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Bob Douglas: and allowed people-- tends to wanna be -- (?) because the people 1:00were young and that's what was happening-- if the ladies was hanging around and they wanted to be a part of it.

(Wes Cunningham laughs)

BD: So, they and crimes (?) that fell from that situation. You know, some went on and stayed in the art you know off and on you know. Like (Merve)? did to a degree and still does. 

WC: Uh, what was the local art community like not--

BD: There wasn't any for black people

WC: There was no unh-uh

BD: There wasn't ever for black people when I was a kid. Except that I remembered seeing --there's a barber shop on Preston-- and this man was a barber and when he didn't have customers, he worked on his paintings or painted or I can't remember cause I didn't know. I was fascinated by watching him. And so that was my --other than my brothers and sisters-- just a draw. But this is an older man that I saw practicing and I didn't know enough then to ask him who he was because I wasn't a scholar. I guess I was a budding scholar cause I used to hang out at the library and read a lot. I didn't hang out with other guys and doing the kind of things they did. I wasn't extremely athletic although I played hoops in the street when I was young. But basketball and we played football like 2:00kids do in the street or vacant lots so Sandlot (?).

But other than that and the other thing, I --the start and I uh decided in high school that I was gonna pursue it in a serious manner-- in the fact that I just wanted to know more about it and I went into self study because I naïvely believed that I could be an artist. My mother and father didn't know enough. They thought, like most people at the time, well he'll do something serious because that's the way-- and especially for a young black youth-- but, as I read 3:00more and more, as I naïvely-- and living in a black community, you know, you had to fight with white boys cause they was white and you was black. But I believed that once I --when I took my art to white establishments-- I thought they would hire me. And none of them-- I call Louisville a home of polite racism. Because none of them opened this they "Look, we not gonna hire no black person or negro and none of this." They would uh come up with excuses, "Well you can't do this" and I would say, "What, uh" cause I looked in the paper and I saw fashion drawing and stuff like that and I said well I'll go and sell them at the 4:00stewards and sell them some other places. They had fashion artists. I thought I could be an apprentice or something. They would say, "Well, we would hire you but you can't do this."

So, I learned and I started. Well, maybe I gotta get some training so I took --I saw this thing in correspondence(?) but-- Draw me and you can you know (?). So I took that and found out that I didn't get a scholarship. 


They want to charge me $10 a month. And I did that for a while, and I took those correspondence courses and I still-- I learned to do everything they told me to do in there. 

(BD coughs)

And I thought naïvely that I'd go to-- then I'd learn about advertising uh -- one or two in the city-- Anderson and something else and I'd go down there and 5:00they would you know, surprise. I didn't know how white's see that kind of thing. They were that mean that they would be polite but then criticize you but you can't do this. I said, Well who let me see so I learned to do that and I'd come back four or five months later.

(BD sniffs)

And you would ____ (?) do this and I went to different places.

WC: Uh-huh

BD: I remember once being hired. I mean I went to a print shop, a printing place, and uh, the owner or the boss or whatever, looks at me and says, "Oh, that's great. My artist just left us and I need an artist." So he said, "Can I do such and such a thing" and I started. I worked there in the artists' room and did what he wanted me to do and he said, "You got the job" and I worked there 6:00the evening cause there was something he needed translated from pictures of motors --he was doing a catalog for somebody-- so I did line drawing of them and painting. And he said, "You got the job." I went back the next day, and he was really embarrassed cause the-uh whites in the shop said, Well, that wasn't no place where you had no niggers, no artists. He said, "I can't hire you cause the other workers refuse to work where a black man would sit in the office and they'd work in the shop." I didn't see that fully at the time --that's why I became a pastor (?)-- because I wanted to know and understand. But I had any number of those kinds of experiences. So they guy let me work at home until he 7:00could find somebody and he payed me freelance.

But my dream at the time was to be a magazine illustrator with Saturday Evening Post and the Courier cause they had people that did --so I was destined-- I studied on my own. And then, uh, at one place I can't remember in town said, "Well, have you been to art school? Maybe, but you need a degree." So, I started taking courses and I enrolled in the University of Louisville and it was by that time I had self-trained, self-taught correspondence courses and I got a half scholarship here at U of L (University of Louisville) and I got a degree and I 8:00kept trying to get a job.

