed, colored, and linear elements that you had
drawn from your collage materials.
DOLE: Yes, that procedure was the same. They were all,
I think without exception, done on a ground that was
generally a piece of Japanese paper glued to the watercolor
paper, and then the elements were moved around and
attached to this ground.
NORDLAND: Now, there have been times when you have gone
to the — Let's say, in that early period it would seem
that the elements were arranged in rather architectural
gridlike patterns rather sparsely over the entire surface.
But then on later ones you've used a complete kind of jig-
saw puzzle over the entire space. In other cases you may
have saturated the color ground in a strong color, like a
red or a blue, and gone back to rather sparse elements of
a lighter, more contrasting nature disposed on top of it.
You have more than one way of working in your collage
DOLE: That's true, yes. But my work isn't separated into
periods where first I worked in one of these ways and
then gave it up and began working in another way. I seem
to keep moving from one of these to the next and to the
other and back and forth and so on in a kind of cyclical
way in which I haven't yet used up the possibilities of
any of these procedures. The procedure that I choose for
each picture is--it can be kind of mysterious to me. I
thought I had a way of explaining it, but it sometimes
has to do with the elements that I have chosen to use in
a particular picture, and then the procedure for using these
is dictated by the nature of the elements themselves, which
accounts for the ones sometimes where the elements are
disposed simply on white paper because they're more visible
and the relationships are clearer in such a situation. In
other cases it's the play between the elements and the
prepared ground that is the conditioning factor.
NORDLAND: Why don't you discuss that picture with the
black ground that's been nearly obliterated?
DOLE: Oh, this one [ Ad Hoc ] . Well, this was another
procedure that I've used a few times. Beginning with a
very strongly colored ground, I've covered this with like a
jigsaw pattern in which the pieces of the jigsaw don't quite
fit together. The colored ground shows through only as
a linear pattern between the shapes themselves, so that
there's a play between — Well, it's a way of creating
a linear pattern, which in a funny way visually looks like
it's in front of the pieces that are actually on top of it.
NORDLAND: Right. Well, then you've also prepared a gesso
panel. You've prepared a masonite panel with gesso, and
then you've adhered your pictorial elements to the gesso
panel with rabbit-skin glue.
DOLE: That's right, yes.
NORDLAND: And in those cases we get usually a rather
brilliant white surface with little texture.
DOLE: Yes. Well, one reason for using that material is
that the white of the gesso is more intensely white than
any other white available. It's much whiter than any paper.
And also by preparing it, by scraping it and smoothing
it out, it has a kind of surface texture that is
smoother than any paper. I did a few in v/hich I exploited
the rough texture of the brushmarks, which didn't seem
to me to work very well. As a matter of fact, I can't
think of any finished work where I did use that.
NORDLAND: Do you smooth that out, or do you sand it?
What do you do?
DOLE: My usual procedure is to scrape it with a razor
blade till all of the brushmarks are completely worked
out. Then the surface is rather shiny and unpleasant,
and if I choose to have a more mat finish, I take a piece
of dampened absorbent cotton and rub very gently over the
surface, which dissolves just a tiny bit of the surface and
redistributes it into a perfectly eggshell-smooth,
marvelous surface. But it's still brilliantly white,
[tape recorded turned off]
NORDLAND: I'm looking at an image here of a watercolor
of 1960 that's called Haybarn . Could you talk a little bit
about this. Bill?
DOLE: Haybarn was done at the Hollister Ranch, where we
spent all of our summers from 1958 on through '69, and
most of our weekends. VJe actually lived there the last
four years of that period all the time. Anyway, it's
really a fairly straightforward but simplified represen-
tation of one v/all of a barn at right angles to one wall
of another barn. The one is placed very angularly in
relation to the picture plane so that it creates a pretty
static pattern of rectangular shapes that kind of read as
a flat pattern but also can be read in the relatively
deep space that they are placed in.
N0RDL7VND: Is this at all typical of your work at that
DOLE: I would say no, because it's one of the very fev/
watercolors that I did during that period. I'd been
doing quite a lot of drawing at that time, but the
drawings v/ere mostly of trees and other organic forms, so
it isn't even very much like the drawings. The pattern,
though, of shapes is similar to the pattern of shapes that
I was using in the collages at the time, or a lot of them,
NORDLAND: Now, here's a work from 1961 called Strata Data .
DOLE: This is a kind of synthetic landscape, and it
sort of evolved out of the horizontal bands of the paper
itself, building up a pattern of horizontal bands, two
of which are covered with a kind of very dense pattern
of small shapes of different colors and different textures
that suggest like a rock wall or an accumulation of rocks
in a stratum of earth. It's referential in a sense that
there is a kind of memory of how earth is built up in these
strata, and it's this attempt to kind of represent one
thing with something else.
NORDLAND: But, of course, it's not observed--
DOLE : It's not observed, right.
NORDLAND: Nov;, here is a more orthodox, sparsely set-out
collage of 1962.
DOLE: This is done on a ground of Japapese paper that I
think is stained with watercolor, and then it is a very
sparse pattern. It's a kind of corner painting composition,
in a way, in which-- It's kind of an exciting game to
play for me of setting up a pattern that is at first
deliberately and outrageously unbalanced and then trying,
in manners that are as little overt as possible, to bring
the thing into balance or to create a strategy whereby
its deliberate unbalance is not observable.
NORDLAND: This is nine and a half by thirteen and a half:
pretty typical size of the time?
DOLE: This would be a very small one for that time, but
the largest ones would be maybe twice as big in each
direction. Except for a few much larger ones that I did
on gesso panels, I think, around that time.
NORDLAND: Now, here's a work which certainly avoids the
corner picture comment. It's widely dispersed even
though it still has relatively few elements in the total
DOLE: There's a kind of a central image here, though,
a central accumulation of things, which I think is more
evident in the original than in this photograph, where
these dark values kind of make a pattern of more diffused
spots than they appear on-- The relation of these is
stronger in its dark value than they are when the whole
thing is seen in color.
NORDLAND: Well, now, in this work, which is called
Bibliophile , which is slightly larger, you're into a real
overall composition with a kind of a sense of a horizon
line. Is that only fancied?
DOLE: Well, this is one that I think can be explained--
a number of things might be explained where I think there
are different levels of interpretation that you might make
in this. I don't mean to say that I intend people to see
it [this way], but the way that I think about it myself is
that first of all there's a kind of facade and that these
are like window openings. And, admittedly, it's a kind of
a ruined facade, if you look at it like that. But then
there is the possibility of seeing this as horizon and this
is a foreground, or as elements seen against the sky for
example, something of that sort. But then further I also
see this for what it really is, which is a bunch of
pages, blank pages out of books, placed contiguously and
in this rectangular grid. And then if you want to go one
step further, you can begin reading a bunch of words in it
and try to formulate a literary message as well.
NORDLAND: Could you talk a little bit about your papers
and about the materials that you've been gathering, either
from your Florentine flea markets or bookstores, or from
dociiments or marbled endpapers. VJhat are your feelings
about these materials?
DOLE: Well, I like the material of old paper, for example,
because of its quality and the texture and the rather
soft quality of the whites that the aging has. I orig-
inally set myself up a cutoff point of 1850 for the
materials that I used in a very arbitrary way, because
it was around 1850 that wood pulp papers were first
developed and used, and I wanted to avoid the impermanence
of wood pulp papers in my work, having seen what happens
to, say, the newspapers in some of Picasso's and even in
some of Schwitters's things. But it wasn't purely for that
reason that I chose these old things. There's a kind of,
I suppose, intentional aesthetic bias toward them. I
like the kinds of typefaces that one finds. I also like
these accidental stainings and colorings and patinas and
whatever that age and misuse have sometimes given to these
old papers. The marbleized things are just, you know, in
my mind, marvelous colors and textures.
NORDLAND: And you've probably used the marbleized elements
in a way similar to the cubists, where you would just kind
of define a plane with a little patch of marble paper. But
you certainly can't be accused of that when you cluster
words or bring together combinations of colors and a
gray that might be made up of a texture of words, and then
special words like antique words or antique typefaces
which make up partial words that go into a collage.
