Barbara Delano worked at Tyler Graphics in Bedford Village, and then in Mount Kisco, for over 17 years. As well as managing front of house operations, Delano played a key role in documenting the processes for each of the print editions made at TGL. We have her to thank for the wealth of important information held in those impeccable records.
What was your role at the workshop, and can you tell us a little about what that role entailed?
I worked in the front office and had several jobs. When I arrived at TGL in 1982, I had just received an MFA in printmaking from the University of New Mexico (the head of my MFA committee was Garo Antreasian, the first technical director of Tamarind Institute. He was Ken’s printmaking teacher at John Herron School of Art and the person who brought Ken to LA to work at Tamarind). Ken hired me fresh out of graduate school to work on the catalogue raisonné and keep track of all the documentation, which I continued to do until I left the workshop in early 2000.
I enjoyed talking with collectors and people interested in the workshop and my role quickly expanded into sales. I worked with collectors, galleries and museums, taking care of the initial transactions and follow up. I also saw to it that any writers, curators and other art professionals would have access to all the materials they needed for their particular projects.
Can you tell us about the atmosphere at the studio? What did you enjoy most about working there?
The best thing about working at TGL was the constant, always very exciting activity. Emanating from Ken’s magnificently creative, charismatic personality, there was never a dull moment. He has what might best be described as fluorescent energy (yes, quite like the brilliant palette TGL is known for) - practical, focused, determined, hard working, visionary, romantic and passionate. His eyes have both spark and sparkle…depending on his mood, the sparks fly or the sparkle dazzles. And Ken’s energy is boundless. No wall was ever safe, he was constantly building, tearing down, adapting. That was how it was in Bedford and then we moved and it started all over again in Mt. Kisco. In addition to all the activity within the walls, there were always exciting things going on outside, either in a nearby city, such as Manhattan, or a far away one.
Besides things happening, there were always lots of people coming and going – all the art stars that you know about. Especially fun were those artists that stayed for a while. I remember millions of little moments but I’m going to list just a few right off the top of my head:
- I remember the grand procession of the Moving Focus Series. David Hockney and the trip to Acatlan with Ken and Judith Goldman, their daily reports, the return with Mylar drawings, the excitement seeing the final prints take shape. Celia Birtwell arriving for her portrait. All of David’s friends coming and going. And, of course, his dogs, Stanley and Boojie. A vibrant time.
- And there were many every-day moments. Robert Motherwell would come on Saturdays to avoid crowds. He was a quietly erudite artist and he loved cars. One Saturday he arrived in his new Rolls, a car he had wanted and finally got. But the next weekend he arrived with a sporty new Cadillac (Cadillac had just come out with a very cute, small convertible). I asked him what had happened to the Rolls and he explained that he had felt very uncomfortable in it, too ostentatious.
- I remember the last opening Motherwell came to. He had had a bad heart attack and had just recovered. He had done a series of prints, so we had an opening on a Saturday for him and he came. He had been such a large, strong man but it was difficult for him to open the front door…very disconcerting to watch. However, there was a Catholic priest who had come especially to meet Motherwell. Finding a personal meaning in the artist’s work, he had purchased an “open” print for the monastery he lived in. I told Bob about the priest and he immediately went over to him. The very frail Motherwell sat talking with the priest for a very long time. When they finished talking, I asked the priest about his visit and he explained that they had talking about how the “opens” might be windows to the soul or windows to the beyond…
- And, Joan Mitchell trying to get me to drink wine with her in the afternoon (I’m not an afternoon drinker).
- And Jim Rosenquist working constantly on the paper pulp Welcome to the Water Planet…and every Friday afternoon, we would celebrate with champagne.
- And Frank Stella and his dogs…Frank was always making quick trips to meet with Ken on his way upstate to his farm. The first prints I saw at TGL were the Swan Engravings and I still have my favorite, Swan Engraving Square One, prominently displayed in my dining room.
- I remember Helen Frankenthaler’s delight when she introduced us all to Steven DeBruhl, his first visit to the workshop….and she was so in love with him, she made Valentine for Mr. Wonderful.
- And so many wonderful people who came to the workshop over the years. It was fun to see collectors evolve and change, disappear for a time and reappear with husbands, wives, friends, lovers, children or grandchildren in tow, excited and eager to see if something new and inspiring was going on… and fortunately, something always was.
Do you still work in the arts? How did your time with TGL affect your career path?
I don’t work in THE ARTS but I do work in art! I returned to Portland Oregon where I grew up….my son has two children here and my mother needed help. I found a job as a graphic artist/copywriter and I love it. In many ways, my job now is more creative than the one I had at TGL but I am indebted to Ken’s influence, the very hard worker who NEVER gives up and always stays focused until every minute detail is perfect. That has effected the way I work now. I am very proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.)—all foreign to the way we worked at TGL, but my printmaking background made adapting to the Adobe program layers and methodology very easy. I also do copywriting. Although the combination is somewhat unusual, I did this at TGL as well. At present, I have almost no contact of a sales nature except that I make the brochures/materials that reach out to our potential customers. My time at TGL was invaluable for this.
Images top to bottom:
David Hockney drawing with tusche on an aluminium plate while Kenneth Tyler plays with David’s dog, Tyler Graphics Ltd. artist's studio, Mount Kisco, New York, 1991 Photographer: Marabeth Cohen-Tyler
Portrait of Joan Mitchell at her home in Vetheuil, France, 1991. Photographer: Marabeth Cohen-Tyler
Last updated July 2014