Christina Pink

The following oral history is the result of a recorded interview with Christina P. Pink conducted by Katie C. Doyle on April 6, 2023. This interview is part of the Rick Dillingham retrospective “To Make, Unmake, and Make Again” at the New Mexico Museum of Art.


Q: Hello, my name is Katie Doyle. I am in the basement of the [New Mexico] Museum of Art on Thursday, April 6th, 2023. It is 11:43 a.m. on a beautiful, sunny Santa Fe day. I’m sitting here with Christina [P.] Pink. We are going to do an oral history interview for the Rick Dillingham retrospective at the New Mexico Museum of Art, titled “To Make, Unmake, and Make Again”. The exhibition will be open from October 6th, 2023 until June 24th, 2024, and Christina will be speaking about her memories of Rick Dillingham, Rick’s work, their work together, and probably some more. I’ll turn it over to Christina.

Pink: Hi.

Q: The first question: “When and how did you meet Rick Dillingham?”

Pink: I met him at the UNM [University of New Mexico] Art Department and Ceramics Department. That was, I believe, in 1970 or ‘71. I had just come to UNM and he hadn’t been there for long, I know. I was also in the art department along with Rick, but this was my first foray into ceramics, so I didn’t know anything about it. I spent a lot of time as a teenager and as a child in New Mexico. We didn’t live here early on, but my family had been coming here since 1949. When we did move here, my mom had worked for [State] Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of [Economic] Development, New Mexico Magazine. She was a writer. There was a lot of history involved, and I was exposed to a lot of southwestern Pueblo pottery early on. I always loved it. When I got into the ceramics department, I wasn’t terribly interested nor terribly good at wheel throwing, but was fascinated because I had learned that they [the Pueblo peoples] did everything by coil and I marveled at their work. When I met Rick, it was perfect because he knew everything about it. I was learning still, but he continued my fascination with it.


I wasn’t even familiar with his own work at that point. He taught me everything I knew about ceramics, slab and coil building and slips, and he was beginning his gas can era and experimenting with dung firing, and he was learning about it too. It was fun to see him learn as our relationship and our friendship progressed. We would go to firings at various pueblos and it was great to see him learning too, and I could always see the wheels turning. Sorry, I’m getting carried on getting off track.

Q: You don’t need to worry about that.

Pink: Anywhere from dung firing to raku, regular firings. It was all an experiment. It was all exciting. He was incredibly innovative and I’ve never really known anyone who was so focused like him. We were in our early twenties, and that was an era where people were more relaxed and not career oriented. Hippie people were becoming hippies and going in the opposite directions that Rick did. He was driven. If he wasn’t working, he was down in the ceramics department. I’d go down there with him because if I wasn’t working or in class, I was spending most of my time with him. It was really easy. It was an easy friendship, which was nice. It was those few friendships you find in life where you just fall into it and you can talk about anything right away. Some friends you have, you can never talk about anything. In terms of intimacy and from the heart right away. So. He had a wicked sense of humor [laughter], sarcastic, dry wit. Yes, it was good.

Q: What was the nature of your relationship with Rick? You’ve already talked a little bit about your friendship and how easy things were. Could you talk a little bit more about that and how you two bonded and how that relationship developed?

Pink: Again, ceramics and to southwestern Pueblo pottery. He lived around Columbia [Columbia Dr. SE, in the UNM area of ABQ, just south of Garfield St and right next to the Fairview Memorial Cemetery] and I was in the same kind of horseshoe-shaped complex and so it was really easy. I’d go over to his place and knock on the door, and when we were out of the apartment, we were always doing stuff, but when we were in the apartment, that was the one time when we could talk and I would be looking at his collections. He had a lot of the Pueblo pottery there, and his bedroom closet was absolutely stuffed with San Ildefonso [Pueblo]’s Maria Martinez. I was afraid to open the door because something would fall out or whatever. Wrapped, of course.

He’d make lunch or dinner. We drank beer and wine and he had the—people always bring up the micaceous pottery he had, the utilitarian pueblo pottery, he used exclusively to make his New Mexico chili or various dishes forgotten. Maurice [Dixon] brought up sopa de albondigas. We’d sit and drink and talk, first about the pottery and what he was doing himself, direction. He wasn’t sure which direction he was going to with anything. In some ways I knew New Mexico better itself as far as the geography and topography, because of my mom. She loved the history for her writing for New Mexico Magazine or other things. She would take me to places that nobody else went to. Rick loved doing stuff like that. It was so easy. It’s even hard to remember. There wasn’t anything really specific. He’d talk about his work. Again, he wasn’t sure where he was going. Sometimes he’d be working on something at the ceramics department and think, “Well, let’s try this,” or, “I want to try a different idea,” and try it and do it.

