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See, the theory behind the gallery was always this. An art gallery is
not indigenous to a union -- it's just not! It was something we wanted
to do. So we did it, and we put it in a place where it would be hard to
miss. See? So that what would happen after a while -- you know, we'd
promote the show. This is before Bread and Roses, because the gallery
existed for many years before Bread and Roses. It had very modest
shows, you see. But I would try to get things that members would
react to. There were black artists, and Hispanic artists, and that kind
of thing. So people would be coming to me. When I'd make a report
about Bread and Roses I'd say, “In the gallery, we're keeping it open
tonight.” Or we would do another thing. Sign in, the attendance taking
for the delegate assembly meetings, would be done in the gallery.
They had to go in to the gallery to find it. So you look around, you see.
So members keep coming in -- they stick their heads in. We had
retired members. What we did is we worked this out. The retired
members club agreed that they would provide people to be on duty in
the gallery, to have the sign-in book. We also had to guarantee that
someone was watching the works. So they would talk to people, and
members would come in.
See? So before Bread and Roses, a show would attract 600, 700, 800
people. We knew because we had the sign-in books. We asked them to
write comments. I'll never forget -- and I used this a million times with
the endowment people. We once had an exhibition by someone that
was sort of an impressionist art thing. He was a left winger who did
impressionist art. He was a Spanish Civil War vet (Charles Keller), I
remember. It was very nice stuff. So one person, a member, wrote in
the book, “It's beautiful. I only wish I could understand it so I could
enjoy it more.” See -- that kind of thing. I don't want to over-
dramatize the fact that this is not a museum, but it was like Bread and
Roses, like chicken soup. Could it hurt? It was also very good for the
union. It involved members, members liked the idea. It was terrific.
The only permanent exhibition hall in the labor movement. There was
never a move to close it down. We had to rent space next door.
Outside the gallery in the lobby was that huge painting “The Strike.”
People from all over come to see that. That became an attraction.
People came to visit from out of town, from New York City, come to
see “The Strike.” We had to keep the building open on Saturdays,
because people would come to see “The Strike.” [Tape stops and
I think I talked about Theater 1199, at the union, and I think I may
have talked about the Hispanic cultural festival for Hispanic members
at the union.
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