Our country has seen a debate in recent years over the propriety of whether the arts could and should prosper in a modern and open Democratic society, and just what role, if any, the public sector should play.
Those who will articulate this subject are Mr. Robert Hughes, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Dr. Peter Marzio and Dr. Neil Harris.
Robert Hughes-Born in Australia in 1938, resident in the United States since 1970. Robert Hughes reaches a readership of 20 million people a week through his reviews in Time Magazine. He is the most widely-read art critic writing in the English language, a best-selling historian and one of the most popular art lecturers in America.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter-serves in the United States House of Representatives in the 28th Congressional District of New York State. She has been described in the Washington Post as "one of the most powerful women in Congress". She has been a strong defender of federal initiatives and supporting the arts.
Dr. Peter Marzio-President and Director of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, and is one of our country's most respected, knowledgeable and capable spokesman involving the arts. He is former Director of Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and will be our moderator as well as the final speaker.
Dr. Neil Harris-Born in 1938 and received undergraduate degrees from Columbia College and Cambridge and gained his Ph.D. from Harvard. His interests center on the evolution of American culture, both high and popular, and has written on the history of American art and its various facets. He has lectured widely and has held lectureships at a series of universities and museums in this country and Europe. He currently serves on the Architecture and Education Committees at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Houston is most especially blessed to have dynamic and outstanding art institutions and ongoing programs. Our first evening at dinner will beat the recently opened Moore School of Music at the University of Houston with its magnificent Frank Stella murals. On Saturday evening we will be at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and you will be hearing more about the building now underway designed by Rafael Maneo but which will open in 2000.
When Peter Marzio approached me about speaking today he described the broad theme of this meeting and asked me to offer some historical perspective on the problem of the arts in a democracy. There were many options. But since the evolution of democracy in the west has been linked to political representation and control of the purse, I decided to concentrate upon a single question: how has the status of the arts in America affected their levels of public funding. And to confine my attention to graphic, sculptural, and building art, which I know better than the others.
Federal support for the arts has emerged as one of the more polemical issues of our day. For a variety of reasons, some of which I will touch on, the role or the non role of the federal government is a flash point of controversy. Proponents of federal funding argue that this country stands alone among major nation states in its meager, almost invisible levels of direct support to the visual, literary, dramatic, and musical arts; such civic indifference is said to demean not only the arts but American society itself, and to reflect narrow prejudices. Opponents of public funding respond that a flourishing system of private philanthropy and wealthy foundations, sustained by favorable tax treatment, has nurtured those art forms and institutions requiring special assistance. Other artists and arts organizations have been supported or rejected by market conditions, which is, they continue, as it should be in a democratic, capitalist society. The national government, perhaps by implication all levels of government, has no business spending tax monies on matters of taste and preference, any more than expending monies on specific religious causes. Decisions about art are best left to individuals, acting on their own best judgment and backing up such convictions by their own resources. In this view not only is private support constitutionally appropriate, it is also better for the arts themselves, which are not artificially supported within a specially constructed hothouse, made to perform without any real demand.
At times, particularly in the recent storms involving the National Endowment for the Arts, this debate has taken on the character of an ever changing sideshow, dominated by powerful rhetoric and laced by intense rancor. The emotion of the participants has little to do with the levels of direct federal support which, as everyone knows, are relatively trivial. It has everything to do with the symbolic meaning affixed to these subsidies. For artists, art lovers, constitutional critics, and politicians alike, the stakes are much higher than the monetary levels. Why are so many Americans invested emotionally in a debate about appropriations smaller than the cost of a single military aircraft? With all its special contemporary bitterness the current debate over public funding for the arts reveals a special set of tensions within our national value system that has been around, in one form or another, since the founding of the republic. And probably before. A division that has deep connections with the origins of our republicanism. Addressing the status of art within our republic means addressing issues of freedom, authority, and community. I would like to survey the evolution of this debate and assign to it several large phases which link it to the changing character of American life. Having done so, I will conclude with some brief suggestions for further discussion. I might add that for purposes of this meeting I will be speaking with a breadth that may occasionally seem unwarranted. And which I usually try to avoid. Qualifications, exceptions, and corrections are acknowledged, anticipated, and even invited.
The first broad era for the visual arts as American concerns could be said to extend from the period of our Revolution up through the Civil War. During these eighty years or so there were many shifts in opinion and values, of course, as the geography, demography, economy, and politics of society shifted. But for the arts, there were certain constants. The first of these, not universal but widespread, was an attitude of suspicion, not merely toward public support for art but for any kind of support, particularly for the visual and applied arts. The reasons are easily described. The United States, during the early republican era, was poor, thinly populated, under invested, and militarily weak. Any number of patriots argued that different needs must come first. The point was expressed most succinctly and most eloquently by John Adams, in a much quoted set of comments to his wife. "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy..navigation and commerce...in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary...and porcelain."
This, a utilitarian argument, was supplemented by a second powerful strain of thought, partly religious and partly political in origin. Protestants and republicans alike both resented the associations great art had with tyranny. Religious and historical painters and sculptors had glorified cruelty and despotism, adorning churches and palaces with propaganda. "I have no doubt that the pencil of Peter Paul Rubens has contributed to strengthen the doctrine of papal supremacy, and to lead the minds of hundreds and thousands, more deeply into the shade of bigotry and superstition," was the comment of one American visitor to Europe in the early 19th century. "Architecture, sculpture, painting and poetry have conspir'd against the rights of mankind," John Adams told painter Jonathan Trumbull. "Every one of the fine arts from the earliest times has been enlisted in the service of superstition and despotism," he wrote Jefferson. "The whole world at this day gazes with astonishment at the grossest fictions because they have been immortalized by the most exquisite artists." Artists, Adams claimed, were mercenaries available to any paying cause.
Third, and perhaps most important, some Americans feared that a taste for art was a taste for luxury, for goods that would cost so much that people would prostitute or corrupt themselves in their interest. Art consumption represented here a kind of materialism; since republican society depended on the presence of virtue, anything which encouraged the conspicuous expenditure of large sums of money was dangerous to the commonwealth. A taste for beautiful houses, fine furniture, silver, and fine clothing and jewelry existed on a continuum with a taste for art. European courts had pursued such splendor at their cost. Americans liked to visit Versailles, recount its glories, and note the relationship between such displays and the French Revolution. Nothing like this was wanted in America.
I present, of course only one side. And, if you will, a losing side. Artists and art lovers, and there were any number of them even in the decades before the Civil War, had their own arguments to mount, and did so, with increasing vigor. To charges that the country was too poor to afford art, they responded by pointing to the presence of existing wealth, to large and growing institutions, to the need to disassociate republicanism from barbarism and poverty, the connections many Europeans made. Answering those who denounced artists as mercenaries, they proposed the benefits offered by both modern religion and democratic society; both would encourage artists to delivered to deliver messages that attacked rather than supported bigotry and tyranny. And responding, above all, to those who charged the arts with being agents of corruption, such apologists insisted that this linkage was unreal. Indeed the arts could counter materialism by appealing to spiritual and moral values, and could emphasize virtue and domesticity and the heroic side of American history. Artists were allies, not enemies to the forces of decency and respectability.
Thus well before the Civil War, as after, a number of Americans proudly used their personal funds to purchase the work of their fellow citizens, sent some of them to study abroad, sponsored fairs to sell their art, socialized with them, and joined organizations which held lotteries for their paintings, prints, and statuaries. Other Americans subscribed to funds which erected public monuments like the Bunker Hill and Washington Monument Associations, and vigorously urged that money be spent on beautification programs, like city parks. Artists themselves campaigned for public commissions, and in a few specific cases, such as the great rotunda paintings in the United State Capitol in Washington, and heroic statuary, succeeded in getting the government to actually patronize their work.
But such commissions were rare before the Civil War, as were publicly decorated buildings; artists had to depend almost entirely on the interest of private patrons. Indeed, when some urged government expenditures for the arts, pointing to the state supported schools in Paris, Rome, and Berlin, along with well supported museums, defenders of the system argued that competition was better than forced growth, that artists sustained by public funds were probably unworthy of survival. Of course, this could be countered by economic arguments, which American artists and patrons were fond of making. Even at mid-century they noted that tourism was stimulated by the possession of masterpieces. The president of the Washington Art Association, a private voluntary group, pointed out that a Rubens painting, the "Descent from the Cross," had become a major source of wealth for the city of Antwerp, in Belgium. "The number of visitors that annually visit Antwerp and that picture is immense; each pays his fares to the railroads, at the hotel...and many purchase souvenirs." Individual collectors, like Thomas Jefferson Bryan in New York, whose collection was recently sold by the New-York Historical Society at Sotheby's, and James Jackson Jarves, the New Englander who gathered an amazing group of Italian renaissance paintings, now at Yale, confidently believed that visitors would flock to see significant art gathered in one place.
But before the Civil War cultural tourism was not a major element in American life. It was a hard sell to make. American cities were rough and unfinished, barely able to supply visitors and residents with basic amenities like piped water and paved streets. Major museums lay ahead. What had emerged, on the part of politicians, many clergymen, educators, and intellectuals, was a justification for the arts that emphasized their didactic character, the improvements that could be made in national character. Landscape artists, for example, could, by rendering the beauties of nature, reconcile their fellow Americans to God and deepen their attachment to nationalist sentiments. Portrait and historical painters could nurture reverence for the past and for national heroes; genre painters could sentimentalize the decencies of daily life; sculptors could increase reverence for the chaste beauty of womanhood. Art's function in an egalitarian democracy was to moralize, preaching values consonant with right living, republican citizenship, and family loyalty. While government itself could not be expected to support such activities--at this point even public libraries were contested--private citizens were now enjoined to support native artists as instruments for social cohesion.
This first period, which might be labelled the Era of Republican Austerity, witnessed a flowering of native art on an impressive scale. Colonies of painters, etchers, illustrators, sculptors, and architects formed communities in cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and of course, New York. They competed vigorously for commissions, socialized with their clients, and sought, for the most part, unsuccessfully for government support. But tax revenues were still sparse, and values hostile. What partially changed matters, in my view, was the Civil War. The Civil War transformed things in various ways. First of all, it challenged Americans who had argued that citizenship and nationhood did not need the support of the arts to flourish. The War itself suggested to some critics that the sense of nationality had not been nurtured sufficiently. The hundreds of thousands of dead on the battlefield indicated that many Americans were willing to die for their principles, but the fact that so bloody a civil war could occur at all troubled those who felt that nation state needed a more powerful presence. And increased levels of foreign immigration appeared to intensify this need. How could newcomers commit themselves to a country which had so few visible and ceremonial symbols of identity? In the decades that followed, measures were taken to remedy this, measures ranging from creation of flag codes and the pledge of allegiance, to creation of new holidays, the construction of patriotic monuments, and the decoration of public buildings.
These last efforts, of course, had an intimate connection to American artists. As state after state completed extravagant new capitol buildings, as courthouses grew in number and scale, as libraries and museums began to multiply, artists found their decorating skills much in demand. Some traditions continued. Private citizens made donations to honor military heroes, political leaders, writers, composers, and artists. Their monetary support funded hundreds of arches, flagpoles, benches, obelisks, columns, and statues. While some of the most elaborate of these decorated big cities, hundreds of towns and villages sported their tributes to the Civil War dead. The Washington Monument, grandest of all, unfinished for decades, was completed. Again, public monies did not support these sculptors, although they did when it came to decorating public buildings. Government as patron emerged significantly in these years, particularly on state and county levels, because of an interest in dignifying and legitimating its own interest, and promoting the civil religion of loyalty and patriotism that was deemed essential to national survival.
A second source of support for some kind of public arts funding came from increasing cosmopolitanism in the late 19th century. More Americans now traveled to Europe. Admittedly, this was a relatively small group of the well to do, but they were influential as opinion leaders. What they found in the great cities of Europe in the late 19th century, in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, London, Brussels, Munich, and elsewhere, were elegantly adorned theaters, boulevards, parks, opera houses, galleries, and museums, paid for largely by taxes and contributing not merely to the polish of urban life, but to public coffers as well through growing tourism. This had been noted, to some extent, even in earlier years, as I pointed out, but the scale of the European efforts had increased dramatically in the later part of the century, as nation states like Germany consolidated, and as economic competition grew more intense. An awareness that taste and artistic skill contributed to a favorable trade balance was also not inconsequential at this time. An international movement which reached the United States, really, in the 1860s and 70s, emphasized the significance of trade schools for artisans in glass, silver, textiles, wood, and metal. In Europe this was accompanied by the foundation of museums of industrial art and design, again, with heavy governmental support. Central Europe--Germany and Austria-Hungary--was particularly active in this movement, and even today the museums of applied art in Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and dozens of German cities, with their wonderful collections of carpets, furniture, ironwork, tableware, posters, and similar things, are testament to this interest. In the United States during the 1870s museums like the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Cincinnati Museum of Art, reflected similar concern that unless American workers and consumers improved their knowledge and skill base, it would be difficult to defend American products against luxury exports from abroad, and even more difficult to export them. All these museums, and many others, had industrial arts departments, filled with examples dating from ancient times to the recent past. While the museums themselves were largely private matters, benefitting from the fortunes of newly rich American businessmen and professionals, they also had municipal subsidies in many instances--grants of land on which to erect their buildings, for example, sometimes even the buildings themselves, along with their maintenance. The response to this crisis of cosmopolitanism, as it might be called, was heavily private in character, but local and state education boards paid attention by creating classes for drawing and training programs for teachers of art who could work in the public school systems, and among other things, teach in the newly establish kindergartens. All this, as I say, took place in the 1860s, 70s, and 80s.