I remember I was at one of the agencies one time and the guy said, "I got a call from the art director at the Courier Journal and he needs an artist bad." So, I go there and I talk to the guy on the phone cause he got him on the phone. He said, "Yeah, send him over." So, I got to him --Courier Journal-- it was a 6th street open on the front door (??) and he sounds like, "On the fourth floor." So I go there on the elevator and somebody stops me and says, "Where are you going?" And I say, "I'm going to see Mr. White." (or whoever his name was", "He wants me to come up." He says, "Why're you going up there?" I said, "Well he wants me" --I had my portfolio. "Oh, you can't go up there now, you've got to come in here." So they took me into the hiring office. They must have called him 9:00and said "Hey you've got a nigger down here."  

(WC laughs)

BD: "You know, I don't think you want that" And so, they took my name and everything and I never did see him. And I said, "But, he wanted me because he wanted me to take the job. He told me on the phone." And then it began to dawn on me.

(BD sniffs)

BD: But I'd had enough in between that and I guess I had --I finished my degree in art history, art sculpture, and painting. Of course, I also began to understand other things too. I got my first-- met young students who had been at Howards and black places and I became aware of African History and _______ (???) 10:00they don't teach black history or nothing like that out here. But I began to study on my own --read DuBois and other people-- and then I became aware of institutional racism. But I finished my degree and in '63/'68, they had the riots. And in the meantime, I had been talking to the director --the CEO of Perrin and Lee (??) about what are you doing now, you know, you're doing things that help employment. 

WC: Uh-huh.

BD: Can I be employed as an artist? So, I did that. And I kept bugging him about them and after the riot, he said go on over here to the Courier. And, when I --by that time, I had an art degree. I was beginning to --Civil Rights-- because 11:00in '58, uh maybe, '59, Martin Luther King came to town and I went to hear-- me and four/five other people. I had read his book, Stride Toward Freedom, and now I was aware of the larger civil rights. But my reading had expanded. I was reading --I began to study the earlier pioneers of the civil rights struggle in America-- equal rights and stuff. When I got to the Courier and they hired me, I 12:00was pissed. Nobody in there had an art degree. All them white boys had been hired as an apprentice and now none of them was my artistic equal or my intellectual equal. They hadn't been to college, they were ignorant.

WC: Uh-huh.

BD: It's what racism does to white folk. It makes them think because of some superficial skin color they own the world. What they do is cool.

I was there for eight years. I got along with some but anytime anything was said, I took them to task. They did not have the intellectual background that I 13:00had. I got on very well, but I'm sure I was a bone in their side because I was arrogant and self-assured --could do anything they could do artistically. None of them had the full range of artistic background --an apprentice in art-- that I had because I had been forced to learn all these different things. I began to realize then what racism does-- it destroys the spirit. And why I didn't become an addict or a drunk or something else is amazing. So, it either crushes you or makes you stronger. 

Then I, I worked there for eight years. I got another job at the Mapper service 14:00(???). Cause I was gonna get a job (?) through the government and they didn't hire me, they hired somebody I'd been at school with-- a guy at the class at U of L. And he was not-- I don't know whether he finished his degree or not. Because at that time, you owe at the start uh uh (?) the government. So I wrote a letter to wherever that I had been a victim of racism because I had applied and they found me a job. It wasn't the one I had applied for. So, I worked as a 15:00training aid out at the courthouse for two years. (15:10) And then I got a job in town with the Courier.

I married by that time. In the mean time, we had started the uh --Sam Gilliam and Bob Thompson, some other people-- we were students at U of L and because we couldn't show our works at the galleries I wanted to in town, we started gallery enterprises --I wrote about that-- 

WC: Uh-huh.

BD: After that, Sam left for D.C. because I had five children so I couldn't go. 16:00One of the professors, a visiting professor from Germany, Grodeo (?) really liked my work and he wanted me to come with him to be an apprentice under him. He was going to New York. But I couldn't go because my-- I had responsibilities. He wanted me to finish my graduate degree and I'd be his assistant cause he talked about my work at the time as an expressionist. Cause I was going expressionism but from the black perspective. Because I refused-- at that time, other people in art were wanting to be abstract expressionists-- they wanted to be uh Pollock or Klein (?) and I just refused because at that time, I'd become 17:00aware of art history. 

And I was told first out of here that black people had no history, that they hadn't done anything of importance in the world, they had contributed nothing to civilization. Because I had begun to study and realized that was false. And so, for that reason, I knew if I didn't champion black people's movements that no one would. So, I refused to go non-figurative. So, most of my paintings and sculptures and stuff had been figurative. Some were abstract, But Grodell (?) was amazed at my use of color and stuff. 

