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Artists of Toledo

Digital restorations of Machen’s Stations

William H. Machen, Toledo’s first known artist, made these paintings between 1866 and 1873 for the St. Francis Parish in Toledo. Decades ago, a fire at the church damaged the paintings. Poor restoration caused the paintings further damage, hence, sometime in late 2007 they were crated and kept in storage at the church.

Station 1 original damaged painting, partially crated and shown here in 2010 in the St. Francis sacristy, and the digitally restored version in 2021.

In 2010, when I began this website, I went to see the damaged paintings at the St. Francis Parish. Soon after, I met William Machen’s great-nephew, James Machen. James hired me to photograph the damaged paintings in 2012. We tried to garner interest in the restoration of the original paintings, but the expense made it impracticable, if not impossible. Sadly, in November 2020, James Machen passed away. Then in December, an architect working on a church renovation found my story about the paintings, and on Good Friday this year, I was commissioned by Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Genoa, Ohio to retouch my photographs of the stations and print them to hang in their church. I made a set of 14 36 x 52” archival pigment ink prints on canvas and stretched them on stretcher strips. I signed the back of the canvases with William H. Machen’s name and the year they were painted, along with my name and the year I digitally restored and printed them. My recreations of the paintings are layered with the patina of their distinct 150-year history. My canvases have brought Machen’s Stations of the Cross back to life. The paintings are some of the earliest public art in Toledo, painted by Toledo’s first artist. William H. Machen’s paintings will hang once again on church walls as they were originally intended, this time in a beautiful, renovated church in the nearby town of Genoa.

Holding the finished canvas of Station 4 (right); photograph of the original damaged painting in 2012.
Dale, the caretaker at St. Francis shown with the damaged original painting of Station 11, and my self-portrait with Station 12 in 2012, next to the 2021 digitally restored images.

Layers of embedded damage created their own expression

Perhaps this story will inspire a way to restore the original paintings, which would entail hundreds of hours and as well as (guessing) about a hundred thousand dollars. The varnish would have to be removed and the flaking paint would have to be scraped off and re-painted. With my digital restorations, the best that I could do by using photography and technology combined with the finest archival art materials to instill them with artistic and historic integrity, William H. Machen’s paintings can be appreciated by the public once again, hanging in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in the nearby town of Genoa, Ohio.

It’s a great accomplishment for artistsoftoledo.com’s 11th year in terms of our mission to remember Toledo’s art history.

Standing next to Station 5 with Keith, who is making custom oak frames for the Stations, and Father Ferris at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in May 2021.

More about William H. Machen and James Machen here:

Tribute to James Machen (1929 – 2020)

William H. Machen (1832-1911)

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Artists of Toledo

LeMaxie Glover’s Crucifix

St. Richard’s Church in Swanton, Ohio

LeMaxie Glover’s lifesize walnut crucifix in the babtistry of St. Richard’s Church in Swanton, Ohio.

LeMaxie Glover, 1916 – 1984

Le Maxie Glover was born in Macon, Georgia in 1916. He received a MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

He showed at the Toledo Museum of Art in the Toledo Area Artists Exhibitions from 1956 to 1964, and the Black Artists of Toledo Exhibitions in 1973 and 1974. He had a one-man show at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1970.

He showed in the Michigan Area Artists Show in 1957, Ohio Sculptors Show in 1962; the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, 1963; Contemporary Sculptors Show at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1963. He had numerous one man shows.

He is in the collections of the Williston, N.D. Museum of Art; the Besser Museum of Art, Alpina, Michigan; and in numerous Toledo area institutions.

see more on his artistoftoledo page: LeMaxie Glover, 1916 – 1984

LeMaxie Glover’s sculpted terra cotta portraits

Grandfather Theodore Lyte, LeMaxie Glover 1961, terra cotta
Michael, 1964; Donald, 1964; Pugilist, 1967; Unknown Young Man, 1973.

