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John Weber, Mark Rogovin and Justine DeVan discuss their work on murals and the Wall of Respect in Chicago

BROADCAST: 1970 | DURATION: 00:51:59


John Weber, Mark Rogovin and Justine DeVan discuss their involvement with the mural movement as well as their involvement with the Chicago community and their various art projects. Includes excerpt of an interview with Bill Walker at the Peace and Salvation Wall of Understanding in (near?) Cabrini Green.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Studs Terkel There's a great deal of talk about culture at all times in cities of our country and everywhere and we speak of the symphony orchestra, and we've had one of the best in the world. And art museum, artists are one of the best in the world, really. But culture sometimes, but with a small "c", too. And Chicago is a very rich culture right now, which many of us may pass by each day without noticing. I'm talking about wall art, on the walls in various neighborhoods of our city, are some remarkable murals that express the feelings, perhaps of the hopes, of the visions. Could be a black neighborhoods, Latino neighborhoods, lower middle-class white neighborhoods. And three of the artists, three of these mural artists are my guest this morning. And it's John Weber, and Mark Rogovin, and Justine DeVan. They'll talk about their work and experiences. And there's a book, by the way. It's called, "Toward A People's Art: A Contemporary Mural Movement" and John Weber is one of the co-authors, editors of this, with James Cockcroft and Eva Cockcroft, and that's a Dutton paperback, but about wall art and where it is in our cities that you see, perhaps, sometimes should stop and look at too. In a moment, the meaning of this and how it came to be and what it's all about, after this message [pause in recording]. I'm standing in the, on the corner of on the corner of Orleans and Locust. It's in the area of the Cabrini Green projects. And I'm facing something quite remarkable. I'm looking at it now with four friends of mine here, one of whom is the artist of this wall, Bill Walker. It's a wall. It's a wall of paintings. A wall [evolving? involving?] black people and black aspirations. Bill Walker is here, with Jim [Shipp?] of the Community Arts Foundation, and John Weber who's an artist involved with the project, and Burt Phillips. And Bill Walker, you're the artist who created the "Wall of Respect". The one that is now internationally known. The one on forty-seventh

Bill Walker

Studs Terkel

Bill Walker and Langley. Yes, that's right. How'd that come to be? Well, it's kind of a long story. During my travels, in the state of Tennessee, I learned many things about the artists, and people, and their attitude toward art and things of this sort. And as a artist just out of school, I was trying desperately to develop as an artist by just going around asking people to let me paint. Not a lot of money involved, but just let me develop as an artist. And this is when I realized that the artist should take the art to the people because most of the people that I was in contact with in the state of Tennessee had no knowledge of art, had no particular appreciation for art.

Studs Terkel These are working people.

Bill Walker Working people. So, I suppose the idea of the wall start forming in my mind then. So, in order to make a long story short, 1967, I was thinking in terms of doing a wall. Around that time I was asked to be a part of a Black arts group called, OBAC, and I asked them would they be interested in joining me, and they said that they would and this is how we managed to

Studs Terkel get that particular project started. We're talking to Bill Walker of the "Wall of Respect", that he began. The one on forty-seventh, that has all aspects of Black life, and history, and aspirations, and figures. And so I look at this wall that's, this is about 3 and a half, 4 and a half stories tall, isn't it, against the wall of an old building. I see a Schlitz beer sign, there's a tavern there. And they're rackety porches over here. It's an old building, but the wall almost transfigures it to something else.

Bill Walker Well, I've tried to make the wall fit into the area, and into the subject matter that I'm interested in, that I've painted. And the wall it's called, Peace and Salvation Wall of Understanding.

Studs Terkel Peace [scream] and Salvation Wall of Understanding.

Bill Walker Wall of Understanding, and the wall really is a warning to man trying to balance the kind of hate he's into. And I think it's very important for me, as an artist, to try to bring about an understanding of peace and unity with all men.

Studs Terkel That was seven years ago standing out there. John Weber, you were with me as Bill Walker was explaining that on Orleans and Locust. Seven years ago, that was, wasn't it.

John Weber That's right [clears throat].

Studs Terkel Well, in a sense, we'll keep this open Mark, and Justine, and John, what this is all about. Meaning that wall, how you three came to be wall artists, Mark?

Mark Rogovin Well, that was 1970, at that time, immediately while that wall was being done, we were just beginning to meet each other. At least, I had not too formally met others involved in mural painting. I was involved at Irving and Sheridan, "Protect The People's Homes," and Vinita Greene was involved down the block from.

Studs Terkel What was at Irving and Sheridan? What were you doing?

Mark Rogovin It was, it was a mural called, "Protect The People's Homes".

Studs Terkel And what was-.

Mark Rogovin On the side of, oh, turned into a health clinic. A mural about urban renewal in Uptown community. It was, sad to say, about two years after completion it was painted over by new owners. Sort of a, new owners of the building.

John Weber Just a couple of months after that, that interview, maybe it was even less less time than that, we were all.

Mark Rogovin [unintelligible] contemporary art then.

John Weber There was four of us, were putting, putting together the, really the first manifesto.

Mark Rogovin Right.

John Weber Of the movement and really putting [forward? forth?] the idea that it was a multi-racial, [turning pages] multi-national movement, and we were full of enthusiasm.

