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Artists of Toledo

Children of the Museum

 I am a child of the museum. There are thousands of others like me. When I was in third grade, my mother enrolled me in the Toledo Museum of Art Saturday classes, and I took them all through high school. In college, I continued at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design for my art major through the University of Toledo. This education was huge for me. I went on to have a successful career in photography, thanks in no small part to the Toledo Museum of Art. I was in and won a prize in the Toledo Area Artists show, and my daughter after me, and that recognition goes a long way in propelling an artist forward.
 
The Toledo Area Artists Exhibition is a Toledo area artists show that has been going on at the Toledo Museum of Art for 95 years. All of a sudden this year, the museum curators decided that they themselves would be the judges. They opened it up to artists in Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, Grand Rapids Michigan and beyond, encompassing a 150 mile radius from Toledo. They put 27 artists in the show but only 11 artists are from the 17 counties considered the Toledo area, the way it has been for 50 years. Out of the 11 Toledo area artists, the Toledo Museum curators chose two museum employees, the husband of a museum employee, and a few other insiders. This was a competition for which artists paid $30 to enter. I am shocked, appalled, insulted, angry, and very disappointed. My museum, which was recently voted most beloved by its local community, is betraying its roots, and is turning its back on the artists and residents of the city.
The museum must see that they have a profound influence on artists. They should never turn their backs on area artists. The museum should have more interaction with its local artists and nurture a reciprocal relationship that would be beneficial for all.
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Artists of Toledo

Herral Long Photographed the Pulse of Toledo for Sixty Years

Herral Long, beloved long-time Blade photographer passed away on Saturday, June 14.

He photographed every United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as day-to-day newsworthy events in Toledo for six decades. He was forever curious and experimental as a photographer and often said that taking a great picture was like catching a butterfly.

He was an award winning photographer and named Ohio News Photographers Association’s first Photographer of the Year in 1967.

He was a free spirit and founding member of Joyce Perrin’s Any Wednesday, a gathering place for poets, artists and musicians, a Toledo art scene tradition which has been going on since 1964.

He played a dulcimer and wrote songs for his wife, Marcy, who had Alzheimer’s disease, believing that one’s sense of hearing is the last to go.

He began photographing for the Blade in 1949 and retired in 2009. Herral Long arranged the timing of his retirement so that The Blade would have to keep on a recently-hired photographer, Amy Voigt, whose position was about to be eliminated. Herral felt that she was very talented and by his stepping down, it would give her an opportunity.

In a 1969 Toledo Museum of Art Catalog for a show he was in, it is reported that he was interested in mountain climbing, sailing, photography, palm reading.

He was a wonderful, charming person and friend to all.

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Artists of Toledo

Marguerite Michaels and her Art Collection

Marguerite Michaels is an awesome supporter of the arts. I met her a few years ago at Marcia Derse’s Christmas sale. She told me she had recently bought one of my Confabulations photos at the Hudson Gallery. It was the one of two women on the sidewalk. At Marcia’s, she bought my abandoned church photo from my Still Standing series — maybe it reminded her of the time that she almost became a nun (she went through everything but the final vows.) Later, she bought my Woolworth’s photo and an artist book I made of my mother, Audrey Gentieu’s movie star pastel portraits. She took great pleasure in building her art collection, which went gangbusters during the “great recession.” She bought a ton of local art, and I for one really appreciate her for that.

Marguerite is a strong and brilliant woman. After realizing that becoming a nun was not her calling, she moved to New York, where she worked for Time Magazine as a journalist, and eventually became the Bureau Chief in Nairobi.  Living in Africa, Marguerite became well-versed in African Art and collected it. She came back to Toledo around 10 years ago, for the same reason that brings many of us back — to help family. She immersed herself in collecting all kinds of art, and she brought contemporary African art to Toledo. In October 2013, Marguerite helped curate and sponsor an African Art exhibition at the Hudson Gallery. This photo above is Marguerite with artist Tunde Odunlade at the show.

Marguerite is bold and courageous. For all the things she has done in her life, she has utilized her fullest heart and soul.  She has now decided that, for whatever personal reasons, she did not need any of her collections in her life anymore and is selling everything. Just like that. No regrets, no emotion holding her back from her mission. Her latest chapter as a collector has abruptly come to an end. Her estate sale, which includes the entire contents of her house, is taking place every day this Easter week, culminating on Saturday. Her collection of Toledo artists is an eclectic snapshot of contemporary local art — work by Mr. Atomic, Willis Willis, Dave Wisnieski, Jan Dyer, Scott Hudson, Jay Bumbaugh, Lana Pendleton Hall, Richard Reed, Karl Mullens, Annie Crouter, Skot Horn, Paige Koosed, Bob Beach, Dominic Labino, Baker O’Brien, Ann Tubbs and yours truly.

