Happiness is having a book published. Utter happiness is when Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library picks your book to be sent to over 100,000 babies in the month of December, for three years in a row.
The authoritative, comprehensive random sampling survey of late-seventies iconic world-of-advertising and subjective definitive targeting, as I knew it, with some art thrown in.
In 1917, the Toledo Federation of Art Societies (TFAS) was established by the joining together of the Tile Club, Athenas Society, Artklan and the Toledo Museum of Art to create an annual local exhibition of Toledo artists at the Toledo Museum of Art.
In 2014, the Toledo Federation of Art Societies conspired with the Toledo Museum of Art to kill the local annual museum show, just four years shy of the 100th anniversary, by extending the region to a 150 mile radius, slashing the number of artists accepted, using museum employees to judge and curate the show, and putting in their own people, including two museum employees, an ex-employee, the husband of an employee, a close friend of the director, and two Toledo Federation of Art Societies past presidents. (Another past president, Leslie Adams, had been awarded with a museum solo show, just the year before.) The president of the Federation at the time shrugged off the suggestion of impropriety and corruption by saying with misguided sophistication, “It’s the world we live in.”
With the demise of the prestigious Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, gone was the important center of the Toledo artist community — the museum — along with valuable opportunities for the local community of artists, including 14 monetary awards that had been awarded annually:
This month, on April 28, 2018, the Toledo Federation of Art Societies and the Toledo Museum of Art present a 100th anniversary show celebrating the Toledo Federation of Art Societies itself, as if the Federation is anything to celebrate. After devouring their baby — what the Federation was formed to make — the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition that they cared for, for 97 years, the oldest local art show in the country and a prestigious one at that – how ironic that they now celebrate themselves by showing the Federation collection of purchase awards from the historic, venerable, prestigious, but dead Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, killed by their own device.
No mention of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, pushing it down the memory hole, as if what they did will ever stop stinking.
With this show, called, “Decades in the Making,” the Toledo Museum of Art makes what should have been the 100th anniversary of theToledo Area Artists Exhibition into a 100-year celebration of the lousy caretaker the Federation has been to the culture, history, and potential of the Toledo artist community.
Welcome back to Roger Mandle, the fifth Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, from 1977 to 1988. He spoke at the museum’s Little Theater on June 8. It was a wonderful talk, about working with Otto Wittmann, the 4th museum director of the museum, and then as the assistant director at the National Museum of Art in Washington, DC, and then as president of Rhode Island School of Design from 1993 to 2008, and then how he helped develop two new museums in Qatar. Now he is starting a new museum for art and technology in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
It was a great era when Mandle was at the Toledo Museum of Art, because the museum had meaningful art community involvement. The museum was built on meaningful art community involvement, in fact it was built by artists. Beginning in 1916, the museum offered grade school through high school classes, then university classes, and always adult art classes. Local artists had monthly shows at the museum. The museum hosted the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition (TAA). Who would have thought that the TAA Show would have been extinguished, just four years short of its 100th year celebration next year, what was the oldest, most venerable exhibition of its kind in the entire United States.
I benefited from the classes at the museum from age 9 to 21. I taught the first kids photography class that the museum offered, in 1979, with the darkroom right below the Peristyle stage. I exhibited in a few TAA shows, and in 2013, my daughter’s photography career received a huge boost, perhaps even a complete launch, as a result of her prize-winning entry in what was to become the final local Toledo Area Artists Exhibition. This year, four years later, my daughter is showing her photographs in Venice, Italy in a show at the European Cultural Center in the context of the 57th Venice Biennale.
My daughter spent the summer of 2006 at Rhode Island School of Design in a high school program, and that’s where she fell in love with photography. Because I knew Roger Mandle from the museum, we sent him the photos she shot that summer. He was sincerely impressed and without our even asking, sent her photos to the admissions department with a strong recommendation. To be encouraged by such a knowledgeable and important person so early on was a great formative experience.
Kids classes as well as adult classes have nearly disappeared at the Toledo Museum of Art. The local art community is no longer tied to the museum that the artist-forefathers of Toledo had so progressively formed. It used to be our museum and everybody understood that — it belonged to the community of Toledo — but today for the first time suddenly it is no longer our museum.