Mark Rogovin And rebel.

John Weber Tremendous energy-.

Justine Devan Well.

John Weber And we really thought we were going to turn the art world upside.

Studs Terkel Mmmhmm.

John Weber Down real quick.

Mark Rogovin [chuckle].

John Weber But we have gotten a lot of, a lot of murals done since then and a whole lot of people that weren't aware and weren't involved in have gotten involved.

Studs Terkel John, what were you working on there? I saw one of yours up in Lakeview area. What was that, now?

John Weber I was doing a large one over by Ashland, Fullerton, on Christopher House Settlement called, "Wall of Choices", and that's still there and still in very good condition, in fact. But, since then, the mural idea has just spread everywhere in the country. I saw, I saw a little mural just a couple of weeks ago in Boonville [sic], Missouri [chuckling]. [Town?], not to put down Boonville, but it, unfortunately, was a mural that didn't relate at all to the environment. That idea that Bill was putting forward, relating to the concerns and both the physical environment and the whole mental environment that people that are there, they really hadn't done that. You know, here are these beautiful cornfields and there was none of that.

Studs Terkel But-.

John Weber In there, but there was a mural, so [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel Yeah, Although this outside, this street mural movement, this, as we know it now, really began in-. We'll come to origins in Mexico, of course, in medieval days, but this movement now began in Chicago, did it not, in a sense?

Mark Rogovin You know, the, the movement, while it started here and there are well over 250 murals that have been painted, it's now literally in every single community across the U.S. I mean, we have documentation, whether it's through slide or newspaper clippings, of 80 or more cities. There's some cities that claim well over a thousand murals like Los Angeles area, well over a thousand. Housing projects with 40, 50, or more murals. And some, you know, so some have just a single bicentennial mural and some have hundreds and hundreds of walls.

Studs Terkel Justine DeVan, what were you working on?

Justine Devan I initially started my mural work and experiences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [clears throat]. It kind of grew out of the Black Power Conference, which sprung from the "Wall of Respect", and we were the host city at the time. And several recreation centers got together and we did some community work.

Studs Terkel Did you know-.

John Weber That was 1968, wasn't it?

Justine Devan 1968.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Justine Devan We prepared for the conference in '69 with the mural.

Studs Terkel Did you in Philadelphia hear of Bill Walker's "Wall of Respect", in Chicago?

Justine Devan Absolutely. It was the springboard for all the mural work in the east, on the East Coast, and most of the people got interested that way. We were just astonished by it and overwhelmed by it. It really had great impact on everybody.

Mark Rogovin That includes artists from Boston who came here or read about it, you know, and initiated their own, or in 1968, for instance, Bill Walker and Eugene Edaw went to Detroit and initiated a movement there involving local artists.

Studs Terkel I suppose when we think of mural movements how you, all 3 of you, became involved and your colleagues throughout the country. Some who you know, some you don't. There's an origin for this. We, of course, immediately we think of Mexico, don't we? We think of Orozco, and Rivera, and Siqueiros, don't we? Don't we think of Mexico, originally? Isn't that-.

Mark Rogovin Oh, sure.

Studs Terkel Why so? Now, what is the story. How did Mexican, because, mural movement begin. It came out of some ferment in the country, didn't it?

John Weber Well, it came really right out of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, but actually began as soon as the actual fighting had stopped, really, in the 1921, perhaps-.

Mark Rogovin Nineteen twenty-two.

John Weber Nineteen twenty, '22, in there. And it was the young artists who had, some of whom had just come back from Europe. Many of whom had just come back from participating in the various armies of the revolution and who started painting in Mexico City, to begin with, but the Mexican mural movement has been going on now for quite a long while. It's had its ups and downs, and of course with the loss of David Alfaro Siqueiros sort of marked the end of one whole era, or one whole cycle. Now we're beginning to see a, kind of another, resurgence. The beginnings of another resurgence in Mexico, in part, perhaps, influenced by our work here.

Mark Rogovin Very much so.

Studs Terkel Really?

Mark Rogovin Very much so [laughing].

Studs Terkel How do you mean? Like-

John Weber Just, just as we were so tremendously--

Studs Terkel Yeah.

John Weber Influenced by the Mexicans.

Mark Rogovin Yeah.

John Weber In terms of so much of what, not not that we were copying the Mexicans, but so much of what we learned about what it means to be a muralist. You know, when we first started out, I think all of us were just painting large pictures on walls. And you gradually become a muralist and understand that it's really a different art form and that the wall, and the situation, says so much. Of course, Mark had training with Siqueiros.

Mark Rogovin Yeah. Well, you know it was very interesting back 3 or 4 years ago PUSH Expo brought Elizabeth Catlett Mora to the U.S. And I had studied with her in 1965, and she said, Mark I'm in town, bring some slides over. What's happening around the U.S.? So, I brought some slides over, and she grabbed them from me put them in her purse. I said don't you want to see? Said, no, I'm taking them. I said, what's happening? She said, well, you you worked under the great master, so you owe us something now. So, she took these slides back to Mexico and was showing them to people. Since then John and Eva Cockcroft, and many, many other artists from around the U.S., have been down there and [taught? talked?]. And the issue is that here are these great masters that are right around the corner, and yet the artists were looking toward the approach that we have been using in the U.S., sort of extending off the "Wall Of Respect," involving the immediate community. Literally, the people surrounding the wall to become, you know, the subject matter and the team, as opposed, not as opposed to the way the greats did it, but a different approach. And a more, sort of a, a local or community issue approach.