A third large impetus to American interest in supporting art achievements could be found in that impressive series of international expositions which this country hosted during the last third of the century. From Philadelphia in 1876, to Chicago in 1893, Buffalo in 1901, St. Louis, in 1904, as well as other cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco. These fairs were multiple sources of influence on a whole range of things in America, from city planning and transportation to amusement parks and eating habits. But they were extremely important as demonstrations of how the arts could contribute to a more livable environment. The fairground complexes, often located within large parks, were assemblies of palatial buildings, canals and lagoons, handsomely landscaped squares and boulevards, all of which were decorated by enormous quantities of sculpture and paintings. The fairs featured international art shows of immense proportions, the first art exhibitions seen by millions, but they also highlighted contemporary American artists and architects--like Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Mary Cassatt, McKim Mead and White, Daniel Burnham, a long and illustrious list, who showed what they could do provided they worked from a well financed plan. The fairs were much like the European cities that wealthy American tourists had come to enjoy, except, of course, they were temporary, lasting only six months or so, and made of perishable materials. Still they were visited by many millions of people and showed that what was done abroad could be done at home. Artists, brought together in large groups as part of the planning task, discovered a sense of unity and collective identity, which stimulated further professional development. As a result of the fairs municipal improvement societies were created all over the United States, having beautification as their goal, sponsoring competitions for improved street furniture, public buildings, and town plans. The federal and statement governments, which erected their own buildings on the fairgrounds, naturally got involved with some levels of artistic support.
Almost all of this design, to be sure, was conservative in character: academic, easily readable by the public, affirmative, generally non-critical. Painters and sculptors rarely challenged conventional wisdom or prevailing views of history, authority, class, race, and gender. Or if they did so it was in a highly coded manner. But in the very last years of the century the artist community began to show more variation. I simplify matters considerably here, but I point, for example, to the so-called Ashcan School, for example, a group of urban realists, centered on New York City, who had begun to exhibit early in the 20th century. Most of them had been trained as journalist illustrators and were heir to traditions of cartooning and caricature that targeted the privileged and powerful. Their subjects included tramps and prostitutes and shop girls and policemen and waiters and a whole variety of types previously ignored by most American artists. Some of the Ashcan artists had radical sympathies, a few were socialists. But their radicalism was almost entirely political and rather mild at that; much of the artist community mirrored the views of their clients.
This despite the fact that artists continued to feel somewhat victimized by society as a whole; they earned relatively little money, for the most part, and many affected a kind of bohemianism, a freedom of dress and behavior which was clearly established before the end of the century. They had no real demands for public support, beyond the hope that scholarships to study abroad might become available, and that public museums might be interested in purchasing their work. So far as fundamental criticism of society was concerned, few artists voiced it; there were certainly individual artists who broke fundamentally with conventions, challenged representation, traditional materials, traditional understandings. But they were a small minority.
Thus the shock of the famed 1913 Armory Show, which was not only felt by the magazine and newspaper reading public; it also startled academic artists and art teachers who found themselves confronted with an entirely new world. There had been American artists working in these modes for a decade or more, but they had gotten little attention. The furor surrounding Armory Show modernism confirmed those who felt that government should have nothing to do with supporting the arts.
But even before the Armory Show revealed that the artist community might hold strange or unexpected views, there was very little American sentiment to connect public authority and the arts. Adorning public buildings, subsidizing museums, holding expositions, making art and music available in libraries and public schools, employing artists to design flags and seals and coinage, all this seemed appropriate. But not much more. One shouldn't be surprised. After all this was an era when government was still uninvolved with pensions, with personal health care, with minimum wages or maximum hours or working conditions of any kind. Art was a commodity much like any other. Indeed to show just how powerfully ingrained American attitudes, one can point to the continuing existence, and indeed the rising rates, of the art tariff in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While rules changed from year to year, at the turn of the century imported art works could be taxed anywhere from 30 to 65% of purchased value. Supporters of the art tariff insisted that this protected American artists. In actuality, as critics of the tariff pointed out again and again (and they included, overwhelmingly, American artists), the tariff reflected a continuing suspicion of great art as a luxury of the very rich, a possible source of dissipation, a self-indulgent passion which required control. "Whatever advantages we may derive from the importation and cultivation of art," wrote one American tourist in the 1880s, "it cannot be counted a moral force." The private galleries of the new mega-millionaires--Astor, Vanderbilt, Havemeyer--increased the darker associations. Nonetheless hundreds, even thousands of newspaper and magazine editorials thundered against the art tariff in the thirty years before World War I. Many pointed out that its true victims would be, not art collectors or art dealers but the larger public. American millionaires had already begun to distribute their paintings, sculpture, and furniture to the new public collections. Congress stubbornly retained the duty until the absurdity of protecting art as an infant industry finally became transparent and the counter-pressure became overwhelming. One final blow came when the great J. P. Morgan threatened to keep his extraordinary collection abroad, in London, unless Congress repealed the duty. The repeal, and struggles about defining modernist art which erupted in court battles over customs rulings in the 1920s, may be said to have begun a new period.
Examined through institutional terms, this second era from the Civil War to World War I, which I would call an Age of Republican Ambition, was extremely productive. It gives birth to many of our most influential museums, schools, and organizations, among them, to name just a few besides those already mentioned, the American School in Rome, the Art Students League, the American Federation of the Arts, the National Handicrafts League, a host of Arts and Crafts societies, Municipal Art Leagues, and a growing number of dealers, auction houses, and private galleries. But, aside from the embellishment of public buildings, and the introduction of occasional legislation, which inevitably failed, there was little official involvement on the national level, and not a great deal more on the local. While towns and cities provided occasional subsidies for band concerts, auditoria, and museum buildings, their orchestras, opera associations, theater groups, and collections were, with a few exceptions here and there, in Los Angeles, St. Louis, later Detroit, private. The arts in America still remained securely a private matter; while their flourishing cast credit on American society, according to official boosters, there seemed little reason to get more involved with it.
There was one great exception, to be sure, and that came in the false dawn of government operations that was World War I. The unprecedented entry of this country into the European War stimulated a rush of patriotic sentiment that had not been seen for half a century, and reassured some who worried that the polyglot population of recent immigrants might fracture or qualify public support for the great military effort. The need to mobilize opinion, as well as the need to sell war bonds, encourage fuel and food conservation, and accept conscription, produced a national propaganda effort that had no parallel in our earlier history. The arts--including the newest among them, motion pictures and Hollywood's cast of film celebrities--were pressed into service, and their practitioners responded with great energy. American painters and illustrators were particularly active in forming voluntary committees to produce the vast number of posters that even today seem to epitomize the American war effort. James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Joseph Pennell, J. F. Leyendecker, and many others whose names are even less familiar, produced a raft of highly effective designs, and were credited with assisting the government's promotional efforts to a high degree. The War provided a moment for American artists to demonstrate their value to a national cause, and there was great eagerness to participate. It should be added that a series of other programs, including the construction of housing for shipyard workers, seizure of the railroads, and a range of medical and public health programs, demonstrated willingness to accept government intervention on a massive scale, because of the present emergency. But the end of the War in 1918 meant a return to business as usual, so far as government was concerned, and a withdrawal from active partnership with the arts. There were lingering effects. A number of communities created permanent civic auditoria and theaters as war memorials. Artists, as they had in the years after the Civil War, became involved with monuments and cemetery sculpture, and the power of visual propaganda was translated into vigorous and imaginative commercial design.
But what I think World War I inaugurated most of all, for the relationship between public support and private art making, was an age of contrasts and juxtaposition. The eras of Republican Austerity and Republican Ambition were succeeded by an era of Republican Inconsistency, a time when crisis management dictated levels of public involvement. Between World War I and the 1980s one sees four different moments of intervention, each growing a bit broader and more inclusive than its predecessor, but each retreating under fire. World War I have already discussed; the second moment, of course, came during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when the federal government assumed an unprecedented set of responsibilities to meet the national crisis. Health, welfare, poverty, education, and the arts were all impacted, and in some ways the effect on the arts was especially dramatic. The reason for involvement was simply stated by the Roosevelt Administration; unemployment hit painters and sculptors and architects the same way in which it hit grocers, steel workers, secretaries, and carpenters, and their need was the same: jobs. The huge construction programs in the WPA that built schools, highways, dams, tunnels, bridges, hospitals, and city halls had as their counterparts the programs to employ writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, and playwrights. The murals, statuary, posters, screen prints, living newspapers, tour guides, art classes, concerts, and plays paid for by federal subsidies were, the government insisted, not part of a plan to improve or in any way change the character of artistic expression in America. They were simply a method of hiring those who were out of work, and giving them, temporarily, a means of support. These programs, moreover, collectively known as the Federal Arts Program, were very brief, lasting, on any scale, for fewer than half a dozen years, with cuts coming as early as 1936. And the peak number of artists on the federal relief rolls barely rose above 5,000.
Nonetheless, the controversies excited by the art were numerous and bitter. Artists were viewed suspiciously by many of the public and by many in the Congress. There were charges of subversion and corruption, of anti-catholicism and racism, of pornography and inappropriateness, and a string of bitter power struggles divided local from national authorities, artists from administrators, and artists from critics. Many of these were exaggerated out of all proportion to their influence or significance, but the pattern of caricature and over reaction, which we have witnessed in our own time, testified to deep anxieties: anxieties about central vs. local control, anxieties about artists representing marginal and minority viewpoints, anxieties about the federal government invading areas which should have been left alone, anxieties about hidden political programs using the arts for their purposes, anxieties about lazy or incompetent artists feathering their beds through public funds, anxieties about payoffs and corruption. As I argued a little earlier, some of these fears dated back to the earliest years of the republic. They had more positive elements to be sure: belief in simple and limited government, in checks and balances, in personal competition and self-reliance, in local government as the basis for political union, in personal morality as the basis for social interaction. These translated, however, into real constraints on public arts policies which were expensive, self-aggrandizing, centralized, and often controversial in those nation states which supported them. American democracy did not possess the centralizing traditions that French democracy did, nor the class hierarchy that leavened critical judgments in England. There was little in this culture to protect the authority of the artist against popular taste or market conditions. This contrasted, of course, with the authority and independence increasingly given to scientists. Artists were expected to sink or swim according to their success in attracting sales. It was only when the market itself collapsed, as it did in the 30s, that federal intervention seemed justified.
The Depression experiment in supporting artists included some innovative media. The Farm Security Administration worked with a series of photographers to promote awareness of rural poverty and ecological challenges. Several of them--Walker Evans, Arnold Rothstein, Dorothea Lange--would become celebrated for their work, and produced icons of Depression America that still resonate today. The New Deal also commissioned documentary motion pictures like The River and The Plough That Broke The Plains, both by Pere Lorentz with music by Virgil Thompson. Anyone who doubts the scale and effectiveness of federal propaganda can merely turn to the Federal Buildings at the two great world fairs in New York and San Francisco in 1939. For better or for worse the national government had now become a player in the new world of image making, arousing both intense admiration and intense resentment.
The anger at federal arts activities translated into a choking off of funds, and by 1940 the brief experiment was over. Its significance and the struggle to end it were eclipsed by the experience of war, which, as in World War I, vastly increased the role of the government in every area of economic life, and legitimated its turn to propaganda in the interests of rationing, conscription, bonds, and the larger effort. The War also intensified another legacy of the New Deal which would have enormous impact on the private sector of arts support: its progressive income tax policies. The income tax, with a brief anticipation during the Civil War, was born of a constitutional amendment passed in the teens of this century. It permitted charitable deductions from a very early date, but this effect was quite limited because of the very low scheduled rates. During the 30s there was a revolution in tax policy; some individuals and corporations complained bitterly about the new levels of support demanded of them, both in the interests of financing crisis projects and from a sense that equity demanded higher rates for the rich. This was the basis, of course, for some of the angriest reactions to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The need to pay for the war effort, which aroused less controversy, also required high levels of taxation.
Tax policies have had extraordinary consequences for many areas of our national life, but philanthropy is surely one of the most affected. It wasn't merely that giving to non-profit institutions could be deducted, but the fact that appreciated value of contributions in kind--books, paintings, prints, sculpture--could result in major tax savings. The income tax deduction remains the primary public subsidy to the arts in America, and is presented by opponents of any further support as a sufficient, even generous, instrument of public policy.
The end of World War II, and a return of economic prosperity, might have suggested an end to crises stimulating federal interest in the arts. While certain levels of government activism had now been accepted as permanent--social security, for example, minimum wages, maximum hours, certain kinds of safety standards--there was much talk of reining government in, particularly during the Eisenhower years. But, fact, it was during the 50s and 60s that new, unprecedented levels of national funding came to the arts in America, along with a series of subsidies to American scholarly activities across a broad range of fields. Many reasons can be adduced for this: prosperity, increased sophistication and cosmopolitanism, education, travel, the high cost of art activities. But, in my view, the primary impulse can be boiled down to one major experience: the Cold War. This connection would turn out to have portentous consequences. By the 1950s the United States was involved in a global military, economic, political, and ideological competition with the Soviet Union and its surrogate states like China. A series of alliances divided up those countries willing to declare for one side or another; both the Russians and the West engaged in a feverish propaganda war to shore up support and to try to gain commitments from neutral states. The forum of the United Nations, touring celebrities, world's fairs, military displays, diplomatic embarrassments, Olympic games, the building of embassies, there was hardly any international venue that was not pressed into service as a possible showcase for one side or the other. The competition between the western democracies and the socialist east was presented as a conflict between two entirely different kinds of civilizations, and the quality of life each offered to its citizens became a critical issue in the propaganda wars.