DOLE: Well, I have a particular feeling about these printed
words, and also written words--you know, about verbal
symbols altogether--which is that, because of our training
in verbal language, we acquire, I think, a kind of respect
for the written word and the printed word, which is apart
from or above or beyond or outside of whatever meaning it
may have. If it is a word, we know that it must mean
something. Picasso said something about not being able to
read Russian, but he never doubted for a minute that it
exists when he sees it, and using that explanation to
somebody who didn't understand one of his paintings. I
believe that in an image, if you place a letter or a
word or a group of words, you create in that area a kind
of visual energy that is different from an intense color,
a strong contrasted value, or any other purely formal device
available to the painter. I sometimes use words in this
way to create an area of interest or to create a kind
of texture that has a visual weight that a purely abstract
texture wouldn't have. It's like adding another primary
color to your palette, almost, being able to create this
kind of visual effect.
NORDLAfJD: You've even used Oriental languages, calligraph-
ies, exotic writings, and fine penmanship as your extension
of these primary colors.
DOLE: Right. And I'm totally shameless in using languages
and scripts and so on that I don't understand at all. I
do have, as part of my studio equipment, several foreign
dictionaries. And I do know some Italian, and I have an
understanding of vocabularies of French and German and
Spanish and so on. But I don't really have that much
command of language to be able to use them for intelligent
verbal communication in a deliberate way.
NORDLAND: You would feel perfectly free in a work that might
incorporate European languages and scripts to use, say,
Turkish or Iranian script or Japanese or Chinese calligraphy?
NORDLAND: You're not making a selection from exotic
printings, but rather you're creating a new visual entity
with these elements.
DOLE: Yes. Although sometimes I pick a character just
because I think it's particularly beautiful, you know, like
a Chinese or Japanese character, which I might not under-
stand. If I could ever find a really good Kufic script,
I'd love to use that, but I've never found any except
reproductions that wouldn't be suitable.
[clock chimes] It always rings twelve no matter
what time it is.
On one of the covers that I did for the Center
Magazine , I had occasion — I can't think what reason I chose
to do it, but anyway — I incorporated some Arabic script
in it, and the people at the Center for the Study of
Democratic Institutions, before they would accept the work
and before they would permit it to be used on the cover,
had to rush around and have somebody translate it because
they were terribly afraid that I incorporated some kind of
Arabic anti-Semitic propaganda onto their cover. It turned
out to be some innocuous comment on the Koran and of
no political importance whatsoever.
NORDLAND: "Drink Coca-Cola." [laughter]
TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE ONE
NORDLAND: We're going to talk on this side about
your gallery relationships and the dealers that you
worked with over the years.
DOLE: The first gallery experience that I had was an
exhibition in 1952 in Santa Barbara at the Geddis-Martin
Studios. [Ralph] Geddis and [Francois] Martin were
primarily puppeteers, and they had a kind of cultural center
for a number of years in Santa Barbara, which included,
along with their marvelous puppet shows, exhibitions from
time to time of artists' works, chamber music concerts,
poetry readings, various kinds of cultural events. I had
an exhibition there which was a lot of charcoal drawings,
a lot of v;atercolors , and even a number of oil paintings,
if I remember correctly.
NORDLAND: You only had one show there?
DOLE: I only had one show there. Not too long after that,
they moved to Carmel and established a puppet theater, which
is called the Tantamount Theatre.
Then the next person I suppose I should talk about
in terms of galleries was Albert Duveen, who with Robert
Graham, had established a gallery in New York called
Duveen-Graham. Duveen had seen my work while I was in
Florence — [tape recorder turned off]
NORDLAND: Duveen-Graham in New York, and he had seen your
DOLE: Yes. He had seen my work when I was in Florence.
He had seen my work in the Santa Barbara Museum, and
Ala Story had persuaded him to write to me in Florence.
If I remember correctly, I sent photographs to him, and
we arranged to meet in Amsterdam. We v;ere leaving from
Rotterdam to come back to the States then. This meeting
was a very interesting experience because he introduced me
to proper Holland gin in the way that it's drunk in Holland,
Then we went to the Rijksmuseum, and this was quite an
experience because he pointed to this little Vermeer
and said that he had been privileged at one time to put in
a bid, on behalf of Lord Duveen, for a million and a
quarter dollars for that picture. It was the fourth bid,
so he didn't make it. The person who did buy it gave it
to the Rijksmuseum.
At any rate, out of that came my first showing in New
York, which was in 1958. I hadn't met Graham until we
went back for the opening. Duveen' s association with that
gallery ended just shortly after my first show there.
Duveen was dropped from the gallery; it became, and
remains, just the Graham Gallery. Then I had a second
show there in 1960 with Graham.
NORDLAND: These were collage exhibitions?
DOLE: Well, the first exhibition I had was [of] things
which I had done almost entirely in Italy. There were
a number of collages in the exhibition, but there were
also a lot of watercolors, a few drawings. I don't
know if there were any oil paintings or not, probably
NORDLAND: The second show, then, would have been more your
DOLE: Yes, and I think almost entirely collage.
NORDLAND: How did you terminate your Graham relation-
DOLE: Well, I felt that I didn't have close enough contact
with the gallery, being in California. I felt, probably
incorrectly, that the gallery wasn't pursuing my interests
energetically enough, so I asked to — Well, I withdrew
from the gallery. I didn't have any representation in
New York for several years. But then Edith Halpert was
visiting at Esther Bear's gallery and saw my work and
asked if she could have some things for her Downtown
Gallery. For a number of years she had work of mine
and showed my work in her annual opening exhibitions in
the fall. But she never gave me an exhibition there,
a one-man show. She sold a number of works, and she
bought some herself. There were three of my pictures in
the auction of her collection.
NORDLAND: Was that a source of stress for you, that she
never did make a show? Were you distressed about that?
DOLE: Well, I wasn't really frustrated because I was
having a pretty energetic schedule of exhibitions out here.
But it would have been very nice if that had ever come
about. She was getting to be a little bit difficult to
deal with though. Actually she felt my prices were
advancing too rapidly for her to cope with, which was
one of the-- Well, it was a strain in our relationship.
But I felt that I couldn't have two price schedules, one
for New York and one for California.
NORDLAND: You had an exhibition at Bertha Lewinson.
Why don't you just discuss that very briefly and then
get into your rather long and, I think, very successful
relationship with Esther Bear? That will kind of
establish how your career really unfolded in California,
while these New York things were going on as counterpoint.
DOLE: Bertha had opened the gallery about a year, I think,
before I became associated with her. It was at Henry
Seldis's suggestion, I believe, that she asked me to
join the gallery and have an exhibition. By the time
of my exhibition, she'd moved into a much larger space
on La Cienega. She'd been located back, way off the street
there, somewhere in a little hideaway. That was quite a
successful exhibition as far as sales and the reviews were
concerned. But within a year, I think, of my show
there, she decided to close the gallery and give up art
dealing altogether. Meanwhile, Esther Bear had opened
NORDLAND: In Santa Barbara.
DOLE: In Santa Barbara. And her first exhibition actually
was a show of my work. The gallery came about in a kind
of curious way. She had had the large number of pictures
that she and Donald Bear accumulated hung all over her
house. We had borrowed the collection for an exhibition
at the university here, and it traveled to two or three
other museums, so that the pictures were away for a long
time. So, she persuaded some of her artist friends,
including me, to loan pictures to replace the ones that
were out so that her walls wouldn't be totally bare. And
while the loaned pictures were hanging there, MacKinlay
Helm asked her if he could buy two of my pictures, which
he did. It occurred to her that she could sell pictures
off her walls, and the whole concept of the gallery in her
home sort of developed out of that.
NORDLAND: Would that have been 1959?
DOLE: No, that was in 1960. Her opening exhibition was
in August of 1960. George Rickey was teaching summer
session at the university that summer, and he fashioned
a door prize for the opening exhibition out of a silver
dollar. He made a beautiful hair ornament. The girl
who won the door prize had, just previous to the opening,
cut her hair very short, so she couldn't wear the
ornament in it. [laughter]
At any rate, that was a very exciting show. I still
had a lot of drawings that I had made in Florence, which
was the bulk of the show actually. I think I must have
had fifty or sixty drawings in the show, along with water-
colors and some collages. During these fifteen years that
Esther maintained the gallery, we had a very close rela-
tionship, and she has had exhibitions of my work probably
at least every other year during that whole period. The
reputation of her gallery is such that many collectors from
Los Angeles and San Francisco, and also a great number
of collectors from the East, have stopped in her gallery.