Another colleague, a teacher here-- I visited him in Munich and I was at a party 18:00once and the guy said uh, "You wouldn't believe what I saw." Cause me and this professor, he and I didn't get along because I didn't realize --I had married my present wife and she said, "People know immediately how you dismiss them." --So, he taught design and if something was said wrong, I'd take him to task as a student. But we got along --but he was saying, he told Kennedy (?) and said he --Grodell, had one of my paintings because Grodell had been a German 19:00Expressionist because he knew Picasso and all the other guys because as a young man he had been to Paris and he was an art professor at Munich University and he was just here visiting. And he came to U of L and then he went to NYU (New York University). If I had been single and had no children, I'd have been caught up in --probably the European scene. 

Anyway, he said, "Your painting is on the wall with Picasso and others". I said, "What painting?" He explained and I said, "That's what happened to that painting!"

I kept wondering what happened to that painting, and he had taken it and framed it and he said that was one of his student's work. When I went to Munich, I 20:00didn't have his-- I should have called him cause I went during the Christmas holidays, but he was away, up in Bavaria (?) and I didn't. I was up on my way from-- I wanted to go to Europe and I was on my way to Africa because I was teaching there and part time here. I was teaching-- I had created an African American Art course. And the people who had taught me here said there was no such thing. But I created and I began to study. Because I had been a part of the struggle to create an African studies. But I didn't have a masters or PhD at the time and so the chair, Tom Green, had me to do-- to fill out his program. The 21:00department offerings. I taught African American Art for him. And had to teach (?) African Art as well. And I had of course because of what I had studied. When students would ask --cause I was teaching them things about Africa they didn't know then but I had taught them-- "Well, were you there?" And so I said, "Well, I need to go, I need to know. I need to fill this picture out." (21:31)

And at that time, I was working at the Courier and I was teaching here part time. But we had already created gallery enterprises and that held on for about three years. What we did down there --very interesting-- as a student, we created what people call the Saint James Art Fair because we had a clothes line 22:00show in Peterson's yard. He lived on Saint James Court. And it grew and now I don't know this side of it if anybody has written their history, but I know that up until that time, it was black and white students. At that time, we had our clothesline shows in October. And we did that to help pay our bills because we all had old Peterson-- was a pride. His wife taught at art association.

And U of L had at that time didn't have an art department-- they were building 23:00one. But most of the students in art took classes because they taught drawing and painting and other things. Mrs. Peterson, not Peterson, taught jewelry making and other lady-- uh, bloo blah (?)-- taught painting for the University and one class, one course. But most our classes was taken in drawing and painting at the art association which was a big building that's across --campus wasn't that big-- but it was on First Street and right in front of Bingham Hall, the humanities building,-- was the art association. The building's still there. 24:00So, we taught most of our course to campus. At that time, the campus ended at Crenshaw (?) and Gardner. That was the beginning of the campus. So, people down the street-- First Street-- over to the art association. And let's see what else--

I was teaching out here at one time. Some other things happened-- The gallery, ok. And not only that, the Saint James Art Fair began to grow --but the last big 25:00event we had, I think I wrote about that--

WC: Uh-huh.

BD: Was the creation of the essential part happening and crap --Sam left, and so there wasn't nobody left but the two of us-- Fred Bond (?) and myself. So, from '63, we used to work together ____ (?) and in '67, we created the Louisville Art Workshop. But at the time of course-- both times, was an integrated group although we began to read about the black arts movement and how artists-- some 26:00artists in other parts of the country in California, New York, Chicago, had --was doing their search, was tying their art to the struggle.

The black arts movement is a part of the black liberation struggle-- for the artist called himself the revolutionary artist and wanted their work to reflect and be of some cultural significance. The second phase of the civil rights struggle --and they moved away from civil rights to more direct action. And of course, how that got decimated by the CIA and the government, nobody can prove 27:00that, but it's very obvious in what happened that outside forces were afraid of-- Hoover didn't hide his fear of black people, because he thought that would begin the black liberation struggle. And artists joined a group. He said that the black panthers are the most dangerous. So they-- it's an open warfare. And now I know about the propaganda, you can research that. That the closest we came to that in Louisville was about the other artist --well, Sam went off and became 28:00one of the abject expressionists with several phases of that and Ken also. Bob Carter (?) remained pretty much a figurative artist. And that professor on Long Island. But here in Louisville, my work was the one that st---. I wanted my work to celebrate the achievements of the life of black people. So I was the artist 29:00inside that group. Because I didn't want my work to be after-- after I was dead and gone. I wanted people to be sure that a black artist did that. 29:16 

I guess naïveley or arrogantly, I refused to sign my work because I realized that if you put together a large enough body of work, it speaks for itself. You can see the changes Picasso made in his art, you can tell Picasso from others. You can't be who you are and remain true to who you are without telling people who you are if they are thorough in their analysis. 