Blade photo
Blade photo

Painting of LeMaxie Glover by Ernie Jones
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Artists of Toledo

Tribute to James Machen (1929 – 2020)

James Machen and William Machen’s Painting Number 1. April 18, 2010.
David and Jim Machen posing next to their ancestor’s painting of the Ten-Mile Creek. February 19, 2012.
Jim Machen with his restored rendition of William Machen’s Station No. 4,  April 16, 2015.
I will really miss Jim Machen, who died on November 7, 2020 at the age of 91. He was the first person I met after I created this website in 2009. We worked together to try to get William H. Machen’s  Stations of the Cross restored that were damaged in a fire at the St. Francis Parish. Jim obtained permission for me to photograph the Stations, which the Bishop gave us “in an effort to preserve the paintings for posterity.” I put the photos on this website to raise awareness. We tried to raise money; we tried to get support, advice, or at least obtain an interview with the director of the art museum. When it didn’t seem likely that we would be able to restore the originals, Jim learned how to digitally retouch a set of low-res files of the photos and made a set of the 14 paintings printed on canvas at the request of Msgr. Kubacki to hang in St. Francis Parish. After the church had them for a year but did not hang them, Jim picked up the canvases and found a satisfying home for them – in a church in the Philippines.
Jim Machen’s William Machen’s restored Station No. 1 in a church in the Philippines, 2018.

Toledo in 1852 by William H. Machen. Gift to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library by James Machen in 1999.
Chosen for James Machen’s online Blade news obituary is this very official yet very poignant photo from 1999 of the Toledo Lucas County Library commemorating James Machen and his gift of this painting, Toledo in 1852. 

Thanks to James Machen, a member of one of the oldest families in Toledo, we have paintings showing how Toledo looked at the very beginning. His great uncle, William H. Machen was Toledo’s earliest known artist, who migrated from Holland to Toledo in 1848. James Machen actively preserved his ancestor’s artwork and history. In doing so, he greatly honored his family, while also greatly honoring his community.

James Machen’s obituary, The Blade, November 11, 2020

James Machen’s family history going back to the twelfth century:

William H. Machen obituary, Toledo Times, 1911
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Artists of Toledo

Baby! Talk! A Dolly Parton Book!

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 every year, for four years in a row.

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Artists of Toledo

Toledo’s Mad Men of the Seventies

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.

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Artists of Toledo

Mary Wolfe: Artist, Art Historian, Art Collector, and Honored Patron of the Arts. (1931—2014)

Mary Wolfe and art: “This is what I imagine heaven will be like.”
 
Mary Wolfe died last Thursday. At 82, she still seemed to be in her prime. What a magnificent woman. She was extraordinarily bright, both in her intellect and aura. She will keep shining through the many gifts she and her husband, Frederic (Fritz), have bestowed upon the community.
 
She was an art history teacher at Bowling Green State University from 1968 to 1976. She always opened her house to students and artists, said her student Kathy Sobb, an accomplished New York City graphic designer. She then became the exhibitions director of the BGSU McFall Center Gallery through the mid-eighties. Relevant to this website, artistsoftoledo.com, Mary Wolfe showed the work of glass art pioneer Dominick Labino. She also put on the largest exhibition of Edmund H. Osthaus ever assembled. Osthaus (1858—1928), famous for his dog paintings and branding of the Du Pont Powder Company (see my blog post, Edmund H. Osthaus and my giant Pierre Project), was one of the founding artists of the Toledo Museum of Art.
 
The couple donated $1 million to Wilberforce University for a new administration building in 1993. (Another artistsoftoledo connection: one of the few known paintings by Frederick Douglass Allen and one that I have been trying to track down was of the 1934 president of Wilberforce.)
 
Mary Wolfe is well-known for the very generous contribution she and Fritz made that started the Wolfe Center for the Arts at BGSU. We can also thank the Wolfes for interesting architecture of the building, since they encouraged BGSU to hire the architecture firm, Snohetta, of Norway. The Wolfe Center opened in December 2011. Six months later, at the Toledo Museum of Art, the Wolfe Gallery for Contemporary Art opened, thanks to the Wolfes $2 million donation to the Museum for the renovation of the old glass gallery behind the Egyptian gallery that had not been used for 15 years. 
 
