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Working Magic, Occupations of the Film Industry: Introducing Alex and Lucas Krost, Producers

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Alexandra and Lucas Krost are co-founders of a production company called The Branching, based in Richmond, Virginia. Their work includes a recent stint production supervising as Washington, D.C. second unit for the forthcoming Jean-Pierre Jeunet film The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, which was shot in 3-D. In November 2010, they sat down with curator Betty Belanus and her intern Mike West to talk about their work experiences.

As I listened to the interview recording, I was particularly struck by the story of how when Alex and Lucas Krost announced their engagement while working on location for Terence Malick’s The New World, lead actor Colin Farrell bought sushi for the whole crew in celebration. For me, this is just one example of the camaraderie that develops among cast and crew, who together endure physically exhausting conditions and schedules and grow to appreciate each person’s indispensability.

Lucas relayed his slightly surreal introduction to the world of filmmaking when he was assigned to clean out an empty wing of an active psychiatric hospital. Alex described how she was drawn in by the friends and personal connections she was so easily able to make on set.

While film sets are gathering places of sorts, it is something special when such a gathering can be so obviously in pursuit of art. And in the workaday world of filmmaking, such projects can be rare indeed. Alex and Lucas share the story of how dangerous conditions on set translated into a beautiful image on film.

These stories happened because so many people dedicated their time and energy to make a story come to life on the screen. So while the world of Hollywood is perhaps not as glamorous as the glossies would make us to believe, there is still a unique sort of beauty to be found where passion, expertise, and human connection intersect.

Interview with Alex and Lucas Krost

Click here to read a transcript of the interview excerpt.

Click here to find out more about the Krosts’ production company.

Julia Fernandez will graduate from Smith College in 2014 with a B.A. in American Studies focusing on popular culture. This past semester, as an intern at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, she worked on the future Festival program on occupations in the film industry, conducting interviews with local film professionals and creating this podcast series.

Interview recorded with Betty Belanus on November 17, 2010.

Working Magic Podcasts: Behind Every Oscar

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Behind the scenes with actor Tim Smith. Photo by Chris Bryce, courtesy of IMDB
Behind the scenes with actor Tim Smith.
Photo by Chris Bryce, courtesy of IMDB

On the evening of Sunday, March 2, millions of television viewers will have their sets tuned to the annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awards show, affectionately known as the Oscars. All eyes will be on the stars and famous directors and producers parading down the red carpet.

But what about the hundreds of crew members who work on films behind the scenes? Every film employs scores and sometimes hundreds of skilled workers, whose names appear in the end credits when most people have gathered their belongings and empty popcorn boxes and are headed home.

For the past four years, I have been working with my interns on interviewing some of these workers for a documentary project called Working Magic: The Occupations of the Film Industry. Their interviews include positions as diverse as stunt coordinator, makeup artist, set decorator, composer, and animator. Previous blog posts have featured podcasts produced by Smith College intern Julia Fernandez.

Julia recently produced four more podcasts, which we offer here to honor those people whose names you may never hear called from the Oscar stage but whose hard work is nonetheless important and should be recognized.

1) Andrea Bloom, producer from Washington, D.C.
Interview by Julia Fernandez, fall 2012
Download transcript

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Working Magic Podcast: Andrea Bloom

2) Alex Ibrahim, cinematographer from Washington, D.C.
Interview by Julia Fernandez, fall 2012
Download transcript

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Working Magic Podcast: Alex Ibrahim

3) Amelia Zontini, set costumer from Virginia Beach
Interview by intern Emily Vallerga, spring 2013
Download transcript

Working Magic Podcast: Amelia Zontini

4) Tim Smith, historical film and TV actor from Yorktown, Virginia
Interview by by Emily Vallerga and Betty Belanus, spring 2013
Download transcript

Working Magic Podcast: Tim Smith

Tim also participated in the 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival program Roots of Virginia Culture, since his family owns and operates a historic boatyard.

Betty Belanus is a curator and education specialist at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Working Magic Podcast: Creating a Movie Soundtrack

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), <em>10 Things I Hate About You</em>.
Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), 10 Things I Hate About You.

Whenever I hear Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” I think of the opening credits of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Kat Stratford rolls up beside a Jeep full of popular preppy girls in her 1964 Dodge Dart GT, blasting the classic rock song and completely drowning out the Barenaked Ladies’ poppy “One Week” playing in the Jeep. Immediately my adolescent self identifies Kat as the edgy rebel. In just those thirty seconds, I know everything I need to know about her character.