WC: You were talking about how the broader black arts movement was moving, did you all associate with that at all in Louisville? The Louisville Art Workshop or?

BD: No, because we had an integrated group. And I think that ameliorated (?) although, toward the end, in '70, at the height of the workshop, they realized that the Speed, it wasn't showing black work and they had some problems with an open show on Fourth Street, they were trying to submit it and they didn't show it either. So, they were beginning to become-- they had some protests, somebody 31:00in the group. And I said, "Benny,(?) I told you all that a long time ago." 


Female voice: That's a heavy sandwich there, doctor. I think I saw the bag.

BD: Aw, yeah. 

Female voice:  I'll just grab it and get out of your way --

BD: Yeah, I was _________ (?) 

Female voice: Yeah, you were. Well, I hope some pictures were taken.

BD: I got, uh ____ I got some (?). 

Female voice: I hope they had fun.

BD: Thanks a lot.

Female voice: Uh-huh.

BD: But I had moved away from the civil rights to my own thinking and more like Malcolm X and so I set out and was going to get involved. They were in protest 32:00mode and so it's gone to another phase. Because I had been in community art and was at the beginning of the war on poverty for two years. And it was community organized. And I left that to take the job at the Courier --at uh Fort Knox because I had taken, I knew the next step, that you couldn't lead people into an armed struggle. I didn't know anything about an armed struggle. I thought I'd-- the chance to get back into art so I did. Although, I consider myself a cultural nationalist. 

WC: Your involvement as an urban renewal relocation officer-- did that inform 33:00your art at all?

BD: No, that informed me to how people were being manipulated. I saw that as the next step --that urban renewal-- and one area was mostly attacked, that was the black business area. And I realized I didn't have-- they didn't know enough. Most of them didn't own the property themselves, some of them did-- most of them operated the businesses. And there were usually some non black behind them. But they didn't know enough and I didn't know enough to get out of the urban renewal until I organized them. I did get out of urban renewal, the community organizing 34:00along poverty. By the time I was urban renewal, I didn't know enough to ask, "What are you all doing?" They should have known enough to be collectively together.

Because they didn't recognize how economically --capitalism-- how businesses feed off each other. And that's why they were successful because you could eat _____ (?) The whole from 6th Street to 13th Street. And that's why they were businesses that were successful. They were all good at what they did but that area was successful like it was all over the south. And the worst thing happened to them-- This happened to the country, the worst thing that happened to black businesses was integration. They thought wherever they went, they were going to make it. But, capitalism is a much more malicious beast than that. It's 35:00something else. And most young blacks still didn't understand it. 

WC: Was your art or anybody else's for that matter, but particularly yours, was it politically motivated at all?

BD: No, because they wanted to be part of the mainstream. And my last book, A New Tells That (???)-- 

(long pause)

BD: I just began to understand it-- I did it out of a refusal not to be me. And 36:00I wasn't going to let-- I wanted to be successful. Turned me against myself and my people. But I understood myself and my people. I never bought into the individualist argument. Man wouldn't be here if he was just an individual. If he hadn't been a part of a group, he never would have taken down a mammoth or fought off a wolf-- or whatever mammals were bigger than them. If they didn't have a collective. And whenever they were caught alone, they died. 


BD: Those hunters who were by themselves, we don't know nothing about them. We only know about the people that survived and they survived as a collective effort. And America'd been very successful at tricking people into that individual-- the idea of the right to work the law. That's the right to rape 37:00your law (???). They forget a most perfect form of capitalism is slavery. With slavery, you make the most and you get the least. And the closer corporations can get workers to give up their individual rights-- because when you become individuals, you give up individual rights. And they don't understand that, they seem to be contradictory. And the closer they can get them to allowing themselves to be exploited, the more money corporations make. 

WC: Uh-huh.