While it was easy for Americans to present their material wealth and prosperity as superior, for culture and intellectual achievement the case was not as clear. Proud of their artistic, literary, and musical accomplishments, many Americans believed nonetheless that the arts were valued less highly here than they were in Europe, and were sensitive to charges of materialism. In a way, post World War II American leaders found themselves in a position roughly analogous to that faced by their 18th century predecessors, who confronted Europeans arguing that republicanism and barbarism were synonomous, and that the arts could never be cultivated in a society without a monarch and a nobility. Now it was unrestrained capitalism and barbarism that seemed inextricably linked.
Resources were greater in the 20th century than in the 18th, however. So, in the name of fighting the Cold War Congress approved plans and appropriated moneys for the support of art and learning. The scope and magnitude of these programs has just recently begun to be appreciated, as they have started to disappear, but student loans, fellowships, foreign libraries and reading rooms, special language programs, publication and research subsidies, touring art shows, temporary exports of American orchestras and theater companies, White House conferences and programs, medals and award ceremonies, foreign exchanges and visiting professorships, the United States Information Agency, the successes of the Fulbright Program, and, above all, in the 1960s, creation of the two federal agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, were part of the overall achievement. From Truman to Reagan individual policies varied, as did motivations and goals, but through seven Presidential administrations there was powerful support to demonstrate that American accomplishments in the arts matched American industrial and economic exploits. The monies poured in were relatively small compared with the sums exported on military development and on foreign aid, but they were important in communities with much smaller budgets. The impact--on museums, orchestras, opera societies, galleries, individual artists, academics, on universities, on research institutes, and audiences--was considerable. It was particularly helpful to artistic modernism. Many, perhaps most Americans, up through the 1950s, had been resistant to trends in contemporary art and music. Public taste was proverbially conservative, preferring the narrative, the representational, the harmonic, in favor of non-objective and atonal compositions. When the first New York School art--abstract expressionism--was sent abroad under State Department sponsorship, it was ridiculed by President Truman and subjected to inquiry by Congressional critics.
However, Soviet policy was even more conservative toward the arts than the United States, and officials rigorously clamped down on signs of modernism in painting, sculpture, architecture, and music, forever on the prowl for anything that could be taken as criticism of the existing system. To promoters of the American Way of Life, this level of cultural repression represented an Achilles Heel, a clear demonstration that freedom of thought and expression were impossible under Communism. The tensions between modern art and totalitareanism had erupted decades earlier in the infamous assaults by the Nazis on what they called "degenerate art." The attacks led to a wholesale emigration of European modernists like Chagall, Ernst, Leger, Lipchitz, Ozenfant, Mondrian, and Breton. What better demonstration of American tolerance and freedom than the subsidy and export of work by modernists? And so, as several historians have pointed out, the Cold War unexpectedly benefitted a whole series of artists whose political views did not always fit very well with their backers. This anomaly, however, was accepted by some conservatives as a necessary price to demonstrate the presence of American cultural freedom, and prove that pluralism and diversity could flourish in a capitalist system.
There were many ironies and contradictions here, not the least the fact that a military industrial confrontation, which many artists and humanists found troubling and some even found unnecessary, made possible the unprecedented levels of public support. More significant, perhaps, was the failure to perceive the relationship between the Cold War and the new attention paid the arts. The arts, of course, had their champions in government who projected a positive vision for the new subsidies. But the failure to understand the origins of some of the new tolerance for the arts humanities guaranteed a high level of shock when, more recently, the very logic of the national endowments was challenged, and a series of counter-attacks launched against continuing federal involvement. The pretexts--exhibitions, publications, activities, and performances that were deemed obscene, unrepresentative, inept, disrespectful, puerile, incomprehensible--were arguments in themselves. There had always been opponents to federal support. But in my view it was our vastly changed international world, the disappearance of established enemies which accentuated the retreat from public funding. And which nurtured those angry debates which continue to embroil us, and the search for new adversaries.
The larger role of the national government, of course, is ever changing itself, for health, welfare, safety, social planning, education, as well as the arts and humanities. It is not surprising then that the present course seems unclear. Policies created to meet needs that are unstated, and changeable, are unlikely to be stable. The real ambivalencies about the arts and their role in a democratic society remain buried under a set of pieties which paper over real tensions. Even though the National Endowment for the Arts has just survived a sustained assault, it is not clear that a consensus has been reached, or that the broader debate has been advanced.
How, then, can we frame our national tradition of art support, and evaluate its relationship to democratic values and practices? Drawing this presentation to a close, I'd like to propose some options. First of all, both supporters and opponents of public subsidy need to understand its history and debate more openly its value. Ours is a mixed system, and one likely to remain so for a long time to come. Competition between public and private has often been a source of strength--witness the American university system, with its great state and private institutions matching one another in academic distinction and freedom of inquiry. It could be argued that each group has kept the other honest and accomplished; without such rivalry torpor or political intervention might have crippled each system's strength.
Secondly, we must better understand the source of anxieties about the arts. There has been, as I hope my remarks have demonstrated, a momentous shift of focus. In the early years of the republic fears about artists centered upon their history of service to authority, as propagandists who might help bolster the power of reputation, lay and clerical. This was an attack from the left. Such suspicions continued under the triumphant reign of academic painting, sculpture, and beaux-arts architecture, right through the 1920s and 30s. More recently, and certainly in our own day, with very different ideologies and structures at work, the arts seem to threaten rather than support authority, posing challenges to consensual values and to the way society is organized. Artists quarrel with long held and deeply felt historical narratives, ignore old heroes and honor new ones, defy and satirize conventional codes, question boundaries. As a result, to generalize very broadly indeed, the assault now comes from the left.
Of course neither of these sets of fears is groundless. Art can be used to lampoon, undermine, subvert, and lacerate authority, and it can be used to legitimate and dignify it. Even today some oppose public subsidy because of art's propaganda value to those in power. Others fear the impact of corporate sponsorship because the association of company logos with great art can offer unwarranted distinction to its sponsors. We must talk about, evaluate, and cope with such concerns. Americans debate the costs and benefits of free speech on a continuous basis, while retaining and continually readjusting constitutional protections. It seems to me that the issue of publicly supported art and its role alongside a system relying upon private support merits almost as much attention.
Third, we should learn more about the character of other national programs of arts support, the ways in which they have been more or less successful, their varieties of organization. Our tendency is to lump all foreign approaches together. In fact approaches have been varied, reflecting very different national experiences. And we need, simultaneously, to weigh the specific merits as well as the demerits of our own approach. The tax exemptions, for example, which play so vital a role here, are not matched so generously elsewhere. They should be acknowledged rather than dismissed by supporters of other subsidies. They are a real achievement. Proponents of flat tax no-exemption systems must consider the implications for the arts and American philanthropy in general should such a strategy be adopted.
Fourth we should recognize our healthy traditions of state and local arts funding, much of it leading to investment in land and physical facilities, but some of it supporting living artists and the purchase of rare objects of many kinds. A conviction that the arts--visual and performing--contain economic benefits and enhance community life are not discoveries of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Hundreds of arts and convention centers constructed with tax subsidies, rare book libraries, music and dance and dramatic festivals, band concerts, art fairs, mural and monuments commissions, and a host of other interventions have been supported for many decades by American towns, states, and cities. Local communities apparently believe in the arts and their social effects sufficiently to invest in them. Just how extensive all this has been, and what it has meant to artist groups, merits further research and reflection.
Finally, we must allow for imperfection in the arts as we do in science, the military, education, and engineering. Public policy does not have to be infallible to be beneficial, peer judgments are valuable despite their errors, and failures do not drive accomplishments out of existence. It may or it may not be good government policy to assign the lion's share of contemporary American art patronage to private interests, it may or may not be good government policy to rely upon private donors to supply the collective trophy rooms that constitute our museums and rare book libraries, it may or may not be good government policy to avoid defining a national cultural patrimony and protecting it from purchase abroad. But these and hundreds of other decisions deserve a more direct and more dispassionate discussion than they have gotten so far, as well as continuing evaluation. The suspicions, anxieties, and concerns that have surfaced about art in a democracy are still with us; until they are responded to, rather than merely denounced, we forgo the opportunity of developing schemes appropriate to our needs and values. I hope that meetings such as this one will help further, not only the cause of the arts in America, but the cause of self-understanding itself.
How will the art museums of tomorrow function in a free market economy?
About one year ago while I was visiting one of America's great art museums, I stood in a busy rotunda area and saw a broad array of objects and activities: large paintings and statues, an acoustiguide booth, a silk-screen labeled exhibition entrance, cases filled with scarves, jewelry, and assorted objects all being sold in an adjacent shop, and-in the distance but within view-a sales area for postcards, posters, reproductions, and catalogs. This mixture of art and commerce made me realize that if I had been blindfolded in my hotel room and taken to that spot, I could have thought myself in either a grand galleria or a department store or a popular museum.
The most important point I wish to emphasize today is this: The traditional boundary line that has separated profit from nonprofit institutions is becoming blurred. In the case of art museums, this is caused by the museums' need for funds, their need for business and promotional skills, their need for viable channels for reaching large audiences; and because, on the other hand, the profit sector often imitates art museums, seeks professional art museum guidance, and desires to work in some co-sponsorship capacity with art museums.
I remember years ago encountering a caustic museum director who hated any merchandising in museums. When someone told him that a fellow director-who shall remain anonymous-urged his employees to make their museum look like the prestigious Bloomindales rather than the discount Sears, our old-fashioned director paused and responded in the meanest way he knew how. What did he say?
"Yes, my esteemed colleague's museum does look like Bloomindales."
Historically, nonprofit organizations in our society undertake missions that are, in other countries, committed to business enterprises or to the state. As one observer noted, "In America, we rely on the nonprofit, or third sector as it is called, to cure us, to entertain us, to teach us, to study us, to preserve our culture, to defend our rights and to protect nature, and, ultimately, to bury us. In essence, we rely on private philanthropy-third sector financing-to support activities that other nations support with public funds." I suggest that this is changing rapidly.
Imagine a straight line. At one end of this straight line place a dot. Label it PROFIT or BUSINESS. At the other end of this line, place another dot. Label it NONPROFIT or MUSEUM. Now, imagine various forces pushing both dots toward one another on this line. Eventually art and business meet; they intersect or merge and form a new entity, a hybrid which today may seem outlandish or impractical, but an institution which is the by-product of the American mind and marketplace.
I mentioned this hybrid to a friend not long ago, and his reaction was disbelief. He said the I.R.S. would simply not allow it. But I am not talking about a change in accounting procedures. I am suggesting a new set of values which are altering the ways Americans view and enjoy business and culture. Somehow, even the I.R.S. will adjust.
When I use the term "nonprofit," I mean an institution that cannot distribute net earnings (if any) to the people who control the institution, including members, officers, or trustees. Net income in a "for-profit" business is given to its owners and shareholders, whereas enterprise income earned by nonprofit institutions is put back into the organization. A key point to keep in mind however is that a nonprofit organization is not barred from earning a profit.
Since the mid-1970s, there has been an acceleration in the trend (that Neil spoke of) to spend large amounts of money and time proving the importance of art museums from an economic point of view. A recent U.S. government publication put it bluntly: "The question is not what the economy can do for the arts, but what the arts can do for the economy." In 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts surveyed 49 institutions in six cities across America and reported a total direct economic impact of more than $68 million for the year 1979. The indirect impact amounted to $237 million. The NEA concluded, "It is clear that culture pays." Fifteen years later, that $68 million was close to $200 million and the indirect impact grew from $237 million to nearly $1 billion.
We should note here that there are individuals, some even friendly, who question these impact claims. Paul J. DiMaggio, an expert in the non-profit field, concluded in a book entitled The Arts and Public Policy in the United States:
In the long run, concentrating on economic effects is neither good advocacy nor good policy. It is not good advocacy because, on close inspection, the arguments are too weak. In some cases, as in the assertion that businesses relocate to be near culture, the evidence is simply too thin. In other cases, as in the argument from economic impact, the claims can be too easily turned against the arts-for example, by those who would cut arts funds in favor of other expenditures with even greater economic impacts.
Dangerous ground, yet museums persist in the need to justify themselves economically.
When economic justification for art museums is not pushing our nonprofit dot toward the middle of our imaginary straight line, a host of concerns in the area of management and finance gather momentum.
The rise of modern management and financial practices in museums seems to have occurred overnight. No one thinks museums should be managed poorly, but modern management brings new values that are changing museums.
For example, balanced budgets were once primarily the goal of a museum's development office and/or the trustee finance committee, but now a balanced budget threatens to become an end in itself. The importance that the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services and major foundations place on fiscal stability intensifies the concern. One alarmed trustee of a New York museum said recently, "Our function is not to be like a corporation that worships at the altar of 15 percent compounded growth. Our business is to help enrich our lives. Institutions like museums, universities, and libraries have a different role to play in society, a non-economic role. If fundraising priorities in any of the spiritual realms take precedence over their raison d'Ítre, the long-range result may be a flattening of that purpose." On the other side of this debate is Mr. Eli Broad, a great collector and financier, who serves on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art board of trustees. In the May 1996 Art and Auctions magazine he was quoted as follows: "I think museums ought to be held accountable for what their attendance is and whether it's really cost effective." There is a non-economic justification for art, yet I am willing to bet that art museum directors are spending more time on financial matters. This does not mean necessarily that financial concerns always lower artistic standards, but that directors' schedules are becoming crammed with budget meetings, audits, fundraising, and all the rest.
One solution to this time squeeze is to hire a professional, business-type manager and make him or her president of the museum. Theoretically, this frees the director to concentrate on artistic matters. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the celebrated model, and other art museums, such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, are following the format.
The need for modern, corporate-type management skills in a museum director is essential. Business schools like Yale, Wharton, Northwestern, and Harvard make nonprofit management a part of their curriculum offerings. And MBAs with degrees in art history are becoming desirable as administrators in art museums.