He was beginning to develop his relationships with the Pueblos, and within a few years, it seemed like he knew everybody when we would go to a firing. Or Maria Martinez and her—that’s what we were talking about—Popovi Da, her son. I can’t remember if Tony was there or not or how old Tony would have been. Not Tony Martinez, but Tony Da. But I had never been, I knew what a privilege it was. I didn’t quite know how famous she was becoming, but I knew what a privilege it was to be Anglo and to be invited to a firing in the wee hours of the morning. When the wind is low and cow dung, corrugated metal, sheet metal, and the wood pine something or other, I can’t remember, but how the firing went and how they regulated it and how they everything, it was a huge privilege to be there. Rick was learning too. I remember talking to every person who threw pots on any of the Pueblos, they had their own clay source. They didn’t talk about where it was, but they had their own clay source. As the ground changes, of course, the clay is different, the slips are different. Rick had showed me how to burnish with a spoon the back and he had favorite spoons, but they were using stones, and they had their favorite stones.

But it was so exciting and it was to me, it was historic. To me it was. I felt like I [was] the first Anglo to be [there], like some of the Taos Six must have felt when they first had access to the Pueblos in the early 1900s, if they were the first ones to be allowed in. Like Edith Warner at Otowi Bridge who was allowed onto the San Ildefonso Pueblo. Those kinds of privileges were—it wasn’t commonplace. It was something really special still to me back then. I think I had—see, I’m getting sidetracked again.

Every time we would go up there, we’d have a whole day, a Saturday or Sunday, and we’d go to San Ildefonso or Santo Domingo before we started going out of state to Acoma and Arizona. He’d have made arrangements prior to that, and I didn’t even realize at that point he was starting to register all the information about the families themselves. That would eventually become the Seven Families [in Pueblo Pottery] and then the Fourteen Families [in Pueblo Pottery] books. Whole family would be there and we’d eat lunch. He was always incredibly respectful and asking them questions and not trying to pry. They were getting to know each other also. Sometimes he’d bring something, a pot, he would show them. I know Maria eventually had some of his pots, I think. They knew that he would do right by them. I think they got that sense [that] whatever this turned into, he would always do right by them and respect everything about their culture, their work, them as individuals. He had a good sense of humor and so did they.

But some of my favorite times were, if not in the apartment—because that was a long time and that was downtime talking about again, his work, the Pueblos, and later on, as we got to know each other, his own sexuality, much angst he had with all of that beginning to come to the forefront—but the other time that I so enjoyed that I’ve mentioned to you before, at so many of the pueblos, when they discarded broken pots, they’d toss them and they wind up in the riverbeds or some of the previous [Hopi] villages built on lower ground and pots, archeological sites. That’s what they were, shards all over the place. Rick would always ask for permission and sometimes someone would come with us, one of the family members that he was friends with. Sometimes they let us loose by ourselves. We spent hours walking and we could talk while we were walking and looking for shards and and—I think I lived in a fantasy world sometimes—I felt like I was the first white person [to be there]. That was sacred land. Whites weren’t allowed out there without specific permission. Back then, it was still foreign. It was much more so than it is now. At least that’s the feeling that I get. I was very incredibly privileged to be allowed out there to walk. You felt like it was the first white footsteps. Could have been, those riverbeds. We found a ton of shards. Now you almost have to register. Every time you turn around, you’ve got to register or file a claim or do this and this and this. Back then it wasn’t. There were so many [shards] that we both took some. I know he took a lot more than I did, but I still have some pieces.

I found a piece of drilled turquoise once. He was very jealous [laughter], but he took it to the university. It was a triangular shape with a little hole in it, and they analyzed it being at least 500 years old. I put it into a necklace and in a heishi I had it made. Unfortunately, years later it was stolen. But that was really exciting. The day that I found out that was near Santo Domingo and—sorry, I don’t remember the names because this is over forty years ago. But someone was with us and he said I could keep it. Everything that we had that we kept, we had permission and he was always incredibly good about that. I think being in his apartment, and those times that we could walk because it was these glorious summer skies with the clouds, it was relaxed. At that point he wasn’t thinking. I don’t think he was thinking so much about work. Should I go on or do you want to try to corral me?