I doubt I was aware of the effects of the soundtrack the first time I watched this quintessential ’90s teen movie, but that means the people behind the scenes were doing something right! Preexisting songs like "Bad Reputation" and film music—compositions written specifically for a film—are meant to subtly influence how the audience perceives what is on the screen, according to the wishes of the director.

I learned this after interviewing some of the people who are behind the music in films as a part of a possible future Smithsonian Folklife Festival program featuring film industry occupations, tentatively titled Working Magic. Some of my favorite songs come from movies—nothing brings me back to childhood like hearing “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, or makes me feel so whimsical as Yann Tiersen’s “La Valse d'Amélie” from Amélie —so I decided to produce a podcast spotlighting the hard work and dedication involved in creating a movie soundtrack.

Brian Wilbur Grundstrom in his studio. Photo courtesy of Brian Wilbur Grundstrom.
Brian Wilbur Grundstrom in his studio. Photo courtesy of Brian Wilbur Grundstrom.

I first interviewed two film composers in the D.C. area, Brian Wilbur Grundstrom and Ryan Sayward Whittier. Brian’s most recent work includes composing for the documentary Arc of Light and horror film The Gauntlet. Ryan has composed scores for several documentary films like Ken Burns: On Story and Miracle on 22nd Street. Both composers went into great detail about their creative processes, the climate of the film industry right now, and changes occurring in their field.

I also interviewed two Los Angeles-based professionals, music supervisor Dondi Bastone and music editor Helena Lea. Dondi selects and licenses preexisting music for films; his credits include music supervision for critically acclaimed films The Descendants and Sideways. Helena edits and syncs all the music that a composer or music supervisor provides to the moving picture. She has worked on films like Pixar classic Toy Story and more recently the HBO comedy Clear History.

In these conversations, I was struck by the similarities in how they each conduct their work. All mentioned the solitary nature of their jobs, often working in personal home studios, but, as we’ll find out, the creative process is based entirely on communication and collaboration.

In this podcast, Brian, Ryan, Dondi, and Helena discuss the essential skills involved in creating a great movie soundtrack, the differences film music can make in a film, the challenges of working under the demands of the director, and the importance of personal connections in the film industry.

Arielle Petrovich is a recent graduate of Smith College and holds a B.A. in American studies with a focus in public history. She interned at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in the fall of 2013. Some of her favorite movie soundtracks include Amélie (2001), Adam (2009), and Janie Jones (2010).

Workers on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Photograph included in the transcript of Graham Bell Fairchild Interview by Joel B. Hagen, June 7, 1989, in Smithsonian Institution Archives.

A group of naturalists at Barro Colorado Island, Panama. L to R: Gordon Stanhope Dodds, James Zetek, Ignacio Molino, Nathan Banks, George C. Wheeler, Graham Bell Fairchild, Frederick Burgess, David Grandison Fairchild, and William Morton Wheeler, shortly after the biological field station opened there. The station is now the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes (PreK-3)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports, interview people involved in varied sports, and engage in problem solving as they create a new design.

Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes (4-8)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports, interview people involved in varied sports, and engage in problem solving as they create a new design.

Words of wisdom from "All in the Family"'s dingbat: The graduation and life advice of Jean Stapleton

National Museum of American History

February 2018 marks the 70th Anniversary of  the professional debut of Jean Stapleton (1923 to 2013) at the Equity Library Theater in New York City. This month, the museum received a donation from the actress's family that showcases her career. You can learn more about the donation here.

During its run between 1971 and 1979, the groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family captivated Americans by using the strikingly different members of the Bunker family to bring national issues to the small screen. At this same time, a similarly groundbreaking Constitutional amendment was traveling down the long road to ratification: the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s easy to imagine Archie Bunker, the conservative protagonist of the hit show, dismissing the amendment and its revolutionary take on gender equality. His wife Edith, on the other hand, would have wanted to carefully consider the amendment and its effect on women, including her daughter Gloria. Edith’s thoughtful, empathetic challenge to Archie’s reactionary bigotry mirrored political debates occurring around the nation in the 1970s. Whereas Edith, whom the New York Times called “Archie Bunker’s Better Angel,” held her progressive views quietly, the actress who portrayed her, Jean Stapleton, was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights.