For interesting accounts of the many roles she played throughout her life, see these two tributes to Mary Wolfe that were published shortly after her death by The Blade and Bowling Green State University.
 
I love the quote that was in the earlier, Blade breaking news report, taken from a 2011 Blade interview in regard to her art patronage. Mary Wolfe said, “It’s made life so much more interesting and wonderful for us. It gives you a great feeling.” How lovely to know this, how the Wolfes felt about art collecting and their kind act of supporting the arts, since what they have given us has truly made the lives of an entire community much more wonderful and interesting and gives us a great feeling.
 
I am grateful to have known her. She and Fritz came to my daughter, Anna Friemoth’s opening at the Paula Brown Gallery last year and bought her work. It means so much, since I know they have such exquisite and discerning taste in art.
 
Two years ago, my husband and I were invited to a small studio tour of Austrian LED light artist Erwin Redl, currently living in Bowling Green, with Mary & Fritz Wolfe and two of their three daughters and a mutual friend. Erwin Redl’s studio is in a huge warehouse, divided into several rooms. Erwin creates conceptual light installations for international museums. The experience of the work in each room of his studio tour became progressively grander and more energetic.  It was pretty special to be experiencing this tour with the Wolfes and I could see that Mary Wolfe was inspired. Later, her daughter Lisa told me that her mother was absolutely taken by the installations, and especially the last room, that had streams of red lights and blue lights speeding rhythmically from wall to wall close to the ceiling. Mary remarked about the last room, “This is what I imagine heaven will be like!”
 
I was just getting ready to send Mary Wolfe a card for my upcoming show, Artists of Toledo at the Paula Brown Gallery, that opens November 13. I printed some snapshots from that night at Erwin’s, together with a note. I had them out on my table waiting to find the right sized envelope when I read the Blade report that she died. I had just been with Lisa two days before at Bowling Green State University and later I sat in the theatre in the Wolfe Art Center for a scholarly talk on animal vision. It was a celebrated event and the audience included many VIPs but Mary Wolfe wasn’t there as I thought she might have been. She had a stroke that evening and died the next day, surrounded by loved ones.
 
Our prayers go out to Mary’s family, her many friends, and to our entire community. We lost someone pretty wonderful. We will always remember her because she brought so much art to life.
 
 
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Artists of Toledo

Toledo Area Artists Matter


This past Wednesday, Toledo City Paper ran the following article that I wrote about why it’s important to keep the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition for Toledo area artists.

www.toledocitypaper.com/October-Issue-2-2014/Toledo-Area-Artists-Matter/ 


The Toledo Area Artists Exhibition is the oldest regional art competition affiliated with a museum in the United States. It gives the art community a great sense of pride to compete and get into the prestigious museum show, featuring and celebrating the talents of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. It’s 95 years old. This year, only 11 Toledo area artists are in it! So are 17 artists from cities far away from Toledo, such as Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Grand Rapids, MI, and even Muncie Indiana. These cities have their own thriving art communities. The show is not a true area artists show this year and has no right to the name. It’s important to keep our local traditions for the same reason that it’s important to drink clean water. If that doesn’t make sense, then here are just three examples, out of hundreds, to show why the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition is important and relevant to our own local and regional art community — Edith Franklin, Leslie Adams, and Anna Friemoth.


Where would Edith Franklin be in our hearts if it wasn’t for the Toledo Museum of Art? We may have known her, but not nearly as well. She attended the children’s classes at the Museum from about age 10, so for 80 years, the museum contributed greatly to her life, and she in turn contributed greatly to the museum. In addition to the Saturday children’s classes, she continued her education at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design for another 40 years, from 1945-1986. She took part in the historic Glass Workshop in 1962, participating in the very beginnings of the American Studio Glass Movement, and she even walked the runway in the 50th anniversary, 2012 Glass Fashion Show, just two months before she died. 


