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Emmy Lou Packard 2/7/79 page 4 of section 4

Around the corner from 473 Jackson was the center of the art community, although it extended up Columbus Avenue and some lived on upper Grant Avenue. The Black Cat was still an artists' bar, where Dong Kingman, Matt Barnes Ralph Stackpole and students from the California School of Fine Arts at 800 Chestnut, as well as many who lived in the Montgomery Block (known as the Monkey Block) between Clay and Washington on Montgomery, and in the group of studios Stackpole owned at ___ Montgomery. When I lived at 473, Architect Ernest Born occupied one of the studios there, Victor Arnautoff one and Stackpole had his own studio and his stoneyard in back, where he produced his stone sculptures. Matt Barnes had a studio in the building next door, as I remember. He used to sit in the doorway in the sun usually ready to philosophise in his slightly scottish accent. He had been trained in decorative plaster work in Scotland, and had come to San Francisco just after the 1906 earthquake. After years of repairing and rebuilding plaster architectural ornaments he became Diego Rivera's plasterer in 1930-31, when Rivera did the frescos in the Art School and the Stock Exchange. Then Matt began to paint himself and became well known for his dark moody scenes, a little reminiscent of ____.

The art colony was small in those days compared to today. In 1939 there were only two private galleries in town, hence the organization of the open air art show in Hotaling Place (this was earlier, the first organized in 193_ before I was in San Francisco)

The group at Jackson Street organized the Artists' Guild Gallery, with a small gallery Giacomo Patri let us use on the third floor. (I have a photograph of the gallery taken at an opening when Anton Refregier was there). I was experimenting with acrylic at that time, putting two sheets together with paper collage and etched patterns in between. I edgelighted these and showed them in various places, including the Gallery of American Art at at Phillips Academy in Andover. It was one of the first show of plastic as an art medium. Members of the gallery were mostly left-wing people, and we had several big parties to raise money for the Peoples' World. There were constant visitors in the building, and after Ed Corbett and his wife Katherine moved in on my floor we had such luminaries as Dick Diebencorn (then a student) and ____. Ethel Weiner and her husband Martin Snipper showed with us, and lived off upper Grant Avenue, at 18 Edith Street. (I had met Martin when we were members of a car pool going to the shipyards. We tried to organize a Shipyard Show at the SF Museum of Art, where I visualized huge sculptures of ventilation pipes painted red lead and other such dramatic concepts. We had a big meeting where Beniamino Bufano was to be one of the speakers. We made Marty the chairman, because he had once been a barker at Coney Island, and would be the only one capable of stopping Bufano from going on all night. But Dr. Morley head of the museum, couldn't quite visualize what we had in mind, and actually there were few artists who had produced much of interest while in the shipyards.) The show did not go on.

One morning at 11 there was a knock at my door, and when I opened the door two men in gray suits were there. They showed me identity card and said "We're from the FBI. We'd like to talk to you." Totally unacquainted with this procedure, I invited them in. With stern assurance the Leader (the other one carried a briefcase and just listened) said "We know and have absolute proof that you are a Communist", "You have nothing of the kind" I said. "Have you ever read Karl Marx?" was the next question. "Of course," I said. "I took economic history at UC. Mark is part of economic history." "Did you UNDERSTAND it?" the Leader said with heavy emphasis. "Of course". I said. "Haven't you read it?" "WE'LL ask the questions!" he snapped. I pointed out all the left-wing books in my shelves and Time, Life and Fortune and the Peoples' World on my coffee table. "I read lots of stuff" I said. Isn't that OK?" Presently they left looking stern, although there was no audible snarl. I found out later that they had called on 20 people at exactly 11, their watches synchonized, so that none of the people could call and warn each other. I also found out from lawyer that no one has to talk to the FBI unless they want to. The next several times they called on me I said I'd make an appointment with my lawyer so we could talk in his office. They don't seem to like lawyers and never took me up on this generous offer.
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