Jean Stapleton stands in college graduation robes as a university official places an honorary stole on her shouldersStapleton celebrating the reception of her honorary degree from Wilson College, 1997. Archives Center, AC1424-0000003

One of my first tasks as an intern with the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History was helping to process the collection of Jean Stapleton’s papers acquired by the museum in May 2017. Stapleton, a native of New York City, was best known for her role as Edith on All in the Family. Yet her decision to take on such an iconic role has often led individuals to overlook not only her prolific career as a stage actress but also her involvement in various organizations on behalf of human rights and women’s rights in particular. When not in costume, Stapleton spoke in favor of the ERA and devoted herself to furthering the mission of the Women’s Research and Education Institute. She even traveled with other members of the Actors’ Equity Association to the Soviet Union in order to promote “cultural exchange” between artists living in the two nations.

In recognition of her tireless work on and off stage, Stapleton received honorary degrees from several distinguished universities throughout her life. One of these was Wilson College, a traditionally all-women institution in southern Pennsylvania not far from the Totem Pole Playhouse, where Stapleton appeared in many productions alongside her husband, William Putch. She was also given the honor of delivering the commencement address at the college in 1983.

Jean Stapleton, in costume, shrugs while sitting in a chair and talking on the phoneStapleton appearing as Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady admired for her similar dedication to issues surrounding women’s rights. Archives Center, AC1424-0000005

Graduation is still many months away for the members of the Class of 2018, and the commencement address they will hear is probably far from their minds. Yet if Stapleton were to address graduating students today, her message might still resonate with them, even though her use of the ERA to illustrate some of her points is no longer as immediate or compelling.

Perhaps the most pervasive theme found in Stapleton’s speech is that of individuality, and she reminded the graduates, “Your very own intelligence…that you were born with and which has been developing in you through your experience…will sustain you and impel you to solutions that lead to a better quality of life.” For Stapleton, individuality involved holding oneself accountable for one’s decisions. She believed that it is the responsibility of each person to ensure that those decisions promote justice in our world for men and women alike.

When speaking to students, Stapleton often shared an anecdote about being denied a part that she hoped for, to illustrate her view that disappointments, when perceived as opportunities for growth, can help individuals to become the best versions of themselves. A firm believer that we are not one another’s adversaries, Stapleton would likely remind us that the sentiment can be difficult to remember if we allow ourselves to harbor the kind of “resentment or envy” that she had sometimes experienced. Young people still take this message to heart by resolving that past setbacks will not prevent them from striving to become the person they ultimately hope to be. With this self-awareness, students can inform themselves about contemporary issues and help bring about the change they believe to be necessary—something Stapleton encouraged the Wilson College Class of 1983 to do. To me, Stapleton’s message is just as resonant today as it was almost 35 years ago.

Jean Stapleton stands at a podium addressing the crowd wearing a banner that says "Honored." A sign behind her reads: "ERA Yes"Stapleton addressing a crowd on Women’s Equality Day, August 26, 1982. Archives Center, AC1424-0000004

On September 27, 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was ratified by the state of Pennsylvania, a place that Stapleton held dear to her heart. Although the amendment ultimately would not become part of the U.S. Constitution, Stapleton continued to encourage the graduates she addressed and many others not to be passive. And while she did explicitly acknowledged the “simple justice” of the ERA in her address and assured the graduating class that she regarded as inevitable the recognition of “equal personhood,” her rousing words could encompass any perceived injustice that might inspire a person to strive for change.

Stapleton would have applauded the decision made in Pennsylvania on this day just as she applauded the graduates of Wilson College over a decade later.

If you are interested in learning more, set up an appointment with the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History to browse the Stapleton Papers. The documents, newspaper articles, photographs, and numerous awards in this collection provide unparalleled insight into the life and career of the actress who portrayed Edith Bunker.

Katherine DeFonzo completed a summer 2017 internship in the Archives Center. She is a senior at Fordham University Rose Hill.

Author(s): 
Katherine DeFonzo
Posted Date: 
Monday, February 5, 2018 - 04:00
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Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Interactives based on the artwork of contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing, who focuses on mixing language with fine art. Includes images and animations highlighting stand-out installations and interviews with the artist.

Women Who Shape History: Education Resources

Smithsonian Magazine

These resources, compiled by the education teams across the Smithsonian Institution, feature lessons, activities, exhibitions, videos and tools that can be used to teach students about women's history in America.

