“Attention Marshall McLuhan! Rugs are the medium with the message here.”  So starts a feature in the April 21, 1968, issue of Los Angeles Times Home magazine describing a new line of area rugs by Dorothy Liebes for Bigelow-Sanford, Inc. Inspired by Persian rugs and early American embroidery samplers, the line, dubbed “Motto Rugs,” incorporated the words “Love,” “Peace,” “Truth,” and “Hope” into larger complex geometric designs and patterns (Fig. 1). The four by six foot nylon rugs felt of-the-moment with their simple messages in bold colors. “The delightfully beautiful result,” the press release from Bigelow-Sanford proclaimed, “is very young, very new, very 1968.”  Interior design and lifestyle magazines received the Motto Rugs with enthusiasm, styling them in layouts with Thayer Coggin furniture and colorful handwoven Liebes blinds in front of an accent wall in shocking pink, or boldly displayed in a pair as wall hangings (Fig. 2). The line was a near immediate success, and as Liebes wrote in her unpublished memoirs, “From a distance, to be sure, they do look like paintings.” 
Liebes’s Motto Rugs looked like paintings partly because they came from a collaboration with the artist, and dear friend of Liebes, Dorr Bothwell (1902–2000). Bothwell had worked for Liebes on projects ranging from wallpapers to tablecloths off and on for over twenty years. Liebes provided Bothwell with a stream of income from her corporate jobs, and Bothwell provided Liebes with ideas and designs that reflected her travels and surrealist approach to art. Bigelow-Sanford was enthusiastic about the rug prototype Liebes showed them that used a design from Bothwell’s “Love” serigraph. Adding an abundance of blue-greens, and removing the beige in the original artwork, Liebes mirrored the text—“we made ‘LOVE’ go in both directions”—and the pair was given the green light to develop the work further.  “You did us, meaning the D.L. Studio, a great favor by opening our eyes to the possibilities of motto rugs,” Liebes wrote to Bothwell expressing her gratitude.  These affordable rugs evoked a reception widespread enough that they were used as prayer rugs in the ordination of four Byzantine priests, each on an individual rug with a different motto, at the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia (Fig. 3).  Liebes and Bothwell’s collaboration was playful, fresh, and vibrant.
Five years younger than Liebes, Bothwell was part of a thriving San Francisco arts scene that came together during the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Liebes first hired Bothwell in the 1940s to assist with designs and color schemes on short-term projects, supplementing Bothwell’s work teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). In the early 1940s, Bothwell and Tammis Keefe, another Liebes studio employee, shared an apartment in the historic Montgomery Block building that housed a collection of artists and their studios. Bothwell documented these years with Keefe in an illustrated diary that she began keeping in 1942; it depicted the small and large moments of their daily life together (Figs. 4–10).  As Bothwell made strides in her career, exhibiting widely and publishing her work, her friends and colleagues at the Liebes studio shared their excitement about her achievements. Bea Morris, Liebes’s secretary, wrote at the end of a letter regarding a design request, “I saw one of the pages from your ‘Rainbow Street’ book at the Museum of Modern Art and was as proud as the dickens to know you!” 
Liebes and Bothwell remained close even after Liebes moved to New York, exchanging letters, sending invitations to exhibition openings, and visiting each other on their respective coasts. Liebes, a constant champion of those in her orbit, promoted Bothwell’s paintings to interior designers she worked with and was quick to lend support, whether by opening her apartment to Bothwell when she was in town or inviting Bothwell’s students to the studio for a visit and mentorship. In 1966, Liebes was instrumental in ensuring that Bothwell’s endeavor to create a photographic survey of “rapidly disappearing arts and crafts” in Nigeria found funding—including documenting casava starch and indigo dye resist patterns and examples of sheer weavings worn by village elders—found funding. Bothwell wrote Liebes in hopes of getting an introduction to Aileen Osborn Webb, the founder of the American Craft Council, or other Liebes contacts that may be able to provide financial assistance for the project.  She wrote to a member of her network at the Museum of Primitive Art discussing the strength of Bothwell’s compositional eye and how these photographs would be “extraordinarily good,” and used her business savvy to leverage the financial scholarship as an investment: “I think you might even use these pictures for some project of your own in connection with your company.”  In turn, Bothwell was quick over the years to send colorful handwritten notes to Liebes as she learned of Liebes’s awards and honors (Figs. 11, 12).
