Oral history interview with Arthur Espenet Carpenter, 2001 June 20-2001 September 4
Carpenter, Arthur Espenet, 1920-2006
Hanna, Kathleen, 1943-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 40 pages
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 35 min.
An interview of Arthur Espenet Carpenter conducted 2001 June 20-September 4, by Kathleen Hanna, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Carpenter's home and shop, in Bolinas, California.
Carpenter speaks of his childhood in Brooklyn, New York; his parents' divorce and moving to Oregon, going to high school there and then attending college at Dartmouth; studying economics as a fallback; spending four years in the Navy; seeing his first bowl by James Prestini, and a slide of Robert Maillart's bridges, which became inspiration for him; taking up the opportunities of the GI Bill to start up his own business in woodworking; using the money he made from the Navy, which he sent home to his father to invest, to buy his own acreage and build a house and workshop; the street fairs in San Francisco; how he gets design ideas from everywhere; being on the Bolinas school board while his children were in school; an apprentice of his, Tom d'Onofrio, and creating the Bolinas Craft Guild in 1972; his numerous other apprentices and "on lookers;" his first exhibition with the Renwick Museum, called, "Out of the Blue," which included other craftsmen, such as Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle, George Nakashima, and others; periodicals such as, "Fine Woodworking;" his big commissions including, the Mill Valley Library, in Marin County, California and the Mountain View Council Chamber in San Francisco; his techniques with wood; the difficulty for beginning craftspeople today; craft couples, including Gary and Sylvia Bennett and Sam and Freda Maloof; how he used exhibitions as advertising campaigns; what it was like to attend conferences on craft; the book he's working on; the where and when he began to include the name Espenet, from his grandmother's maiden name; the beginnings of a shop called Local Color at 1414 Grant Avenue; the Upper Grant Avenue Fair; and his two children. Carpenter also recalls Bob Stocksdale, Dr. John Kassay, Arthur Danto, John Kelsey, Delores Richards, Gretchen McAllister, Michael Stone, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Arthur Espenet Carpenter, 2001 June 20-2001 September 4. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Arthur Espenet Carpenter (1920-2006) was a wood worker from Bolinas, California. Kathleen Hanna (1943- ) is a ceramist and teacher at San Francisco State University, Petaluma, California.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001