Use this Learning Lab collection as a response to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.'s social media campaign asking, "Can you name five women artists (#5WomenArtists)?" The artists featured are Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Alma Thomas and Elaine de Kooning with short biographical notes, selected works and learning resources.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Grade(s): K-12

Women have been and continue to be an important part of the aerospace industry. In this episode of STEM in 30, students will explore the women who are helping pave the way to Mars.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
Grade(s): K-12

This collection teaches students about the changing role of women during World War II: their role in the workplace, increasing presence in the military, and participation in voluntary organizations that supported the war. Students should think about how these activities reinforced traditional notions of gender divisions while they also allowed women to experience new activities.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Grade(s): 3-8

The National Portrait Gallery’s recently unveiled the portrait of Former First Lady Michelle Obama. In this video, students will learn more about the artist, Amy Sherald.
Provider: National Portrait Gallery
Grade(s): K-12

Students will identify famous women, categorize them into groups and conduct research to learn more about them. They will use what they learned to create a classroom museum focused on women's history.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will identify all of the statues of women in a selected area, plot the statues' locations on a map and explain why the statues exist. Then they will select another historical woman with a connection to that place, decide where a statue honoring her should be erected and create a sketch of a statue honoring her achievements.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will create presentations and encourage classmates to compare the candidate's qualifications to the list of leadership traits and characteristics the class has identified. After all candidates have been introduced, poll the class to see which of leaders they would most like to have in charge. Challenge students to explain why this candidate rose above the others.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will brainstorm ideas for a student-led organization that is all-inclusive. They will iron out the details for how it will work and design a logo and other items that reflect their "brand." Then they will create a brochure that will entice fellow students to join their group.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will select a field of engineering and conduct research to learn more about it. They will write a summary telling what surprised them the most. Then they will create a brochure to teach others about their chosen field of engineering.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will write a comic strip or graphic novel about a historical topic that features someone whose contributions have been forgotten over time. Their plots will incorporate related objects found at Smithsonian museums.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

In this activity, children will take a close look at a photograph of Martha Graham, then collaborate with a partner or family member to create their own dance photographs.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 2-4

Julia Morgan Built a Castle is a book about one of America's first women architects, who designed almost 800 buildings during her career. Students will explore the story by reading together. Then they will complete activities to learn more about architecture and how buildings are designed.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Genealogy is the study of family ancestries and histories, and a great way to learn women's history. In this activity, students will learn about the methods and tools needed to conduct a genealogical interview.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

This OurStory module, entitled Great Women of Our Pasts, includes links to hands-on activities and a list of recommended readings related to the topic of women's history.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

This teacher's resource challenges students to think about the Lincoln-Keckley as an object that has multiple symbolic meanings.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9-12

During this activity, students will actively read Mama Went to Jail for the Vote, using the suggested reading strategies. They will build reading skills, develop vocabulary, and learn about the women’s suff­rage movement and the importance of voting.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Students will recognize a female role model in their lives by creating a special symbolic pin.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 1-4

Students will learn about women’s struggles in the United States to obtain the right to vote. They will learn more about the 1920 suffrage movement and how women finally achieved victory with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

This activity challenges students to think about the 1898 Standard Voting Machine and the democratization of the voting process in the United States.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9-12

In this online exhibition, students will learn about Gear and Lever voting, meant to ensure the confidentiality and efficiency of the election process.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9-12

Students will learn about Louisa Susannah Wells, a female colonist who was loyal to King George III, who was banished from America and returned to England after the War of Independence. They will take what they learn and answer questions objectively without judging her decisions.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 6-12

Students will gain an understanding of the role women played in the Civil War. They will appreciate the ways in which museums use objects to study how people in the past did their jobs.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 3-6

Kick-off a research project on gender roles on the World War II home front with two brief video clips and selection of primary sources.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 6-12

Maria Isabel Solis Thomas moved across the country to work in a shipyard on the World War II home front. Listen to her story, and then study the supporting primary sources to answer the discussion questions.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 6-12

Students will analyze images and objects relating to Celia Cruz and create an exhibition using personal objects.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Students will learn more about First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and her work to protect the environment and bring beauty to every community.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Students will examine examples of persuasive writing from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, then compose persuasive statements about an environmental cause.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4-6

Students will learn about Rachel Carson and how her book Silent Spring changed the way people thought about their relationship to nature.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Quilts do more than just keep us warm; they preserve history by telling us stories about the people who made them. In this hands-on activity, students will learn about women's history by studying quilts.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Smithsonian women scientists are an adventurous group: from hunting meteorites in Antarctica, exploring the farthest reaches of the Universe from remote mountain tops, to measuring mercury levels from the depths of the ocean to the canopy of the rain forest. Learn more about a few of these amazing women.
Provider: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Grade(s): K-12