Joseph Hirshhorn several times bought works of mine that
were at Esther's, among other people. It's been really
one of the most important things in the art world in
Santa Barbara, having that gallery here.
NORDLAND: VJell, then the next most important dealer
probably in California was Rex Evans, who represented your
DOLE: Yes. After Bertha closed her gallery, I had offers
from several galleries to join them. Joan Ankrum opened
her gallery after Bertha closed, because Morris Broderson
had been represented by Bertha, and he was left without
a gallery. So, Joan decided to open a gallery and wanted
me to join them. There were several other offers that
I had. But actually, on the advice of Wright Ludington,
I decided to cast my lot with Rex Evans. That turned
out to be an extremely good relationship. He's a really
incredible personality, a marvelous man, and a very sensi-
tive collector in his own right. He'd been a collector
before he became a gallery person. And in addition to
the personal relationship there, his partner, Jim Weather-
ford, was also a very good person to work with. But the
scale of the gallery, the elegance of its appointments,
all of this seemed to fit my work. And the way that the
space was divided between the gallery and Rex's living
room, in which he had works by other artists, like Henry
Moore, Afro, and Edward Burne- Jones, I think the relation
of those things to the exhibitions that he had gave a kind
of quality to his operation that went above and beyond
a commercial gallery situation. He was very successful in
selling my work not only during the shows but throughout
the year; he maintained steady [sales]. There were a lot
of collectors who were in his circle; some of them bought
things rather regularly. I think Hirshhorn also bought
paintings of mine through Rex. I remember that Rex, who
was a very large man, always said that in dealing with
Hirshhorn, it was so exhausting that he had to take to his
bed for a full day after one session with Joe.
NORDLAND: Did Joe bargain and try to get five for the
price of two?
DOLE: Absolutely. He had a disconcerting way of picking
out what he wanted — you know, five or six things — and
then taking the price list and saying, "I'll give you
two hundred dollars for this one, seven hundred dollars
for that, and six hundred dollars for this. That one is
much too expensive; I'll only give you four hundred dollars
for it." He would do this so fast, and he could add this
all up in his head while you were trying to figure, "Well,
that's not enough for this one," and so on. What he was
aiming at was just a bunch of abstract figures that would
add up to the total amount of money which was a predetermined
discount of the total price that he'd already set on.
Neither any of my dealers [nor] I could add or subtract
as fast as he could. So we always lost. But that
was all right,
NORDLAND: How many works of art did Hirshhorn acquire over
the years for the museum and for himself?
DOLE: Well, I've just discovered there are seventeen of my
things in the museum collection, and he must have more than
twenty things still in his own personal collection besides
the complete set of the lithographs I did at Tamarind.
NORDLAND : Well, how many shows did you have with Rex?
DOLE: I think I had six or seven maybe. Yes, I had seven
shows there. The seventh one was actually after he had
died, when for a while Jim V7eatherford continued the
gallery under Rex's name. But then I think after a year
or so, he closed the gallery. But this last show that I
had there had been planned before Rex died, which was
rather a sudden thing.
NORDLAND: And then for a time you were not represented in
DOLE: Well, no. Actually, before Jim really closed, I
had gone over to Jodi Scully's gallery. I had felt, and
correctly, that Jim wasn't going to continue the gallery
very long, and Jody had just opened the gallery. A
number of people whose work I liked had joined the gallery,
and it seemed to be a very lively, energetic operation.
So, I moved over there.
NORDLAND: And then how did the Staempfli Gallery, the new
relationship in Nev; York City, come about?
DOLE: That came about because [George] Staempfli 's
partner, Phillip Bruno, had been familiar for quite a
long time with my work through pictures of mine that the
Rickeys owned. Staempfli 's been George Rickey's dealer
for quite a long time, and when George had his big show
out here in--San Diego?
DOLE: UCLA. Phillip came out for that. I was in
Albuquerque at Tamarind at the time and didn't meet him
then, but Kate did, and they talked about — You knov;,
he liked my work and so on. Then Louise Deutschman, who
had worked with the Waddell Gallery in New York, had been
visiting out here, and she took back with her to New York
a lot of my catalogs and things and happened to take
them to Phillip Bruno at about the time that he was
considering discussing having a show of my work. So, we
began corresponding, and then George Staempfli came out
to Los Angeles (he was arranging a couple of other shows).
He looked at my work; so that was in the spring before my
show, which was — what?--in November of '74. That was
the spring of '74. He looked at my work and liked it, and
we set up a date for the exhibition. I've been very pleased
with that relationship, not only in terms of publicity
and so on but the sales have been very gratifying.
NORDLAND: They've had sales not only at the time of the
exhibition but continuing through the years?
DOLE: That's right, yes. And quite substantial ones.
NORDLAND: You felt a sympathy between people like Duveen,
Esther, Rex, and Phillip Bruno for your work? You felt
that they've understood what you were trying to do?
DOLE: Yes, they've been very understanding of my intentions
and very supportive, I guess you might say. And it's
been a very good personal relationship too. In fact,
I think I've been fortunate in having a lot of very good
friends among art dealers, not only the ones who've
represented me, but I've always cherished my friendship
with Frank Perls and Felix Landau and a number of people
in the business,
NORDLAND: Neither one of those people though, Felix or
Frank, ever really handled your work,
DOLE: But somehow over the years we have developed a close
friendship, and both of them came to a couple of my
openings at Rex Evans, which I think was a nice gesture
of friendship, for the competition to drop in.
NORDLAND: Well, now, you also have held shows in Berlin
and in Rome. The Springer gallery in Berlin, I think,
still has work of yours. Oh, it's been returned? Splendid.
Why don't you discuss the Springer gallery and that rela-
DOLE: The Springer relationship came about through Alfred
Neumeyer's wife, Eva Marie, who, along with Alfred, had
been living in Berlin. It must have been in 1955. She
suggested to [Rudolf] Springer that he have an exhibition
of my work. And with an exhange of correspondence, this
was arranged for, I think, the summer of 1956. So, I
took my work on a train and went to Berlin and had this
exhibition. Springer vi/as an extremely interesting man
who had a certain amount of independent means, and he
has always operated his gallery in a highly individual —
He's always been more interested, I think, in showing
new work and in collecting things himself than in
actually selling his work or being involved in a commercial
venture. I had a second show with him in the winter of
196 4, when we were back in Europe. V7e'd been in Rome
previous to that, and that was another marvelous experience,
staying with him in his home. The house is a very large
spacious, beautiful house, and it must have been after that
show that Springer came here and visited in California.
More recently, my wife saw him in Berlin, but I haven't
seen him since — just about a year.
NORDLAND: Was he successful in handling your work?
DOLE: He sold maybe half a dozen things. He sold two
pictures to the publisher of Per Spiegel . He sold one
thing to a Krupp. He bought a couple of things for
himself, and there were a couple of other sales besides
that. Correspondence with him was an erratic experience.
But I've always regarded him as one of my closest
friends — very interesting, extremely interesting personality.
NORDLAND: IVhat about the Rome show?
DOLE: The Rome show is a rather strange thing. It was
arranged through the man who had the famous Obelisk
Gallery [Galleria L'Obelisco], Gaspero del Corso, who
was acting as artistic advisor to a Princiapessa Colona
i Barberini, who had a little, very chic gallery called
the Sagittarius, which is no longer, I think, in opera-
tion. It was just off on a little side street just south
of the Via Veneto, a very chic-chic sort of neighborhood
with very elegant surroundings. It was an interesting
exhibition but not very successful in sales or otherwise.
NORDLAND: No particular critical attention?
DOLE: There were newspaper reviews, and the embassy put
out a lot of press stuff, but that was about all.
NORDLAND: Well, your prime gallery at this point would
be Staempfli in New York and Scully in Los Angeles. You
haven't really shown with Scully too many times, have you?
DOLE: No, I think I've only had two shows there. But
they have maintained quite a lot of my work in the gallery
and show it in group shows and have it hanging upstairs.