In 1973, after Liebes’s death, studio manager Ralph Higbee reached out to Bothwell about a portrait of Liebes she had painted in 1944. Liebes’s husband, Relman (Pat) Morin, had moved into a smaller apartment and had the painting brought to the Liebes studio; Higbee wrote to Bothwell to return the artwork to her.  The portrait, now in the collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, was commissioned by Liebes herself at a time when Bothwell was struggling, during the war years. “My bread and butter came with this job. The bottom had just fell out of everything,” Bothwell recalled, adding of Liebes that “it was her character” to help others.  It was that loving characteristic Bothwell worked to capture in the painting showing Liebes, with her blonde upswept hair and bright blue eyes, gathering ribbons and threads, attaching them to a heart-shaped pincushion as she sat on rocks overlooking the San Francisco Bay, radiating life.
 The column continues, stating, “And flower children have no monopoly on the word ‘Love.’” Liebes continued to stay artistically relevant as she worked with longtime collaborators like artist and friend Dorr Bothwell. Article from the Los Angeles Times’ Home magazine, April 21, 1968, p. 54. Scrapbook 1968–69, Series 8, Box 35, Folder 1, Dorothy Liebes Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
 From a press release titled “Persia and Americana Blended in New ‘Motto’ Area Rugs by Liebes,” from Rebecca Manning, working for James F. Fox, Inc., doing publicity for Bigelow-Sanford, Inc. This press release states that Liebes first gained interest in creating rugs with messages after seeing Persian tapestries and rugs with quotations or prayers. She is quoted as saying, “We have done this we hope, in a modern way using, I thought, non-controversial subjects. It turns out that love and justice and peace and mercy and all that sort of thing is controversial… Scrapbook 1967–68, Series 8, Box 34, Folder 3, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Liebes’s autobiography (unpublished ms.), 447. Series 4, Box 4, Folder 11, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Dorothy Liebes, letter to Dorr Bothwell, February 12, 1966, discussing the “Love” design that she bought from Bothwell for $250. Series 2, Box 1, Folder 33, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 The quote comes from the February 12, 1966, letter from Liebes to Bothwell in discussion of the “Love” design and introduction of the “Motto Rugs” collection. In a letter to Bothwell on April 1, 1969, Liebes writes, “I loved your little flower thing and I very much hope that you can do a few rugs with those nice abstract-looking imaginative flowers. Put your mind to it and also tell me how much you want to get for a sketch or an outline or even one painted in one-third size would be great.” Series 2, Box 1, Folder 33, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 A clipping from the July 29, 1968, issue of Floor Covering Weekly documents this use with a photograph and a brief description noting that prayer rugs are used in this “hour-and-a-half long ceremony, which at one point calls for each candidate to lie prone on a rug facing the bishop.” Series 8, Box 35, Folder 1, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Dorr Bothwell illustrated diary, 1942, February 9–March 22. Dorr Bothwell papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
 Bea Morris (from The Gotham hotel, which Liebes was working out of), letter to Dorr Bothwell, May 27, 1946. Series 2, Box 1, Folder 33, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Bothwell sent Liebes a written, formal “Outline of Project” that included a description of the project, the method, her need for the grant to fund the cost of fifty rolls of color film and the cost of hiring a car and driver to interpret totaling $500. In the section titled “Qualifications,” Bothwell wrote, “Dorothy Liebes, internationally known weaver and designer will be able to vouch for my character and my interest in design.” Series 2, Box 1, Folder 33, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Dorothy Liebes, two-page letter to Ted Clement, August 4, 1966, in work to gather funding for Bothwell’s trip to Nigeria to study folk crafts. Series 2, Box 1, Folder 33, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Ralph Higbee, letter to Dorr Bothwell, March 27, 1973. Higbee writes that Morin asked the studio to pick up the painting after he moved into a smaller apartment in the same building where he and Liebes had lived together. Higbee mentions that the studio is “helping him [with] some draperies and window blinds.” Writing to Higbee on October 9, 1973, Bothwell gives instruction on how to send the painting back to her and remarks on the passage of time since their last correspondence, which she states has to do with Morin’s sudden passing and Higbee’s work in handling the estate. A handwritten postscript says, “If you ever see Daren give him my best” and references Daren Pierce and the days when all three worked together at Liebes’s San Francisco studio. Series 2, Box 1, Folder 33, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Oral history interview with Dorr Bothwell, “The Dorothy Liebes I Remember,” circa 1980, American River College (ARC) Textile collection and the Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Association, Oakland Museum of California Archives.