Q: No, no, no. If this is bringing up new memories, like, you should feel free to go on for sure.

Pink: One other place we used to go to, which was in Albuquerque—you don’t have money when you’re twenty, twenty-two or so. I had worked in a restaurant in Old Town [Albuquerque] called In de Oudeheden, which was a Dutch restaurant of all things. They never had a lot of people in it. But I loved the building. It was historic. Of course, everything was historic down there. I would take Rick there, and Rick loved to go, and we’d go there a lot because I could get a discount and sit there forever and we could drink beer or wine and eat and and it was cheap because, again, the discount was crucial. Because he never, never had an 8 to 5 [full-time job]. He never seemed to have a regular job. I don’t know if we ever talked about it. I don’t know how he funded his school. I don’t remember. I was working at night, or after classes, but—or maybe he sold some of his work. Maybe he was beginning to trade. I know that was part of it. Eventually there were people that wanted to go into business with him, I know in Albuquerque. Those meals at In de Oudeheden were [laughter], that was fine, it was great to go out, that was special, but then [pause] shortly after—we hadn’t known each other very long when he’d start making trips into more southern New Mexico and then across New Mexico and into Arizona and invite me to come.

We would take camping gear and not much because we had to save all the room in the van for cow pie. He was always looking forward to Arizona cow pies because they were denser, apparently. Whatever the cows ate in Arizona, it was better cow pies. They stayed together. I remember when we’d be at the Pueblos and firing and some of the cow pies would crumble or whatever. It was harder to manage them. In Arizona, cow pies were much better. We would strike, go forward and in the van and with as little camping gear as possible. There’s a lot of room for cow pies and we would stop along the high road. That was the old Route 66, [unclear] about barbed wire kind of thing. When we see cows and go out there and and walk around the herds, we never got stopped. No one ever came along and said, “Get off my property,” or anything, and collect them, collect as many as we could and stack them up or in the back of the van.

By the time we’d get to the California border, at Needles [California Agricultural Inspection Station], the fruit and plant guys—it was always summer, so the windows were down anyway and we’d been driving with [that] smell. We didn’t even notice it, but boy, did they notice it. Rick had the beard [laughter], of course, and blue work shirt and jeans, his uniform. They’d make us get out and ask us questions and make him open up the van and go into great detail about how he was an artist. I don’t know if they bought it, but the cow pies were dry enough obviously, they weren’t really disgusting, but they weren’t going to go any further. [Laughter] They let us through, no contraband.

There may have been because the other thing we collected was roadkill, but we didn’t collect the carcasses. It wasn’t like coyotes or anything. It was birds so that he could use the feathers for his own work. [He] hadn’t started using feathers at that point or was beginning to, but any feather that we found, if it was in decent shape. He was very respectful of the bird and move it to the side of the road and probably said a little Indian prayer over it or something [laughs], and plucked very carefully. Sometimes there was a little [pause] matter attached to the feathers, and those would—in that hot 100 degree heat. I can imagine how it smelled when we opened up the van. [Laughter] But one time we went to—and I’ve forgotten how to [pronounce the name]. Is it Hal Reigger or Rye-gor?

Q: Reigger.

Pink: Reigger. That’s what I saw. He was having a workshop on the Colorado River, and I’d never done anything like that to actually dig the clay out of the riverbed. There were only about fifteen or twenty people there, max[imum]. It was about 105 degrees or [one hundred and] ten. Hot wind blowing and that spot, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. There’s an astounding, really short mountain range that is so extraterrestrial looking in its shape. The juxtaposition of this incredibly arid moonscape and then this river—a wide river, too, going through it. Even when you’re half a mile away, you can smell the water. It was such a strong memory when we were getting close to it and then seeing the shapes of these mountains. I don’t know what the range is called, but we were there for a few days and we were digging clay and camping out. [unclear], he was close with Hal. They were talking a lot, but we had to build pots in about five minutes because it was so hot. With that hot wind, everything would crack, if we didn’t. I still have a pot at home, the very first one I ever did. I have some photos of it, if you want to see them now or later.