And it's sold well too.
NORDLAND: Let's catch up with your London exhibition at
McRoberts and Tunnard [Gallery] and then your later exhibi-
tion in Mexico City.
DOLE: Chronologically, they go the other way around.
The Mexico City show would be 1961, and this came about
through the efforts of Ala Story again, who had met
[Antonio] Souza in Mexico City and recommended my work
to him. This was arranged, and it was an extremely
interesting experience. I took the work down with
me unframed and unmatted to avoid all kinds of
problems with customs and so on. It was very elegantly
matted by a binder who had done Garcia Lorca's bookbinding
in Spain. Souza was a mercurial personality who was very,
very wealthy, and his gallery was in his home, which
was one of the most beautifully decorated places I've
ever seen. His own collection of work [included] not
only pre-Columbian things but African and contemporary
work. He was a close personal friend of [Jos^ Luis]
Cuevas; although I don't think he showed Cuevas ' s work,
he had an immense number of Cuevas ' s drawings and letters
to him which were all framed and covered the walls in this
big stairway that must have gone up three stories,
covered solid with Cuevas 's works. As it turned out,
that was a curiously successful exhibition. Antonio bought
one work for himself, and then a collector by the name of
Dr. Attilio Gil, who fancies himself to be the Mexican
Joseph Hirshhorn, bought eight pictures from the exhibi-
tion. This man made a fortune manufacturing baby food in
World War II and had the reputation of being a collector
who doesn't have his work hanging but has it stored
away somewhere. V^hen he wants to show work, he sits
people down in a fancy gallery and has the work brought
out one at a time and set up on an easel to show them.
The negotiations of that sale went on all the time I
was in Mexico City, which was about ten days. And they
extended on for, it seemed like, several weeks afterward
before it finally was finished. By a curious coinci-
dence, Souza was also a very good friend of Rex Evans,
and my first show at Rex Evans was partly made up of
things which had been previously shown at Antonio's and
were then smuggled out of Mexico by Rex, who was visiting
down there. I think the gallery has been closed and reopened,
and whether it is still in existence or not, I don't know.
The London exhibition: Ala Story had a little bit
to do with it also. [Neil] McRoberts was an American
who was married to a woman [Augusta McRoberts] whose sister
[Cornelia Chapman] lives in Santa Barbara. The sister's
husband [Roger Chapman] is a professor emeritus of music
at the university here, and he was very good friends of
ours. McRoberts and his wife were visiting out here
previous to my show in London, so I had the opportunity
of showing him my work, and the exhibition was arranged
in that v/ay. We went back to London for the exhibition,
and the plan was that I would continue being represented
in the gallery and would normally expect to have a show
there every two years. But about a year after my first
show there, McRoberts was killed in a very tragic accident.
He was fox hunting, and his horse fell on him, and he was
killed. The gallery was closed after he died. [Peter]
Tunnard, I believe, came to New York, and whether he's
still in New York or whether he's gone back to London,
I'm not sure. He's a good friend of Phillip Bruno.
NORDLAND: Could you talk a little bit of how you feel
about the work of Kurt Schwitters and when you first
became acquainted with him?
DOLE: I can't really remember exactly when I may have first
heard about Schwitters, but certainly from the time I was in
college I knew about him and was interested in the work
of the dadaists and the surrealists. I must have been
aware of his work ever since then. The first definite,
strong impression I have of looking at reproductions of
his work was an article in the old Magazine of Art , which
must have been from sometime around the late thirties or
possibly even the forties. I still have a copy of it I
think I could show you in my office. The idea that he
used this junk material was of less interest to me, I
think, than my response to the quality of the typographic
material and the effectiveness that these letters had.
Whether they were done by means of collage or v/hether he
had done them by hand made very little difference as far as
I was concerned because in reproduction the three-dimen-
sional quality of the collage medium is negligible. The
thing that I did like particularly, in addition to his
quality of typography, was the kind of composition that
he was involved with. I think simply his arrangements:
they've always appealed very strongly to me, the kind
of elegance that they have, I made a statement on
an earlier tape that I hadn't seen any of his original
works that I can remember prior to that show at UCLA.
There actually was a shov; of his work earlier than that
at Pasadena. As a matter of fact, I was represented in
an exhibition that Tom Leavitt put together,
NORDLAND: Which accompanied that show?
DOLE: Right. It was George Herms and several other people,
NORDLAND: Oh, I remember that now.
DOLE: I had about six or more things he borrowed from
Rex Evans ,
NORDLAND: There was a work in that show which involved a
crumpled-up American flag.
DOLE: Right, a scandal. But those must have been then the
first actual works of Schwitters I had seen.
NORDLAND: You talk about the composition. You found it
had appeal —
DOLE: But I feel that my work is very different.
NORDLAND: \<Ihat was the appeal of his composition?
DOLE: The marvelous variety and the way that the words
and the letters become abstract shapes, because they're
usually cut off before they make a complete word or a
complete statement. The large scale of letters cut
off to make a shape which you can identify as a letter,
but it's not a complete letter--
TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE TWO
DOLE: Vulgarity maybe isn't the best word, but the
very strong contrast with light and dark, the sometimes
very dramatic color contrasts, which I wasn't aware of
until I saw a lot more of the original vjorks — I'm thinking
also of the three-dimensional constructions, where the
material is even less, is more inelegant than in the
NORDLAND: Maybe found materials not formed by —
DOLE: Yes, I think I'm more concerned with materials
that are inherently attractive in one way or another.
But then my intent has never been, as his apparently was,
to shock. I was working from the relatively acceptable
position of collage as being a more or less legitimate
technique, whereas with him it was a technique of protest.
NORDLAND: A radical resort to — His art occurred at a
time when there was a structural reorganization of the
[inaudible] of works of art. He based his work one v/ay or
another on cubism and things that came out of cubism, like
futurism. The vortex that he was making, for example,
that kind of reordering, has not been in your mind?
DOLE: No, it's already been done. I merely wanted to do
Schwitters over after nature. [laughter]
NORDLAND: Look out. You better say right now that
you didn't mean that. [laughter] Somebody will read
it later on and maybe want to use it, thinking that
that [applies] to you.
DOLE: All right, I'll deny that statement. There's a
quality in his work which I became aware of later,
after I'd seen quite a number of them, that I hope I'm
able to emulate to a certain extent, and that is the way
that he managed to achieve a kind of monumental scale in
works that are very tiny in their physical dimensions.
NORDLAND: You came very close to that in the blue one,
which we v/ere looking at just before lunch.
DOLE: I think the better examples in my v;ork get a kind of
big scale on a small format, and I really don't know how
you do it, how I do it, what the secret to doing it is.
NORDLAND: I remember the v/ord that came to ray mind as
you said that was scale, and we groped around trying to
figure out what it was, the relationships of sizes to
general format, and then the large scale of the letters,
as you pointed out. Remember?
DOLE: Yes. It also has something to do with the variety
of sizes. There's something about a surprising jump from
large to very small perhaps. But certainly variety is a
part of it.
NORDLAND: You as much as said that surprise was one of
these elements that you were seeking in every work.
DOLE: Yes. It's a good word, I think, and covers what
may be several related impulses.
NORDLAND: I was interested in asking you about Kurt
Schwitters because he is a collage figure who works in
small scale, who obviously would be thought of in compari-
son with you and your work. There are certainly a lot of
other collage artists, notably the original cubists,
Picasso and Braque. Did either of them have any kind of
impact on your thinking about your work? Surely their
work was known to you early in your career.
DOLE: Yes, I was familiar with their work. Outside of
the fact that they were technically collages, none of the
works of Picasso in this medium particularly appeal to
me, with the possible exception of a still life from 1913
of Picasso's with part of the workd "Hennessey" on it
(I think the title is Still Life with a Guitar ) . On
the other hand, there are a number of collages of Braque ' s
from around 1912 and 1913 that appeal to me tremendously
as works of art. At the time when they had their greatest
appeal for me I think I was aware of their being collages
only incidentally, and I suspect that the elegance of
these works and their particular qualities of composition
were quite influential on work that I'd done earlier than
my own collages.
NORDLAND: Works you mean you'd done in your painting
DOLE: Right, yes, my watercolors.
