Losing Wisdom: Paula Gustafson February 25, 1941- July 11, 2006 PDF  | Print |  E-mail


Routing around trying to find a handle, an idea from which you can build a piece of art, a story, perhaps a magazine, and one asks questions of other people. Other people pass you on to other people who can point you in what they think is the appropriate direction, it may be more often than not a direction that coincides with their personal agenda. Occasionally it can be a frank unbiased informed response that is, encouraging yet censorious and probing, as was my personal experience of the late publisher of the now defunct Artichoke Magazine Paula Gustafson. In the spring of 2004 while attempting to craft a proposal for the extension of the services of the Textile Artist Designer Association and the expansion of its publication Surfacing Journal I picked up the telephone and call the west coast. Buoyed up by my years of reading Artichoke and things other people had said, I told her who I was, who I was working for, and what I was calling her for and she responded accordingly. She took me at face value answered my questions with authority and an ironic tone that recent funding cuts were inspiring, it was the first of what became a series of calls that ended abruptly.

I had an ally, a mentor, some one who I had hope to have on the other end of the line for years to come as I redeveloped the original idea we had spoke of into what is now fibreQuarterly On-Line. That unfortunately has not been the case. With the losing of Canada Council funding along with their absurdist reasons for doing it and having to face the shutting down of Artichoke along with health issues I wasn’t the slightest bit aware of, her death last July was like a punch in the stomach.

What is more absurd and typical of the Canadian Arts community was the fact that I hadn’t heard about it until Bettina Matzkuhn told me about her dying at the TSA Symposium while we where discussing the lack of textile arts coverage in Canada. During one of the conversation I had with Paula she told me that the largest increase in subscriptions from Canadian residence occurred after she had placed an quarter page advertisement in the American publication Fiberarts Magazine, (an ad that was cheaper then one in Canadian Art by the way.) There were more American than Canadian subscribers as a result of the ad and she expressed her thought that the new Canadians subscribed because the ad in an American publication had some how made Artichoke a more authentic publication and the advertisement was somehow an endorsement from America in spite of it being bought and paid for.

I can hear our perhaps sardonic snickering, we had been discussing how best to spend a limited advertising budget. That was what our relationship was about, practical information about cultural publishing and funding in Canada. She had expressed her concerns about the wisdom behind web based publishing and the technical learning curve that had an obvious generational gap. She did appreciate the wisdom of the cost saving, but we both agreed that there is nothing like a beautifully designed publication on good quality paper to bring a smile to the face. Talking with her was a Master Class in Canadian culture and publishing. I miss her encouragement and wisdom.

To read more about her and what other peoples thoughts and experiences of her where there is a memorial blog design her daughters Nisse Gustafson and Monica Schmutz and Michael Dymund, who for the last six years has been Paula's graphic designer, helping with not only the layout and graphics for Artichoke and several books, but who also put together the blogsite.




*photo credit: Yukiko Onley

FYI the third volume of " Craft Perception and Practice" is in pre-production and should be available in the summer

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