Q: Later, now, whatever you want.

Pink: I’ll show you. Let’s see. I took them this morning, actually, because I didn’t know what you’d want to see. I’m amazed it has survived all these years. It hasn’t been broken. It’s only this big, like the old wedding pots with the two holes. We had about maybe five minutes to do it. So.

Q: Oh, my God.

Pink: So that was the first. First and only actually, that I kept. We dung fired them. But this is the clay which had that beautiful pink, soft pink. That’s why it’s really rough and it’s heavy. It’s way too heavy than it should be as far as good technique.

Q: Wow.

Pink: I can’t remember if it was—if you did it too thin, it cracked immediately. But that’s it. I’m happy that it survived.

Q: Well, would you be willing to send those to me? Could you email me a photo or two?

Pink: Sure.

Q: And I’ll attach them to your transcript.

Pink: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Yes. Got to write it down.

Q: No worries.

Pink: Memory a minute long.

Q: Mine too. [Laughs]

Pink: Oh, no, no, you’re not that old yet. It was really fun to actually dig the clay. I remember that very distinctly. Being in that water, in that heat. Oh.

Q: Something else.

Pink: Yes, that was the only workshop we went to, But we would go to—and I always thought it was the first mesa. Was it the third with the Walpi or the—that’s where I met [Fannie] Nampeyo.

Q: Yes.

Pink: Okay. Is that the first mesa or third? For some reason I read somewhere that it was the third. I thought, “Well, no, I thought it was the first.”

Q: It must be the first. Because I heard from someone that he used to talk about how he didn’t like going over the second mesa [laughter].

Pink: Yes, I believe that.

Q: I feel like that might be him trash talking because he went to Arizona all the time.

Pink: I can believe that. I can believe it. But we—

Q: Let me get [the recorder] a little closer.

Pink: I’m sorry—

Q: I’m sorry.

Pink: I’m backing away from you.

Q: I know it’s really scary.

Pink: It’s not scary, it’s just—

Q: It’s a lot.

Pink: —it’s intrusive.

Q: It is intrusive. I apologize.

Pink: It’s the parameter that we have, three feet or something. We went to—of course, everything had been arranged—and I met Fannie Nampeyo and her daughters. They were all working in pottery and she was really lovely and I didn’t know anything about her mother who’s Nampeyo, at that point. Sometimes Rick was not forthcoming in my education before we got somewhere. As I was there, I began to realize—I got a pot from her and he educated me on how to look at them and what everything meant on it. She was standing there, and there were quite a few pots in our house, I remember. It was, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m here,” feeling, that privileged. He was so relaxed with them and they were with him and easy and a lot of respect back and forth and I felt incredibly grateful to be along for the ride. I’d always stand to the side or in back of him or wherever and observe. We’d have the great chili lunches. I always [had] the obligatory Jell-O and Coke—I always liked the colors in the Jell-O bouncing around, and Coca-Cola. It was relaxed. He was never in a hurry. Which was nice to see because he was so driven and focused going at home, in Albuquerque and doing things all the time. But when he was on the Pueblos, he was on their time and he knew it, and he was going to take any time that they gave him. At that point, I don’t ever remember him really writing things down unless he did it later on when I wasn’t in his presence or something about, Fanny, her daughters. Beginning to record that history or in Acoma, we’d go to the Acoma, the little Lucy [M.] Lewis. Same thing, absorbing it all and writing it down later. I don’t know. We never really talked about that.

Q: We [The New Mexico Museum of Art] have his notebooks.

Pink: Oh, okay. So he did write.

Q: He did write a little bit.

Pink: Okay.

Q: I think a lot of it was just—

Pink: Yes, it seemed like it. Yes, exactly. Well, it’s like—I told you that I spent four years photographing Patricia Lafarge’s Latin American textile collection. Sixty years in her head. Some people can—yes.

Q: Some people got it.

Pink: Yes. Yes, but the same thing. He would absorb everything and I can see his face. His expressions. Those were heady times. Of course, if we could, if they’d allow us to, then after that was all over at the end, we’d go look for pot shards, down below the mesa or wherever or walking around and, and whatever daylight was left or something like that. And then, of course, more cowpies [laughter]. Cowpies and roadkill. Yes. The trips were always successful when we came back. You’d really felt like you’d been on an adventure, driving up those dirt roads in Arizona in that van. I think he would wear a bandana or a scarf around his neck. We had to have used maps or something. I think he knew we’d go.