Management skills are not the only new qualifications desirable in a museum director. Art museum directors are also as committed to lobbying legislatures as the leaders of industry. An ability to give convincing testimony may well become a prime prerequisite in job descriptions of future directors. Many art museums have paid lobbyists in city, county, state, or national levels of government-and sometimes in all four. Why? Because it pays.
There are numerous additional areas where, as an art museum director, I find myself interacting and working with businessmen. Development and fund-raising are obvious examples, but how about community relations and trustee relations? Whole blocks of my daily schedule are taken up with activities for which I have little formal training, and somehow fine art seems to slip in priority. Nowhere, in my opinion, is the merging of profit and nonprofit occurring more clearly than in marketing and sales. American art museums have had shops or stores since the l9th century. For a long time we have encountered these stores at the entrances of the more aggressive museums. Traditionally, this was considered the most profitable point of sale. The emphasis was on selling merchandise that had been ordered. Belatedly, but now at a rapidly increasing pace, many museums are committing time and money to hiring marketing personnel and designing public relations campaigns. The difference between selling and marketing is that marketing first tries to discover what the consumer wants and then gives it to him. Peter Drucker's famous descriptions are more eloquent than my own. "The aim of marketing," he says, "is to make selling superfluous." The ultimate purpose, according to Drucker, "is to understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself."
If all of this sounds a little far-fetched and distant from the business of art museums, then look at the prestigious American Association of Museums' publication, Museums for a New Century. Marketing is highlighted as an essential skill which will determine who survives. The financial benefits are obvious, but the Report goes a step further:
Marketing as a consistent effort builds a foundation of public understanding and appreciation. Over time, the public learns about the values on which museums are founded, the heritage they collect, the knowledge they embody and the services they perform. In turn, with greater understanding, the public will use and support museums more fully.
Marketing influences the entire museum, particularly earned income and membership. Enterprise, as a part of marketing, is becoming a familiar word in art museums. The Nonprofit as Entrepreneur was the title of a conference held m Washington, D.C. And recently I purchased a book entitled Enterprise in the Nonprofit Sector, cosponsored by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which argues that art museums and other nonprofit institutions should create the position of "Director of Enterprise." The purpose of this office would be to establish programs to fund the parent art museum.
In 1979 the Association of Art Museum Directors sponsored a program about business and museums. During an uncomfortable moment, I tried to relieve the tension by saying, "Well, the for-profit art museum is right around the corner." I meant it as a joke back then-people laughed-but none of us are laughing now. In various American cities like St. Petersburg, Florida, Memphis, Tennessee and others we now have the equivalent of for-profit art museums. The governing structures vary but basically they are museums without collections which specialize in blockbuster exhibitions such as Catherine the Great, Ramesses II, etc. Their goal is to bring tourists to the city and generate large amounts of money. They have been financially successful more often than not.
The way it works is simple. The city establishes a 501(c)(3) tax exempt entity called the "museum." All contributions and income go to the 501C3. This eliminates the taxman. The actual work is subcontracted out to a for-profit business. This for-profit business is actually the equivalent of the staff of the museum.
Professional museum people have looked down their noses on this type of "unprofessional" institution. But the fact is that these hybrids are in many instances out-performing the older type museums. Is it good? There are pros and cons. My only point is that they exist and often prosper.
Over ninety percent of all cultural nonprofit institutions generate funds from enterprise activity. And I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that an idea is evolving at the 1rustee level that art museums must begin to cover a larger percentage of their expenses with earned income. Exhibitions are an immediate source. Based on the highly promoted blockbusters in the 1970s and 1980s, we face demands for popular exhibitions. We must advertise, sell tickets, produce popular catalogs, posters, post cards, wrapping paper, and reproductions. Profit-centers, formerly called museum stores or shops, must be located throughout the museum and stocked with items the market surveys tell us people want.
The June 20, 1996 New York Times published an article by Carol Vogel entitled "Hustling High Culture with Fliers and Freebies." Ms. Vogel noted all the promotion surrounding the recently closed Cezanne exhibition in Philadelphia. My favorite item for sale was the baseball with Cezanne's signature. Ms. Vogel also quotes the Whitney Museum of American Art director, David Ross: "We all have to be more entrepreneurial". And Lisa B. Walker, vice president of cultural affairs for Chase Manhattan: "...now corporations are discovering there are ways to support the arts that are market-driven." The awakening is everywhere.
I belong to the school that believes there is nothing intrinsically wrong with entrepreneurial activity except when it confuses visitors, makes art secondary, or transforms art-into advertising. Recently while visiting another museum I turned down a hallway thinking that I was following the galleries in sequence. Instead, I found myself viewing reproductions in gilded wooden frames. For awhile, I was confused, then I realized I was in the entrance of a museum profit center. Exhibition spaces and transitional areas are being appropriated by profit centers. If the trend continues, will there be a day when some museums will have more sales space than exhibition galleries?
The desire for more earned income and greater popularity has created a rush for larger memberships. Enter marketing again, complete with surveys and analysis. This requires sophisticated and expensive techniques such as mass mailing, advertising, public relations campaigns, slogans-you name it.
The irony, of course, is that as enterprise and membership succeed (thanks in part to marketing) a large support staff is needed for accounting, inventory, mailing, processing, auditing, and general management. In order to keep control, someone at the top must think like a corporate manager because earned income demands specific skills and attitudes. If you wonder what the profession thinks of this, let me point out that the NEA in Challenge Grant applications looks favorably on art museums with healthy earned income statistics, and in Museums for a New Century. We read: "Museums should vigorously pursue cost-saving opportunities and creative ventures to increase earned income."
"Well," you might say, "all these things you are speaking about are the means art museums use to carry out their mission of preserving man's heritage. These are simply modern tools." That may be so, but the people who are experts in commissioning, assembling, and using economic impact surveys, people who train in and teach management and finance, marketing experts, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs may love visual art but their instincts, values, and priorities are profoundly different from the older style museum professional.
In my opening comments I asked you to picture two dots at opposite ends of a straight line. Thus far, we have been talking about the momentum of the nonprofit dot as it moves toward the center. Let's look briefly at the profit dot. I do not suggest that most corporations are speeding intentionally from profit orientation to philanthropy, but numerous developments deserve attention.
Today's corporations have collected works of art, hired full time curators, established museums, organized major art exhibitions, offered free public tours, provided art educational material, and advertised their museum-type activities often within the confines of their own buildings. Many services provided to communities exclusively by art museums in the past are now becoming available from corporations too.
There are national seminars sponsored by prestigious nonprofit institutions teaching corporations how to collect art. And some museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, have helped businesses with collecting for many years. A few museums help corporations purchase art with a contractual agreement that after a specified period of time the corporation will donate the works to the museum. Naturally, the assumption is that the works will have increased in value, thus making the art a low cost capital expense.
There are enough officers in corporations presently assigned to art and art programs that several national organizations (complete with newsletters) have been established for these corporate art/museum professionals. Former curators, former art museum directors, former NEA officers, and semi-retired vice-presidents fill the ranks of corporate art executives.
Many corporate art activities are carried out in partnership with nonprofit museums. Museums for a New Century highlights the Rouse Company's Art in the Marketplace program, for example, which in seven years opened 13 museums in shopping malls across America. The motivation, according to Rouse, is simple: "The computerized, prepackaged, fast-paced world is warmed and slowed down by the presence of museum, the dancer, the actor-all in the midst of the market. Everyone wins."
The Whitney Museum has had success with its satellite museums, particularly the one located in the Phillip Morris office building in Manhattan. And if any of us thought that corporate art museums were a fad, which would fade from view, look again. Thirteen years ago, on May 14, 1985, the New York Times reported that Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States was incorporating into its newly planned midtown 54 story, $200 million corporate headquarters three art galleries, two of which would be operated by the Whitney and a third for New York museums seeking space in midtown Manhattan. This has had mixed success, but there are numerous more recent examples.
The partnership between art museums and corporations has many forms: one of the most common, exhibition funding, deserves special attention. There has been concern among art museum directors that corporations who fund exhibitions are far more interested in public relations than in philanthropy. Often the tour schedule of an exhibition is influenced by the corporate sponsor and the bias against scholarly exhibitions in favor of broad surveys suggests important issues which can not be ignored. There is no standard format for crediting corporations at exhibitions or in museum catalogs, but the issue deserves some thought. The ongoing debate on television's PBS stations emphasizes a potential problem. When some educational stations began airing commercials from corporations who had contributed to programs, numerous people objected, saying it made PBS a commercial network. In that case, the profit and nonprofit dots intersected.
A similar debate which most of us m museums wish would go away has to do with exhibition sponsors. Recently, Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times questioned the propriety of the Faberge Company sponsoring the immensely popular Faberge in America exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since then the Christian Dior and Cartier exhibitions in New York have been sponsored by Dior and Cartier respectively. And in the past there was the precedent of Tiffany and Company sponsoring the large Tiffany exhibition and Ferregamo sponsoring its own retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Director's, like the Museum of Modern Art's Glenn D. Lowry, have been forthright about this issue: "It's easy enough in the abstract to draw the line (between artistic vs. business decision making), but in real life, in an environment where everyone's competing for corporate funders, the line isn't clear..."
If a survey were taken to analyze current boards of trustees, I believe we would find a large increase of corporate presidents and chief executive officers and a decrease of art collectors. The Business Committee on the Arts has done a lot to keep art museums and corporations well informed about one another's activities, particularly in areas of mutual interest. And art museums have encouraged corporations to sponsor programs and become a member of the museum family.
Some of us say blatantly m our promotional literature that public relations opportunities and specific market objectives can be met often through this creative partnership. The corporate evening party has become very popular in art museums because it helps both institutions. Indeed, I am involved in so many of these events that when I was once asked how someone should train to become a museum director, I recommended that they attend the Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant management! Jokes aside, corporations have been supportive of art museums and in many cases are developing programs in their own rights.
When discussing the issue of commercialism with other museum directors, one of my colleagues asked: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had all the money we needed so that we could return to serious research and forget blockbusters, mass marketing, shops, et al?"
The answer may not be so simple. In my opinion, the museum profession is in an unhealthy frame of mind regarding this issue. The standard professional rhetoric that I hear is anti-big exhibition, anti-marketing and public relations, anti-commercialism; yet, museums are in a frantic search to be more popular, to earn more income, to be of the people When talking to one another, museums are saying "no" to popularity but doing everything in their power to be popular. This contradiction is worse in museums that have seen what popular exhibitions, for example, do for fund balances, for community enthusiasm, for raising the museum's image in the public conscious.
This situation reminds me of an old Jimmy Durante movie about a circus that had fallen into debt. When the creditors got the police to seize the circus' assets, Jimmy Durante tried to escape out of the back of the tent with the star of the circus, a three thousand pound elephant. A law officer stopped Durante, who was leading the animal, and asked, "Where do you think you are going with that elephant?" Durante's classic reply was: "What elephant?" Just change the actors and a museum director might actually say, "What marketing?"
Would museums stop profit type activity if they did not need the money? I suggest "no," we would not.
Commercialism, advertising, and public relations have proven to be viable means for interesting people in art. The democratic, educational mission which is written into nearly all of our museum charters and which is the justification for the tax-exempt and eleemosynary status museums enjoy is served by the evolution of this new style institution. Visit the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu or The Kimbell Museum in Ft. Worth. Both are endowment-funded and both could do the minimum public service to maintain their I. R. S. status as tax-exempt institutions. But that is not the course they have chosen. Instead, they aggressively "stimulate ... public commitment." Why? In America, museum life is styled by the popular will. The director of the Kimbell said it best: "Museums are servants of the people."
And what do foreign observers think of all this? It is difficult to say because they are only now becoming aware of how differently their museums function compared to American museums. In a study published in 1988 at the Free University Berlin these differences were enumerated.
1. American museums have a great number of target groups.
2. American museums offer a multitude of services, nearly round the clock.
3. American museums are trying to make themselves an integral part of their communities.
4. American museums are nonprofit organizations but nevertheless commercial.
5. American museums are not systematic in their marketing; they are "intuitive."
What could the Germans learn from the Americans, the report asked rhetorically: "German museums have to find a way of their own which certainly has to be on a more systematic line than the more intuitive American way of doing things."
I am somewhat disturbed that this topic is not being discussed on a more regular basis. Why isn't it? Possibly because it is (1) new, (2) moving and changing so quickly that it is impossible to see clearly, and (3) maybe the Germans are right-the process is intuitive . Today, we have noted, the art museum and its images are on ATM cards, the television home shopping networks, the Internet and virtually everywhere else. But as journalist Carol Vogel noted, it was only 30 years ago when the Metropolitan Museum of Art pioneered the use of outdoor banners with its "Great Age of Frescoes." This was considered a great innovation. In just 30 years, there has, in essence, been a kind of cultural evolution which some might see as a revolution.
Without in-depth research to support what I am saying, these ideas must be categorized as opinions. Yet, the cold facts are that our museums exist in a market economy, our museums must be managed efficiently, and our museums need funds to provide ~e functions for which they were established. This makes American museums radically different from most other museums in the world. For us to ignore the impact of the marketplace and to make believe that a new kind of art institution is not evolving is to forfeit the opportunity to help form a hybrid which could be healthier and of greater service than any earlier form. To talk of art and commerce, nonprofit and profit as separate and distinct is to miss one of the important facts in recent American art history. This is not necessarily negative. I do not agree, for example, with the cynical comic who suggested that U.S. museums are changing the spelling of MONET to MONEY.
The nonprofit art museum has become a part of big business and mass-communication. The leading corporations on the other hand have begun to make art a part of their daily routine. From this has evolved an institution which has characteristics of both-it's a new realm with new possibilities. Stay tuned!