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Artists of Toledo

Edith Franklin never lost her childhood playfulness.

Edith Franklin, ceramicist and one of Toledo’s finest artists, passed away last night, August 31. She was 89. Edith was an inspiration to so many of us. She was small in stature but large in personality, and never one to rest. She was a woman-about-town, always attending events. Her presence will be sorely missed.

I met Edith in 2009, not long after I started my Artists of Toledo.com website. I photographed Edith and her artwork at her home in Ottawa Hills. Because she was aware of my historical research experience, she asked if I would be interested in helping her organize her papers. We spent weeks going through boxes and trunks, pulling out the most relevant records, which she then donated to The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections, at The University of Toledo. I posted some items on her page on my website, here: http://artistsoftoledo.com/franklin/.

Edith was a potter at heart who worked in clay for nearly seven decades. Always open to new ideas, she was experimental with her work. She participated in the historic Studio Glass Workshop that took place at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962. The pieces she made at the workshop are now in the museum’s collection and were featured in the May-August 2012 issue of ARTMATTERS.

Edith was proud to have attended every day of this year’s Glass Art Society (GAS) Conference, which celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the 1962 workshop that started the Modern American Studio Glass Movement. Edith walked the runway, modeling haute couture made out of glass, at the 2012 Glass Fashion Show.

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Artists of Toledo

William Machen, Toledo’s First Artist

This is William Machen’s painting, Central Ave. Bridge, of the Ten-Mile Creek Crossing Central Avenue in Toledo right south of where the Jeep factory used to be, in the living room of the artist’s descendants, Jim and David Machen.
That’s David Machen standing in front of the painting, holding a Blade article from 1970 about the expressway coming through that beautiful wooded area.
Closeup of the Blade photo.
Where the cows are standing (1875), is probably where the Jeep factory would be built 50 years later.
About 60 year after the Jeep factory was built and nine years after the Blade photo was taken, here’s Tom, my husband, on top of the Jeep Administration building one month before it was imploded in 1979. Photographing Tom at the Jeep Administration Building was our first “date.”

We had brunch with the Machens today to discuss how we can try to save and restore Machen’s severely damaged stations of the cross paintings at St. Francis de Sales Parish. These paintings are such an important part of Toledo’s history. We need to write letters and raise money for the restoration. We think we know a good home for them. Machen was Toledo’s first artist.

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Artists of Toledo

My mother, Audrey Pinkerton Gentieu, child prodigy

It would have been my mother’s 89th birthday last week, on October 18. Audrey Gentieu was a great artist, even as a young girl. I knew that she was prolific at an early age, but it never really hit home until yesterday when I received an email from someone in Florida who sent me a photo of this landscape oil painting that my mother painted when she was only 12 years old. I was pleasantly surprised to see this painting that my mother painted when she was so young, and that it was technically so sophisticated. Isn’t it great how the internet can bring people together, with something so close to our heart.http://artistsoftoledo.com/audrey-gentieu-1922-2009/

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Artists of Toledo

Wil Clay

I am very saddened to learn tonight that Wil Clay died.  I feel fortunate that I met him last year and photographed him at his studio. I admired him for his accomplishments in the publishing world as well as for his paintings and sculptures. Wil Clay illustrated a children’s book about Rosa Parks — I photographed him with his portrait of her. And I photographed other important works. In addition, one of his favorite teachers was Ernest Spring from Macomber High School, and I photographed him with a painting he owned of his. This painting was in the City Paper this fall — of the Rose’s Sail & Rail Diner. I had looked forward to showing him that but hadn’t quite yet. Wil Clay seemed young and vibrant. It just makes you realize how delicate life is.

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Artists of Toledo

Edmund H. Osthaus and my giant Pierre Project

Du Pont Company Calendar. Top picture is a lithograph of a painting, two side pictures of navy and army gunners, bottom scene of field with dogs. Hagley Museum & Library

Over Thanksgiving, on our way to Princeton from Baltimore, we stopped at the Hagley Library in Wilmington Delaware to look up one of Toledo’s most famous artists, Edmund H. Osthaus, painter of dogs. The Hagley is renown for its archives of early American industry, centering upon the history of America’s first large corporation: The Du Pont Company. Next to the library is the Hagley Museum. It’s more like a living museum, consisting of Du Pont’s large village of restored nineteenth-century powder mills and yards.  The Du Pont Company manufactured explosives and gunpowder.