BD: And because they give a share back, the capitalists always keep more than 38:00they give away. You can't be a ___(?) but you can be rich if you do that. And anytime you have more than what you need, somebody somewhere's got less than they need.  Some businesses do a better job at dealing with the public welfare than others. They're the less ambitious ones. 

(background conversation through this portion)

BD: But, there's the example of the couple that bought-- and the medicine for aids victim was $13.95 and he changed it to $1395 a pill. "See I have the right to do that, I own this." Now the people that created it was making money at $13.95 a pill. He had the audacity to choose one thousand three hundred and 39:00ninety five dollars a pill. And then, after people raised hell ____ (?). So, that's what the laws of this country allowed capitalists to do, giving them that kind of power. 

WC: Un-huh.

BD: You have a right to be right, everyone's got a right to be rich. You don't have to be born to be rich. You have to be an aristocrat, an aristocracy. But you move from a familiar aristocracy to a monetary aristocracy. Which goes back into a familiar, cause I want to make enough for my children. So, they slowly move it back into an old-style aristocracy and unless your group-- at people 40:00your age do something about that, your grandchildren won't ever stand a chance. 40:05 

(Background conversation continues)

BD: They were on course to become slaves without knowing they were slaves. 

WC: In your essay, you spoke that Sam Gilliam saw the potential to challenge racial discrimination through the arts. Can you tell me a little about that?

BD: I don't know how politically conscious he was about that but it's evidenced that when he realized --and I don't know how much he realized that-- he went to D.C., he would become a part of the Colorfield (?) school of abstract 41:00expressionism of the artist expressionism. And he had become aware of it because he had begun to do some (artist ???) expressionism here. So when he went to D.C., he became a part of that. But he was just imitated --it's obviously, they're-- they probably treated him as a-- I don't know this, I'm just saying-- but what I know of the people that have power and influence that he was just cashed off Nolan -- works at the heart of expressionism, Kelly (???). But when he dyed his canvas --first the dyed canvas and moved to a more expressive 42:00color-- although his art is what I would call a black use of color. It became --the contrast became more brilliant. But especially with his soft, dyed things that he-- and then he draped them-- he just blew the world apart cause they were all looking for something new. And I never asked him about what Kelly, Newman, (??) others thought of him after he did that. But, the emphasis. The hard-edge-- 43:00from what I can look at it and see, they never became the same after this young Sam Gilliam had his show. He changed his thing just to something different. I think he stopped the artist expressionism in the tracks. Because he became something new and exciting. And he met a lot of opposition to the people in D.C. that were part of the black art's movement because they were tying their art to the struggle of black people. His success as a black man says one thing-- sets 44:00large possibilities. But his criticism he met was that it wasn't directly in opposition to institutional racism or anything like that. But the job --the first job as an artist, is just to remain an artist. And if you don't garner patrons who buy your work, you're not going to make it. 

The thing that saved a black arts movement artist was that by this time, you had an increased number of blacks who had discretionary funds that can be used for non-essentials. And then they wanted to also appear to be a part of the masses 45:00and so they bought those kinds of art. They bought-- so the most successful group in the country was the Afrocobra (?) and the Afrocobra did a collective move, led their shows. Of course, they had some outspoken advocates and it was clearly something. The craftsmanship, the abilities of the artist was undeniable. The expertise in what they were doing. The way they did it was undeniable. And they explained what the differences was and how it related to-- and so, it was another part. The masses loved to hear them defy the system. And 46:00so they didn't make the kind of money that Sam was making but what they did was they told the people that came to their shows. You pick any one of their works --one of their works that you could buy-- and you could get it for $10. So what they did was they made ___ grafts (?) silk screens (?) of the ones that the people liked, and they helped each other to do that. And so, I've got a ____ (?) on my wall I think I gave $12 for it. It's an Angela Davis thing and it's worth it, these $5000/$6000 dollar then. I mean he sold it for- the few he's got. I told him I only got about five left. I got about two of them now. You can get 47:00the last of this one. So when they go to his place, they may be up to $12000 now. About ten to twelve years ago, he broke the record of-- for street sell, he sold a painting off the street for $9,000.

WC: (whistles) Jeez.

BD: You couldn't get nothing but $10 for it earlier. And then he, since then, he told me he got, his Malcolm-- he got $85,000 for it. He was selling at $12,000, and the guy was eager and he said no, I want $25 and he ended up keeping it and got $85,000 for it. 47:40 And I think he got $75,000 and the actual piece-- of the original piece of Angela, one of Angela Davis and Nelson Stevens has been 48:00selling his work well now too because people want to collect them. And they've had some shows-- some other circulating shows. And they still needed a crew. Not in the same way I think. 