Q: Wow.

Pink: On those trips when we were in forced confinement, he would talk. It was always really easy. I never gave it a second thought. Again, you had those friends that you can open up to quickly, and they are friends for life and you can always open up no matter how long it’s been that you haven’t seen them. It’s the nature of that connection. That’s what he was for me. Judging by some of his letters to me, I read one of them this morning, and when I was in Europe and we were still writing, he could open up to me too. That was really nice. He’d say, “I’ve never written a letter like this before.” He said, “I didn’t even know I could do it.” You know how it’s easier to talk to some people sometimes when the people aren’t there, when they’re either a stranger or they’re not there. In a letter, because there’s that distance, he needed to talk about all the issues he was having with coming out. He still liked women, couldn’t figure them out [laughs], but he was very interested in men. I don’t know what his parents did. I don’t. But it’s sad. Not that it’s always your parents’ fault, but their attitudes were their loss. It really is.

Q: I feel like you’ve you’ve addressed a lot of these—

Pink: Questions.

Q: —questions so far, but we can keep going. You’ve talked a lot about how you would describe him. You’ve described him very accurately. Is there anything that you can think of that you missed in the description that you’ve given us so far?

Pink: One thing I mentioned earlier that he had a really nice relationship with my mom and she lived up in the Sandia mountains, [unclear] across Sandia Park. She was a writer. When I was growing up in Los Angeles with her, our house was always full of artists and painters and flamenco dancers and gay retired military people, everybody.

They met in a bar, it was called Willy’s, which was really popular. By 14, the road going up to the crest. Back then that was the meeting place. I knew that they would enjoy each other, but I never knew that it would continue. The relationship would continue, because he would write to me about, “Oh, I went up to Willy’s. I saw your mom last weekend, or she called me,” and my mom would write to me too when I was overseas. That was a whole aspect of his personality that I hadn’t known. He had Billie Walters and a lot of people that were older could be mother figures or parental figures. But he really sought her out. I really enjoyed that. It was like a compliment to me and to her that they enjoyed that relationship. A part of his personality that I hadn’t seen yet, I saw it a little bit when, as it turned out, when I had gone to Highlands University before UNM [University of New Mexico], I had had a long relationship with Billy Walter’s son, Kurt. It’s all so incestuous. I met Billie through Rick. I don’t think I’d met her before, but he had a really nice relationship with her too, that I remembered. At least, I didn’t see her often, but yes, and he pursued it after I left, which was really nice. He continued that relationship with my mom. As I had mentioned, she was friends with a lot of my friends because she was very progressive and creative and Bohemian and all those things that most kids’ parents weren’t back then.

Q: Could you, for the record, state your mother’s name so that we have it in the audio?

Pink: Ellie Phillips.

Q: Awesome.

Pink: Yes.

Q: E-L-L-I-E.

Pink: Yes. I don’t know if I mentioned, I’m Christina Phillips Pink, legally. Rick knew me as Phillips, and Pink was a married name that I attached.

Q: Tack it on.

Pink: Yes. It’s too long so I just [call myself] Christina Pink. I like being a color, too.

Q: Yes, it is, it is fun. [Laughter] Pink’s a good color. I feel like we’ve already talked about the fourth question and what you remember most vividly about him. But do you want to add anything since we’re here?

Pink: [I’ll] see if I wrote anything that I was trying not to forget. I [pause] not here. Because a lot of what we did was repetition. We didn’t have money to go out and do—we had a restaurant we went to, we were in the ceramics department or we were driving to Pueblos or that kind of thing.

Q: Third places.

Pink: Which was plenty for me, that was great. I didn’t do that with anybody else. A new dimension of our my friendship opened up with him after I left New Mexico because I wasn’t nearly as focused as he was. I knew that I would always be involved in the arts at some point. But I was more involved in drawing and painting and [unclear] and didn’t want to go the route of the poor starving artist because I’d grown up with that, but wasn’t sure where—I knew I wanted to travel. When I left and went to Boston for a couple of years, we still continued to write. I was working on ceramics there because it was so much more limiting living in downtown Boston, but using a sling and coiling pots. I made some nice ones too, but they were given away and who knows if they’re still alive anywhere. Then when I went to Europe and I was working there and then Asia and South Pacific, we continued to write.