Today’s museum is all about the grants. A Mellon grant brought down the TAA show, along with a big bamboozling by the museum to the Toledo artist community, as if our community artists would benefit by expanding our local art show 10-fold to 13 million people and a 300 mile diameter. At least it looked good on the grant application. That was three years ago, and it was the last show. Judged by Halona Norton-Westbrook, a Mellon Fellow employed at the museum, the eleven local artists who were accepted into the show happened to be closely associated with the museum (including two employees, the husband of an employee, a past employee, and two past presidents of the Federation). Only two of the Toledoans were women.
Our current director, Brian Kennedy, tells people openly that Toledo artists are not good enough to show at the museum in any show, even our annual, 100-year old show that’s always been at the museum. So unbecoming of our museum, which had such a progressive, community oriented beginning!
Rejecting local artists is an elitist spin on Toledo’s communal inferiority complex and famously poor self-image. Museum supporters don’t care. They buy their art in New York. Thus, the ax has come down on this fine opportunity and tradition for artists in Toledo. Our deceased museum directors must be rolling in their graves.
It is a shame that the artist community that was once centered around the museum has disappeared and opportunities no longer exist at our most magnificent and inspiring cultural center, the Toledo Museum of Art, that was built by artists, educated artists, and for many years, was led by artists (including Roger Mandle.)
Roger Mandle and the museum directors who preceded him kept the local art community alive and well at the Toledo Museum of Art for more than eight decades. And while accommodating the community, they had blockbuster shows, bigger and better than we see today.
"The founders of the Toledo Museum of Art and the individuals, who, shortly thereafter, established the Federation and the "TAA Exhibition ," did so with the intention of supporting the creative endeavors of our area artists and raising those artists to new heights. That was 1917. Almost a century later, the leaders of our museum have dedicated themselves to adapting the exhibition to a new age. This does not suggest that they are abandoning the philosophy of the original founders or excluding local artists in favor of those from a distance further than our city limits. On the contrary, they are again, raising the bar for the artists in our immediate community by offering us the opportunity to compete on a much grander scale, in a more significant way. Dr. Brian Kennedy, our esteemed Director, and Dr. Amy Gilman, the Associate Director and Curator of Modern and Contemporary art believe in us. They believe that we have the talent and capacity to compete with artists on a more global level - yes, throughout a greater geographic region, but a region that, in 2014, IS the Toledo Area.In years to come, I will, of course, reflect back on this turning point in my career with immense gratitude to the Toledo Museum of Art. I encourage all artists in this community to embrace change and continue to enter and support the "TAA Exhibition." I challenge them to trust that the leaders of the museum can be monumental and great...that they can be life changing." Leslie Adams to Toledo artists, 2014
Isn’t it something that Brian Kennedy tells people that Toledo area artists aren’t good enough for the museum to continue hosting the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, an important, century old tradition started by the museum with the Federation formed for that purpose, and here is Leslie Adams, past president of the Federation, telling Toledo area artists to trust that with the change in the show, that the museum has their best interests at heart.
Seriously? The museum gave Adams a one-person show in 2012 as a new Toledo Area Artists Exhibition award in 2011 (the first and only recipient of that award) and the museum even acquired three of her pieces in 2015.
So how don’t Toledo artists rate? Leslie Adams is a Toledo artist, yet the museum did all that for her, a lowly Toledo artist.
You just have to wonder when they kill our show and profess that no local artist’s work can ever be good enough to show at the museum, but they buy Leslie Adam’s work.
Should the Ohio Arts Council be giving a show to the state employees of Ohio at the exclusion of the independent artists of Ohio?
The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery is funded by the state. Shouldn’t the responsibility of the Ohio Arts Council be to help the independent artists in Ohio, and not exclude them from a show that takes up 10 weeks in their gallery and lots of state resources showcasing the “After Hours” artwork of state employees?
Isn’t it enough that taxpayers pay the salaries of these state employees, and we give them benefits above and beyond the reach of any independent artists in Ohio, including better health insurance than is available for any individual in Ohio to buy? (thanks to state employees not looking out for us.)
Especially in light of the reduced funding for the arts, why would state resources ever be used on a state employee-only art show? And why would it be conceived in the first place, an employee show put on by the state, because it takes funding and opportunities away from Ohio’s independent artists. They could have had their show elsewhere, like at a private gallery.
It seems unethical and you would think that the rules of state funding would make it illegal.
Taxpayer grant money was never intended to be used on a state employees’ own art show. It takes away from Ohio’s artists who do not have the advantage of getting a paycheck from the state.