NORDLAND: Actually you didn't know these paintings first-
hand; you knew them only in reproduction. Isn't that
DOLE: Yes. I had seen some of the Picassos because the
big show, the Museum of Modern Art show, came to Chicago
in 1939, I think it was, and I saw it there. But the
Braques I only knew from reproductions. I also knew
of the collages of Max Ernst, which appealed to me a great
NORDLAND: You mean the collage novel?
DOLE: Yes. And although their relevance to my own work
as far as style is concerned is pretty strained, still,
in looking to justification, I suppose, for the technique
itself, this [was a] prototype. And then I had seen
reproductions of a few works of Anne Ryan before I began
my own work in the medium. And the early works of Burri,
the Sacchi , suggested to me the possiblity of this as a
way of making pictorial images.
NORDLAND: When would an artist like Burri have first come
to your awareness?
DOLE: Well, it much have been-- When were his works first
shown in this country?
NORDLAND: They were first shown around '52 in Chicago. And
then Paul Mills, who was then at Oakland, made an exhibition.
which was at Colorado Springs, Oakland, and Pasadena.
DOLE: Well, I saw reproductions. It must have been in
Art Digest , or--
NORDLAND: It could have been.
DOLE: — Art News at that time.
NORDLAND: Right. A year or so later "Burri Collages a
Picture" was in Art News .
DOLE: I don't remember seeing that. But I do remember
some of the small black-and-white reproductions. They
were really exciting to me, the quality that these had.
I remember vaguely the kind of stamped printing on some
of the sacks.
NORDLAND: The stencils.
DOLE: Yes. And the linear quality of the stitching, the
peculiar kinds of line that he evolved. And his wonderful
compositions, which again, like the Schwitters things,
were more exciting to me than the way they were made and
the materials they were made from.
NORDLAND: Did you have a sense of the vulgarity of
materials that you expressed in relationship to Schwitters?
DOLE: Not in the same way, I think, because these materials
were aged in a more dignified way, through use rather than
being simply in the gutter. [laughter]
NORDLAND: You mentioned that in the Bay Area when you were
a student at Berkeley, you became aware of the painting
and inadvertently the collage of [Jean] Varda. Was that
just an awareness that people were using collage, or was
there anything in it that pertained to you?
DOLE: Well, somehow the nature of his work was so uniquely
personal that I don't remember consciously relating these
to, say, Braque and Picasso. It was just kind of a freaky
sort of self-expression.
NORDLAND: An idiosyncracy .
DOLE: Yes. I met him a number of times at that bookstore
in Berkeley that also had a gallery, the name of which
escapes me [Cody's]. It was a very avant-garde hangout
for several years in Berkeley. Varda v/as such a personality,
and the work was so closely related to his flamboyant
personality that he put forward. But I don't think I
ever had any impulse at all to emulate either his
particular technique or sensibility.
NORDLAND: How about Joseph Cornell? Is he a person that
you've been aware of?
DOLE: Yes. And this is a person [to whom] I should
acknowledge a great deal of debt. Like the other people
that I've been talking about, it was much after I was first
aware of his work, much later, that I saw an actual box.
And I think because of this, because of being aware of
them only in two-dimensional reproduction, the concept
that they were actually three-dimensional structures is
very much diminished. I saw them as--
NORDLAND: On one plane.
DOLE: --as flat patterns, in which the fascination of
the elements is even more exaggerated, probably, than in
their actual three-dimensional presence. But I think
the kinds of imagery that he was involved with, the kind
of aesthetic, maybe, of them, has something to do with
my own taste and interest in things. Although his things
are rarely literary or verbal, and mine are strongly pointed
in that direction.
NORDLAND: He did use words though, like "Hotel Universe,"
or some kind of a title very often.
DOLE: Yes, but they're more pictorial elements, like the
figure in the Medici Slot Machine , and the actual things,
like birds' eggs and clay pipes, eggcups and so on.
I probably should also mention that book of Saul
Steinberg's called The Passport ; although it isn't really
very much involved with collage, the absurd kind of
calligraphy and typography and stamping and so on, the
relevance of these images to printed and written documents
is something that occurs in my own work from time to time.
NORDLAND: You were aware of Steinberg, I suppose, from
DOLE: Not that early because I don't think he published
anything in American periodicals--did he?--until World
War II, and my college days were pre-World War II.
NORDLAND: Well, I was thinking of your--
DOLE : Oh, my graduate work. Well, I don't remember
when his first book came out, but it was about that
time that I really got interested in his work. I
think the first things I saw were published in Life
magazine maybe, and they were reprints of things which
originally appeared in European publications. So, I've
followed his work for a long, long time. I consider him
one of the master draftsmen of our day.
NORDLAND: Sure. Around '45 there was a book published
by New American Library, just a little pocket book that was
just stuffed full of absurd and crazy ideas. I know I
remember reading it cover to cover, reading it until it
TAPE NUMBER: IV, [VIDEO SESSION]
FEBRUARY 21, 19 7 7
DOLE: I'm William Dole. This is the fourth showing of
this exhibition ["William Dole Retrospective 1960-1975"]
which began last April at the Los Angeles Municipal
Art Gallery and was shown later at the Colorado Springs
Fine Arts Center and at the Fine Arts Gallery in San
Diego. This is the fourth and final showing, at the
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Santa Barbara is my home.
We're now upstairs at the museum in an exhibition
that has been installed around the gallery. Since this was
the last showing of the retrospective exhibition, it was
decided to have at the museum, in connection with that
show, a selection of earlier work from local collections.
There are about forty pictures here, the earliest one dating
from around 1947 and a couple of them a little bit later
than 1960, at the beginning of the exhibition of collages.
Included in this exhibition are drawings and watercolors
and oil paintings. Some of the works were shown at my
first one-man exhibition in 1951, which was held in
this same museum. It was possible to round up five of the
six oil paintings that were shown in that exhibition, and
they are included in this exhibition.
Probably the earliest picture in this [main]
exhibition is this one, which is called Ghost Town and
it has a vaguely referential quality to it. It isn't
a specific description of buildings in a street, looking
down a long, narrow street, but this was in my mind some-
what, and it is of importance. The other early picture, as
far as the chronology of this show is concerned, is this
one, which is the eleventh of a series that I call "Memos,"
which had to do with typography and various kinds of printed
elements arranged in a very open kind of composition, as
you can see from this one.
At the time that I was doing these, I was also con-
cerned with pictures that had a relevance to landscape
subjects, like the one that we can look at over here.
This one, which I did when we were living on the Hollister
Ranch, is called Santa Ana Condition . I think it's
obvious, the relevance of these shapes to the sun setting,
and this cloud pattern up here, and the hills and fields
down below. This was a very appealing thing to me to make
this reference to landscape. But I very soon discovered
that there were a lot of traps in this, that it was easy
to become too tricky in making the reference [to] something
in the landscape being represented by something that had a
totally different meaning in its inception, a piece of
typography or something of that sort. For various reasons
I moved away from that kind of subject matter to kinds of
patterns that we can see over here.
I don't feel in my work that is covered in the fifteen
years of this exhibition that there is a discernible single
line of development from one style to another style or a
progression of that sort. I think what I've done is to
have a number of themes that I return to from time to time.
And these themes are determined by an interrelationship
of the way that I have dealt with the ground, the back-
ground of the composition, the elements that I've chosen
to make the composition from, the color, and finally the
patterning of these elements in relation to each other.
For example, in this one [ Move on Down the Line ] the
ground is a gesso panel, a very intensely white gesso
panel, on which I have chosen to place a very large
number of small collaged elements that are close in value
and only in a few instances involved with color, as in
these darker shapes up here and in areas of color that
are behind the collaged elements that I have placed over
them, leaving a kind of linear pattern of the colored
background. There are only a few typographic elements in
this one. The intention was to use these simply as texture
or value or something of that sort. In contrast to that
kind of pattern, there is this pattern, which in one
sense is similar to the other in that it's very densely
packed — the entire surface is covered with collage elements
--but in this case, instead of this very subtle relation-
ship of values and color, I've chosen to use very strong
and extremely varied typographic elements and some elements
of quite strong color that contrast in color and also in
value with the typographic elements.
