190 Wichita, KS: Suggestions

The WAM's family guide to paintings in the collection encouraged youngsters to create a similar composition as Conference at Night. "Set up your dolls or action figures in a scene sitting on boxes or doll furniture. Shine a flashlight on them from one side. Use colored pencils to draw the scene." That idea may have come from the WAM director of education, who kindly agreed to be interviewed because WAM was under construction and only one gallery of collection highlights was open (and only Conference at Night on display).

He was a thin, effete guy with a slightly square hair cut, who wore a loose-fitting outfit and a thin tie. His face bore a neutral expression, and his shoulders were low slung, lending him a clown-like sad sack look.

"We include this on a tour of paintings we do called 'People and Places' talking about works of art with, um, well, people in different places. Kids like this painting. I think because it's kind of open to interpretation as far as who these people are and what's going on, like what they're discussing. That and it has humor in it. Because of the title, the only reference they have for 'conference' is parent-teacher conference, so instantly they say, 'These are the parents. They're talking to the teacher. And the little boy, their son, has been bad at school. And the teacher's aren't happy, and the parents are not happy.'"

"It's nice when we have up the other one with figures in it [Sunlight on Brownstones]. We can do a comparison as far as the isolation. Out of the three Hoppers we have, this is probably the best and it's one of the favorite works in the collection. There's interaction in the characters; that's kind of rare in Hopper. As far as interpretation, Hopper even said, you know, 'it's all right there; you figure it out for yourselves.' And I think that people like the voice of the artist giving them permission, you know, legitimizing their looking at it, saying, 'you can figure it out. You're an intelligent person.'"

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