For Women’s History Month, Smithsonian Folkways offers free audio tracks and videos featuring women around the world who “break musical barriers.” Lesson plans and student activities are included.
Provider: Smithsonian Folkways
Grade(s): K-12

This website explores the historical accomplishments of women inventors and includes a video, activities, and a teacher resource guide about eight female inventors. 
Provider: Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Grade(s): K-12

This website features women's contributions to flight, their stories, and claims to fame throughout history. This guide leads to all the women that have artifacts or photographs in the National Air and Space Museum.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
Grade(s): K-12

This virtual tour introduces four exceptional American women who succeeded in business in the twentieth century. The website features biographical information, timelines, games, and historical background for each of the women. 
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-12

The Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture prepared this annotated bibliography on African American Women Artists. 
Provider: The Anacostia Community Museum
Grade(s): K-12

A list of recommended readings about Native American women prepared by the National Museum of the American Indian Resource Center.
Provider: National Museum of the American Indian
Grade(s): K-12

The Anacostia Museum's Office of Education offers a reading list for children about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. 
Provider: The Anacostia Community Museum
Grade(s): K-12

Women Who Score Well on Both Math And Verbal Tests Still Don’t Choose Science Careers

Smithsonian Magazine

Women remain underrepresented in the sciences, but why? One team publishing in Psychological Science claims that it’s simply because women have more career choices these days. 

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers examined national survey data from 1,490 students, both male and female, bound for college. The partipants were interviewed in the 12th grade, then again when they were 33 years old. They answered questions about their SAT scores, their motivations and beliefs and, later, their occupations.

Those who had the highest verbal abilities—a group already dominated by women—they found, were most likely to avoid a career in science, technology or engineering. Given that women are more likely to have high verbal abilities, the researchers then assumed that women with high math abilities are more likely than men with high math abilities to also excel at verbal skills. With two skills sets, women, the researchers said, had a broader range of career possibilities open to them.

Not surprisingly, students who originally reported feeling confident about their math abilities and only moderate about their verbal abilities were more likely to go on to a career in science or a related field. The researchers say this means that mathematics may play a more integral role in those persons’ identity, leading them to a career in science.

The researchers think that, in light of their findings, educators should stop worrying about boosting girls’ abilities in math and focus instead on emphasizing how cool careers in science are to the girls who excel at both math and liberal arts.

The researchers do not explore why women may be choosing a career as English teachers over a principle investigator in a physics lab. Whether or not other factors come into play—such as sexism, difference in mentoring styles, or false expectations that a career in science will automatically equate with giving up on having a family—are not mentioned in their statement. But MSN reports on another possible explanation—inequality in science fields:

Another study from this month said that while female scientists have made gains in the field, they face “persistent career challenges.”

The study, published in the journal Nature, said that U.S. universities and colleges tend to employ many more male than female scientists, and that men in the field earn significantly more than women.

“One of the most persistent problems,” the study says, “is that a disproportionate fraction of qualified women drop out of science careers in the very early stages.”

The study suggests the reason for this could be a lack of role models, resulting in females in the field feeling like they don’t belong.

The idea that women are simply choosing other careers isn’t entirely new. The Boston Globe‘s Ideas section wrote about two studies that drew similar conclusions in 2008:

When it comes to certain math- and science-related jobs, substantial numbers of women – highly qualified for the work – stay out of those careers because they would simply rather do something else….The researchers are not suggesting that sexism and cultural pressures on women don’t play a role, and they don’t yet know why women choose the way they do. One forthcoming paper in the Harvard Business Review, for instance, found that women often leave technical jobs because of rampant sexism in the workplace.

This research all points to one clear confusion: more women could be entering science fields than do right now. Why they don’t is a more complicated question.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Women in Science 
Women Are Still Discriminated Against in Science 

Women Breaking Musical Barriers: She Isn't Supposed to Play That

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website traces the history and diversity of women in music through text, video recordings, and audio recordings.

Woman Interviewing Girl

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
Woman Interviewing Girl, 1947-48. Photographic image of a woman sitting at a desk with an open booklet in front of her. A girl is sitting at the desk at her. There is a telephone beside the girl. Photograph by Constance Stuart Larrabee, 1948.

This series of photographs documents the social welfare system, which had been established for poor white South Africans in the Johannesburg area after the end of the Second World War.

There are no prints of this negative in the Constance Stuart Larrabee Collection. EEPA produced an 8x10 study print for reference purposes.