But I remember when I was in graduate school at U of L-- at Iowa, people wanted to know when I chose to do my dissertation on Nelson Stevens and the black arts movement, they thought, "Oh, you're wasting you're time." -- That was in '80/'79, '80/'81. Uh, the art world was still debating about the validity of their art-- the value of it, or the meaning of it. But I was convinced that-- 49:00because already my paintings, I've got works that nobody would show because they're nudes. But if you look at the use of color, design, composition, it's the same-- the same vein as what the black arts movement. If you look at their work-- because they all rejected the earlier teachings of "Tone your colors down," "Your work is too busy," but that's the same as African Art. 49:33   So, my writing's been about that as well. But if I had not been a rebel myself, I wouldn't have recognized that. 

WC: Did you see art-- especially in the Louisville Art Workshop and things like 50:00that-- did you see your all's art as an opportunity to advance black folks in Louisville and in the community? 

BD: Yeah, because we, uh, I had a good following. Because the whites came to our shows and we were in the West End. And Sarah Lansdale (?) wrote about them. Sarah Lansdale was-- he ____ with us (?). And then the fact too that our political and social approach was one that was in tune with polite racism. I see that but nobody-- none of us were condescending, we were-- _____ (?) people as they came and our patrons as they came. Miss Norton (?) bought our works. But sad to say --when she died, and when half of her people dealt with the wave 51:00because they had not only our works, but other artists-- because they would buy works at the art shows. But she particularly bought black artwork. When she died, the works that she had that could have been wrecked, got thrown in the alley. So you could have gone somewhere early. Those that didn't get picked up and discarded. Uh, someone said they saw one of my paintings, I would have had no idea about it. I don't know whether anyone picked it up and took it home 52:00but-- her efforts were seen as overly patronizing. 52:09 I'm sure that she was genuine in her purchases, in her attitude but, it just shows you about racism. That people under her who could not do it when she was alive accepted her as being liberal, whatever. But those that didn't agree with her when they had the chance to show how they really felt about her-- it's sad.  So, I'm not saying that-- for a time, the workshop, and it clearly, cause the reason that (Ed?) 53:00came to us was because he wasn't respected. And I'm sure that his teachers respected his abilities. But I'm sure he felt that they didn't give him the time. Because now, most whites can't afford his work, it's $10,000/$12,000 for copies. So, he beat the system. But, why I continue to paint, sculpt and paint-- my main efforts have been in teaching and research and writing. 

WC: When you all first enrolled at U of L, how were you all met? How was the art---?


BD: Polite. It's polite. Like I said, but I asked one professor about it. He said, "You're only here because we're nice to you. You haven't done anything, black people haven't done anything for the world." Now, when I studied the real history of the world, it's just the opposite. Whites have perfected but they didn't create original things. Most whites in the world still believe that the Egyptians was white. 

(BD laughs)

BD: That's messed up. It's amazing. I was in the Egyptian museum in Cairo and ___ the third (?) looks like my uncle more than anyone else. And the woman says, 55:00"He wasn't really black, he wasn't really black." I said, "Really? It looks just like a book." (And thats what happened, the only appeared of enslavement period _______ (??????))) 

We explained, what do we do, we have an explanation for it. And the more absurd it gets, you may need to have a rationalization or a justification. I step on your foot, I say, "I'm sorry I didn't see it," explaining it. If I say "Your foot shouldn't have been there, it's my path," You're justifying it-- you're not 56:00apologizing, you're justifying it. You're saying, "It would have been lighter in this room, I could have seen it," you're rationalizing it.  So, during that period, that's explainable. It's not forgivable, but it's explainable. So, we don't understand the full consequences of our action as a period, as an epic, or as an episode that's periodical or historical. We can't begin to prevent it from happening, reoccurring. And we haven't done that very well or you wouldn't have Donald Trump saying the ridiculous things he said. 


BD: You can't believe. You didn't say that and you don't believe that. And he probably does. It's laughable and nd it's dangerous. Because the Jews made a 57:00mistake and laughed at Hitler. They laughed at Hitler-- called him a buffoon-- and he remained that but he was ___ (?). People accept it as an alternative. And then he became dangerous. And also, quickly, the people around him who would have thrown him out in the street by the seat of his pants ten years earlier, scared to touch him. 