Back in 1992, it was The Hagley Museum and Library where I first experienced the joys of historic research, and where I became hooked. My initial contact with the library came soon after I learned that my great great grandfather, Pierre Gentieu, was a photographer. The library owns his photo collection. I called the library and the pictorial curator, Jon Williams, sent me xeroxed pages from a book regarding Pierre’s photos and his work for Du Pont. He said that Pierre’s photographs were integral to the restoration of the Hagley Museum in the 1950’s. I surmised that Pierre was considered a bit of a rock star at the Hagley. Because of Pierre, I felt like they rolled out the red carpet and that was pretty cool! It was a great beginning to a long and fascinating journey into the research of my photographer ancestor.

It felt similar last week after I enquired about Edmund Osthaus. My last-minute email to Max Mueller, imprints curator at the library, asking to research Edmund Osthaus the following day resulted in a rolling cart carrying folders of original source documents and precious items from the pictorial collections, as well as introductions to the new administration director, Joan Reynolds Hoge-North, and to Debra Hughes, the curator of the museum (incidentally, who is not only from Michigan but from Ann Arbor as well, my favorite getaway close to Toledo.) My research at the Hagley has only just begun…

Edmund Osthaus, who came to Toledo in 1886 at the invitation of David R. Locke (creator of the Petroleum V. Nasby letters) to head up the brand new Toledo Academy of Fine Arts, who then became a charter member of The Tile Club group of artists that dreamed up the Toledo Museum of Art, was in his 30’s in the 1890’s when Du Pont first commissioned him to create paintings of hunting dogs for advertisements for their new product, “smokeless” powder. Osthaus and Du Pont enjoyed a prolific association for about 20 years until around the time of WWI when Du Pont transitioned from manufacturing explosives to chemicals. Du Pont used Osthaus’s watercolor and oil paintings for postcards, signs, calendars and reproductions that were displayed in hunting lodges and clubs across the country. This exposure undoubtedly did quite a bit to boost Osthaus’s fame. I’m curious, how exactly did it happen?

Among the archives at the Hagley were handwritten letters from Osthaus’s son Franz and other relatives. I learned that Nina Stevens, the assistant director and wife of George W. Stevens, the first director of Toledo Museum of Art, and Osthaus’s wife, Isabel Carlton were cousins, and there was a suggestion of a rift with the Toledo Museum that apparently only Franz would know. Juicy!

The Hagley Museum and Library is a very cool place. Not only was it key to my discovery of a personally significant link to an ancestor, but now I find it to be the repository for a cache of information on an important “branch” of Toledo’s communal artistic family tree. My Pierre project lasted a good 15 years, resulting in a manuscript and “maquette” for a book that I hope someday to publish. Working on Artists of Toledo.com conjures up all the wonderful feelings I had working on my ancestor project, and I don’t even have to worry about getting it published as a book because as a “work in progress” website, it’s an ongoing publication that is instantly accessible to the world, yet could be a never-ending project for me. I consider it my giant Pierre project.

(I wonder if Pierre ever met Edmund Osthaus, after all, Pierre worked in the Du Pont office until his retirement in 1912. That would be amazing! Okay, I admit, it would be amazing only to me!)

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Artists of Toledo

An artist’s gateway

Article in the City Paper today about artistsoftoledo.com –

Website gives a unique look at city’s artistic inheritance  by Matt Desmond

City Paper, October 15, 2010
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Artists of Toledo

Paul Kremenik, Toledo’s Armless Painter

Today we went to St. Vincent’s Hospital in search of information on Paul Kremenik, the armless artist who lived at St. Vincent’s for 27 years. We were directed to the library and immediately after we asked if they had any information on the armless painter who lived there until 1958, the librarian lit up and said you must talk to Pamela Bayer, the Mercy Regional Librarian Manager. We were directed into Pam’s office, where we saw three paintings by Kremenik leaning against cabinets. Pam explained that, at that exact moment, she was in the midst of organizing a show of his work.  
 
Her curiosity about Kremenik had been peaked by a painting of a dog that had been an iconic painting hanging in the hospital for decades. It was this painting that made her interested in finding out about the artist. When she discovered that he was armless, and lived right there in the St. Vincent’s ward and painted with a brush in his mouth, she thought, how amazing, and how nurturing the hospital was. So she found other work and information on him…she was very surprised that we came asking about him — and as for my project, I hit pay dirt — she allowed me to photograph the three paintings in her office, and will be sending me jpgs of more, both paintings and information…
 
And incidentally, Pamela Bayer is related to Toledo’s famous folk artist, Harold Everett Bayer (1900 – 1996) who is represented in the American Folk Art Museum in NYC.