Because people wrote back then and and writing takes longer than emails, it’s a whole different situation. I miss that. You get letters in the mail, tactile aspects of the paper, peoples’ writing, but that opened up a new dimension because of course, obviously we hadn’t written when I was living here. The fact that he took the time to sit down and write long letters, pages, and really delve into his own heart. Sometimes with that, even though we were really close, when you’re going deeper and deeper—to have a little distance allows you to do that. It’s more comfortable when the person is further away physically or something, you know what I mean?

Q: Yes.

Pink: It was a whole—for both of us to write. You have a few letters here which are not real deep. I went down and read them last year, a year before, but I remember writing some others. Who knows if he kept them or not. That opened up a different aspect of both of our personalities in the relationship we had. That continued until, well, for several years. We were still writing when I was in New Zealand but when I went—try and remember the time frames [pause]—I lost touch with him when I had to go back to the States for a family illness, and back then, there were there were no computers. Or the computers that there were, you couldn’t do a search for someone.

I got caught up in my own life, married my husband-to-be, we moved to the Bay Area, and a couple of trips back to New Mexico. Then I was working so much. I’d come back for two days and I’d ask around and nobody else I knew knew Rick. Then, “Oh yeah, well, he’s in Santa Fe.” I thought, “I have to come back.” Then I heard he got sick. He was sick. I knew what that meant, having been in San Francisco a lot. I thought, “The next time I come back, I’ve got to go see him.” It was too late. I didn’t realize how advanced it was already, and they didn’t have the cocktails back then or anything like that. That was all beginning. Another few years, he would have been okay. But [pause] for that reason, I really look forward to meeting—is it Juliet [Myers]? I’ve heard so much about her.

Q: Yes.

Pink: Because I know. See that other side, if she’s willing to talk about it.

Q: She’s very—

Pink: Closed.

Q: Closed about it.

Pink: Protective. That’s what I’ve heard. But I hope, maybe—

Q: You’ll meet her.

Pink: Yes.

Q: You will.

Pink: Even with what little I can offer to this exhibit, it was hard for me to—it’s mine! [Laughter] That’s what I have of Rick. I don’t want to let it [go], but then you realize that letting it out there isn’t going to take it away from you. [Laughter] That’s hard though.

Q: Mourning and grief. It’s weird [laughs].

Pink: Yes, it [goes] on. It’s like you haven’t thought about it in a long time, and then suddenly all this is really bringing it back.

Q: Yes. There it is.

Pink: Yes. I’m trying not to get emotional, but—

Q: You can be emotional. It’s okay.

Pink: Oh, I don’t want to though [laughs]. Yes, since the day that Maurice called me because I was working [on] the photography thing I’ve worked on with Patricia Lafarge. Turns out, I’d been working with it for a year or two, and I discovered that I mentioned Rick’s name one day. [My friend] Lolly said, “Rick Dillingham. Well, I have a good friend who’s writing a biography on him. You’ve got to meet Maurice.” Maurice called and we spent some time together at his house and etcetera, talking about Rick. Ever since then, it’s like all the stuff has come back up about Rick. It was very safe and tucked away, very nice and tidy for a long, long time.

Q: Sorry. [Laughs]

Pink: Yes. It’s your fault, Katie. Now that wells up and you don’t even realize that it’s still there. I think when you really love someone, and I’m not just talking about heterosexual, but it doesn’t go away. Anyway. Sorry. [Laughs]

Q: You don’t need to be sorry. That’s fine. [It’s] good to say what needs to be said—

Pink: I’m thrilled. I feel so fortunate to have known him and for us to have had the relationship that we had. Of course, again, very sorry that I didn’t see him, but I’m ecstatic that you are having this exhibit. I think it’s needed. It’s so well-deserved. I didn’t realize it was going on until June too, which is great. Opens on my birthday. Yay. [Laughter] Two days after yours, I believe. Yes. Nice birthday present for both of us.

Q: Maybe open for Pride in 2024.