WC: How did your all's art kind of, how did it contribute to a broader cultural identity than Louisville and did you all use your art to display your own--?

BD: No, the art was never-- cause I was beginning to question those things. So 58:00we were never-- we were politically conscious but we were never-- I guess the group was where Malcolm, where MLK was at. The integration won't be too bad because if white people get to know us, they'll like us-- that's true! That is true! But not for everybody, not for all whites. So, as America has yet to deal with that. Yet, individual basis for the first time in the history of our country in the last 20/30 years, you have white males legitimizing their 59:00relationship with black women. Before, they'd just take them, use them, and throw them away. You don't marry them. 

I was asking if -- Jennifer Lopez and Affleck-- I said "He's not going to marry that girl-- I mean she's been hair dressed with puffy-- somebody going to remind him of that." You know I said-- You know I don't know what their reason was for falling apart. Looking at why, I see it's all about-- knowing about American history and experiencing-- you know I pick my words carefully because my explanation may not be what that is at all. Until Obama won North Carolina, it's time to change. It's a great movement. My generation, we just never saw that 60:00happening. And the same thing happened to the whites in my generation. They had no idea that Martin and what they said about Martin had impacted the young whites. The crossover folks and the cellphone voters, because they never did was thinking (?). Because they believed-- they had been told not the color of their skin but the-- 

(background convo)

BD: --content of their character, not the color of their skin. And they believed that and then when they heard him speak "the content of his character"-- they believed it. And of course I look back-- some people might not, but I think he tried to do all those things he believed he could do. And so he didn't go to 61:00Guantanamo (?) because he said we had to have open and fair trials and the best place to have them is in ___ (?). And I said, "Oh no! You can't bring it up in here." ______ (?) And so, the people that believed in it didn't have power-- they hadn't gained. And the fear of losing it all, even those who were called liberal are sideliners. They don't - the Hillary's. You know I think Trump and some other people, it looked like they probably couldn't get a nomination. The 62:00more moderates, they might not make it. She parted people, and that far right group may have enough power eventually to accept a Cruz or a _____ (?). He's, they'll push him into a Trump-- the behavior or an explanation of -- whatever's his name. Cruz is out of Texas, right?

WC: I think so, yeah. 

BD: And there was another boy, in Florida and he may get it-- because the best-- 63:00But back to the-- we were, uh-- more like the civil rights movement in our social and political stances.

(long pause) 

BD: So-- you couldn't put either one of those groups-- now because in '58, '59, the bold Mr. Crate (?) ____ (?)  enterprise and where we were forced to put it 64:00would look more like what the black arts movement looked like. As the politically conscious group wasn't there but we were just trying to-- we were celebrating the masses because of where we were forced to be because urban renewal hadn't taken place. So our circumstances made us look more like what the black arts movement did on purpose.  So in that sense, naïvely or unwittingly, we were --gallery enterprises-- was at that time, my work because art patronage 65:00in the black community was more acceptable to figurative art-- because I was a figurative artist-- and those who were not as figurative as I was. But we weren't making no money. So, at that time, my art, also Sam's. Even with the clothesline shows, my prints and things would sell because they were ______ (?)  because I worked at the _____ (?). I painted what I saw, I painted what I believed in. 

(Loud phone ringing)

BD: (answers phone) Hey Kenny, what's happening. What's, what are we looking at?


(phone response)

BD: Ok

(more response)

BD: Ok. So we've got $500 or something $526 for four tires. I'll get back to you this evening. 

(phone response)

BD: Ok, I believe you. 

(phone response) All right, ok. 


BD: About 4:30-- Uh, yeah. That was-- but the movement-- in a sense, without 67:00them, we had moved. I think we had an impact on the art, the art-- the Louisville art scene and I was ____ (?) that what we did was played into the art scene itself. Because Louisville is comparatively progressive about the arts, the total arts. When there were those who were doubting. Say, ATL (?). When they 68:00had their theatre at 10th-- at the 10th Street Railroad Station, they took the building down at-- and we workshopped artists at an exhibit down there, the first one. And we had two white artists in the group. ____________ (?) and another young man. 