I'm extremely grateful to Mr. Blanton and those who've invited me to come down and be with you this afternoon. I know I don't sound like a New Yorker. As a matter of fact, when I was first elected to Congress from Rochester, New York in 1986 and was introduced to Speaker Wright, he said to me, "It's about time that New York sent a member down here with no accent." I love Texas. I met my husband in San Antonio. And I came down with Speaker Wright in about 1988, and we sang a stirring rendition of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" in Ft. Worth. Probably hasn't been the same over there since. I've learned all kinds of wonderful things from Jake Pickle and Jack Brooks, and we sang gospel songs together up and down the halls of Congress. But we had very little effect, I might add, on the content of what went on there. And Governor Ann Richards just wrote me a lovely note, telling me how marvelous all of you are. I believe that philosophical Texans are the best people in the world to spend some time with.
I am extremely grateful to Dr. Harris for his presentation this morning, telling us how awful it was for my predecessors, because I sort of had a feeling that the siege that we are under now is unique. But obviously, from the beginning of time, people have been trying to read things into art that they thought made it unacceptable and downright un-American.
I also want to thank Richard Hughes, because he had an enormous impact on us this last year with the wonderful writing that he did, which we were able to quote all over the place and made it easier for us to try to save the two national endowments. He said that everybody talks about art because it makes you feel good. And I was sort of writing that, had that sort of speech here, and I do want to talk about some of that because at least it would give you the idea of how we have had to frame the debate in Congress to be able to save the endowment.
I first joined the Arts Caucus when I got to Washington because it was just a wonderful thing to do, and they had great lunches. There was absolutely no sign on the horizon anywhere that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was going to be in trouble, until the Reverend Wileman of Tupelo, Mississippi, following the Serrano piece, set out to destroy it. Now, I've got my own private theory about this and I want to discuss this with you. The Reverend Wileman found this to be lucrative enough that he could afford full-page ads in every major newspaper in the United States. And every time he sent out his pornography, he always, had a coupon attached, saying to the citizens of the country: "If you will send me some money, I'll stamp out this evil." Now, the reason that I think that the fight against the NEA had a lot to do with making money is because, as I am sure all of you have noticed, the same battle has never gone on around the Endowment for the Humanities, even though we fund them at the same time. It's a little harder to send out direct mail saying, "Did you hear what they said in the national conversation over there at the museum last week?" That's not going to arouse people like sending some kind of picture out, the way the Reverend Wileman did. And it has gotten to the stage that it had a pernicious effect, I think, on Congress.
But I think that the NEA was not the only thing affected by that kind of attack. For example, during the healthcare debate - all of you remember Harry and Louise - unscrupulous mail-order people sent out huge official-looking documents to senior citizens throughout the country, telling them that if they went to the wrong doctor, it would cost them $10,000. Second, they would go to prison, and, third, if you would send in a little money with this coupon, we can keep the government out of your healthcare. You would be astonished to know the number of senior citizens in the United States who do not understand that Medicare is government healthcare and sent money to these people so they could keep the government out of it.
We have talked about having a civil discourse in the country. I don't know if we can. Once this sort of talk gets started, once they get out there, and language is taken over, we are defined by other people in the way they want to define us. It's been very difficult, if not impossible, to try to have a civil discourse about it, even to present two sides of the issue. This makes me think, in many ways, about the Wizard of Oz phenomenon. If you remember the end, when they finally get down the yellow brick road, suddenly there are all these bells and whistles and all these things go off, and we are told to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. And in some ways that is not too farfetched a scenario for what has been going on in the country today. We're not paying that much attention to the people behind the curtain, but the bells and whistles of some of this debate has occupied us far too much.
Now, in the 1994 revolution - there was a cultural revolution in the United States - one of the goals was to destroy the NEA. Why? We've never really had much of a good answer for that question. Could they destroy the NEA, if they wanted to? Yes. But somehow it never happens. I don't know if this is a bells and whistles kind of thing again or not, or if this is another way that obviously the Reverend Wileman continues to raise his money. I try to have respect for my colleagues, who came to Congress with the idea that the NEA was an evil that needed to be done away with; many of them are sincere in that belief and think that that is exactly what their constituents want.
Now, the history of the arts in the United States, I think, is pretty varied. We need to realize again that the Preamble to the Constitution calls for the Federal Government to promote the general welfare, and the arts are essential in promoting the general welfare because they inspire creativity. They encourage expression and thought, bring joy to countless individuals, and improve the quality of life. A historic record exists of government partnerships with the arts that have been mutually beneficial. We heard this morning about the great things done during the New Deal, but government seed monies have always funded the great art. Michaelangelo's David was commissioned by the City/State of Florence. The United States, very early in our history, had some involvement in Arts. For example, 1800, the first national cultural institution, the Library of Congress, was established, based on Thomas Jefferson's personal library. And, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln decided that the second dome of the Capitol - as you know, it is a dome within a dome - that the beautiful, artistic second dome of that Capitol would be finished and worked on during those darkest days, because he wanted to say that he had faith that the Republic would stand united. And that was a good symbol. In 1916, one of the most important things that we did was to allow a tax deduction for contributions to the educational, cultural and social services, and in 1933, as we heard this morning, the Arts were used to combat unemployment in some pretty hard times.
Russell Lee, one of the New Deal photographers employed by the Farm Security Administration, said, "I'm a photographer hired by a democratic government to take pictures of its land and its people. The idea is to show New York to Texas and Texas to New York." Another artist said, Peter Blume, said, "We, as artists, must take our place in this crisis on the side of growth and civilization against barbarism and reaction, and help to create a better social order." He recognized the role of Arts in the civil society, but it took three decades before we finally made a permanent commitment in the United State to NEA. And it was a son of Texas-President Lyndon B. Johnson-who, in 1965, signed Public Law 89209 and established the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities. And that law states that, "While no government can call a great artist or scholar into existence, it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to help to create and sustain, not only a climate to encourage freedom of thought and imagination and inquiry, but also the material conditions facilitating the release of this creative talent." And not only did President Johnson recognize that, but also, in no small way, Mrs. Johnson contributed to the beautifying of America, which has made a great difference to us all. It is such a treat for me to get to see her today.
The Congressional Arts Caucus was organized early in the 1980s, shortly after President Reagan was elected, when one of the first things he wanted to do was to zero out the NEA. The caucus was begun on a bipartisan, bicameral basis and its sole purpose, its only purpose, was to continue the funding for the two endowments. And it's worked very well. As I said, we really thought we were in the clover there. We were doing pretty well. We didn't spend a heck of a lot of money. I think when I first got there, $170 million was the amount of money we spent on the Endowment for the Arts. We were spending almost twice that on military bands that mostly only played in Washington. We were able to take part of our official expense money and pool it, all of us who were members of that caucus, and then we were able to hire staff persons to do research, to help us contact each other, to get us ready for the debate. That's all we did. There was nothing ominous about it, nothing awful; nor was it a great expense on the Federal Government. But we did set up, as Peter Marzio mentioned, the Congressional Member Organization for the Arts, which we operate with no staff at all, not even Xerox paper. This exists only in the House, and we have many fewer members than we had in the Arts Caucus. Our numbers dropped, and some of the letters were really very sad: "I have always been a member of this caucus; however, I find that the climate of the country today ... I don't want to do it, I should not do it, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave." And we got together, really discussing what will we do about this onslaught against the Arts and what can we do to try to solve our problems for our colleagues, so that we can get enough votes to try to keep it alive.
Here I need to say a couple of things about the members of Congress. The onslaught against art really came from lots of people who have one great thing in common - they vote. And members of Congress know that. Second, we all know that it is almost impossible, once the language and the conversation have been established, we are redefined, once the 30-second ad comes out in your district saying that you believe in pornography and that you want to destroy the lives of all the children in America-once that happens, it is very difficult, if not impossible, either to raise the money, or to be able to answer that in 30 seconds. And so, a lot of people simply took the easy way out and dropped out of the debate.
So, I've had the great joy in the last five years-honestly, I wouldn't trade places with anybody-to be able to lead this debate. Government has sort of become a spectator's sport, and I almost feel like we're at an Olympic event, where people will hold up numbers to tell us how we did that day. And we had a very difficult time trying to get outside groups to join in on the debate. Back in our districts, we talked to the schools and all the institutions that had benefited from the NEA. We said, "Would you come out and say something, a letter to the newspaper, a little something here? Please, help us." I remember hearing an artist at one of these meetings. He said, "What's the matter with them? They get elected and they're sent down here to do the right thing, and they simply don't have the guts to do it." Well, he is right. But at the same time, we very much needed to get the public discussion going on NEA and how important it was. So, one of the nicest things that happened this past year is that we were able to accomplish that. Richard Hughes, and all the wonderful writing that he did for Time in the special edition that they put out, was magnificent. Michael Jordan, who is the CEO of Westinghouse and, consequently, CBS, did ten spots in the fall before the vote, saying how important the arts are, economically and every other way, to the growth and to the future of the United States. Borders Bookstore put on a concerted effort, and put their own spots on television, starring Paul Newman. And we all listen to him. Right? I mean, who's going to pay any attention to me, but if Paul Newman says the Arts are a good thing, who's going to question it?
We concluded that what we needed to do was to prove the economic value of the arts to the public. I am not going to tell you that this is the best way to go. I would like it if we could be as pure about all this, but we can't. We know that there are two compelling reasons to save anything in the United States. The first is economic value. That's got to be there- if it isn't, then basically, in the country today, it has very little value. Second, is value for education. And, boy, did we have the ammunition there.
Now, I would like to share some of the things with you that we talked about during the debate, and then a little bit, if I may, about the arcane way in which we have to do it-the committee system, how we have to proceed, try to buttonhole our colleagues, hold them by the tie and cajole-how we have to do everything. I used to have people over to my office to eat baked grits. It got me a lot of votes.
One of the things that we talked about was what art does for troubled children. Before it disbanded, we took the Arts Caucus to New York to see a little school on the Lower East Side. It was the school where the Gershwen Brothers, and Paul Muni [sp?] and Edward G. Robinson had all been students. The second language in that school today is Bengali. We observed a second grade class. They were sculpting heads. I was absolutely astonished at the intricate work that they were doing. Children who couldn't speak to each other were working on this model. The only thing they had in common was creating this art. Their reading scores, they tell me, as soon as they can teach these children English, go through the roof. You could sense the pride in that school. Parents came and stood outside that school every day and kept guard over it, in case drug pushers, or pimps, or any other unsavory characters wanted to get near that school. They were not going to get by those parents. They walked the halls and made sure that those children were safe. It was astonishing.
On that same trip, we went to an NEA-funded program for children. Each child had to come to school on a Saturday morning with at least one parent. I remember standing by a little boy, about five years old, who was making a collage. To everybody's shock, and certainly to mine, he started to cry. He said to the boy next to him, a perfect stranger, "Did I ever tell you that my brother was shot and killed?" A psychologist would tell you that as he was busy with his hands, he was able to let his emotions out. That was the beginning of healing for him. I wonder what would have happened if the boy who did the shooting in Kentucky, perhaps, had had that opportunity. When we see these young people, sixteen, eighteen years old, who are arrested for awful crimes, with blank stares, I wonder if it's not possible that they have not had the opportunity to let those emotions out and to begin to heal. If art can do that, it's cheap at the price.
Plato said, "I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but most importantly, music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys to learning." If we really thought he knew what he was talking about, we would be way ahead of it. That would be wonderful etched over a music school, the idea that music would be the very thing because of the patterns that it teaches. The theory now has become reality because with the new imaging science, the CAT scans and all the things that we now understand about the developing brain, we know precisely what part of the brain is stimulated by what certain thing, and what happens to that child and that brain. And we are now determined that the birthright of every child will be the ability to create and to understand. We're going to start singing to them, even before they're born. The New York Times, I think, stated it succinctly: When that child is born, that brain is covered over with avenues and connections that sit there and wait for further instruction. And if we don't complete that instruction, that child never becomes all that it can be. I know children that create don't destroy. I've seen it happen over and over again, and it gives them a good sense of self-esteem. When a child looks at a canvas and says, "What colors make this more beautiful?" they learn that if they don't like the picture the first time, they can start over again on a clean canvas. That's not a bad thing to learn. You think about things in a different context, how to be flexible, and how to persevere. And the arts also encouraged teamwork. One person alone cannot create harmony. It takes a choir to learn that each voice has an important role to play in making the sound beautiful.
Through creativity, and critical thinking, and teamwork and cooperation, arts studies increase the academic achievement. And let me tell you that, although people, at first, were very skeptical about this, it's been proven time and time again. The connection between art and learning makes sense on the theoretical level. Numerous studies have demonstrated it on an empirical level, as well. We have found that - and the University of California at Irvine did the study-music training, specifically piano instruction, is superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing a child's abstract reasoning skills that are necessary for learning math and science. A two-year experiment with preschoolers indicated that music uniquely enhanced their higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering, and the study emphasizes the causal relationship between early music training and the development of the neural circuitry that governs spatial intelligence. Now that, again, if we can do that for every child in America, we're going to be a whole lot more ready to go into the next century.
Now-and this is an example that I absolutely love to use on even the most philistine among us in the House-according to the College Board, students with four years of art scored 59 points higher on their verbal and 44 points higher on their math scores on the SATs. Again, isn't that cheap at the price?
Now, we believe that the arts also increase discipline. They teach self-discipline, self control. I have got all kinds of other material here, but I think it's better if I move on and talk to you about Congress, because you probably know all of this anyway.
What we have seen in the last three or four years in Congress is that the debate has gotten much more vicious. I think that we have, perhaps, turned a corner. I think we sort of bottomed out and that the new research we have on the developing child and the economic benefits of the arts are really going to help us out. For example, did you know that art training helps a person become a better doctor? Recent studies show that many doctors failed the stethoscope test, but that the doctors who had studied music had greater diagnostic abilities in using stethoscopes than doctors without music training. So the next time you go to the doctor, ask him to sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" before you let him examine you.