Pink: Oh, that’s right. I forgot. You see, I’ve seen some of the pots that are coming from private donations from museums here and there. Obviously, Rick’s work has been validated. The V&A  Museum, the Smithsonian [Institution]—he’s been recognized in a lot of places and that he should be in. I hope this continues the interest in his work and sparks new interest. He’s so deserving, not only of his own work, but further recognition of what he’s done for the southwestern Pueblo pottery history and the families. I don’t know if Maurice’s biography will go forward, and I think it would be great. I think it’d be great if it sparked an interest in some kind of sponsorship for him, and because I think Rick is deserving of a book. Yes, I really do.

Q: My last question for you before we wrap up is how did you see Rick’s personality manifesting itself in his artwork or his scholarly practice? I think you talked a little bit about how he was on the Pueblo[s] and how he shifted his sense of time and approached everyone with respect and practiced a lot of listening. But you were also with him in the art studio and in the workshop with Hal Riegger. How did you see his personality in the studio space?

Pink: I think if anything [it] is his humor, which was somewhat sarcastic and fun and always will always appreciate it. Well, most of the time at least [laughs]. But-

Q: Everyone’s a critic.

Pink: But it was the quirkiness sometimes in his humor, or you’d be working and, “Well let’s try this or that,” or, again, looking at the photographs of the evolution of the gas cans. You saw not only the bold color suddenly from these really soft, muted [colors]. It was like he was beginning to come out in his own personality and showing that in color, showing that in the funny shapes that he was doing, showing that maybe if you attached a feather or did that—people hadn’t done these things back then. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but I could see there weren’t marked differences so much at that point. But his personality was evolving and he wasn’t sure where it was going. So were his pots. As he was working on them, he was, “Well, let’s try, maybe I could try this,” or , “Let’s do this a little longer or do this a little more saturated or, maybe if we do it with dung, we can do it so there’s some coloration around the lip.” Always pushing the envelope but not necessarily knew where he was going. That to me was his personality, too, pushing himself and then some of the quirkiness coming out, with the shapes or the look, if not prehistoric, then Martian.

I always found it interesting, his work next to the Pueblo pottery, because that was so exacting, the Pueblo pottery and the shapes. They do such an incredible job when they do the coil work. You couldn’t believe it could be so uniform and the painting on it, and then his was so different sometimes, and it was refined and crude at the same time. The really subtle raku glazes and the juxtaposition of that with a gas can, and this something that was ancient and again refined, that I think of raku for maybe the age of the process. It’s been around for so long. But those are all aspects of his character and his personality right next to each other, fighting for front space. Front row and developing. He was only twenty-one, twenty. What he did in twenty years was pretty remarkable, I think. Not just because I knew him, but really remarkable what he did on both of those planes, his own work and with the Native Americans.

I’ve never talked to anyone, I’ve never known any of them well enough to have that kind of conversation or that knew Rick. It would be nice to get a perspective from the people that actually were dealing with him back then, from the Lewis family or from the Martinez family, what they thought of him. How this guy showed up one day and [gestures to her chin] [laughter].

Q: Yes, with the beard.

Pink: Yes, with the beard, exactly. With a big, burly, beard. [Laughter]

Q: This guy with a beard.

Pink: Yes.

Q: Yes.

Pink: I could see him coming a mile away.

Q: Yes.

Pink: I’m really excited about this [the exhibit], and I thank you and everybody. I know it’s a huge endeavor. It must be amazing, suddenly one day, “Oh, my God, There’s a video of him.” You’ve got this opportunity, these little gifts that creep in—it’s your phone.

Q: Getting a phone call from Chicago. I will call them back.

Pink: You have an appointment. We’re—

Q: We’re good. Is there anything else that you want to add or that you want us to know before we wrap up?

Pink: I can’t think of anything now. I haven’t been long winded.

Q: No, this is all incredibly valuable.

Pink: You probably say that to everyone [laughs].

Q: No, I’m serious. Because it is incredibly valuable. We’re filling in all of these missing pieces, and like I said earlier, we don’t have him here with us to do that work. Everybody that knew Rick has a different piece of the puzzle. Really this is incredibly valuable. Thank you.

Pink: Oh, you’re very welcome. Have you figured out that you were—

Q: Sorry.

Pink: You were talking last time about you hadn’t quite figured out how to do this audio part.

Q: Yes.

Pink: Have you developed that any further?

Q: Yes. We’re going to have QR codes in the gallery. People will be able to take their phone and scan the QR code and it’ll pull up the audio so that they can listen in the gallery.