Studs Terkel That's just so, it's interesting. So, now you're affecting, to some extent, Mexican mural art.

Mark Rogovin Actually, the mural, murals are being done everywhere on the outskirts of Paris.

Studs Terkel Mmmhmm, yeah.

Mark Rogovin There is a new center called, and I can't speak a word of French, but I'll translate it very easily, it's called the Public Art Workshop [laughter]. There is a translation under way of the mural [manual?].

Studs Terkel That's your name, isn't it?

Mark Rogovin And they, that's the name of our workshop.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Mark Rogovin No, but everywhere there are murals going on, and they have been influenced by the U.S. murals by, literally, by coming to the Chicago Mural Group, and the Public Art Workshop in the main, and, you know, City Arts in New York and in L.A. In England there-.

John Weber San Francisco too.

Mark Rogovin Are 2 or 3 mural groups going on-.

John Weber Greenwich.

Mark Rogovin And it's really, it's, and their all based-.

John Weber Greenwich Mural Workshop which started after a visit to Chicago.

Mark Rogovin Right, locally.

John Weber By the artists involved. Of course, in Scotland they've been doing their own kind of community art for quite a while. Really, things started primarily by David Harding and, but we've got quite a lively interchange going on there.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

John Weber One of our folks just came back from spending a year with them, and they're hoping to send one of their people to spend a year with us.

Studs Terkel You see what's happening, Justine did you want to say something?

Justine Devan Yes, I just wanted to inject this, that I met a young lady in April in New York who also initiated a movement in the West Indies, and she has several people who are involved in mural making. They had one commissioned work [unintelligible].

John Weber Was that in Jamaica?

Justine Devan No.

Studs Terkel You see, I think-.

John Weber

Justine Devan In the Bahamas? Yes, in the Bahamas.

John Weber I think-

John Weber Because there are things happening in Jamaica also.

Studs Terkel You know, I think this is interesting that how little we, the establishment of Chicago does not recognize this, but people should. That it's [been?] here from Chicago, in a sense, began a worldwide resurgence, not that this is new in history. We know that in the marvelous introduction to this book, by the way, this book, "Toward A People's Art", where John Weber is one of the authors with Eva Cockcroft and James Cockcroft. It's a marvelous introduction by Jean Charlot, who apparently worked with Mexican muralists. And he speaks the fact that historically, this an old, it's going back to medieval days. Even those who built the cathedrals. The anonymous craftsmen and artisans who built the cathedrals. That was for the glory of God. This is for the glory of mankind, I suppose. And both have the same, the same faith, the same spirit in a way, isn't it. One of the big questions, of course, is, and later I want to ask you about where some of the murals are in the city. The approach isn't, there's no one approach, is there? It's realistic, and yet it's influenced by many movements in art, isn't it? How would you, how would you describe it?

John Weber I don't, I don't think that you can put any, any one label on the styles that people are working in because they're, really they draw from so many different influences, from folk art influences, from the American Indian and Mexican heritage and African heritage, and from surrealism, and Cubism, and from, of course, the great Mexicans and various other sources. I don't think you can find any one common denominator. They come in many different flavors. Some of the Asian artists, there's a kind of an Asian flavor there. But all of the murals that we talk about as being community murals do deal with some kind of theme that is portrayed symbolically or usually with some human figures, although not always. And it deals with something of significant importance to the people who are going to live with that mural. I think that's the common denominator. The common denominator is the approach not the look of it. Justine?

Justine Devan Right, I think that's important, what John just emphasized, because it's, even though, they're individual in the sense that they reflect the images, the symbolisms, the concepts of the communities, which are embodied in the designs and the images or objects that are placed on the wall.

Mark Rogovin And there's, there's no one approach to it in terms of how it's put up. Some walls are done by an individual artist and some have large teams, some commissions.

Studs Terkel Well guys, now we come to it. How is a theme chosen? A theme, let's take one. What's one you worked on, Mark?

Mark Rogovin Well, one, a large one on the west side that was done back in, I don't know, '73 or '74, "Break The Grip of the Absentee Landlord".

Studs Terkel And where is this? Where?

Mark Rogovin It's at 5219 West Madison, Laramie and Madison, and that's on the issue of the absentee landlord and on housing. And you really, you know if you're not a part of the community, or haven't lived there for a long time, you've really got to feel out issues. And in that community the issue really was housing. A group called Organization For A Better Austin, at that time, was extremely active in the community coordinating rallies and pickets of absentee landlords and slumlords on the west side. And so, it was in consultation with, actually, Gail Cincotta and others from OBA that we started to develop a theme. They talked it out verbally, in terms of different ways to, you know, attack the landlord and get concessions from the landlord. And it was our problem to put into visual terms or visual symbols, so that we could, sort of, get across what they had verbalized. And the team were mainly young people from the immediate community. And we talked down, we sat down and interviewed different people about approaches to the issue, the absentee landlord, and then we went back and started to sketch. And once our sketches were finished, we'd show them to people. You know, can you understand even on the sketch level, what does it mean. And if it doesn't come across in sketch level, and we'll back up and do some reworking. I mean, we want to guarantee that the theme is understood by the vast population of people.

