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Moe FonerMoe Foner
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 592

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 starts]

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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