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:
- Israel Abramofsky Award of the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim
- 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
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.
*Toledo Museum of Art Director Brian Kennedy told me personally on November 7, 2014 that I should “take the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition,” because he didn’t want it in the museum, he wanted the museum to have shows like the Tuileries Garden show, a show the museum had in 2014.