Studs Terkel Who are we? Who are we? We, yeah-.

Mark Rogovin In that case, we were some of the staff of the Public Art Workshop and young people who had been involved in our, well, we have an after school art program and now a photo program. Students-.

Studs Terkel In the community?

Mark Rogovin Yes, it is a community center.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Mark Rogovin That involves more than mural painting, though.

Studs Terkel Yeah, so it done. Then, invariably then, it's not done by one person. One person may start a--, it, be it's, a good number, a number work on it. Is that it? It's not always [unintelligible].

John Weber In many cases, there are murals, though, that are done by single artists. In recent years, most of Bill Walker's work has been murals that he executed by himself. There are a number of artists out on the West Coast that also tend to work entirely by themselves. Our tendency in the Chicago Mural Group has been to, we do, usually, several projects every year. And about half of those are done with large groups of non-professionals from the community, usually young people, and the other half will be done by a small team from, from our group. Maybe 2, 3, 4 artists collaborating together.

Studs Terkel I want to ask about the community-.

John Weber So, they're usually collaborative.

Studs Terkel itself, and community reaction, of course. I want to know about that. What are you, you been working on in the city, Justine? Any particular project?

Justine Devan I have worked extensively all over the city in no one particular area, the north, the northwest side, and the south side, and been involved with various types of communities; Polish community, and the Black community, and mixed communities on the north side. Most of the reaction, first of all, I would like say that the community usually initiates the idea for the mural. They invite the muralist to come into the community to paint. So, from that standpoint they are receptive [shuffling papers]. Now, I think that where there is, if there's any disagreement, it comes perhaps at the point where there's great discussion on how the images should be visually projected on a wall, and sometimes some people are are reluctant to reflect, be inflammatory or they're afraid of certain things like that. I think that, for the most part though, the responses are very good. People see it as beauty and as their, their ideas or their concerns being visually depicted through beauty.

Studs Terkel I was thinking that's what, because this, to me, is perhaps one of the most rewarding of all. The reactions of people, the community, we always think of art. We do, this is just one of those things, we think of art as something for a few. It's true, great many thousands that visit the Art Institute. But when we think a commercial artists we know of today, art, sales, galleries, on Michigan Boulevard, art as status. Harry Bouras talks about this [chuckling] very eloquently on the station. You know, the idea of the status symbol or the commercial aspects-.

Mark Rogovin The investment.

Studs Terkel Of an artist. We're talking about something entirely different, investments. We're talking about people in the community. Do you sense, do you get reaction, John, where you work from the community, one way or the other, either hostile or friendly?

John Weber Well, you get all kinds of reactions. Basically, basically, the amazing thing is that you get a tremendous amount of reaction. That people aren't indifferent. That they take what's going on on their wall tremendously seriously. They take, you know, [chuckling] the art, what is going on on that wall very, very seriously. And the most striking thing that happens is really their, the changed feeling that they have about the artist, you know. That if you're not a, really a native of a particular area, of course, many of the artists do work in areas that they grew up themselves. But if you're working in an area that you didn't grow up in, and you don't know all the folks, a lot of people's initial reaction is that, here's another one of those strange beasts, you know. And then as they see you working there, you and the other people on the team, and you're working there early and late, and they see it's a job. That it, that art, that it's not a trick or something. And that, and that you're really working for them. Then there's a, usually a, tremendous reaction of acceptance, and enthusiasm, and protectiveness also toward the mural. I think that some of the women muralist, and women muralists have been increasingly important, I'm sure that well more than half of the active muralists in the country now are women, have occasionally had to, had a little bit harder struggle in overcoming that initial distrust.

Justine Devan Well, I would like to say that's true. I think primarily because of the fact that women have not actively or initially been involved in kind of street or public involvement. My experiences come down to the fact that many businesses and many communities really doubt the competency of women artists. And that's one of the first things they're concerned about, that the women are capable of rendering any artistic wall similar to men. And the second thing is that some communities feel that we may not express it with the strength, and importance, and power that they feel should be projected in their concerns. So, that's another thing that often we're confronted with as women artists. And the third thing is that, physically, many people feel that we will not be able to rise to the task physically in terms of equipment, and the duration of the project, and things of that sort. So, there's some of the difficulties that we do encounter in doing mural work.

Studs Terkel Well, this is being belied, though, isn't it. I mean, the fact is it's rebutted so well. You say about half the mural artists in the country are women almost now?

John Weber I think probably more-.

Studs Terkel Yeah, more.

John Weber Than half and certainly a good deal of the most brilliant work is being done by women artists.