The Toledo Museum of Art gave Edith Franklin a one-person show when she was 35. As for the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, Edith Franklin was in 26 out of 29 consecutive shows from 1953 to 1982, winning First Award, Craft Club Award, and the Federation Purchase Award.  She was a founder of the Toledo Potters Guild in 1951, board member of the Arts Commission, and earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Toledo Federation of Art Societies in 1999. She passed away in August 2012, having donated the Edith Franklin Pottery Scholarship to young potters, among other philanthropies. Brian Kennedy, Director of the Museum, gave a eulogy at her memorial service. He said she would often tell him that she was from Toledo, born and bred. Edith Franklin cared about her legacy. I helped her organize her papers that she donated to the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections. She rewarded me well with a special pottery piece.

 Leslie Adams, of Toledo, was born about 45 years after Edith Franklin, and like Edith, benefited from the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition. Leslie is a successful artist who got her start as a child student at the Toledo Museum of Art, a prodigy student of Toledo’s legendary drawing teacher and artist, Diana Attie. Leslie received her BFA from The University of Toledo for classes at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design. She was in 11 Toledo Area Artists Exhibition shows from 1993 to 2011, and won eight awards, from First, Second and Third awards to the Athena Art Society Award in honor of Virginia Stranahan, the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award, and the National League of American Penwomen NW Ohio Branch-Carolyn Goforth, In Memoriam award. In 2011 she won the highest honor given at the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition in 93 years – the Toledo Area Artists Solo Exhibition Award, a one-man show at the Toledo Museum of Art. (It was new award the museum promised to present every two years. Leslie Adams was the first and only.) There is no doubt that the TAA show, and the awards received in the TAA show, helped Adams with her successful career. (Incidentally, Leslie Adams is a former president of the Federation, the group that gave up control of the TAA to the museum.)
 
Then there’s my daughter, Anna Friemoth, a 2012 graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art in Photography, who entered the 94thToledo Area Artists Exhibition last year and won a prize. Her piece was sold at the TAA preview show. It also appeared in the Blade. Peter and Paula Brown called her the day it was in the Blade and invited her to have a one-person show in their gallery, the Paula Brown Gallery, in downtown Toledo.  The Browns bought the photo at the preview show. Anna’s one-person show at the Paula Brown Gallery was a commercial success and Anna was able to launch her career.  It was an amazing opportunity for Anna to be in the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition. She gained much great career advantage because of the success she obtained as a result of being in the TAA show. 39 Toledo area women were in that TAA show, which was just last year; this year’s show has only TWO Toledo area women.
 
The opportunity my daughter had is what all artists in our community need and deserve. We have a very large art community – in addition to dozens of clubs and ateliers, there are at least 10 colleges and universities in our 17-county region of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan that teach art. What are artists to do when they graduate? Toledo Museum of Art has cut them out of this 95-year old prestigious museum show, a show that was meant for them and takes place in their own community. The show is called Toledo Area Artists Exhibition for a reason.  It’s because the show is for Toledo area artists, to help them show their work. That’s why it was started, in 1917, and that’s what it has done for 95 years. The Toledo Museum of Art helps artists to be better artists by giving prominent local artists solo-shows and by hosting the 95-year-old annual juried area artists show. In return, Toledo area artists contribute to the continuum that is Toledo’s distinctive local cultural history, that is us and can only be us. In return, yet again, that makes our region better for everybody living here.
 
This is where we live, these are our cultural, our genetic and our geographic connections, and they are as important to us as that big great lake, Lake Erie, from which we have to drink our water every day.
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Artists of Toledo

Letter to the Editor of The Blade

In the October 15, 2014 Toledo Blade is my Letter to the Editor:

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.

Penny Gentieu

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Artists of Toledo

Israel Abramofsky Award of the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim

The late Allen Roudolf, art collector and Toledoan, with his Israel Abramofsky painting, smaller ones displayed in the background. Israel Abramofsky was a prominent Toledo artist who was known internationally. Israel Abramofsky died in 1975 and left his artwork and provisions for a scholarship to the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim to help young artists, as he himself had been helped when he was a young artist. It became the “Israel Abramofsky Award of the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim” at the Annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition starting with the 66th annual show in 1984.  Check out the list of winners. (from 1984 on.) What is happening with this award this year in the “New” 95th Toledo Area Artists Exhibition?