What we have had to do is to frame the debate in terms of what the arts will do for our children, and we have lots of research statistics suggesting that the arts may be among the most important things that we can give to a child and to a human being.
But what about the economy? It does pretty well too under the arts. And how about our investment in art? We only give the NEA budget-less than one hundredth of one percent of the whole Federal budget goes to the arts. Now, that's substantially less than we spend on a B-2 bomber. But that small percentage of the Federal budget brings back $3.4 billion into the Federal Treasury. And I can tell you that I know of no other investment made by this Federal Government that brings back that kind of return monetarily, never mind the other things that we've been talking about. But in addition, through cultural tourism and community investment, money and success are brought to communities throughout the nation. Now, according to studies conducted by Americans for the Arts, the arts support 1.3 million jobs and the non-profit Art industry generates $36.8 billion annually in economic activity. Art doesn't have to apologize to anyone. The Americans for the Arts also concluded that the Arts produce $1.2 billion in state government revenue and $790 million in local government revenue. One of the persons from the National Association of Counties told us that the Arts are like seeds planted in the community. With minimal attention the seeds will grow, but with nurturing they will grow and bear fruit for generations to come. And we have a lot of examples. You have one right here in Houston. The Project Row House, which was developed from public housing that the city was going to shut down. Houston's African-American artists, who wanted to establish a positive, creative presence in the Black community, worked with the city to create this public art project. It's located in the Third Ward and involves artists and neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation, community service and youth education. And the Row houses in the development are dedicated to art, photography and to literary projects installed on a rotating six-month basis. There's also a young mother's residential program, which provides transitional housing and services for young mothers and their children. Now, Houston's Third Ward is a thriving cultural center, thanks to the work of the artists and the volunteers, as well as the contributions of Houston's corporations, foundations and art organizations. I recently met with LupÈ Casillas Lowenburg of El Paso, who talked about a new center that they're going to be building in El Paso very much like what is happening here in Houston. They want to develop the Lower Valley as an inviting economic corridor. And from the examples of other places, they know that art can help them to do that. In Abilene the Cultural Affairs Council has developed a downtown cultural district that has facilitated the renovation of downtown cultural facilities and persuaded art museums to move into the district. In Peakskill, New York, a village that was totally dead-artists from New York City moved up to Peakskill and help rejuvenate it. I remember a sculptor who took over the theater because of the high ceilings. It was perfect for him. That is now a thriving community. We have similar examples all over the country, which came really just from such seed money, in many cases, from the NEA.
Mayor Betty Jo Rae of Rockhill, South Carolina recently told a group that her city lost all but one of its textile mills. They were left with an unemployment rate of 17.2%. With the help from NEA seed money, the arts became the major source of revitalization in Rockhill, and a new Arts Council Center downtown is the key to economic development, providing spiritual vibrancy. In 1973, downtown theaters in Cleveland were refurbished and Cleveland's downtown is once again resurging. One of the most important examples is Providence, Rhode Island, where they pushed through legislation to set aside one square mile of downtown Providence for an arts center. It is drawing people from throughout all of the Northeast and has become a thriving downtown again, which is something many of us worry about because we see downtowns struggling to grow and, in many cases, just to survive. So, that small investment that we make in the arts is important.
Now, there are five main arguments that our opponents make against the NEA. First, Washington should not decide which art is worthy of funding. And we don't. And we don't want to do that. I think it's terribly important that we not do that. What we do is give the money to the National Endowment of the Arts and, as you heard this morning, they have various panels that determine, on applications, which ones should be funded and which ones should not. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that we've really tarted-up that process, though. And in this last vote, even though we were tickled to death to get it and we were able to let NEA survive, we couldn't get by without putting members of Congress on those panels as sensors. And I, frankly, think it's a conflict of interest and I want very much to stop it, but I don't know whether we're going to be able to do that.
The second argument is that the NEA refuses to clean up its act and can't be reformed. Well, the NEA has done reformed and over the years again, we have whittled away at it. Now we don't give any money to individual artists. This year we had to fight for the category of literature. They really wanted to do away with that, but we were able to save it for this year.
The arts will continue to thrive without the NEA. That's another of the arguments that we hear. A lot of people in the United States are not in this debate at all. And I will tell you, quite honestly, if you were to ask the vast majority of people in the country what NEA stands for, most of them would say, "The National Education Association," if they had any guess at all. They are not interested in it. Another debate that we often have is that art is elite. It is the province of the very rich. They should go ahead to their museums and have their own collections and leave the rest of us alone. The NEA has done more to dispel that notion than any other agency on Earth. What they do with their seed money.
Another of the arguments is that so much of the money goes to the major institutions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and, yes, it does. The reason for that is that is where they are able to put together the travelling troupes and the groups that go out to every nook and cranny, from sea to shining sea, because the NEA's whole method of living is to make sure that we do not leave people behind in the country. Without it, believe me, that is exactly what will happen. You will not see the lines of people waiting in small town American to get in to see a performance. F. Murray Abraham told us a story once about a trip he had made into upstate New York, where, I'm sure you're heard, it snows from time to time. (It's snowing today and I'm just tickled to death that I'm not in it.) He arrived in the middle of an absolutel blizzard. Somehow the artists got through, but they didn't expect to see a human being there. But one man came and sat on the front row. The actors all talked in the backroom about, "What are we going to do?" And so, Mr. Abraham walked out and he said to him, "Well, nobody's here tonight but you, and it's a pretty awful night, and you probably want to leave." The man said, "No, I came to see the play." And so, they put it on for him. And Mr. Abraham said it was probably one of his greatest performances.
Mary Steenburgen talked about what NEA had meant to her as a child and what she had learned in school to help make her the actress she is. She said that when a group came through with "The Music Man" in her small town in Arkansas, her parents somehow saved enough money to buy tickets to take her to see it. And she said she knew that day that that's what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. And she told me that every time, before she goes out to do a performance, she reaches down to a little imaginary girl and says, "Maryella," because that's her name, "Let's go out there and do our best. There may be children here tonight." I tried to find some kind of catalog of how many famous people had gotten their start through NEA and high school programs. I didn't get much further than President Clinton, who told me he had learned the saxophone in the ninth grade, and could still tell me the name of his teacher.
Without the NEA, many of these arts programs simply would not survive. There's no question about it. Theaters in little places all over the country would go dark. We would not be able to find and nurture the talent that is out there and that is, really, the birthright of every American. Maybe you remember Peter mentioning the Scholastic Art Program. I don't know if you know about it, but in each Congressional district, if the schools want to, the students apply, do work that is submitted to be judged, with the best being chosen to hang in the Capitol of the United States. I had one young boy in my district whose work was selected to be hung in the Capitol. We wanted him to come down to see his painting hung with all the others, but we couldn't keep track of him. He was troubled and was from a particularly bad ward in Rochester. He kept dropping out of school, leaving home. But my office was wonderful about it. They tracked him down through three counties, finally got a hold of him and said, "You really should come to this." And he did. And we took really good care of him. We met him at the plane, and we saw to it that he was all right, that he got to see his painting, and we sent him home. I didn't hear another word from him for about a year. Then, one night we did a meeting on art and what it means to people, and in he walks with three of his friends. He had enrolled at the Pratt Institute. The fact that his painting was good enough to hang in the Capitol of the United States had given him enough self esteem to make the effort, to clean up his act and go ahead and develop the talent that he had.
The fifth argument that we hear is that Washington has to set priorities, the and NEA is a luxury we can't afford. I think it's not a luxury, it's a necessity for us. If you consider the amount of money that we spend on education and remedial work, then you know that these arts programs are important. I've been a great fan of Governor Deans of Vermont, who, I understand, is a pediatrician. I've never met him, but I know that one of the things that he has implemented is that every baby born in Vermont gets a visit by a Vermont state worker, who brings stimulation to this child that is applicable to its age. And this continues until that child goes to school. Governor Dean says it is the best money he spends, because he is going to save it in remedial education and in jails. And I think that he's absolutely right.
Just last week we learned that music enhances the immune system, that it is being used to great effect in children's cancer wards. And not only does it enhance their immune system, the nurses say that it makes it possible for the children to withstand some of the awful treatments that they have to go through, if music is being played, or if they are being able to try to help play some themselves. This is pretty wonderful.
Now, Washington does not decide, as I said a while ago, what art is worthy of funding, and be glad for that. But we do want to make sure that that the money that is spent reflects this nation's geography, and its ethnicity and its different points of view, which are also important. I don't know what's going to happen now with the members of Congress on this, but I'm not happy with that notion. We talked about whether or not people should be funding art that they don't believe in. Well, we fund a lot of things that I don't believe in. I'm not crazy about the B-2 bomber. I'm pretty sure we don't need a manned bomber for anything, and yet, every year we pass the Federal budget and the bombers are there, because there are more people in the House, who believe it in than those of us who don't, and that's what a democracy is. And that certainly applies to NEA and to the arts. We have to understand that this is a serious time.
I think if there's one point I really want to make, it's the way the debate goes on in Washington, because it's difficult to understand, and I know that it is, why members of Congress are so wooden-headed about this and why they don't understand. So, I want to reiterate, at least to some extent, what I think happens there. First, we only hear from one side. That's devastating to us, because every time you hear from someone in the public, particularly someone from your district, you translate it into 5,000 votes. So, if we're really going to be successful here in things that we want as we move into this next century, then we're going to have to make sure that we participate as well, and that members of Congress hear from us. I know that all of you do that. I know that you believe in that as well, but we've got to have a groundswell that I think we see it happening about the Arts that will make it possible for us to keep that debate going. But there are a number-I love the little arcane things that happen in Congress. For example, we have the two processes, the appropriations process and the authorization process. It's kind of arcane, but I need to just run through just a bit of this for you. If a bill is authorized, the money is 99% going to be appropriated. So, what happened to us in 1993 is that they stopped authorizing NEA. And that means that before we can go to the floor with the interior bill-and remember, we're debating the whole interior bill-before we can go to the floor with it, it has to go to the Rules Committee, where I'm lucky to sit. The ratio is nine to four, though, and we don't win much. But the Rules Committee has to protect each appropriation that is not authorized from a point of order. And the word went out this last time not to protect the NEA and one member raised the point of order, and we lost in the House by one vote. Fortunately for us, the Senate did save the NEA. But as I pointed out in the conference, a number of things were added to it that, every year, weakens it and makes it so different.
I served with two Chairs of the NEA, John Fromeyer and Jane Alexander, and it has not been a pretty sight. Jane Alexander came to Washington full of hope and promise, and feeling so good about it, and wanting to really do a wonderful job. And she ran into a buzzsaw. The woman was tortured. I don't know of any other way to put it to you. I saw her at hearings and some of the things that she went through. I'm sorry that she's gone, but I'm sure she feels that she served her time and that she should be put on parole. But we are in the process now of choosing a new person to head up the Endowment, and I hope that we can get some of the quality of those other two, who really were very strong fighters, who made sure that the agency lived.
If we eliminate the NEA, do you realize that we will be the only democratic free nation that doesn't invest in art? And that, as was pointed out earlier by Dr. Harris, doesn't say very much for us. So, while we are very much appreciative for the private funding, it is necessary, I think, that the Endowment live and that we make sure that it's strong and that it gives the opportunity to every child and every human being in the country.
One other thing-I wasn't sure that I wanted to talk to you about this, but I will-I need to talk to you about the Christian Coalition. They did something that was really interesting, the Reverend Wileman made a video that was sent out by the American Family Association, so that every member of Congress now has some pornography in the office. Then ... Actually, none of those movies on that tape were funded by the NEA, as has happened in many cases. So then next they set up, on the steps of the Capitol, a display of visual art that they thought was blasphemous or pornographic. And everybody who came to the Capitol-every child who visited, ever school class that came-marched by what the Reverend said was pornographic and that nobody should see it. Then, not satisfied with that, they put it on a web page. So, every family in America who has access to the web page has available to them the greatest collection of pornography that exists in the United States, and the NEA, on its best day, if it was trying to do it, couldn't come close to that. But one thing about it, at least, is if you take your child to a museum, you have some control over what they're seeing. When you look at the Internet, nobody knows.
We are living in an interesting time in the United States. The discussion this morning on whether or not we can have a civil dialogue-I think it is up for grabs. Most of us think that we still can, but I can tell you, from our point of view, once some group gets a hold of the argument, either to make money or to make some point, and defines that issue in a certain way that catches on with the public, there is really nothing we can do. We do not have either the resources or the ability to fight it. And it becomes a factoid. And you see that happening in the Congress. There are times when I think that we are marching resolutely into the nineteenth century instead of into the twenty-first. We're eager to give away hard-won battles. Changes are being made on a daily basis that I don't think people are really aware of. I know they're not, because when I talk about them at home, the comment always is, "I didn't know that. I didn't know that."
And so, we need somehow to recognize that, those of us who are true believers in discourse and dialogue and have respect for people who disagree with us but nonetheless want the opportunity to give our side, have a battle force that's almost unseen. It's so subtle that it's often very difficult to fight. Just recently, the Ford Foundation and several other foundations sponsored a conference in Washington that talked about the status of the U. S. Government today; specifically, I think they talked about the IRS. They said that numbers of really wonderful things had happened at the IRS, but there was no way on Earth for anybody to ever know about them, because that's not the way the dialogue was going, and that most of the things that the media mentioned were the excesses of the IRS, its inability to deal with people, the things that they had done that made taxpayers' livers miserable, and so forth. And David Broeder, the columnist, made it his business to go and talk to two former heads of the IRS, one Republican and one Democrat. They both told him, collectively, that the denigration of the American government had made it almost impossible for them to hire the caliber and quality of people that they wanted in the IRS. I see this as a dangerous trend, and I think that this notion again of separating people, to tell them that the government is their enemy instead of the government is us, is part of this whole debate that includes the NEA and the NEH.