Studs Terkel And let's resume this conversation, we'll take a slight pause then resume the conversation. We're talking about mural art, street art, wall art with Mark Rogovin, and Justine DeVan, and John Weber, and who are 3 of the pioneers, Justine in Philadelphia and Mark and John here, that in a way has spread throughout different cities and small communities of the world. And "Toward a People's Art" is the book, by the way, that's connected with this. It's Dutton paperback, and perhaps we can talk also about the, about some of the specific works here in Chicago that people can pass by and see. And more about the reactions in the communities specific memories that you may have too, after to this message [pause in recording]. So, resuming the conversation on wall art. Mark Rogovin, I know you've been working [throat cleared] around the streets of the city. What have you found? What are some of your experiences with people in the community, older and younger?

Mark Rogovin Well, first thing is that many people, well, one aspect of the mural is the process and a very exciting thing for the community to do is to witness the process. And to witness it could mean that you go to a bus stop every day by the mural and you see a little bit more happening on the wall every day. And people do stop all the time, whether they're telling their life history to you, or making criticism, or asking if they can actually be involved in the wall. Another is that people actually do get involved in painting with us. The teams, it's rare when a team will just, sort of, invade a community, produce the work, and then leave. There is always [chuckling] there always has to be an avenue, just as any good organizer knows, you have to involve the people in the community. And so the teams in the main are made up of people from nearby community centers, or just people who come by the wall, or in some cases people who offer technical help and you seek them out. There was some walls maybe others can speak about. Caryl Yasko's wall that involved people in the trades, building trades, and in producing a work. Then in order to produce the works, just financially, you need to raise money, and I think we should discuss where our monies come from or this, or put it in other words, the sad state of our financial situation [laughing]. Where you you attempt to raise money from the immediate communities. Raise money either direct financial contributions or in-kind contribution, paint donations, brush donations. So, there are many levels of response of the people. Probably the best witness response is that a very tiny number, I'd say maybe less than a dozen have been really defaced or destroyed. And that's probably the, you know witness to-.

Studs Terkel On that, let's stick with that. We'll come to funding in a moment. And we think of vandalism so much. We hear about and read about. Indeed, a good, a good amount of it does happen. But you say very little to wall art. That tells something. That tells us something, doesn't it?

Mark Rogovin Well, in this city compared to others like Philadelphia and New York, there is no graffiti. Very little compared to these crazy towns.

John Weber Very little. It's not [chuckling] a big graffiti center anyway.

Justine Devan No.

Mark Rogovin Philadelphia used to be graffiti capital of the world until it got popular in New York and other places. And you will see really little or no markings on most of the walls. Sad to say, you know, what happens to our walls is that they do not have a very long life. Some last well. It depends on the quality of the brick or the nature of the brick, and the quality of the paint, and wall preparation, and things like that. But there's very little graffiti, and graffiti will come all the way up to the mural. It'll stop and continue on the other side of the mural.

Studs Terkel The mural is untouched then.

Mark Rogovin Virtually untouched. There are some communities around the country where they've designed it to include graffiti, since graffiti might be inevitable in that community.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but I'm thinking about-.

John Weber Well, in particular in East L.A. where the graffiti tradition goes back generations. It is [chuckling] really the oldest graffiti center in the country and where it's a very basic part of the culture. But one of the things that Mark mentioned there about permanence, we've usually had to paint on walls that nobody else had any particular use for the wall. So that, they were usually common brick side walls, and all this Chicago area common brick has salt peter in it or develops it after a certain number of years and that will kill the paint after a certain number of years. Now, where we've been able to paint on face brick buildings that were well-maintained and so forth, even with the paints that we have, it can last a decade or more. Some have lasted darn near a decade already in excellent condition. But we've begun to get into some other media. Mark mentioned last year, Caryl Yasko and Lucyna Radycki did a 110 foot long mural with cast cement down on Sixty-third Street, around 3500 West Sixty-third Street in the Chicago Lawn area. And all kinds of tradesmen from that community got real excited about it, all these guys who have been casting front steps and sidewalks all their lives finally had a chance to get their hands into the material that they had been working with all their lives, but to use it artistically. And a whole bunch of small contractors and construction workers and so forth got involved in that mural and lent a hand with it.

Studs Terkel I think we have to talk about this for a moment. We'll come to the funding, don't worry [laughing]. But talk about this for awhile. The matter of, these are construction workers and tradesmen. They're people who [working?] in the trades. We always think of hard hats, again we come to stereotype and images, don't we. Hard hats, tough, but you worked, some construction workers helped you with this too?

John Weber Oh yes.

Studs Terkel How were they drawn into it?

John Weber Well, Caryl has, they had gotten hold of a little storefront in the area where they were carving the molds, and they just put up signs outside and invited everybody in. And then they went out and asked. You know, they were very aggressive and just went and asked people and said, can you give us a little advice. See, and as soon as these construction guys started giving a little advice, you see, then they got all excited [laughter].

Studs Terkel Ah, they were, they were respected. They were respected.

John Weber Oh, yes.

Studs Terkel "Wall of Respect" means--. By the way, what comes through here is the people's pride. People are really looking for beauty, aren't they? It's a search for beauty, isn't it?

Mark Rogovin Well, a the search for beauty and meaning.

John Weber I'd say both.

Justine Devan Yeah, I would say both too, mmmhmm.

Studs Terkel And so, every, so when people contribute to it, construction workers or small contractors, it's part of their lives. Now you say, Mark was saying people are watching it each day as something is happening. What are some of the things you remember? You remember comments of some people? Do you get advice from some of them too? Tips on how to do things?