The cataloging of the Constance Stuart Larrabee Collection was supported by a grant from The Smithsonian Women's Committee.

Woman Interviewing Girl

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
Woman Interviewing Girl, 1947-48. Photographic image of a woman sitting at a desk writing on a piece of paper. A girl is sitting at the desk as well. The woman is interviewing the girl. Photograph by Constance Stuart Larrabee, 1948.

This series of photographs documents the social welfare system, which had been established for poor white South Africans in the Johannesburg area after the end of the Second World War.

There are no prints of this negative in the Constance Stuart Larrabee Collection. EEPA produced an 8x10 study print for reference purposes.

The cataloging of the Constance Stuart Larrabee Collection was supported by a grant from The Smithsonian Women's Committee.

Woman Interviewing Girl

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
Woman Interviewing Girl, 1947-48. Photographic image of a woman sitting at a desk writing on a piece of paper. A girl is sitting at the desk as well. The woman is interviewing the girl. Photograph by Constance Stuart Larrabee, 1948.

This series of photographs documents the social welfare system, which had been established for poor white South Africans in the Johannesburg area after the end of the Second World War.

There are no prints of this negative in the Constance Stuart Larrabee Collection. EEPA produced an 8x10 study print for reference purposes.

The cataloging of the Constance Stuart Larrabee Collection was supported by a grant from The Smithsonian Women's Committee.

Winning the Vote for Women

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Parent's guide with activities and suggested readings to teach children about women's suffrage. Children are asked to take a trip or conduct a phone interview with a member of the League of Women Voters, a group created in 1920 to help organize women's votes and encourage their active participation in civic life.

Winnie Mae Newsreels

National Air and Space Museum
Pathe sponsored the 1931 around-the-world flight of the Winnie Mae. Their rooster logo was adorned the side of the Vega and they provided a camera and film to Harold Gatty. Although all of the American newsreel companies followed the flight, Pathe was the most complete in their coverage. This sampling depicts Post's and Gatty's departure, their ticker tape parade through the streets of New York, and an interview summarizing their flight, narrated primarily by Gatty.

Wing-like Motion

National Air and Space Museum
Wing-like motion.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Willie Herrón interview excerpt

Archives of American Art
Willie Herrón, one of the founding members of the Chicano Avant-Garde collective, ASCO, criticized the "Los Four" exhibition at L.A. County Museum of Art in 1974, which displayed graffiti infused murals inside the museum. In an interview with Jeffrey Rangel, he recalled how the "Los Four" exhibition set the stage for an ASCO interventionist performance.

William and Lucile Mann in British Guiana on a collecting trip for the National Zoological Park

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Lucile Quarry Mann discusses the trip in her oral history interview, RU 9513. Image is oval shape.

William M. Mann, director of the National Zoological Park, and his wife, Lucile Quarry Mann in 1931. The Manns were on an expedition to British Guiana to collect animals, especially reptiles, for the National Zoological Park.

William H. Dall

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Photograph included in the transcript of the S. Stillman Berry Oral History Interview by Donald R. Shasky, May 1980, in Smithsonian Institution Archives.

SIA2009-4237 is the photographic print found in Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 9526.

Dean of Alaskan explorations, William Healey Dall, 1845-1927, began his scientific career as a member of the Scientific Corps of the Alaskan Western Union Telegraph Expedition in 1865. While on the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, 1865-1868, Dall conducted a geological and biological survey of Alaska to determine a feasible route for a telegraph cable across the Bering Strait. A member of the Expedition's Scientific Corps, he assumed leadership of the Expedition after the death of Robert Kennicott in 1866. In 1871 he was appointed to the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey, where he continued his studies on Alaska and the northern Pacific Coast. Dall left the Coast Survey in 1884 to transfer to the United States Geological Survey as a paleontologist. A position he held until 1925. Concurrentlyy, as a malacologist, he assembled and described some of the collections of mollusca and other organisms held by the United States National Museum since 1868, and served as Honorary Curator of the Museum's Division of Mollusks from 1880 until his death.

MAH-14538 is the photo negative found in Smithsonian Institution Archives Accession 11-006.

William H. Dall, curator of echinoderms for the United States National Museum, now known as the National Museum of Natural History, seated in a chair looking off to his right.

William Grayson

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Photograph included in the transcript of the Nazaret Cherkezian Oral History Interview by John Peterson, December 3, 1986, in Smithsonian Institution Archives.

William Grayson was Special Coordinator of the Smithsonian's Office of Telecommunications in 1976, and later became Senior Telecommunications Specialist from 1977 to until his death on April 15, 1980.