Pink: So they listen through their—

Q: They’ll listen to it through their personal device, instead of having headphones, because then you can walk around, you have somewhere to be—

Pink: You can walk around—

Q: —and listen and see the work.

Pink: Which is great.

Q: Yes.

Pink: It satisfies that Covid[-19] aspect.

Q: Yes.

Pink: Oh, that’s fantastic.

Q: For anyone that’s hard of hearing, there will be a transcript as well.

Pink: Yes.

Q: So they’ll be able to read if they can’t hear.

Pink: Now one thing I would be thinking of is that it’d be nice if people could bring earplugs or something. Because when you’re standing there, you don’t necessarily want to hear someone else’s phone talking, if you’re looking at a piece and if a lot of people are listening.

Q: We’ll have to see how that plays out. It’s the first time that we’ve done anything like this.

Pink: Yes, sounds great. Like a great idea.

Q: [Laughs] We’ll see what happens. We might have to add a little extra, “Turn down your phone volume,” or, “Please don’t listen on speaker,” something. But that’s actually a really good potential hiccup.

Pink: I always encourage people when they go to any exhibit, whether it’s Georgia O’Keeffe [Museum] or Alcatraz [East Crime Museum], get the the tape tours or whatever,

Q: The audio guide. Yes.

Pink: The audio guide and walkthrough. I said it adds so much to any exhibit, painting, anything. It brings it to life. But that intrusive aspect is—

Q: A little tough.

Pink: —can be an issue. I don’t know—

Q: Some people don’t like it.

Pink: I don’t know if you could advertise within the ticket. Or it’s not tickets. How do you? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out. I don’t know. Maybe it’s art. Maybe I’m being too picky.

Q: No, no, no. I don’t think that you’re being picky. I think you bring up a very good point, and I think that still, some of these little pieces—

Pink: Sure. Kinks.

Q: —still need to be resolved. Smooth it out.

Pink: Get all the wrinkles.

Q: Smooth it out, yes. [Laughs] Get out the iron.

Pink: I can see Rick smiling. I can’t wait to see the exhibit.

Q: There there will be a preview for you all on October 6th on opening night. We will open the exhibit early for you guys at 4 p.m.

Pink: Okay.

Q: It’ll be in by invite only. Only the people that are loaning and people that have sat for these oral histories will be—

Pink: Oh, okay.

Q: At this preview. So you guys can have some time.

Pink: No guests allowed.

Q: You can bring a guest if you want.

Pink: Okay.

Q: But then at five [p.m.] we’ll open it up to members and then at six [p.m.] it’ll be open to the public.

Pink: Okay. As far as photos, is everything going to be on walls? That’s why there won’t be no cases—

Q: There will be. There will be cases.

Pink: There will be cases.

Q: Yes.

Pink: Because you talked about [pause]

Q: We were thinking about digitizing a bunch of things and putting them in iPads, but I was like, “Ew, no.” [Laughs]

Pink: Yes, yes. No. I’m—

Q: So we’ll have two archival cases with some letters and then we’ll also have a case with Rick’s tools.

Pink: Right.

Q: And some sketches of his.

Pink: Oh, that’s right. His sketches. God, I remembered all that. That’s what I remember, his sketches. I hadn’t thought of that.

Q: They’re very frenetic. [Laughs]

Pink: Yes, yes.

Q: His circles of different things and saying like, “Yes, but modify this.”

Pink: It’s all very fast. Again, he didn’t know what direction it was going to take him in until he was actually—

Q & Pink: —doing it—

Pink: —half the time. That was exciting. It was always fun when he would show me how to do things, and I was a little intimidated, I think [laughs]. But it was always fun to try to do my own thing, but to watch him. I was happy watching him, too. Because I was always learning.

Q: Always something new.

Pink: Yes, it was always something new and fun and, “Let’s do this. Let’s do that. Let’s try something—let’s go get a beer.” [Laughter]

Q: Let’s go get a beer [laughs]. Get a beer and try something. Why not?

Pink: Yes, exactly.

Q: A little bit of both. Get you all lubed up. Loosened up.

Pink: Really, go back there. Hey, you got the right idea [laughter].

Q: Christina, thank you. I’m going to talk into the microphone. We’re going to talk into the microphone again. It is now 12:45 p.m. and we will be concluding the interview and transcripts will be forthcoming.