Justine Devan Well, just to speak about people contributing in a different aspect, I would like to say that there are also community artists of many sorts that contribute. For example, at dedications you have musicians who come forth, and you have speakers, and you have dancers. So, their are contributions on all kinds of levels.

Mark Rogovin We, on this large mural on housing, we had worked on a figure which was representing a landlord, the absentee landlord, coming from high-rise buildings, sort of, jutting hands jutting into a community. And we were trying to figure out what colors to paint these figures. It's not just a cut and dry thing. The vast 99 percent of absentee landlords are white, but we weren't trying to make an anti-white mural. We were trying to deal with the absentee landlords. So we went through the whole color spectrum to figure out what colors we could paint these figures. Couldn't paint them black, and we decided we couldn't paint them white, and we decide we couldn't paint them yellow, [chuckling] and brown, and other. So, we painted one figure green, [chuckling] and some kid came up and they said, Is that the Jolly Green Giant [laughing]. I said, no, that son of a bitch lives in Oak Park. That it was really a real person and not something from another planet. That the absentee landlord was a real body.

Studs Terkel Mmmhmm.

Mark Rogovin You know, was a real a real person that could be dealt with. And so, we changed that figure to gray. We were in such a jam, we chose gray you know, for this figure. Now, after we solved that, solve it in one way, we started to get responses, and one person, I know this is a little after the fact, but one person said, Is that Mayor Daley. And they were looking up there this big figure, and we said, no, no no that's not Mayor Daley. And someone came up, you know, we tried to discuss who it was, and someone came up and said, Is that FHA, and we were just flabbergasted. We said, Yes, that's FHA, you know, you answered it right. So, people can look at it, and on all levels they were all right. As long as they looked at it they were, you know, they were right. We weren't spelling out answers. We were just opening up people's minds to, to the issue and they would solve it, you know, in their own way.

Studs Terkel Do they make suggestions too while you're working on it?

Mark Rogovin All the time people made suggestions. We worked on one wall and when people asked us what was going on we had to explain to them so long what the issue was that we realized that it wasn't coming across visually.

John Weber Yeah.

Mark Rogovin And we simplified it [laughter]. I mean, people were telling us about their long history of such and such a subject, and then we realized that that we were just verbalizing it. That it wasn't coming across visually. And we cut out a whole bunch of generality kind of stuff and simplified the theme of the mural.

John Weber People do, people do make a lot of specific suggestions.

Mark Rogovin Oh, sure.

John Weber And you can't always follow all of them, you know, [laughing] because people will give you a shopping list, so to speak, of all the different things they want included in the mural, you know-.

Mark Rogovin Their faces and everybody else's faces.

John Weber It could be a mile long, but of course that that gives you a lot of material to work with. I did want to mention this list.

Studs Terkel Yeah, yeah. Where, where are the-.

John Weber You asked, where can people find out about where the murals are, and there is a list that was prepared by Celia Radek, and that's published periodically by the Amalgamated Meat Cutters. And [shuffling papers] it's around 10 pages long now. It's a little-.

Studs Terkel So how many, how many-.

John Weber Booklet, and it's available from the Chicago Mural Group, and from the Public Art Workshop, and from MARCH, the Chicano artists group.

Studs Terkel So where? Where do people-.

John Weber From the Amalgamated Meat Cutters also directly.

Mark Rogovin People, people can-.

Studs Terkel Where do people? Let's name one specific address where they can ask our write to it for the wall paintings, the list of it [unintelligible].

John Weber So, let's ask people to send a stamped self-addressed envelope.

Mark Rogovin Right, and it's free [laughing]. Just write, and we'll send either to 2261 North Lincoln or to Public Art Workshop at 5623 West Madison Street. Actually, we're happy to send it out, if people call, also, to our workshop. So, or people could stop by the groups and actually pick up the list.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Mark Rogovin We would like, by the way, eventually to have the Chicago Council On The Fine Arts to reprint the list and to expand the list, so that it can be available down in the Mayor Daley Center. That little fine arts booth that's so useful.

Studs Terkel But there are now, I know that many people recognize certain ones, even though they may bypass them quickly. There's one on Lincoln, is there? Wasn't there one passing down Lincoln? Oh, there are so many. There's one in the Latino community, Mexican communities.

John Weber There's bunches of them down in Pilsen and-.

Studs Terkel Ray Patlan is a very active painter of Latino and Hispanic work.

John Weber Ray's been out in Berkeley for the last two years.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

John Weber And he's active out there now.

Mark Rogovin Teaching murals and-.

Studs Terkel Because in this book reference is made to older people. Mexican Americans living here, older people, who [would?] giving advice when Ray who was doing some historical work.

John Weber Right.

Studs Terkel That happens too. As far as the numbers and addresses, I can give them now to the listeners, but I'll leave them here with the station. People can call, one number is 6 2 6 1 7 1 3, and the other number's 8 7 1 3 0 8 9. People might not remember, so, that's for the list of the wall paintings in Chicago. Now, we come to the question of troubles. And that's, you were fund-, weren't there, wasn't there some foundation funding, of sorts, for the, for the mural painters?