I should mention that most of my pictures are done
on paper, usually on white watercolor paper; and in this
kind of pattern [ Congeries ] the white of the watercolor
paper becomes a very important element in the whole visual
effect. Against this white ground I've placed these
isolated elements that make a different kind of pattern.
It's rhythmically very different, and it obviously is
visually very different. The relation of these shapes to
each other and to the picture plane are sort of what the
picture's all about.
Still another kind of pattern is this one where the
collaged elements touch each other and cover a large area
of the surface, but they make a very complicated and unified
single shape against the rectangle of the picture plane.
The intended illusion here is a kind of, I suppose,
architectural reference, but much less overtly so than in
the first example that I talked about.
To go to another approach to pattern: in this one
I have begun with a white watercolor paper, and on that
I have pasted a piece of off-white Japanese paper with a
kind of irregular edge, which is typical of handmade
papers. Playing this irregular edge against the very
precise edge of the mat is part of the intentional effect.
Against this ground of the Japanese paper, I've placed
these colored elements in a way that is neither as isolated
as the linear one that I spoke of a couple of pictures
back nor the single unified shape of the last one I pointed
to. I prepare all of the colored shapes that I use
by painting them or dipping them or staining them somehow
with watercolor. In this particular one, the manner
in which the color has been applied to these very trans-
parent, little fragments of paper has produced texture
and pattern that is basically the idea of the picture.
The same sort of application I've used in this
picture [ Te Deum ] with perhaps even more varied and
stronger textures involved. In this picture there's a
dense patterning in which the entire surface of the
picture plane is covered with the collage elements. It's
a completely packed composition.
To go to a different approach altogether: This
[ Exemplum ] is kind of a unique one in that I had the idea
originally of a kind of document to begin with; and many
documents, much of the material that we write on, is
lined. So, beginning with the watercolor paper, I made
these lines across here, and then I pasted a variety of
elements that are typographic, calligraphic, symbols of
various sorts, seals, and so on. And instead of doing this
the obvious way and pasting these things on and doing the
lines over them, where the lines were originally I've cut
the pieces apart and pasted them separately so that the
line runs through and not over the shapes, a terribly
laborious way of going about doing it, but a kind of
fascinating one to me.
Another approach to the process of making a picture is
in this one where the ground, instead of being the white of
the paper or the white of the gesso panel or a piece of
colored paper, I've painted the ground directly with
probably at least a half dozen pale washes of watercolor
of slightly different hues or values to build up a kind of
a very soft, but slightly varied color. And against this
I've placed this pattern of rather sparsely arranged,
colored shapes. And in some cases I've actually painted
some of the shapes in, rather than using just purely collage.
In the case of this one [ Tryst ] , the colored ground,
instead of being painted on the original paper, is a piece
of green Japanese paper that I've pasted on, having first
repainted it with watercolors so that it would be sure not
to fade; and then the composition is developed on that.
Another approach to this patterning is found in this
one [ Ad Hoc ] where I began with a ground, a background,
that originally was painted in black with a fev; areas of
orange in it. The picture v/as developed then by pasting
over this dark and colored ground small pieces of various
off-white papers and fitting them together rather loosely
so that between the shapes the dark ground shows through.
The result is a kind of counterpoint between the slightly
different values and colors of the collage elements and
the linear pattern of black and orange that was developed
through the relationship of these two parts.
Finally, another kind of patterning develops out of the
shape of the rectangle of the picture plane, I have
experimented with squarish shapes, with vertical shapes,
with horizontal shapes; and the shape that I come back to
quite frequently is this long, narrow, horizontal rectangle
which is represented in this example [ Narrative ] , In
developing this kind of composition, I'm usually conscious
of the relation between our habits of reading from left
to right and the way that the composition develops within
this long, narrow rectangle, our habit probably of looking
at it from left to right and the importance of the place-
ment of the elements in that contest.
In this shot we're upstairs in my house at 340 East
Los Olivos in Santa Barbara, looking out toward the front
of the house, the front bedroom. The pictures that are
on screen are four images from a suite of eight litho-
graphs that I did in 1977, when I was an artist in residence
at Tamarind. They're numbers five, six, seven, and eight of
the suite, which is called "Small Mnemonic Devices."
This is looking into the bedroom that we call the
Victorian room, although not much of the Victorian furni-
ture is in evidence.
This looks out into my youngest daughter Katy's room.
And that's looking into the upstairs parlor, I guess
we'd call it (actually it's called the TV room).
On the stair v;ell here is my collection of prints and
pseudoprints . The pseudoprints are mostly engravings that
I bought in Rome, like the bird skulls that we just
looked at and these two columns, which are very interesting
images to me, but they're not fine arts prints in the
collector's sense of the word. This is a print by Robert
Birmelin, who teaches at Queens College, an etching of a
fish. Ben Sakaguchi. Another series of anonymous prints.
A hand-colored lithograph of seals from some sort of a book
on natural history. Thomas Cornell, and above that
a Stefano della Bella. These are a little too far away
to identify. There's a Goya and an [Odilon] Redon and an
[Aristide] Maillol among other things. This is a Japanese
print of a fish or fishes, and I'm not sure who the artist
is. This is a Korean sign carved on wood. This I think
is a Kunisada; it belonged to my wife's father, a very
beautiful print, I think.
This is looking through the hall toward the back of
the house out on the big back porch.
I'm now sitting in the library, talking to Gerry Nordland.
NORDLAND: You came to Santa Barbara in 1949?
DOLE: Yes, in '49, to teach at the university.
NORDLAND: And when did you move into this home?
DOLE: We moved into this home in 1960. We had outgrown
the house that we bought when we first came here because by
the time we came into this house we had six children.
(The seventh was born after we got here.) But even before
we moved into this house, we'd been spending our summers
and weekends at the Hollister Ranch. I had my second
sabbatical in '63- '64, and we rented this house then to go
to Rome, and then when we came back, we came back to the
house at the Hollister Ranch and kept renting this place
for several years and lived up there all the time. I had
a large studio up there where I did most of my work. I've
used the attic in this house a little bit for a studio,
but I've done very little work in the house itself.
NORDLAND: It's a very sheltering house. It gives you a
great sense of warmth and protection, and all of the
friendly accumulations of a lifetime are around you. I'm
sure that the house has been an influence in your art as
DOLE: It probably has. It's strange: now we only have
one child living at home. The other children seem to like
to come back for weekends; we usually have several of them
NORDLAND: Well, I notice all the cribs and perambulators
DOLE: Those are for the grandchildren who also come.
[laughter] There ' re four of those now.
NORDLAND: Why don't you take this [family photograph] and
talk about that family.
DOLE: Well, this is a photograph that was taken at the
time that Hilary, the second daughter, was getting mar-
ried. We had all come in from the ranch at about six
o'clock in the morning for the appointment to take this
picture. Everyone was in the most foul humor you could
imagine from getting up so early and from the fact that a
couple of the daughters had brought home from college the
most disagreeable boyfriends that they could find,
[laughter] Anyway, to identify them all: beginning over
here is Billy, who's the oldest, and then Heidi, Hilary
(who's the one who was getting married), Deirdre, Deborah,
Jonathan, and down here is Katy, the youngest one, who
must have been then around five or six--and she's now four-
teen (so that would place this in time) .
NORDLAND: And then there's Bill and Kate Dole there with
their stars around their heads.
DOLE: We have a more recent group picture, but it hasn't
been developed yet, I think.
NORDLAND: Now we are in Bill Dole's studio at the
University of California at Santa Barbara. It's a very
spacious, well-lighted, attractive studio, where he's
been working for a good many years. ^"Jhy don't you show us
around, give us an idea of what you do and how you do it?
DOLE: Well, first of all, I've been working about seven
years in this studio, and most of the work I've done in
that period has been done in this studio.
Where I'm sitting makes it look as though I do a lot of
business here, but actually this desk is mostly where I eat
The bookcases behind here — People frequently ask me
about the large quantities of materials that I must have
to work with, the vast store of bins and barrels of
scraps of paper and so on. The few books up here are
broken books that I have found in flea markets and so on.