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Artists of Toledo

Sometimes when you look in the microscope you see the whole thing.

Photo by Steve Coffin of John Botts and his Big Peony painting. Corte Madera, California

This photo came today in my email — a photo of John Botts, my painting teacher at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design. Wow. I owe so much to John Botts — he made me see what I really was, which is a photographer. When he saw the first photographs I took, he gave me a book — the first edition of Robert Frank’s book, The Americans. I sold it last year on eBay for $1,000 because I’m not sentimental.

It is probably fair to say that the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition this year is the most controversial Toledo Area Artists Exhibition there has ever been, and not for the art either, because we don’t get to see the art until November.  The show is controversial this year because of the circumstances created by the Toledo Museum of Art and the questionable decisions that the museum has made that put the show and the museum in a bad light even before it opens.

excerpts from the press release about the 95th Toledo Area Artists Exhibition on Toledo Museum of Art website

Were they really? Pleased with our region? Doesn’t seem so.

Out of all those entries that they looked at — 4,175 images, 44 videos, and two audio entries, the museum curator in-house judges could barely find any artists for the show who didn’t work at the museum, or weren’t friends of theirs, etc. or the most recent presidents of the Federation, to put in the show who live in the Toledo area.

And then the curators had to go beyond the Toledo area to fill it in with out-of-town artists from Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Grand Rapids Michigan, Muncie Indiana. Our Toledo Area Artists Exhibition.

We have so many artists in the Toledo area, yet in a show that has only 28 artists this year, cut down from a show that had 76 artists last year, a show that historically ranges anywhere from 70 to 120 artists — of 90% real Toledo area artists, the museum this year  has to go 150 miles out in all directions to pick out 17 artists who live outside of the 17 counties that comprise the Toledo area – the 15 counties of NW Ohio and the two bordering counties in SE Michigan?

Then, with our show taken over by metropolitan areas that are not our own, over half of the meager remaining 11 artists chosen actually from this area, from all the 4,175 images that they got to select from, are artists within the “Museum nucleus?”

Is that okay with you?

Do we really have to drink this water?

 o

Is it fair that 435 artists paid $30 each thinking that they were entering a fair competition (435 x $30 = $13,050) when they never had a chance because the museum judged it and got to put in their employees and friends, then fill it up with a pick of artists in big metropolitan areas not our Toledo area, that the museum has the audacity to call the 95th Toledo Area Artists Exhibition?

The reason why the annual TAA show started using outside jurors after eight years into their history was so that the show could be judged fairly and without conflicts of interest.

So this year, 2014, for the 95th annual show, why did museum staff members make themselves the jurors of the 95th Annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition? Was it so they could unfairly get to pick fellow museum employees and friends, for some unknown reason, or maybe it was because they got Christopher Knight to be the money judge and they wanted to make themselves look good?

How does that make you feel, big vibrant Toledo art community? Are you ready to trade in your chance at entering the TAA show every year, along with the chance of winning and getting recognition for your creativity at the great white marble pillared Toledo Museum of Art, for the condescendingly concurrent series of workshops run by the Federation to teach you how you can be more professional like those “full time” “professional” artists who are supposedly so much better than you, that are showing in your place, in your TAA show?

This show belongs to us, the Toledoans, to help “us all” be better artists, as well as, in return, for “all us” artists to contribute to and continue the artistic cultural history of Toledo that is and can only be us. And why don’t we clean up our water too.

Please keep the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art and for the Toledo area artists. It’s our legacy and it belongs to us. It’s our tradition.

The Toledo Area Artists Exhibition for Toledo area artists is the oldest regional art competition affiliated with a museum in the United States. It gives the art community a great sense of pride to compete and get in to the prestigious museum show, that features and celebrates the talents of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. It’s 95 years old.  Must it go so soon, so young in European terms, just a baby in comparison.