John Weber Well, there's been some foundation funding, off and on. The major change, I think, in the situation is that the federal funding through the National Endowment for the Arts has been has become much more difficult to obtain, and the guidelines have been changed around to virtually eliminate any type of funding for public art in urban areas, in most urban neighborhoods. In fact for the guidelines for next summer or in 196--, '78 indicate that work will be, public works will only be considered, if the applications come from units of local government, or from universities, or hospitals, other large established institutions. And that none will be funded for areas that cannot claim to have an aesthetically, sophisticated audience.

Studs Terkel Really?

John Weber Now, I think that that's a code word for saying that projects will be funded only in central shopping districts, central business districts, and in upper middle class areas.

Studs Terkel Is that what it said, unless it has an audience that aesthetically, sophist-.

John Weber That's a direct quote.

Studs Terkel Is that the actual phrase used?

John Weber That's the direct quote from the guidelines.

Studs Terkel That's incredible. That means it knocks out anything involving the great many people who would be hungry for something, who are taken for granted.

John Weber Precisely.

Studs Terkel Such as what you are doing, or for that matter, community, neighborhood theater or-.

Mark Rogovin All the arts.

Studs Terkel Music or dance or-.

John Weber The implications run against all of the community arts. All of the, sort of, outreach arts that have played such a tremendous role in the last 10, 15 years in expanding the audience.

Studs Terkel Whose suggestion was this? Where did this come

John Weber from, this suggestion? Well, I don't, [chuckling] I don't know that I could attribute it to-.

Studs Terkel No, this-.

John Weber any one person.

Studs Terkel Is this a rule now? Is this a rule now?

John Weber This is in the guidelines published by the National Endowment for the Arts. Now, for the visual arts program, Works of Art in Public Places, now there is one section that continues to fund, sort of, outreach arts, all the community arts of various types, and that's the expansion arts, but expansion arts has not been allowed to expand. In fact their funds have been so restricted that this year they simply said that they could not fund any new programs whatsoever, and were only going to be able to try to continue some support to those programs that they already had made commitments to.

Studs Terkel Well, this-.

John Weber So, those of us that had been in other categories, and had been cut out of those categories, we're unable to switch [them?].

Studs Terkel Give me that, give me that phrase again.

Mark Rogovin [laughing].

Studs Terkel Because it's hard, it's hard for me to believe that. That phrase, that guideline. That will be what? It will be [toward?]-.

John Weber The projects would only be funded in areas that had aesthetically sophisticated audiences [chuckling].

Studs Terkel Oh, boy. Now that matches something here-.

Mark Rogovin That's very interesting, isn't it.

Studs Terkel That matches something in the book, "Toward a People's Art". There's a comment made as an excerpt from a book on urban design sponsored by the Americans Institute of Architects, and it describes this option. And here's the quote from the book, "perhaps the real defect of the gray zone", the gray zone, "is that we see too much of it". Meaning, of course, the area of the dispossessed. "We pass by a large extents of it on a new elevated auto expressways as we soar above the streets toward the center city. If the gray is to frequently visible, too depressing because it is too much in our presence, perhaps we can arrange our major routes to avoid it, to bypass it, to give us views of the city we hold in higher esteem. Could we not do this on a larger scale of the city? Could we not conceal, at least play down, that which distorts our central city's better self?" I wouldn't have believed this, had it not been a direct quote [chuckling] from Paul Spreiregen's book, "Urban Design: The Architect of Cities and Towns," [sic] from McGraw-.

John Weber But, you know, what he's including in there is not only the old, central, industrial districts and the surrounding neighborhoods that first welcomed the immigrants, but he's really including enormous stretches of neighborhoods where most of the residents would like to consider themselves middle class, more or less. Certainly an area like where I live now, Albany Park, would be included in that gray area, and I guess-.

Studs Terkel And that is to be

John Weber avoided. I guess that would be included there because the people who live there come in so many different colors that [chuckling].

Studs Terkel No, I mean this-.

John Weber I think it's colorful and he think it's gray.

Studs Terkel No, this is incredible. This quote from this book and this new guideline, to me, are actually horrendous. I mean, it really. So, what, what's to be done? As Didi says to Gogo in "Waiting for Godot", What's to be done?

John Weber Well, we're out selling tickets [laughing] for a benefit car-wash. You really gave me that opening [laughing] for this plug. We're selling tickets that are good for 10 days, July fifteen through twenty-fifth, inclusive donation for a dollar-fifty. And it's good at 14 different locations, northwest and south-side. And that's very kindly offered to us by these car-washes, and we get the whole dollar-fifty and I, I-.

Mark Rogovin You get a clean car.

John Weber Hope all you folks out there will [chuckling] help us sell these tickets. I must say that even if we sell all the tickets that we have printed up, that we'll still be several thousand short of what we would need to carry out-.

Mark Rogovin That's just for supply.

John Weber You know, our full program. Really, yeah, really this is just to buy paints.

Studs Terkel It's a summer. It's a summer-.

John Weber Isn't the [other?] question how we're all going to pay our rent.

Studs Terkel It's a summer paint fundraiser. I want to get this now, from July fifteenth to July twenty-fifth, there's what? People can get car-washes? I don't quite understand this. [chuckling].

