Categories
Artists of Toledo

Storytelling at the museums

the compassionate story

Brooklyn Museum



French Impressionist/early modern paintings in Brooklyn Museum’s collection (all of them):

Observation: Not one of the Impressionist paintings in the Brooklyn Museum was even close to being as good as the Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir that were deaccessioned by The Toledo Museum of Art on May 17, 2022. And to think that museum director Adam Levine told museum supporters that Edward Drummond Libbey would want the Toledo’s Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir large oil paintings to be deaccessioned, as if they were “mediocre.” 

Model of the Jan Martense Schenck house that was built in Mill Basin, circa 1675-6. The actual house is displayed on the 5th floor of the museum. Duke Riley’s trash art exhibition is incorporated into it.

Seeing myself in the Art. (Which isn’t too difficult, considering that my Dutch immigrant ancestors, Elbert Elbertsen Stoothoff and Aechtji Cornelis Cool, lived within a mile of this house, and had a house just like it back in the seventeenth century. And I don’t think they’d like seeing modern-day garbage art hanging in their old house and being blamed for it. Their son-in-law, Colonel Thomas Willett Jr. was the sheriff of Yorkshire (including Long Island, Westchester and Staten Island) in 1676.

Neue Galerie

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt, 1907

Jewish Museum

Kandinsky and Vicuña at the Guggenheim

Impressionist paintings at the Guggenheim:

Observation: none of these paintings are as good as the three paintings by Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir that were recently deaccessioned by The Toledo Museum of Art.

Cézanne and Matisse sold to the same buyer. Who was it? Was it prearranged?

Art on the street

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Questions for the Board of Directors of The Toledo Museum of Art

Questions about the deaccession of our Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir paintings from the museum’s collection

“The Toledo Museum of Art has never sought to have multiple examples by the same artist,” Adam Levine told museum supporters as to why the museum deaccessioned three paintings by Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir in April 2022. Above are two examples of what the Museum has two of: two Rembrandts and two Van Goghs. Other artists of which there are two or more paintings in the Toledo Museum of Art collection include: Jean-Siméon Chardin (two bought at the same time in 2006 by esteemed curator emeritus Larry Nichols, a big deal was made by the museum about these two paintings being added to the collection), François Boucher, Thomas Couture, Charles Courtney Curran, Edgar Degas, Wilder M. Darling, Eugène Delacroix, Thornton Dial Jr., Gustave Doré, Thomas Doughty, Henri Fantin-Latour, Beverly Fishman, August Franzen, Gajin Fujita, Carl Frederick Gaertner, Luther Emerson van Gorder, Francesco Guardi, Childe Hassam, Martin Johnson Heade, Yoshida Hiroshi, Carl Robert Holty, Manuel Hughes, Roberto Humeres S., William Holman Hunt, Jozef Israëls, Karl N. Kahl, Gabriel Liston, Jacob Maris, Anton Mauve, Jean-Francois Millet, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, Edmund Henry Osthaus, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Camille Pissarro, Henry Ward Ranger, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Niklaus Rüegg, Sebastiano Ricci, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Frank Stella, Yves Tanguy, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, Benjamin West, Alexander Helwig Wyant, Jacques Blanchard, Charles Loring Elliott, Thomas Gainsborough, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Gustave Courbet, Nicolas Poussin, Aert van der Neer, and Joos van Cleve. But now the museum only has one painting by Cézanne, and only one painting by Matisse, because they sold the other two for $57 million.

To rationalize the deaccession of the paintings by Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir, Adam Levine told museum supporters that the paintings were inferior, and that the museum never sought to have more than one example of any given artist. He said that the Libbeys would want them to rid the museum of these paintings because they were mediocre, quoting Edward Drummond Libbey himself: “Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.”

Those were lies. The paintings were not mediocre, and Libbey’s quote was taken out of context. The museum has always intended to have multiple examples of certain important artists. The Toledo Museum of Art is a teaching museum. These paintings were a big part of a small but strong collection of French Impressionist art, historically significant as marking the beginning of modern art, and the Toledo Museum of Art and the people of Toledo were so lucky to have them. Seems like it was for the money, and an eager buyer who wanted to buy our famous French Impressionist paintings from our collection, that made our museum officers want to sell them.

Many people objected to the deaccession, including Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times who wrote this May 6, 2022 article: COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE.

The Blade wrote three articles prior to the sale, including an April 25, 2022 editorial written by the editorial board, TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER.

I published on this website an Open Letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees that I sent to board members by email.

The day before the sale, The Blade ran an article by Jason Webber, CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS. In the article, the Toledo Museum of Art’s 2019-2020 interim director, John Stanley, who is retired now, spoke for the museum, saying he thought the deaccession was a “brilliant idea,” saying something to the effect of, what do those people who object to it know about art anyway, and “this is the world we live in.”

Then the night of the auction, we find out that the Cézanne and the Matisse were sold to the same buyer for a total of $57 million. What are the odds?

If that is not weird enough, to top it off, we discover John Stanley’s connection to a Las Vegas casino regarding French Impressionist paintings, and the owner of the casino, who collects them. John Stanley was COO of the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston when the museum rented 21 Monet paintings to the Bellagio. The owner of the casino, Steve Wynn is well-known as a collector of French Impressionist paintings. (This Vanity Fair article, Steve Wynn, the Uncrowned King of Las Vegas, mentions his masterpieces by van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir.)

