PRINT September 1963



Artforum’s review of “ART USA NOW” was as un-constructive and smart aleck a criticism as I have read in some time. The reviewer had no really serious complaint to make, and his column took on all the tone of a carping axe­-grinder.

The simple fact is that “ART USA NOW” is one of the few books ever published that truly “fills a need.” It presents a tremendous amount of in­formation that is literally unavailable elsewhere. There are a half dozen books at best that effectively cover modern American art, and there have been none at all that deal in a really comprehen­sive manner with strictly contemporary American artists.

I personally think the book might have been better off without the fold­out pages. But you people really are in no position to talk about cheap “oat­meal stock,” since your own magazine has plenty of it bound into the issue I refer to. Let me comment also upon your assertion that the artists are pre­sented “in no discernible order.” This alone shows how carefully your reviewer read the book; if I may just quote from the Introduction, page 8, “The sequence of the artists is chronological by year of birth. . . .”

When you think what a splendid thing Johnson has done—and what a fine effort has followed in the form of these two volumes—it does seem that you might at the very least attempt a decent critique. All in all, I don’t think it speaks very well for the quality of your magazine.

—Richard H. Waddell
FAR Gallery, New York

Many of us in the Northwest attempt­ed to reserve judgment during the past year as in one issue after another of your publication you dealt harshly with Kenneth Callahan, annihilated Boyer Gonzales and Neil Meitzler among oth­ers, meted out scant praise for the Seattle World’s Fair, and ran a review of the Northwest Annual written by a Seattle woman possessed of a brilliant mind and an acid tongue. Few artists or art patrons hereabouts have gone unscathed.

Your latest issue (Artforum, Volume 1, number 12) attempts to wipe out any lingering doubts your readers might retain that art of any quality whatso­ever is being produced in the wilderness to the North. To quote Mr. John Cop­lans, “Are there reasons for the bad showing, or is the area simply a kind of rest home for inept artists?” He goes on to make the point that Northwest artists, including Mark Tobey, are “labor­ing under the delusion that their region is somehow uniquely related to ‘the Orient’, and that they must, therefore, work toward getting some of this Orient stuff into their art.” Of Tobey, he fur­ther observes that “his connection to Oriental art, one suspects, is relatively unimportant.”

Not wishing to destroy the Olympian view which Mr. Coplans seems so con­fident he enjoys, how would he explain a letter from Tobey in Seattle to his New York dealer dated August 1957, quoted in the 1961 Louvre retrospective catalog of his work as follows: “Stand­ing as I am here between East and West cultures, I sometimes get dizzy as I find that I can’t always make a syn­thesis and also that I admire both paths which should and will, I suppose, merge.”

If Mr. Coplans wishes to accuse Northwest artists of gross hypocrisy, and willful propagation of a cliche, let him do just that. Otherwise he might be wiser to ponder the sincere responses of artists living in surroundings charac­terized by mountains and water half-­revealed through a moisture-laden at­mosphere, and then let him assess how “phony” this connection to the Orient might seem. Should he feel that the pronounced topographical and climatic similarities between the Pacific North­west coast and Japan are nullified by the 7,000 miles of ocean intervening in the same latitudinal band, then perhaps he can also see the absurdity of an art magazine which attempts to lump the art of the West Coast over a span of more than a thousand miles, while em­bracing a broad range of climate and topography.

—Gloria B. Peck
Seattle, Washington


I am an avid reader of Artforum, not only for its coverage of Texas art and exhibitions, but for its stimulating, up-to-the-minute reporting of what goes on in California. The reviews are crisply written and to the point. Leider’s book reviews are especially coherent.

Best of luck on your 2nd Year—and those to follow!

—Haydon Calhoun
Haydon Calhoun Galleries
Dallas, Texas


If your J. C. isn’t busy with the Sec­ond Coming next time I have a show I would prefer that he use more of the review he may write to discuss my stuff, which I need, and less space on Julius Santa-Ford-Claus-Schmidt, which he doesn’t need.

Thanks to Artforum, Coplans, and Schmidt for the best review of my work to date.

—Harry M. Leippe
Las Vegas, Nevada


Ronald F. Caya, Director of Civic Arts for the City of Walnut Creek has recent­ly joined the ranks of vigilant citizens who are trying to protect the public morals through censorship. He has ad­vised the young Oakland painter, Roger Flint, that his painting “Day After Yes­terday,” was not suitable to be “dis­played in view of the general public” at the 8th Annual Pageant of Art be­cause of “certain words which you have placed in the composition.” These words are HARD, YOU, SHOW, WHORE, 25, I, LOVE, CORE. (What word does he object to—CORE?).

Mr. Caya was so alert to the danger of this painting that he even wiped the catalog clean of all reference to it. One wonders if he consulted the jury in this.

It is obvious that Mr. Caya has a sense of humor, or at least a lighter side, for he ends his letter to Mr. Flint with this amusing sentence: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your participation and encourage you to enter our show next year.”

Could there be anyone who would enter this show next year?

—Bruce M. Breckenridge
Berkeley, Calif.


Thank you very much for the article and photos about the casting operations here in Berkeley. Though the article by Mr. Pugliese clearly indicates that there are a number of foundries in operation, the photos in your last issue are some­what confusing. Three of the photos en­titled “Berkeley Foundry” were taken at my set-up at the University of California, and are of myself and Eric Gronborg casting, while another was taken at Peter Voulkos’ foundry, an altogether separate operation. It’s very easy to tell which foundry is which—the one with the “beret” is mine.

—Harold Paris
Berkeley, Calif.


In Joanna Magloff’s recent review of the Painted Flower show at the Oak­land Museum (Volume 11, No. 1), she mentions the similarity—even “take-off”—of my “White Iris” painting to early Grace Hartigan. The question is: which Hartigan?, since I have never seen any­thing of hers remotely similar to mine.

Though the museum gave my painting marvelous placement in the show, I’m glad to know that Miss Magloff feels it is also “suitable for home or office.” Does she know of any good painting which wouldn’t be?

—Gloria Brown
Orinda, Calif.