John Weber These are regular commercial car-wash joints.

Mark Rogovin If you have a ticket, then you get in free.

John Weber And they buy the ticket and [must?]

Studs Terkel There are ten, I see.

John Weber And the they present the ticket when they drive their car out.

Studs Terkel And they get a car-wash for free.

John Weber That's right.

Studs Terkel And they'll, and the dough-.

John Weber Goes to us.

Studs Terkel One-fifty.

John Weber Right.

Studs Terkel Is a donation they give.

John Weber And we'll buy paint, paint with it.

Studs Terkel Yeah, and there are 10, but people won't remember these address that's why I said this.

John Weber No, no.

Studs Terkel But anyway to watch out for the car-washes that may have a sign there that says they're going to give it to the Chicago Mural Group.

Mark Rogovin None of the muralists, to my knowledge, got any money from the Illinois Arts Council for this summer, for the summer murals. They stated to us, and I'm sure they meant it, that this was only this summer [clears throat], and that in future times we would be getting some monies from the Illinois Arts Council. We certainly hope for that.

Justine Devan I would like to say that, also, the listeners could donate equipment. A large part of our monies are used to rent equipment, such as scaffolding and wire brushes. Any power tools that may be needed to clean up a wall or-.

Studs Terkel Or paint, paint too, huh?

John Weber I would like to say that-.

Justine Devan Paint of a certain type.

John Weber That the support from the Chicago communities has really been remarkable, and I think stronger, probably, than in any other city. All of the mural groups in Chicago have done more of their fundraising locally, in nickels and dimes, and in dollars, and $5, and $10 amounts, from local residents of the communities, from local merchants than is true in any other city. That's been a very large proportion of the support for public art here in Chicago. And we're all trying to expand that support and certainly to maintain it. Folks have really been very loyal, and even in the most depressed areas we've been able to do murals because of the local support. But we certainly would like to see more Chicago based corporations and so forth, sort of, pick up the responsibility for keeping this art alive here in the city.

Mark Rogovin Just one other area where we've been getting funding from, and that has been CETA, over the past two years now, and it's sort of dwindling down. We hope that it will become useful for the community art centers. It's very difficult, but over the last years community art centers have gotten some CETA funding, and it's been very valuable too for monies, salary monies, alone to help run our centers.

Studs Terkel You know, I think two things. One, I think to protest the new guidelines. That's by, put out by whom? The guidelines, put out by the National Organization-.

John Weber By the National Endowment.

Studs Terkel By the National Endowment-.

John Weber For the Arts in Washington, yes.

Studs Terkel For the Arts. That's to Nancy Hanks, I believe, it would be. That's funny, that's the same name as Abraham Lincoln's mother. And I think what the original Nancy Hanks would have said, [chuckling] if someone had said it's only for the sophisticated or sophisticated aesthetic tastes, you see. That'd be interesting. That one thing, I think the other, specifically, as Justine was saying any kind of material. That is material, of a certain kind, I should say. Power tools, what else?

Justine Devan Scaffolding equipment and anything of that sort that we could use.

Mark Rogovin But even drawing paper.

Justine Devan Yes.

Mark Rogovin Pencils, pans.

John Weber Brushes.

Mark Rogovin Brushes, all kinds of materials.

Studs Terkel All for that amount of money [chuckling] they wish to-.

Justine Devan [Please].

Studs Terkel To, I think one place only. I, we should just name one place because it's too confusing. Say the Public Art Workshop. To send it, the Public Art Workshop, 5623 West Madison. Wouldn't that be it? That'd be the ticket.

Mark Rogovin Sure and people would be very happy to pick up supplies, if necessary, or different piece of equipment.

Studs Terkel All right, they can-.

Mark Rogovin And we're right at this very moment involved in organizing projects that do and need scaffolding, and paint brushes, and other, all supplies.

Studs Terkel Well, perhaps one last go-round, John Weber.

John Weber I think one of the ironies of the, our struggle to survive now that the mural movement's been going I think 10 years. This is the what, eleventh year now since 1967, in this country. Of course, we've had recognition in a number of ways, and had all kinds of Chicago Beautiful Awards and that sort of thing. But one of the, one of the ironies of it is the increasing kind of international recognition and that, curiously enough, European Levi Strauss is funding a rather lavish documentary show on U.S. murals that will tour Europe.

Studs Terkel Need the dough here [laughing]. Justine.

Justine Devan I would like to say that, let's keep it going. The art belongs in the street. It belongs to the public, and we would like to see the visual part of art and mural work in the communities.

Studs Terkel Mark Rogovin.

Mark Rogovin Right, sometime in March or April, we're just making decisions on that now, Chicago will be the host city for a national mural conference, mural workshop here. So, we will actually be playing a very important role soon. I think it's important that people just don't, sort of, back off and look at the murals from a distance. Actually sponsor a mural. Have your church or community center sponsor a mural, and you jump in and direct it. We'll help you in any way.

Studs Terkel So, in a sense, we could all be patrons of the arts, couldn't we? In this case, arts of the streets. That's Mark Rogovin, John Weber, Justine DeVan of mural artists of our city. Thank you very much.