William F. Foshag and Takeo Kume

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Photograph included in the transcript of the Edward P. Henderson Oral History Interview by Pamela M. Henson, August 29, 1984, in Smithsonian Institution Archives.

William F. Foshag (r) (1894-1956) and Takeo Kume in Japan are standing in front of what appears to be living quarters with clothes hung to dry on lines. In 1946 National Museum of Natural History mineral science curators Foshag and Edward P. Henderson travelled to Japan to sort, count and appraise gemstones recovered by the United States Army.

Willem de Kooning, reconsidered, [sound recording] / co-sponsored by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Archives of American Art, 1993

Archives of American Art
4 sound cassettes (90 min. each) : analog. The proceedings of a scholarly symposium held in conjunction with the Hirshhorn Museum exhibition, "Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection," October 21, 1993-January 9, 1994.
Speakers include Judith Zilczer, Judith Wolfe, David Cateforis, Carter Ratcliff, and Stephen Polcari.

Will the Real Juan Valdez Please Stand Up?

Smithsonian Magazine

Strolling past the colorful shops in the colonial town of Salento, in the heart of Colombia’s eje cafetero, or Coffee Triangle—the country’s main coffee-growing region—I’m struck by its intrinsic beauty. Both sides of the narrow street are lined with one- and two-story whitewashed structures, some with balconies and most with doors and window sills saturated in deep red, oranges and blues. A young mother and baby occupy a bench in front of one of the local trinket shops. Across the road, a teenage couple walks arm in arm by a café selling potato-stuffed rellenas and chorizo.

But there is one person I spot that really gets my heart pumping. Leaning in the doorway of Bar Quindio is a familiar mustachioed face, his hands tucked into his pockets and a wide-brimmed hat shielding his eyes. He smiles upon seeing us, and then continues gazing off into the distance. Is it him? Can it really be? Before I get the chance to speak, our tour guide Alex confirms my suspicions. “Look!,” he says. “It’s Juan Valdez!”

For more than 50 years, the fictional Juan Valdez has been the brand symbol of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (Fedecafé), representing the coffee beans of more than 500,000 cafeteros, or coffee farmers, who grow and harvest their beans entirely within the country. He’s also a national folk hero, and along with international music star Shakira, one of the most recognizable figures worldwide to come out of the developing country. Valdez, who’s been appearing in print and TV advertisements for decades, wears the traditional dress of an arriero, or mule driver, a way of life that remains common throughout Colombia’s Coffee Triangle. Along with a straw hat and a striped poncho tossed over his shoulder, his ensemble includes sandals made of fique, a natural plant fiber, and a leather apron called a tapapinche tied around his waist. His mule, Conchita, is always by his side, carrying sacks of harvested coffee slung over his back. In television commercials over the years, Valdez has been seen hand-picking coffee cherries, appearing in kitchen pantries and walking around supermarkets with Conchita in tow. Today, there’s even a chain of Juan Valdez coffeehouses throughout Colombia and elsewhere, including Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica and the United States.

“There’s very little difference between Juan Valdez and Elvis, as both have transcended coffee and music to become cultural icons of their respective countries,” says Doug Towne, editor at the Society of Commercial Archeology (SCA), an organization that helps preserve, document and celebrate the 20th-century commercial landscape. But Valdez is dissimilar to say, the Jolly Green Giant or the Cracker Jack Sailor. More than a marketing tool, he represents a very real and vital percentage of Colombian society. “Juan Valdez has become the embodiment of Colombia,” says Towne. “Kind of like if the American flag, baseball and apple pie could be personified in a single U.S. citizen.”

Colombia is the world’s third-largest coffee producer and the biggest producer of Arabica coffee, considered a high-quality bean for its intense flavor. In 2009, the country produced 8.1 million 132-pound sacks of coffee, and nearly 30 percent of all rural areas in Colombia depend on the crop to survive. Ninety-five percent of all coffee growers in the country are small producers and most all of them belong to Fedecafé, founded in 1927 in part to help protect the local interests. With so much of Colombian culture invested in the coffee bean, it only makes sense that Valdez and his impersonator draw so much attention.