You've been very patient with me and I thank you very much. It's a great honor to be here with you. I have enjoyed every minute of this. I wish I could talk to every one of you because I've already learned so much. But thank you for your extraordinary hospitality and the ability really just to be here and to join you in this today.
Claude Carroll Albritton, Jr.
Claude Albritton entered Southern Methodist University in 1929 and made it his home for most of his life. Few before or since have given that university greater service or distinction.
He was born in Corsicana, Texas on April 7, 1913 and received Bachelor of Arts in geography and Bachelor of Science in geology in 1933. After Harvard University awarded him the Master of Arts degree in 1934 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1936, Claude Albritton returned to, Southern Methodist University to teach. In 1938 he investigated quaternary geology of t he Davis Mountains with Kirk Bryan and with archaeologists J. C. Kelley and T. N. Campbell; their report was published in 1939. This sort of interdisciplinary investigation, with geology as a fundamental element, would constitute his primary intellectual pursuit.
In 1941 he published a study of the quaternary sands of the High Plains with his pupil R. M. Huffington. During World War II he served as geologist for the United States Geological Survey. In 1944 he married Jane Christman and they had three children, all of whom ultimately survived him.
Claude Albritton returned to his university as chairman of the geology department from 1947 to 195 1. In 1955 he collaborated with Fred Wendorf and Alex Krieger in publishing The Midland Discovery. Although he served his university as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 1952-1957, as Dean of the Graduate School from 1957-1971, as Chairman of the Board of Publications from 1968-1978, as Vice-Provost for Library Development from 1971-1973, and as Dean of Libraries from 1973-1978, his scholarship continued almost uninterrupted. In 1963, to celebrate the Geological Society of America's seventy-fifth anniversary, Albritton edited and published The Fabric of Geology, followed by studies of the stratigraphy of the Domebo mammoth-kill site in 1966 and of the Copperton mammoth site in 1975. In the meantime he also had begun to study the archaeological geology of Egyptian Nubia. After publishing his report on the geology of the Tuska site (The Prehistory of Nubia) in 1968, he produced a number of collaborative works on the region into the mid- 1970s and finally The Origin of the Qattara Depression in 1998. In 1975 he edited the Philosophy of Geohistory: 1785-1970 and was one of the first Americans elected a corresponding member of the International Commission for the History of the Geological Sciences. He assisted in establishing and chaired the American participating committee of the Commission. As a principal organizer of the History Division of the Geological Society of America, he became its first chairman and the second recipient of the Society's History of Geology Award.
Claude Albritton's retirement in 1978 as Hamilton Professor of Geology, which he had held since 1955, did not alter his intellectual stride. His post-retirement activities included service as vice-president of SMU's Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, the contribution of a significant essay on geological time to The Abyss of Time in 1990, and writing new articles on the history of geology for the Encyclopedia Britannica. He also assisted in planning the geological essays for the supplement to the Dictionary of Scientific Biography and wrote Catastrophic Episodes in Earth History, which was published posthumously in 1989.
A week before he died on November 1, 1988, Claude Albritton was notified that he would be the recipient of the Archaeological Geology Award at the centennial meeting of the Geological Society of America. At this meeting, which occurred on the day Claude Albritton died, the award was presented to him in absentia.
William Herbert Crook
William Herbert Crook, president of this society in 1995, died in his Corpus Christi Home on October 29,1997. He was 72. He had a distinguished career of service to the public, both in governmental and private capacities.
Bill was born in Illinois in 1925 and moved to Texas with his family at the age of four. He served as an engineer gunner during World War II. He graduated from Baylor University in 1949 and received a doctorate in theology from Southwest Seminary. In 1960 he resigned as pastor of a Baptist church in Nacogdoches to run unsuccessfully for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. Later that year he assumed the presidency of San Marcos Academy, where he doubled the endowment and instituted many new programs.
His governmental career had its start in December 1965, when President Johnson asked Bill to open, in Austin, a Regional Office of the Office of Economic Opportunity, a key element in Mr. Johnson's efforts to ease the problems of the poor. In 1968 the President appointed Bill to be national director of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and two years later named Bill as Ambassador to Australia. On his return from Australia at the end of the Johnson Administration, Bill went into business, but his interest in helping the public did not waver. As a private citizen he succeeded in obtaining from Spain, for Corpus Christi, the Spanish replicas of the Columbus ships.
Both Governor White and Governor Richards made use of his abilities by appointing him to posts. Bill was one founding member of the Society of the Anchor of the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief of the Episcopal Church. It was under the auspices of the Fund that he was working in the Ethiopian feeding camps during the famine in 1985. It was there that he contracted hepatitis, which killed him 12 years later. As Society member Lady Bird Johnson said after his death: "Bill Crook led a wonderfully good and useful life, much of it spent doing the Lord's work. His whole life was a test of faith. He contracted the virus that killed him in Ethiopia trying to verify that international aid was spent to feed the starving."
The problems of the poor were a constant concern with Bill. He served on the task force that helped formulate the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. In a 1994 interview, he said of that legislation: "It was a daring venture. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 said something that no civilization has ever said before. It said, 'It is the official policy of this government to eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty! No civilization in the history of mankind has ever even attempted to go back and pick up what it had sloughed off. We made that attempt, I think more successfully than the program's given credit for. Out of it came Head Start, Job Corps, and any number of other people-oriented programs."
Bill loved the Philosophical Society, to which he was elected in 1973. He regretted that the proceedings, which he thought were splendid, did not have a lasting impact. He wanted the Annual Meetings to be more than a pleasant social gathering where those present were educated by papers from experts on whatever subject was the theme that year. He wanted the prestige and influence of Society members to propagate the expert learning presented in the papers into concrete changes for the better in the life of our state and nation. It was a lofty goal, though one not easy to achieve.
He was more successful in achieving another of his goals for the Society. He felt that our membership was predominantly white males from Houston, Austin, and Dallas, and that we ought to have a membership more reflective of the demographics of our state. He persuaded the Board of Directors and, at the 1996 Annual Meeting, the membership to approve an amendment to the Bylaws creating a Committee on Membership. It now screens proposals for membership and puts on the ballot those candidates whose election would best serve the needs and desires of the Society. Appropriately Bill was named as first Chairman of the Committee on Membership and presided over its first meeting in August 1997.
Bill was the first future President of the Society to name a Program Committee to work with him in selecting the topic for the Annual Meeting in his presidential year and in thinking of suitable speakers. The committee he named met several times and did contribute ideas for the program for the 1995 Annual Meeting in Corpus Christi. The program, on "The Ocean Within: Myths and Memories", was brilliantly successful, though it must be said that most of its success was due, not to the Program Committee, but to Bin's ability to attract excellent speakers and to persuade his friend, Bill Moyers, to come as Moderator. Another highlight of that Annual Meeting was the cocktail reception that Bill and Eleanor Crook gave in their home.
Bill was a soft-spoken man with a sweet smile and a gentle sense of humor. Bin Moyers said of Bill Crook: "He was one of the most accomplished men to be so modest that I ever knew. He was really a Renaissance man who was at home in many worlds and always at peace with himself."
Bill is survived by Eleanor and by three children, William H. Crook, Jr., of Corpus Christi, Mary Elizabeth Crook of Austin, and Noel Crook Moore, of Raleigh, N.C. Daughter Elizabeth, herself a member of this Society, has written: "He lived an exceptional fife and taught us all many lessons, the last of which was how to die with grace, and unafraid." It is a lesson that we Philosophers would all do well to learn.
Edwin Heinen, 89, of Houston, passed away Sunday, April 9,1995. Mr. Heinen was born March 17, 1906 in Comfort, Texas to the late Hubert and Else Heinen. He attended Rice University and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. At Ernst and Young he was one of the initiators of Management Consulting for Accounting Systems and a Resident and Managing Partner. He was a member of Christ Church Cathedral, a Director of the Hernotherapy Institute of the Texas Medical Center, Junior Achievement, the Society for the Performing Arts, the Better Business Bureau, and the Houston Grand Opera Association, and also active in many other civic and cultural organizations. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Houston since 1951, he was President in 1963-64 and District Governor in 1970-71. He received the Rotary Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award in 1984. He also served as a member and President of the Board of Education of HISD and as member and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Houston Community College System. The theater of this system was named in his honor.
Erwin Heinen was a man who gave much to his community. He took on especially difficult volunteer responsibilities and performed them with distinction and much effectiveness. In 1973 he ran for the Board of the Houston Independent School District in order to bring a management expertise to that board that was sorely lacking. He had done the same thing in 1971 by accepting an appointment to the Harris County Hospital District Board of Managers. In this responsibility he was very instrumental in effectuating changes that improved immeasurably the delivery of health care to the undeserved. He was also instrumental in the development of a stronger Junior Achievement program and during his later years, was always available for assignments that improved Houston.
Paul George Vincent O'Shaughnessy Horgan, one of the most prolific and distinguished writers of the Southwest, died in Middletown, Connecticut, on March 8, 1995. He was 91 years old.
Horgan wrote seventeen novels, four volumes of short stories, five biographies, and various other works, including a volume of his drawings and paintings, which were exhibited at the Amen Carter Museum in Fort Worth and the New York Public Library, among other places. He published his first novel-The Fault of Angels, which won the Harper Prize-in 1933, but he won more fame for his non-fiction, which included The Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History (1954), for which he won the Pulitzer prize for history and Bancroft prizes, and Lamy of Santa Fe: His Life and Times (1975), which won the Pulitzer. Other historical works include The Centuries of Santa Fe (1956) and Conquistadors in North American History (1963). In addition, he was awarded more than fifty honorary degrees during his more than half-century career.
Paul Horgan was born in Buffalo, N.Y., but moved to New Mexico with his family when his father developed tuberculosis and needed to relocate. He went to high school in Albuquerque, then worked for the local newspaper, writing music and drama reviews, before enrolling in the Eastman School of Music in Rochester in 1923, where he studied singing. He dropped out of the school after a year, then worked as a theater designer in Rochester before returning to New Mexico at age 24 to become a writer. In 1926 he became librarian of the New Mexico Military Institute, stipulating that he be allowed time to write.
He was initially invited to Wesleyan University in 1959 to serve as a fellow at its Center for Advanced Studies. He was made director of the center in 1962 and also served as a professor of English and artist-in-residence. Although living in the East, Horgan continued to write about the Southwest. David McCullough called his The Heroic Triad (1970) "a brilliant study of the three cultures of the Southwest." He also wrote A Distant Trumpet (1960) about the Apache wars of the 1880s, Whitewater (1970), The Thin Mountain Air (1977), and Mexico Bay, (1982), about a writer trying to write a history of the war between the United States and Mexico.
Horgan was a remarkable personality who wrote on many things-Encounters with Stravinsky (1972), for example-although he continually returned to the subject of his favored Southwest. He was passionate about music and painting and his faith, and, in his 1993 autobiographical essays, Tracings, he recalled the triumph that he felt upon being admitted to the normally restricted Vatican archives to pursue his biography of Archbishop Lamy. He proposed his own epitaph in an 1987 magazine interview: "He was an artist who worked to the best of his ability to achieve works of art."
Harris Masterson III
The arts in Houston lost a godfather with the death of Harris Masterson III on April 7, 1997 at the age of 82. However, his death did not end the generosity of the lifelong philanthropist who, with his wife Carroll Sterling Masterson, led the movement to raise the Houston arts scene to a par with other major U.S. cities. As a magnificent gift to the city and art lovers everywhere, Harris Masterson III bequeathed his palatial River Oaks home-Rienzi-and the surrounding gardens to Houston's Museum of Fine Arts. It was a final grand gesture from 2 couple who devoted their lives to enhancing Houstonians's quality of life.
The son of local businessman Neill Turner Masterson and his wife Libbie Johnston Masterson, Harris Masterson III attended Kinkaid School, San Jacinto High School and the New Mexico Military Institute. He earned a bachelor's degree in English from Rice University. During World War 11, he served as a captain In Army intelligence and was called back into service during the Korean War. He was an investor and art collector for much of his professional life.
In 1951, he renewed his acquaintance with Carroll Sterling, a former Kinkaid classmate. Carroll Sterling, who died in 1994, was the daughter of Isla Carroll and Frank Sterling, a founder of the Humble Oil Co. She and her two children moved back to Houston from Mexico City in 1950 after her husband was killed in an airplane crash. Following a whirlwind courtship, she and Harris married in January 1951, Later, in an interview in The Houston Post, Carroll Masterson said, "It took us about five days to decide to get married. Of course, it wasn't like we had to got to know each other." In the ensuing years, their names were inexorably linked with philanthropic bequests.
In the early 1960s, he produced plays and theatricals in New York City and was a cofounder of Houston Presents, an organization that brought major performers, orchestras and touring companies to the city. Although he and his wife traveled widely and even maintained residences in cities such as London, Houston was his home and first love.
He dated his philanthropic urges to his youth. "My mother, sister, brother and I would take baskets to people at Christmas for the Christ Church Cathedral guild in the late teens and early '20s in Houston," he told The Houston Post. "Carroll and I are both native Houstonians, and we have been strong Houston supporters all our lives. We feel you have to share what you have."