BD: In that sense, I probably. And nobody doubts the impact that it has anymore. 69:00And so sections of other young black artists has, is reaping some benefit from there, whatever it is. I would say, yes. So, it was significant for that reason. And many people were sympathetic to what we were trying to do. And supportive. But as a politically conscious part of the black arts movement. But as I have written about it and as it was looked at when it was first criticized because 70:00the white analysis of the early stages of the black arts movement was that they were highly critical and said it wasn't art at all, it was all propaganda. And that's all art is anyway, at one level. It is promoting. In an aspect of the culture (?) from which it springs. So, in that sense--

(WC) Can you try and touch on the difference between the revolutionary art from the black arts movement as compared to more of black artists just creating art 71:00and the cultural advancement that sprung from that. Where did the two separate?

BD: Well, it separated in that the black arts movement was highly verbal about what they were doing and why they did it and critical of other black artists that didn't do that. And so, now, however, as both, as they look back on it, some of the people that are critical of Sam and Sam's success in D.C. that wasn't a part of the black arts movement-- they no longer hold those views. And the way I explain Sam's work is --composition, color-wise-- is he fits the 72:00theory because he slowly gave up his sense of color, beautifully done works. But he would hide it because he's always preferred ____ (?) But, his colors was not bold and high contrast but as he became more successful, that art, it was abstract expressionistic--  compositions is just. It as much fits into my 73:00concept of a use of dominant cultural elements called high contrast, complex compositions. Bold, brilliant colors. And it just you know, the older it gets, the more they're there. 

And when he moved into the draped-- dyed thing-- he, it was a dunking the ball. Bouncing the ball behind his back. And the first players that did that were 74:00called travelling and they outlawed dunking for a while. 

So, he was being black. He was being African, he was dealing with those inner expressions. So, in that sense--

WC: When did you all start to see these racial walls coming down surrounding your all's art, not just with the integration of your all's group, having some white members in your group but the community as a whole, when did you all start to see the art that you black folks were making, widely accepted?


(long pause) 

BD: There were (?) what I call widely accepted. More than one of us was beating heads ___(?). But, I hear talk with Walter that 10th Street has the gallery that black arts got the black gallery. It's a black gallery owner that deals with all black artists. All over the country, he sells all over the country. He could probably tell you what percentage of his patrons/customers are whites down 76:00there. I don't know. It had some impact. It's definitely-- it moved the bar some.  I have talked to one or two really young black artists and I don't know what they sell at-- ____________ (?) I'll just say it had an impact, it was 77:00helpful. And this happened after the, the 90's and in the 90's. G.C. (?) died --probably one of the most talented-- but he died thinking pretty much like Van Gogh-- although he sold worlds and got some acceptance. He had a show in D.C. thanks to Sam. But he didn't die in as bad shape as Van Gogh, but 78:00almost. Van Gogh died thinking his works and all his efforts was worthless. It's so cruel.

(BD laughs)

BD:  You can't get a piece of his art for under 50/60 million dollars. He couldn't get a nickel for it. His brother bought his works. The art scene is a fickle scene. The larger group. We were all a part of it, the membership-- the art, the people, I don't know, they could tell you. You have that first Friday 79:00and other things. It's-- the art scene is as good here as anywhere else in this kind of population. 

WC: Uh-huh. Can you think, this is something I ask everybody. Are there other people who you think would be worth me interviewing? Folks from the time or people-- people that were involved?

BD: Most people, the young artists were never involved in the collector's scene, they had just benefited from it. But Lucille Allen. You've talked to Lucille Allen?

WC: I left her a message

BD: Because she's been in the thing a long time. And she's benefitted from white patrons as much as any other. But she was not a part of the gallery enterprise 80:00or the art workshop. She's a chemist and she became more involved in art after she retired. 

WC: Can you think of any of the younger folks who benefitted from that?

BD: She's my age

WC: Yeah. 

BD: Uh, did Ed (?) give you anything on the young one William Duffy? I used to have a number for him but he's got a number for him. But Duffy's a sculptor but he's done graphic works as well. He has made some money with his art and he 81:00sells pieces --but not-- I don't know how well he's doing. But he used to come to the workshop as a kid. Those are the only ones I know that he would be what I call "fourth generation--" fourth generation artist. 

WC: Do you have any contact information for Sam Gilliam. Does he still live in D.C.?

BD: He's still there. Uh, I lost my other phone and it had Sam's number in it. I don't think I got it in here. See, you'd need his sister. 


BD: No, I don't have anything for Gilliam anymore and I had both his numbers. 82:00The last time we were in Louisville together, we all partied together. I think Ed may have a number for him. Yeah, I lost my phone about a month ago,

WC: Been there.

BD: And it wasn't on the cloud as I thought it was. And I had nothing to download. Yeah.