If the “after hours” artists could stand in the shoes of daytime artists, they would understand.
|As a free-range turkey, I will not impose contemporary restraints or adhere to societal constrictions, at least when it concerns my artwork. Otherwise, anything goes. — Anonymous|
|When I look down on the ground, looking for something to eat, I’m deep in thought about the lines the foliage makes juxtaposed against the acorn nuts and the memory of my mother. I bring all these things to my art. — Anonymous|
|Yes, we usually put the Turkey Area Artists Show in the basement, but this year we are bringing in the really good out of town turkeys and they will be in the really large room upstairs.|
|Call me Sharona Triumph-Northstream-Eaglerock-Furfeather-Turkeyfoot-Tenderheart-Honeydew-Bigfellow, or you can just call me Tickles!|
|Of course I look much better and have better taste! I am an imported, out of towner turkey!|
|They had a special show for a special turkey and then never again!|
|“There are some turkeys, from across the pond, that do not respect and appreciate the long-standing traditions that our area turkeys have. They act all puffed up and almighty with their upright feathers.”
“You need not worry too much, for they too will soon fly away and land at another museum and the first thing they will do is to go out and look for some outstanding local turkeys like us!”
|As a turkey artist, I face a lot of rejection. They only let two female area turkey artists in this year. I have only myself to blame for being a female. Now it’s back to the studio to work, work, work, work, work…|
|I am the new 2014 genetically modified all white meat turkey.|
|When I get frustrated, I look long and deep within myself, and believe I will find the truth. But I doubt it.|
|The 2015 Turkey Area Artists Show will have no area artist turkeys!|
Photos © 2014 Penny Gentieu gentieu.com
New in the past several days, The Toledo Museum of Art has completely rewritten its 95th Toledo Area Artists Exhibition webpage. Why did the museum feel the need to rewrite a webpage that it posted for the show in July after the winners were chosen?
Maybe the museum doesn’t want people to have the facts about the show, that out of 28 accepted artists, only 11 are from the Toledo area comprising the 17 counties in Northwest Ohio and two counties in Southeast Michigan, and that of the shamefully low number of area artists chosen, only two are women. Last year 64 Toledo area artists were in the show and 39 were women. Of this year’s lucky 11 Toledo area artists; two are museum employees, a spouse of an employee, a former employee, the two most recent past presidents of the Toledo Federation of Artists, as well as a close friend of museum staff.
Mention of the history and great tradition of our 95 year old TAA show has been exorcised from the webpage as it had appeared a week or so ago, including the details that the 95th TAA “continues the Museum’s tradition of celebration and recognizing the best work by artists in this region” and that “it is one of the few remaining shows of its kind organized by an art museum nationally.”
Also removed is the statement that 28 artists were chosen from 462 entrants, with the link to a page listing the artists and their resident cities. This page is still on their server, but you have to search for it. Good luck finding it.
Some time before October 9, their statement that TMA associate director and curator of contemporary and modern art, Amy Gilman was one of the judges (along with Mellon Fellow Halona Norton-Westbrook) that picked the artists was removed from the page. (see, my October 4 blog post in regard to Amy Gilman.) In total, since the museum first posted the page in July, the page went from having four paragraphs down to one.
All of this informative history has been shoved down the memory hole. The museum’s new TAA webpage has transformed (twisted) our wonderful TAA show into a new Frankenstein. The new TAA show is described with mysteriously fluffy verbiage such as, “tension between the urban vs. suburban” and “class struggle in Middle America and war.”
Also, The Toledo Museum of Art disclosed for the first time in their public announcements that the “money awards” judge, Christopher Knight, has worked at the museum. Draw your own conclusions.
The upcoming Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, Nov. 21 through Jan. 4 at the Toledo Museum of Art, will have only 11 artists from the Toledo area. The previous exhibition had 64 local artists.
Seventeen artists outside of our 17-county regional area got into the TAA show from as far as Cleveland, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Muncie, Ind.
I am a member of the local art community and operate a Web site that details Toledo’s art history (artistsoftoledo.com). I applied for the exhibition but wasn’t accepted.
Of the 11 Toledo area artists who were chosen, most have inside connections to the art museum, which gained control of the exhibition from the Toledo Federation of Art Societies in 2011. I question whether the jurying was ethical.
It is unacceptable that only 11 Toledo area artists were picked out of 462 total entrants. The museum should not be entitled to use the TAA name because it is a misrepresentation.
TAA is the oldest regional art competition affiliated with a museum in the country. Obviously, the museum has no respect for Toledo’s traditions or its artists. Toledoans donate to the museum, believing it is community oriented. Donors may want to rethink donating to a museum that treats the present-day community this way.