I hate to cut up a whole, useful, or good book; on those
occasions when temptation has overcome me and I've done
it, it's turned out to be bad luck. So you see what bat-
tered and fragmentary things these are; usually incomplete,
usually volume two of seven or something of that sort, and
poor survivors of a better day usually. This shelf and
a few things here are my working stock of books.
The supply of papers that I have, that I use as the
ground for these pictures, I keep in these cupboards over
here. It's obvious, I suppose, that I'm sort of nuts
about paper, and I've been a great pack rat in stockpiled
papers for years and years. Every chance that I have to
buy a beautiful sheet of paper of some sort or other I have
done that, and I have papers from France and England and
Italy and Japan and China and everywhere, which I have
stockpiled, and I probably have enough stashed away one
place or another to last for six or seven lifetimes. Any-
way, these are the ground that I use, the basis for pictures,
And I have, well, quite a lot of it stored away here.
As far as the barrels and bins and so on of scraps,
what I really have is in these top two drawers. At one
time I tried systematically to file these in folders by
various kinds of categories, most of which I've forgot-
ten now. [laughter] This really looks like it's junked
in here. A few old newspapers, like this very rich one
from Norwalk, Connecticut, from 1879, which is not a
wood pulp paper like newspapers are today; it's still
after one hundred years a very tough and not-too-dis-
colored paper. Here's a newspaper from the Civil War,
Frank Leslie's Illustrated News , which also is in very
good, sound condition. Well, there's a little bit of
everything in here. The second drawer is similar to the
first. And that, besides the things that are stacked around
here and on the other worktables, is all that I have to
work with. A little bit goes a long way when you work in
the scale that I'm working in.
NORDLAND: Well, now, what kind of adhesives do you use?
What kind of method or technique have you evolved for
joining paper to paper so that it's permanent?
DOLE: Well, first, let me show you where I color my papers.
All the colors that I use in collages, all the
colored papers, are papers that I've colored myself with
English watercolors of the best quality. I usually color
fairly small scraps of paper, maybe as small as this,
sometimes by simply mixing the watercolor and applying it
with a brush in as even a coating as possible--like this.
This is Japanese paper that I'm coating, and because it's
very absorbent, the color runs right through. It's
sometimes necessary to put on a coat like this and let
it dry and then turn it over and paint it from the back; it
goes through that direction, and each time it goes through,
a little more of it stays in the texture of the paper
until finally you can build up a pigmentation that runs
all the way through the paper, which is a very different
and much more intense color than you would get with just a
pigment on the surface of the paper. Sometimes I take
this absorbent paper, and when I have color like this in
a little bowl, I simply dip the paper in it like this,
and because the paper is very absorbent, it absorbs the
color from the puddle of mixed color in the jar, in the
bowl. I used to prepare very conscientiously large
numbers of these colored pieces like this and keep a
complete stock of the different colors: all the reds,
the yellows, the blues, greens, and so on; and when my
stock of one color ran low, I would take time out and
paint up large quantities of them. Actually I had a
couple of my daughters working for me in preparing colors
at one time. But more often now, I find that I am
inclined simply to prepare colors as the need arises or
for a particular purpose. It's a lot more spontaneous
somehow that way, I think.
I rarely change a color on the picture that I'm
working on. If the color swatch that I've pasted on
isn't right, I take it off and put on one that is right;
I don't even like to cover over one with another. In
that way I keep the surface very thin, very close.
Starting from the beginning with the picture, I
mentioned that I have these papers over here, which are
for the most part handmade, all-rag watercolor papers
from, for example. Arches, which is a French paper
[Papeteries d'Arches], or Crisbrook, which is an English
paper [J. Barcham Green] , or Fabriano, an Italian paper
[Catiere Milani-Fabriano] . Sometimes an American paper
made by Strathmore. At the present time I rather favor
Arches in what is called the 300-pound weight, which is
very much like a heavy cardboard. The paper is dampened
and then attached to a drawing board, while it's still
damp, by gum tape all around the edges. When it dries,
it shrinks and becomes very tight and very smooth, and
this is the surface that I work on.
There are various schemes for commencing the work from
that point on, one of which is to put a wash or Vvrashes of
color on the watercolor paper. This is one that I'm
currently working on. I've put a couple washes of dilute
India ink on this, and this is the way I sort of go about
doing it. I use distilled water (not trusting the
minerals and so on in Goleta branch water) . And then,
with a few drops of ink — When you put one drop in, it
does a marvelous thing. With India ink, you can keep
putting very pale washes over each other indefinitely and
increasingly darken the wash without picking up any of the
This is a Japanese brush that I'm using, which comes
in a variety of sizes and is a very useful brush for
purposes of this sort. The dampness of the ink wash
will cause the paper to swell again and buckle up a little
bit, but as it dries it will flatten out to this same
As you will see in looking around the room, I usually
have quite a number of works in progress. I have boards
with paper stretched on them like this. I have washes in
this state. I have over here one where, instead of put-
ting a wash of color on it, I've glued on it a piece of this
dark indigo-tinted Japanese paper as a ground. Then there
are things in all various kinds of stages over here.
I like to keep as much of the work that I'm working
on visible as possible so that there are things in all
kinds of conditions of completion or sometimes in condition
of indecision. I'm very stubborn about abandoning a work,
and sometimes they have to stay around for a long time
before I solve the problem. But at any rate, I like the
opportunity of working from one picture to another because
there's a kind of cross-fertilization, I suppose, that goes
The actual process of putting these together involves
the use of adhesive, and the one which I use most often is
called rabbit-skin glue. It's a hide glue that's made
from rabbit skins, which are very refined, obviously.
It's a very thin, very nearly transparent glue, which has
been used by bookbinders for a number of centuries. It's
necessary, after this is mixed and warmed, to keep it a
little bit warm so that it's fluid, so that I have to heat
it here from time to time very gently. I also sometimes
use the acrylic medium that is used with acrylic paints.
But the thing that I like best about my glue is that it's
water soluble, and if I want to remove a piece, I can soak
it, dampen it, and peel it away or scrape it away, whereas
with the acrylic medium, it is very difficult to make any
changes with it.
My actual process of doing this involves--f or making
the shapes, which are usually fairly simple — instead of
using scissors, I usually use a steel straight edge and
a small X-acto knife and cut the shape like this. This
produces shapes that are much more precise than I could
possibly do v;ith scissors. At other times where I want
a rough edge or a kind of feather one, particularly in
working with Japanese papers, which have very long fibers,
I simply fold and tear them. The fibers pulling out make
a very interesting kind of soft edge that can also be
manipulated to a certain extent when the paper is dampened
with the glue. Because of the size of these elements, and
because of one's natural clumsiness, I almost always use
tweezers to move things around. I've become so accustomed
to this that the tweezers are almost an extension of my
When I have found the right fragment of paper and the
right place to put it, I dampen that area with the glue--so
--and usually, unless the paper is extremely thin, I
also coat the back of the paper with the glue, and then I
drop it into place — so--and with this tool, which is a
sculptor's plastic tool, I usually use this to press it
into place, either with the spatula end or actually to
burnish it with this end. These four tools [that is, the
steel straightedge, the X-acto knife, the tweezers, and
the sculptor's plaster tool] are part of my indispensible
working tools--a magnifying glass is a very useful adjunct.
particularly with very fine things — and these, together
with a few brushes and a pencil and my T-square, are
about the only tools that I really need to make my
It's a slow process, and it's been, over the years
I've used this technique, for me, a very enjoyable one.