Perhaps Harris Masterson's finest contribution to Houston was the Gus S. Wortham Theater Center. In 1977, he began the 10-year private fund-raising effort that built the $72 million opera/ballet complex, serving as head of what was then the Lyric Theater Foundation. "Harris was the focus of everything during the first five or six years," Houston Grand Opera general director David Gockley told The Houston Post at the Center's opening. He remained a central element until the Wortham Center was handed over to the city in 1987. His oversight of the project was legendary. Houston Chronicle art critic-at-large Ann Holmes remembered that one of the stages at the Wortham Center was inadequate for ballet, and he gave the $300,000 needed to bring it up to par.
In 1987, the Wortham Center Foundation of which he was president handed the center over to the city of Houston. The center was to become its most stunning cultural asset. The Green Room at the Wortham is named in his honor.
At various times in his life, he headed the boards of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Miller Outdoor Theater and the Lyric Theater Foundation. He was honorary &airman of the Houston Grand Opera and a major contributor to the Houston Symphony and the Alley Theater, He was one of only a few lifetime trustees of both the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera. In 1988, the Houston Grand Opera named its "Masterson Award" in honor of him and his wife. The awards go to individuals who have given distinguished service to the organization.
Both Mastersons were known for their service as well as their generosity. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston benefited from the tendency early when the pair was named to its board in 1953. The Masterson's gifts made expansion of the museum possible. The Masterson Junior Gallery features exhibitions for the younger generation. There is also a Masterson Galley and the Frank Prior Sterling Galleries, dedicated to the memory Carroll Masterson's father.
The couple's 700-piece collection of Worcester porcelain was donated to the museum 1984. The collection was considered the finest outside of England, Over the years, they also loaned portions of their fine art collection for exhibitions at the museum. Friends recalled that Harris Masterson III once delivered his collection of ornate Faberge eggs to the museum in a shoebox.
The perfect setting for the jewels of their collections was Rienzi, named for Harris Masterson's maternal grandfather Rienzi Melville Johnston. founder of The Houston Post. Well-known local architect John Staub designed the home. The gardens, designed by landscape architect Ralph Gunn, cover more than four acres and were frequently spotlighted during the city's annual Azalea Trail. Rienzi served as an elegant center for the many parties and dinners hosted by Harris and Carroll Masterson over four decades. In 1988, the couple hosted Princess Christina of Sweden, her husband Tord Magnuson along with a group of Houston notables at a reception and private dinner. In 1989, Sarah, then the Duchess of York, enjoyed Southern cuisine at a luncheon hosted by the Mastersons and attended by several of their older grandchildren.
Rienzi itself adjoins Bayou Bond, the estate of Ima Hogg that was also donated to the local fine arts museum. Harris Masterson himself served as coordinator of Bayou Bend's transformation from Miss Ima Hogg's private home to the decorative arts wing of the Museum of Fine Arts. Rienzi's decor, however, is mainly 18th century and reflects British style, making it a fine foil for Bayou Band. The bequest also contains funding for the estate's upkeep as well as the couple's collections of 18th century English furniture and silver. Some of the art that Harris Masterson III collected during his lifetime went with the house as well, Carroll Masterson once said, "Mr. Masterson really did all the collecting.'
Harris Masterson III was a unique presence in the city. Airways accoutered in the latest of European tailoring, he was readily identifiable by his white hair, his cane and his Rolls Royce. Known as an avid card player, he was also a fond father to his wife's two children and a mentor to the youngsters in his family-including well known director Peter Masterson, who credited Harris Masterson with encouraging him to go into the acting trade. He had no biological children of his own.
When he was feted at a benefit for the University of Houston Moores School of Music, organizers were at a loss when it came to choosing a gift. Finally, they called the International Star Registry and renamed the star Aquila Harris Masterson III.
While the fine arts dominated much of the Masterson's attention, they gave to other aspects of Houston society as well. They were known as mainstays of the Center for the Retarded, whose board Harris Masterson headed for 16 years, and were frequent contributors to St. Joseph Hospital, the only hospital in downtown Houston and DePelchin Faith Home. When the Van Lawrence Voice Institute in the department of otorhinolaryngology was named at Baylor College of Medicine, the Mastersons made certain that it was the recipient of a major gift. Dr. Richard Stasney, who oversees operations of the institute, said, "Mr. Masterson's help was Invaluable." His gift continues to fund a study of how larynxes age, a work that will be provide key answers as to why voices change as people get older. "Harry was a good friend," said Dr. Stasney. "He was one of the treasures of Houston.'
Through a family foundation, he and his wife were also major contributors to the study of geriatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, the state's only private medical school.
When Carroll Sterling Masterson was named "woman of the year" by the local chapter of the YWCA, it was no fluke. The Carroll Sterling Masterson Branch of the Houston YWCA at Memorial Drive and Heights Boulevard is named for her. Her involvement with the YMCA was a Masterson family tradition, Harris's grandmother helped found the Houston YWCA in 1907. Carroll Masterson served on the organization's board for many years. In an article in The Houston Post, she explained that she had "two children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (at the time), so I'm rather interested in any organization that helps women and children," a sentiment echoed by her husband. That devotion to family and humanity was honored also by the Anti-Defamation League in 1987 when they gave the pair a Torch of Liberty Award at a gala that drew 900 guests.
For more than four decades, Harris Masterson III held firm to his vision of a livable city enhanced by an infusions of visual and performing arts. He did not limit his efforts to signing a check. Instead, he gave large chunks of his life to building an arts community that graces the Houston of today and will continue to do so in the centuries to come. His leadership was crucial to establishing the city as a regional center for performing arts and art appreciation. His death marked the end of an era in Houston.
Watkins Reynolds Matthews
Watkins Reynolds Matthews spent more than a half of a century presiding over the family's Lambshead ranch 14 miles north of Albany, Texas. He was 98 and the last of his generation in one of Texas prominent ranching family. Watt, as he was known by all, spent his whole life living on the ranch with the exception of four years at Princeton University.
He was born in Albany, lived at the ranch, and seldom left Texas except to attend 1921 Class Princeton reunions. He saw very few reasons to leave the ranch. After all, his family had been working the ranch since 1870's. Among the first of the region's white settlers, the Matthews and Reynolds clans helped establish the state's signature cattle industry. By the time Mr. Matthews came along, not even the discovery of oil was enough to drive them away.
The ranch traces its history to the last century when the Reynolds and Matthews family struck out from Alabama and Georgia and kept going until the reached the Clear Fork of the Brazos on the edge of the Comanche territory just before the civil war. Once reaching that part of the country, the two families began marrying each other with such furious regularity that Watt, mother, Sallie Reynolds Matthews, wrote a book, "Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle" to get them all sorted out.
The book, published in 1936, became a classic of Texas history, as did "Watt Matthews of Lambshead: A Photographic Study of a Man and His Ranch," by Laura C. Wilson, which extended Watt's fame after its publication in 1989.
By then, the ranch had become historic treasure, and Watt, who had been running it for a family corporation since the death of his father in 1941, had become an unofficial tourist attraction, a 5 foot - 6 inch cowboy who was not only most genial host and generous supporter of historic preservation, but also a person who made every one feel special when they visited the ranch.
Like his parents before him, he became famous for the house parties that would draw dozens of friends for days at a time, but as a young man he had got so tired of having to giving up his bedroom to his parents' guest that he moved into the bunkhouse. He did not move back to the main house until a couple of years ago, and only then a concession to the comfort of the nurses hired to take care of him as his health began to fail. Until then, Watt made do with a simple room furnished with a bed, bureau, bootjack, and chair, all the comforts needed by man.
For all his devotion to the simple life, Watt did not shun all new-fangeled conveniences. He experimented with using helicopter-mounted cowboys, but though the choppers proved effective for a while, especially in flushing strays out of tall grass, the cattle eventually got so accustomed to the satisfying whoosh of the rotors that the cowboys had to go back to their horses.
For all his fame as a say-at-home, Watt did make one trip to Europe some years back, but that was only because a grandniece wheedled him into it by piquing his interest in flying on the Concord.
As the youngest of nine children, Watt came by his longevity naturally. All seven who survived infancy lived beyond the age of 85, five of them into their 90s and one to 105.
It was a measure of Watt's standing in the state that at his funeral over 1000 people made the 13 mile drive to the ranch from Albany and 15 mile drive down the ranch driveway to the family cemetery. After the public service, Watt, dressed in faded jeans and a Levi's jacket, a bandanna around his neck and his sweaty Stetson at his side in a plain wooden coffin, was, as he had requested buried in the cemetery next to his oldest sister.
Dennis O'Connor, rancher, banker, oilman, was born Oct. 31, 1906 in Victoria, Texas, died Jan. 16, 1997 at Refugio. He was descended from Tom O'Connor who emigrated from Ireland, arriving at Copano in 1834. He attended Dallas University and graduated with a BS in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.
Although Mr. O'Connor considered himself primarily a rancher and was an authority on Coastal Bend plant life, especially palms, he became involved in several major enterprises. In the 1930s he and other family members began oil-drilling operations on O'Connor properties in the region, forming a number of successful partnerships and bringing in several important fields. Dennis O'Connor was personally reluctant to enter the oil business but felt, during the Depression, that he owed this to the community for the revenues it would bring the region. Later he purchased the Victoria Bank and Trust Co. and began a long career in banking, for many years chairman of Victoria Bancshares until this was sold in 1995.
He served in the US Navy as an officer volunteer during World War II, holding the rank of lieutenant commander.
Dennis O'Connor was a man with an enormous range of interests ranging from astronomy and weather research to education, medicine, and historic preservation, all of which he was in a position to assist through his philanthropies. He was a major contributor to the Victoria Minidome, the Refugio City Library, the Corpus Christi aquarium, the McDonald Observatory, the La Bahia Mission restoration, and the La Belle recovery project as well as to his church and many health and medical causes. His memory is that of a kind, caring person who assisted many individuals to receive educations and helped relieve suffering in Refugio and surrounding counties, to which he remained quietly rooted throughout his life. His great pleasures were fishing off the Florida coast and his cattle.
He married Dorothy Hanna, who predeceased him, in 1928. There were no children, but O'Connor adopted Robert J. Hewitt in later life.
He was a Knight of the Papal Order of St. Gregory, a Knight of San Jacinto, the highest order of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas,' and the Republican Party.
William Gray Sears
Born October 18, 1910 in Houston, died Saturday, December 8,1990 in Houston following a lengthy illness. Will was the great-grandson of William Fairfax Gray, a noted early Texan Settler the grandson of General Claudius Wister Sears and the nephew of Peter W. Gray, a distinguished early citizen of Houston and a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Will Sears was a student at Rice University from 1927 to 1929. He received his JD from the South Texas School of Law in 1935 and was admitted to the Texas Bar. He was Assistant City Attorney of Houston from 1938 to 1940.
As a member of the Texas National Guard, Headquarters Troop, 56th Calvary Brigade, he was called to active duty into the U.S. Army one year before Pearl Harbor, as Captain then Major of Calvary, commanding officer of Troop G at Fort Ringgold and Fort Brown. He was Chief of Small Arms Sections Department of Weapons and Executive Officer of the 22nd Tank Battalion, 11th Armored Division. He served in Patton's 3rd Army and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.
Sears returned to Houston after the war, serving as First Assistant City Attorney from 1946 to 1948, then as City Attorney from 1948 to 1956. He was considered to be an excellent City Attorney during these critical years of Houston's growth. He became a partner in the firm of Hofheinz, Sears, James and Burns from 1956 to 1961, then a partner of Sears and Burns from 1962 until his retirement in 1985.
Sears was decorated with the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, was the recipient of Certificate of Meritorious Service, SSS, 1970. He was a member of the Texas Bar Foundation, the American Federated and Houston Bar Associations, American Judicature Society, National Institute of Municipal Law Officers, Texas State Bar, American and Southwestern Historical Associations, The Philosophical Society of Texas, The National Trust for Historical Preservations, The Retired Officers Association, and Delta Theta Phi (Scholarship Key).
Will Sears was a highly regarded Houstonian and Texan, especially well known throughout his community.
Robert S. Sparkman, MD, LLD, FACS
Robert S. Sparkman, well-known Dallas surgeon, teacher, and philanthropist, died of natural causes on March 22, 1997. He was 85.
Dr. Sparkman was born in Brownwood, Texas, the son of Ellis H. and Viola Stanley Sparkman. He grew up in Waco, Texas where his father was chairman of the Department of Spanish at Baylor University. Dr. Sparkman received combined bachelor's and medical degrees in 1935. He served his internships at Cincinnati General Hospital, 1935-36 and at Good Samaritan, 1936-37 and his residences in pathology at Baylor Hospital, 1937, and in surgery at Cincinnati General Hospital, 1938-40. Dr. Sparkman served in the U.S. Army in the Southwest Pacific, attaining the rank of colonel and receiving the Bronze Star Medal. He also was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster, invasion Arrowhead, and 3 Battle Stars. He was a Distinguished Alumnus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He was a member of Baylor Chapter Alpha Epsilon Delta, Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Baylor University.
Dr. Sparkman was in the private practice of surgery in Dallas from 1946-1988; he was chief of the Department of Surgery at Baylor Hospital from 1969 to 1981; Chief Emeritus Department of Surgery Baylor Hospital since 1982; clinical professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical School; and founder and honorary member of the Society of Baylor Surgeons. Dr. Sparkman was a widely published author and speaker. He was a member of more than 20 professional societies and has honorary fellowships in seven. In addition, Dr. Sparkman was a member of the Advisory Council to the Friends of the Library and a devotee of rare books, and a loyal member of The Philosophical Society for many years.
Dr. Sparkman is survived by his wife, Willie Ford Bassett Sparkman of Dallas; his sister, Dorothy Black, of San Antonio, Texas; his nephew William Stanley Black, his two grandnephews and his grandniece.
The 1996 memorial for James Udell Teague incorrectly listed Mrs. Teague's name a Lara. It should read Lora Ruth Lindholm. We regret the error.