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Houston Breakthrough 1979-06
Page 15
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Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 15. June 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 1, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/902.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(June 1979). Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 15. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/902

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 15, June 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 1, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/902.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1979-06
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date June 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 24 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 15
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_551n.jpg
Transcript M.E/s Gallery by G G Yellen We talk in May, when the heat is not yet awful. Out on the patio, beside and beneath an oak tree, we are drinking cold cinnamon tea. A light breeze and a wandering cat disturb little in our quiet conversation. Inside the house, a man is fixing a snack. Mary Ellen leans over and smiles, fingering her white cotton cap-sleeved crocheted top: "This isn't art. I love it. I've worn it three times this week, but, you see, it follows a pattern, and it really was made to be worn. Of course, that doesn't detract from its beauty, but in answer to your question, no, it's not something I'd show in the gallery." The home of Mary Ellen and Tom Whitworth, at 1408 Michigan (in the Montrose area), is also the home of M.E. 's Gallery. early on to succeed in academic and professional life, manages to hold four festive openings a year, rotate artists frequently, search out new media, hire a gallery- keeper during busy seasons, keep books, and work full time as a senior research assistant in environmental biology. She studies the curves in DNA. She pours me another glass of cinnamon tea. "Women were my teachers through high school—nuns, at a Catholic girl's school." Then college at LSU, and a master's degree in biology. "My whole background is in science. I like the financial security of my job at M.D. Anderson. But it wasn't strange for me to go into business, too. I kind of feel I have it in my blood. The men in my family had businesses—ice, grocery, dairy—so I've heard business talk all my life. I took a "The difference between craft and art is the element of surprise. Art surprises, or moves you in some way. Frequently it unnerves you." "The best thing about having the gallery here is, we're ready for the energy crunch. We live here. Tom's law office is walking distance. So is the Tower Theatre, and several new restaurants. I expect Montrose to grow into a neighborhood where there's less driving, more walking." The gallery shows crafts media-"cer- amic, glass, fabric, wood, fiber, soft sculpture, jewelry,"—as used by artists "who surprise me." That's what makes the difference between craft and art-the element of surprise. The artist, in addition to showing you that they can manipulate the medium well, has something to say that nobody else has said before. "Sure, a complicated procedure done well is a joy to look at—like this blouse," continued M.E. We both smile. "But art surprises, or moves you in some way. Frequently it unnerves you"— just as the tiny Satans do that giggle together on the rim of Bill Wilhelmi's vases and plates. Wilhelmi, a Corpus Christi-based ceramicist, has shown twice at M.E. 's, "and I hadn't intended to show in Texas at all." But a mutual friend from Corpus, M.E.'s and Tom's hometown as well, introduced them, and Wilhelmi's work sold well. Wilhelmi remarked, "I like doing business with her. Mary Ellen is very considerate of the people she shows. Some places, an artist comes in and gets ignored; with her it's not a high pressure thing." Not a high pressure thing, and yet M.E., whose mother encouraged her from couple of Small Business Administration courses when I started. It didn't seem frightening to try it myself. "I went into business when other crafts galleries were closing. Got loans from some people I knew. There was a void to fill, and I was filling it. "I like craftspeople. That's why I do this. I buy things I enjoy having in the house. I don't have any formal art background, although I plan to do some catching up in art history. I look at a lot of things, and stay in touch through journals and personal contact." M.E. 's began three years ago as a small jewelry shop in the old Gypsy Market near Rice University. Now it fills half the house on Michigan and jewelry is only a small part of the collection. "I met some people who made jewelry and they introduced me to African crafts, which is what I sold at the Gypsy Market. Through the same people I joined Houston Designer Craftsmen, and eventually became president of it. It's a group of craftspeople in the Houston area, but not confined to this area. Anyone can join. There's a monthly newsletter, and an exhibit every year or two. They'll have one this August, in fact." M.E. routinely seeks to show artists from other parts of the country in an effort to expose Houston craftspeople and their patrons to fine work otherwise unavailable. She's just acquired the works of the members of Nine Fine Artisans, as they divest themselves of their gallery. Included is a collection of wry soft sculp- MARY ELLEN WHITWORTH of M.E.'s GALLERY ture by a woman who lives in the Hill Country, and whom the gallery owner looks forward to meeting. Somebody's holding on the phone so we go inside for M.E. to take the call. Past the bedroom, among the framed drawings on the hallway wall, M.E. points out one pencil sketch of an enormous flower, the only work of hers on display in the house. "I like the simplicity of just the pencil and paper. Every now and then I do a sketch." We pass through the office alcove, the phone call is completed, and we peek into the kitchen to say hello to Tom and to Oso, an enormous black German Shepherd who apparently knows how to act in a house full of breakables. Then we're in the sunny gallery, wrapping up the talk. "It's tough for craftspeople, because you've got to stay with it for 10 years to make a good living, and your stuff has to be exceptional. If it's just okay, you'll never make it," says M.E. Is M.E. one of those people of whom artists ask, "Should I continue this career?" She laughs. "I hope nobody would put that big a responsibility on me. But (and here the laugh is gone) there are plenty of people who ask me, and I try to be honest without just devastating someone. Because I think you can do a craft without being outstanding and, though you won't make much money, get a lot of fulfillment and enjoyment out of it. "Now and then I get calls from people wanting to show me their Aunt Fanny's needlepoint, or something, and those usually turn out not to be things I want for the gallery. But I enjoy talking to the people. "I keep an eye on other crafts galleries and work with them, send them people who want what I don't have, let them know what I've got. I don't consider it competition at all. The more crafts places there are, the better off everybody is." G G Yellen is a news reporter at KLOL Radio. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 15 JUNE 1979