Abstract expressionism, 47
Ale, Wilraa, 2
Anderson, Sherwood, 4 4
Ankrum, Joan (gallery
owner) , 79-80
Art Institute of Chicago,
Bang, Thomas, 2 9
Bear, Donald, 30, 48-49,
Bear, Esther (gallery
owner) , 33, 76 ,
77, 78-79, 83
Beckmann, Max, 31-32
Berelsheimer , Hobart, 21
Biala. See Janice Ford
Braque, Georges, 58, 94-95
Brewer, Joseph, 42, 45-46
Broderson, Morris, 79
Bruno, Phillip (gallery
owner) , 82-8 3. See
Brunswick, Egon, 14
Burne- Jones, Edward, 37
Burri, Alberto, 95-96
-Sacchi, 58, 95
Colona i Barberini,
(gallery owner) ,
Cornell, Joseph, 58, 97-98
Cornell, Thomas, 29
Corso, Gaspero del (gallery
owner) , 85-86
Cowan, Elmer (maternal
grandfather) , 1
Cuevas , Jose Luis, 87
Deutschman, Louise, 83
Diebenkorn, Richard, 47
Dole, Edna Cowan (mother) ,
(wife) , 6, 7, 10,
13, 83, 85
Kimsey Cowan (brother)
W. Earl (father) , 1
-Exhibitions, 14-15, 18,
50-51, 75-89, 74
-"William Dole Retro-
California Palace of the
Legion of Honor
-Ale, Wilma, 2
(San Francisco) ,
-Haley, John, 11
-Kepes, Gyorgy, 6
California School of Fine
-Loran, Erie, 9, 10,
Arts (San Francisco) ,
-Moholy-Nagy , Laszlo,
Carnegie, Andrew, 4, 38
Center for the Study of
-Obata, Chiura, 11,
Barbara) , 73
Chapman, Cornelia, 88
-Parsell, Florence, 1-2
Chapman, Roger, 88
-Prior, Harris King, 4
Chicago World's Fair
-Rickey, George, 4, 10,
(1933), 36, 41
11-12, 47, 78-79, 82-83
Cody's bookstore (Berkeley),
-Schopen, Kenneth, 5
-Wessels, Glen, 9, 10,
Dole, William (continued)
- Ad Hoc , 65, 106
- Bibliophile , 69-70
- Congeries , 103
- Exemplum , 104
- Ghost Town , 101
- Haybarn , 66-67
-"Memos," 62, 101
- Mono Lake , 6 2
- Move on Down the Line ,
- Narrative , 106
- Santa Ana Condition ,
Devices," 10 7
- Strata Data , 60, 67-68
- Te Deum , 10 4
- Tryst , 105
Downtown Gallery (New York
City) , 76-77
Duveen, Albert (gallery
owner) , 74-76 , 83 ,
Duveen-Graham Gallery (New
York City) , 74-76
Eastern Washington State
VJashington) , 9
Ernst, Max, 95
Evans, Elliott, 17, 52
Evans, Rex (gallery owner) ,
79-81, 82, 83, 88
Falvi, A., 32-33
Fenci, Renzo, 29
Ford, Ford Madox, 4 4
Ford, Janice, 44
Fuller, Buckminster, 41
Gardner, Helen, 21, 38
Gebhard, David, 31
Geddis, Ralph (gallery
owner) , 51, 74
(Santa Barbara) ,
Gil, Attilio, 87-88
Graham, Robert (gallery
owner) , 74-76
Graham Gallery. See Duveen-
Haley, John, 11
Halpert, Edith (gallery
owner) , 76-77
Helm, MacKinlay, 78
Herns, George, 90
Hirshhorn, Joseph, 79, 80-81
Horn, Milton, 5
Kepes, Gyorgy, 6
Korzybski, Alfred, 43, 44
Kunzle, David, 27
Lackner, Stephen, 31
Ladies Home Journal
(periodical) , 36
Landau, Felix, 84
Leavitt, Tom, 90
Lebrun, Rico, 33
Le Corbusier, 43, 44
Lent, Don, 29
Lewinson, Bertha (gallery
owner), 76-77, 79-80
Lindberg-Hansen, Jacob, 20
Loewi , Adolph,. 32
Loran, Erie, 9, 10, 11, 12
Ludington, Wright, 32, 80
Magazine of Art (periodical) ,
Mallory, Margaret, 32
Martin, Francois (gallery
owner) , 51, 74
McRoberts, Augusta, 8 8
McRoberts, Neil (gallery
owner) , 88-89
McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery
(London) , 88-89
Mills College, 5-6
Mills, Paul, 95-96
Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo, 5-6, 10
Moir, Alfred, 24, 25, 26,
27, 28, 35
Morgenroth, Sigmund — col-
lection of medals,
Munich school, 39
Neuhaus, Eugen, 11
Oakland Museum (Oakland,
California) , 14
Obata, Chiura, 11, 52, 53
O'Hagen, Margaret Peterson,
Olivet College (Olivet,
Michigan), 3-5, 42-
-writers and artists in
On Architecture (book by
William Lescaze) ,
Parsell, Florence, 1-2
Pepper, Stephen, 13-14
Perls, Frank, 84
Picasso, Pablo, 57, 70,
Pierson, Jiggs Conway, 24
Prior, Harris King, 4
Rickey, George, 4, 10, 11-
12, 47, 78-79, 82-83
Rothko, Mark, 4 7
Ryan, Anne, 58, 9 5
Sagittarius Gallery (Rome) ,
Sandburg, Carl, 44
Santa Barbara Museum of
Art, 30, 50, 100
Schopen, Kenneth, 5
Schwitters, Kurt, 56-57,
58, 70, 89-93
Scully, Jodi (gallery owner
owner) , 82 , 86
Sedgwick collection, 33-35
Seldis, Henry, 77
Smith, F, Hopkinson, 38-39
- Outdoor Sketching , 38-39
Smith, Hassel, 47
Social realism, 47
Souza, Antonio (gallery
owner) , 86-88
Springer, Eva Marie, 84
Springer, Rudolf (gallery
owner) , 84-85
Staempfli, George (gallery
owner) , 82-83, 86
Stein, Gertrude, 43, 44
Steinberg, Saul, 98-99
- Passport , The, 98
Still, Clyfford, 47
Story, Ala, 32, 34, 75, 86,
Tamarind Institute (Albuquer-
que, New Mexico), 81,
Troche, Gunther, 34
Tunnard, Peter (gallery
owner) , 88-89
University of California,
12, 13, 14, 15,
-Berkeley school, 13
University of California,
Santa Barbara, 15-
35, 62, 110
-Art Affiliates, 33
-art history v. studio
-buildings, 23, 24-25,
-change from crafts to
fine arts focus, 16-
-faculty, 16-18, 20,
23-29. See also Bang, Thomas;
Cornell, Thomas; Del Chiaro,
Mario; Evans, Elliott;
Fenci, Renzo; Gebhard,
David; Kunzle, David;
Lent, Don; Lindberg-
Hansen, Jacob; Moir,
Alfred; Pierson, Jiggs
Conway; Warshaw, Howard
-art gallery, 23, 29-35
-art library, 21-22
-campus, 20-21, 22-23, 24-
-Isla Vista riots, 26-27
Vanity Fair (periodical) ,
Varda, Jean, 96-97
Virgil A. Warren Advertising,
Warshaw, Howard, 2 3
Weatherford, Jim (gallery
owner), 80, 82, See
also Evans , Rex
Wessels, Glen, 9, 10, 11,
<ril]0NVS01^ %a3MNI1-3l\V^ "^tfOJllVD J0>^
^<?Aavaaii-^^ ^OAavaaii-i^"^ ^tjuonvsoi^
§ 1 1^-^ ^
^(ifOJlWD JO'^ <rjU3NVS0l^
^'JAavaan-^^^ ^OAavaan-^'*?^ ■^jjudnvsoi^ '^AaaAiNiiiwv
- ^' - ' ^
AWEUNIVERS/a ^lOSANCFtfj-^ <\tUBRARY(9/
%a3AINI1-3WV^ '^tfOJIWDJO'*^ '^.SOJIIVJJO^ <rjl33NVS01^ "^/iaJAINO 3\W^ ^<J0JnV3J0'^
c-1 SOI 1^ s:;
^<?Aavaaiii'^ >&AavaaiH^ <rii3DNvso\^ '^/ia3AiN(i3i\v
^OAavaaiii^ ^OAavaaiiv^ <fii3DNVS0i^
5 — '» I' 5
9 — ' ^
'^(KOJIIVD JO"^ ^.JOJIIVDJO'^
^OFfAllF0% ^OF CAllfO/?4^
i]DNVso# "^/sajAiNoiwv^ '^^'oAuvaaii-^^'^ %A(ivaaiB^
■5. "— ' ^
^fc /■ — vU
^(yOJUVDJO"^ '^OJIIVDJO'^ "^JJHONVSOV^
^ ,—^1 I- £;•
,3 .^^ i?
. inc. turn f/.
.tt IIDDADV^j .