Some TAAE awards, and they all have a story. What is happening to them, Toledo Museum of Art?
Molly Morpeth Canaday Award
University of Toledo Award
Toledo Federation of Art Societies Purchase Award
Roulet Medal Award
Arts Commission of Greater Toledo Purchase Award for the City of Toledo’s Art in Public Places Program
Athena Art Society Award
Toledo Friends of Photography Award
Toledo Area Sculpture Guild Rose M. Reder Memorial Award
Bob Martin Memorial Award
Edith Franklin Memorial Award
Lourdes University Art Department Award
Toledo Potter’s Guild Award
Toledo Area Artists Solo Exhibition Award
UPDATE on November 22:
I had received no answer from the Museum, the Federation, the Arts Commission, or the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim regarding these awards, even though I had asked each one directly. I am posting the day after the awards ceremony.
The University of Toledo Award, Lourdes University Art Department Awards were combined along with BGSU, new this year, and given to a Farmington Hills, Michigan artist. I am wondering why the art schools of Toledo ganged up and sent their money out of town. I recommend all future college art students to get their education outside of Toledo, and set up shop outside of the Toledo area. Because this is how Toledo art schools will support you. THEY WON’T.
The Potters Guild Award was not given, because there was only one potter in the show, a Toledo artist and member of the Potters Guild. He unselfishly said to the Potters Guild that they should hold off on giving the award this year, and even suggested that the Potters Guild award it at the Salon des Refusés.
Toledo Area Sculpture Guild Rose M. Reder Memorial Award’s name was changed to Toledo Area Sculpture Guild and Flatlanders Gallery Award (a gallery owned by one of the Federation presidents put in this year’s show, Ken Thompson) and given to a Columbus artist.
Israel Abramofsky Award of the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim went to an Akron artist.
Molly Morpeth Canaday Award went to a Berkley, Michigan artist.
The Roulet Medal Award, the oldest name award of the show, went to a Grand Rapids, Michigan artist.
The Athena Art Society Award went to an Ann Arbor artist.
The Toledo Federation of Art Societies Purchase Award went to an Ann Arbor artist.
Toledo Friends of Photography Award went to Cleveland.
Bob Martin Memorial Award and Edith Franklin Memorial Award were not given, they were new to the show in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
It was reported in the Blade on November 16, 2014 that the museum dropped the Toledo Area Artists Solo Exhibition Award. The Leslie Adams Show in 2012 was the only show resulting from this short-lived award.
All of the name awards that were presented, awards given by the Toledo Federation of Art Societies — a group that was formed to promote Toledo area artists, went outside the 17-county Toledo area. Awards that were designed to be given to Toledo area artists, in a show that was meant for Toledo area artists.
The organizations set up in Toledo, even the ones that get grant money for Toledo artists, DO NOT support you.
That the universities ganged up their award without supporting the TAA for TAA artists, is perhaps the worse possible offense. They train them, they take their big tuition dollars, you’d think that they would support Toledo area artists! But they let the award go out of town. What does that say about them? They don’t care about your artistic professional future because they are actually taking opportunities away from you on purpose. They simply don’t care about keeping the TAA for Toledo area artists, even when 37 Bowling Green-affiliated artists benefited from the show in the past three years — these colleges, BGSU included, have a different agenda.
Art students — find another school. It’s HOPELESS in Toledo. Don’t even try. They are not with you. Your life here now and your future here will most assuredly be bleak.
And glass artists? What is here for you, a job at the museum maybe, but you are not considered anything special for the TAA show. It’s not worth putting down roots in this area. Sure it’s cheap and easy to live here, but you’ll more than make up for any cost of living difference in a better, more supportive city, because you’ll be more appreciated, you’ll be more motivated, you’ll be more productive, and you’ll make more money. In short, you’ll be more successful where you get the support you need. Your talent is valuable and will go a lot further elsewhere, where you are supported and respected for the pioneering artists that you are. And this advice goes for all artists living in Toledo.
All of these organizations could have withheld their awards this year in protest of the area extending outside of the 17-county Toledo area that has comprised the area of the past 50 shows. But they didn’t. They knew, and they certainly got my message, but they refused to respond to my questions, because they are disrespectful and do not care about Toledo area artists. They had a chance to make a statement but they let us know loud and clear where they stand. Toledo area artists, don’t you stand for it!
Federation — step down.