Image by Larry Luxner. Salento is the heart of Colombia’s eje cafetero, or Coffee Triangle—the country’s main coffee-growing region. (original image)

Image by Larry Luxner. Marco Fidel Torres has been portraying Juan Valdez in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle for nearly a decade. (original image)

Image by Larry Luxner. In 2009, the country produced 8.1 million 132-pound sacks of coffee, and nearly 30 percent of all rural areas in Colombia depend on the crop to survive. (original image)

Image by Larry Luxner. In Salento, both sides of the narrow street are lined with one- and two-story whitewashed structures, some with balconies and most with doors and window sills saturated in deep red, oranges and blues. (original image)

Image by Larry Luxner. With so much of Colombian culture invested in the coffee bean, it only makes sense that Juan Valdez and his impersonator draw so much attention. (original image)

Image by Larry Luxner. There’s even a chain of Juan Valdez coffeehouses throughout Colombia and elsewhere, including Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica and the United States. (original image)

Back in Salento, however, Alex lets my travel companions and me in on a little secret: That’s not really Juan Valdez—the real-life farmer whom Fedecafé has chosen to represent the fictional character—standing before us, but a man posing as him. An impersonator’s impersonator, if you will. According to Alex, Marco Fidel Torres has been portraying Juan Valdez in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle for nearly a decade. He and Torres first met about six years ago at Quindio’s Parque Nacional del Café, a national coffee theme park devoted to the history of Colombia’s coffee culture and production. The park employed Torres, an arriero by trade, to demonstrate how to pack, wrangle and travel with mules. But rather than expressing interest in Torres’ work, many of Alex’s clients (then a free-agent tour guide, Alex now works solely for a specialized tour company) were more eager to have their pictures taken with him, a real-life “Juan Valdez.”

And they weren’t the first. “Fidel has always been an arriero,” says Alex. “It’s a family tradition passed down for generations. And in Salento, where he lives, tourists were always asking for photos with him because of his dress and his similarities to Valdez. He eventually realized he could make some money playing the role.” Today, Torres earns a good portion of his income posing for photos as Juan Valdez in and around Salento. On weekends he continues demonstrating his arriero skills, now at the region’s Los Nevados National Natural Park.

But not every mule driver or coffee farmer can be Juan Valdez—in this case, the man who’s been interviewed, evaluated, tested, vetted and eventually hired to represent Colombia’s coffee culture and product throughout Colombia and at markets and events worldwide. New York City-based ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (also known for coming up with Quaker Oats’ Little Mikey) first created Juan Valdez for Fedecafé in 1959, designing an image to accurately represent the bulk of small coffee farmers who make up the federation.

Strangely it was a Cuban-American actor, José F. Duval, who initially portrayed him. Duval held the position until 1969, when Carlos Sánchez, a coffee farmer and artist from Colombia’s northwestern department of Antioquia, took over the reins. It’s Sánchez’s bright eyes and jovial smile that most westerners are familiar with, though not his voice; that belonged to Norman Rose, a Pennsylvania-born actor who passed away in 2004. Sánchez kept the title of Juan Valdez title until 2006, when he retired to Medellín. Anticipating his departure, Fedecafé began looking for a new Juan Valdez in 2004, embarking on an intensive two-year search for the right Colombian man. From an initial pool of more than 380,000 applicants (including Torres, who didn’t make it past the in-person interview because of his age, which Rodriguez estimates to be somewhere near 70), they selected 30 finalists, who were then put through a grueling series of advertising sessions, psychological exams, behavior and personality tests and interviews with journalists.

In the end, the honor went to Carlos Castañeda, a 44-year-old coffee grower and married father of three from the town of Andes, Antioquia, about 80 miles outside of Medellín. With his family values and rugged good looks, Castañeda is the ideal Valdez, young enough to appeal to a new generation of coffee drinkers and to provide longevity to the role. Appearing on his official website, Castañeda sports the same white hat, dark moustache and button-down shirt as his predecessors, though with one big difference: he carries a cell phone in his leather satchel.

While Castañeda is busy making the international rounds as both a coffee spokesman and national representative, arrieros like Torres are holding down the fort back home. And being a local Juan Valdez does have its perks. Along with all the makings of Colombia’s cult hero—a genuine smile and a distinctive air, not to mention a mule companion—Torres can come and go as he pleases. The day after meeting Torres in Salento, Alex accompanies my companions and me to the El Edén International Airport in La Tebaida for our flight into Bogotá. A couple hours early, we sit down together for a beer in the terminal’s small food court. There, leaning against a wall is a mounted, poster-sized photo of Torres. “I told you,” says Alex, beaming. “My friend is famous around here.”

Women love him. Children adore him. And he’s a legend from Salento to at least San Francisco, where his framed photo occupies a prominent spot on my mantle.

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