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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.