Meanwhile, Adam Levine is going overboard to make up for his 2020 George Floyd memo mistake, in which he published a memo he wrote to his staff advising that the museum was remaining neutral. Now, two years later, it seems he still can’t do enough to make up for it, but is the Toledo community being played, perhaps as a convenient distraction?

So we have to ask…

Who bought the paintings the museum deaccessioned last month? Did the buyer have any contact with anyone working at or associated with the museum before the decision was made to deaccession them or before they were sold?

What were the “market realities” that made Adam Levine “pull the trigger,” as described in Christopher Knight’s May 6, 2022 L.A. Times article, Commentary: An Ohio museum is holding the biggest sale of artwork yet. It’s unconscionable.?

Why is John Stanley on the “art committee,” when he is not a curator, and his educational background is in business and finance and not in art? Who else is on the “art committee?” Isn’t John Stanley retired, as reported in The Blade’s September 8, 2021 article about his 1.5 million gift to the museum? Is he a paid consultant, and if so, what for? Does he live in Toledo or New York, or somewhere else?

Our famous French Impressionist paintings thrown out the door.

How did the museum decide to deaccession exactly those three paintings out of all the 30,000+ artworks that the museum has on display in our museum and in storage? Is selling artwork for the money an approved ethical reason to deaccession? How did all three deaccessions happen to be French Impressionist oil paintings exclusively? Was someone interested in the paintings before the museum put them up for sale?

Will the new museum officers be determining the one best painting of every artist that the museum has in its collection, and deaccession all others? Will it depend on outside interest of the possible sales of culled artworks? Will the museum curators be doing the same kind of collection culling with our collections of prints, drawings, photographs, books, sculptures, furniture, and ceramics?

Why did they decide to keep the late period big bronze figure sculpture of Renoir’s, but get rid of the late period Renoir painting of the nude white woman? Because they were so similar, or was it for some other reason?

Will the new Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery be curated by outside curators? Will it be for serious professional local artists, or will it be for neighborhood outreach projects? Will it only be for people who live in the two-mile outreach radius that the museum is concentrating on, as outlined according to the museum’s strategic plan, Program 3 listed under Objective 1? (Toledo Museum of Art Strategic Plan, /OBJECTIVE 1: Transition to Active Community Outreach and Engagement –  “TMA will maintain a focus on the two-mile radius immediately around the Museum.” /Program 3: Engage Local Artists.)

The New York Philharmonic requires musicians to audition behind a curtain, so that the reviewers or judges don’t know the race or the sex of the performer; the musicians are chosen on their artistic merits. Can the museum share with us the results of the survey they made of the classifications and rating systems of the artwork in our collection? How do they determine the sexual orientation of the artist? Will they be requiring that information about local artists who want to show at the Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery?

Are the new acquisitions going to be based on a quota system?

Will they be leveling up the museum’s collection of paintings to have an equal number of paintings by women artists, since the museum has been so male-centric, and if so, will the percentages match the population’s racial, poverty-level, and zip-code demographics of Toledo? Will they be buying, or selling, paintings to make it equitable?

According to Adam Levine in his April 8 letter to museum supporters, Important announcement from The Toledo Museum of Art, “We will use these proceeds to create a new acquisition endowment.” Does that mean they are creating a new acquisition endowment with the approximate $54 million they took from the paintings? For the two paintings that were originally purchased from the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment, why isn’t the money being returned to the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment until such time that it is used to by new art, as is required?  Did they talk to the family of Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy about the deaccession of her gift of the Renoir?

When the director says that they are going to draw less from the Libbey Endowment, does he mean that they are going to sell two of its most valuable paintings and create a whole new endowment, free of any of the restraints or ties to the past?

On January 17, 2022 this year, why couldn’t the museum figure out how to celebrate its own 110th anniversary on the same day that you opened the museum on a Monday for MLK Day?  If the leaders of the museum cannot feel comfortable honoring the museum’s own history while at the same time wanting to honor Black history, then shouldn’t we have better leaders? Shouldn’t the least we expect from Adam Levine or any director is that they show respect for The Toledo Museum of Art’s own history? And shouldn’t we also expect them at the very least to be good stewards of our best artwork and not to sell it off for the money, since it is a museum we are so lucky to have as Toledoans, and we want to keep our best artwork safe for future generations?

What percentage of the museum’s expenditures on new artwork in the past 10 years went to buy “diverse” artwork?

According to probate court records, the museum has been taking upwards of $500,000 out of the Libbey Endowments ($300,000 from Edward’s, and estimating that it is around $200,000 from Florence’s) over the past two years, granted for June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2022, on account of Covid, taking from the part of the endowment funds that are are meant to be used only to buy art. They filed and received a temporary variance on the Endowments’ rules, so they could use the money not to buy new art, but instead for expenses on “the direct care of art,” since the museum is somehow suffering financially. How is it that the museum is deserving of that variance to use the Endowments’ art acquisition money for expenses, when they have been hiring more employees, giving raises to employees, adding employee benefits, and sending employees off into the field to do things like to set up “art-making stations” in housing revitalization projects with developers? Why didn’t they want to buy diverse art with that money?

Considering that the museum didn’t use that variance money on art purchases as the museum expands “outside of its walls,” (indicating that the museum has plenty of money), but they got the money for “direct care” of the artwork in their collection, but instead of caring for the artwork, they sold the museum’s three great paintings out of a collection they are expected to care for, according to the fiduciary duty as the director and the officers of the museum, to set up a new endowment to buy new art, but why didn’t they buy new art with the $500,000 in the first place, without selling our three great paintings?

Don’t they care about how it appears that they could be buying museum board members’ votes, when there is a conflict of interest and ethical considerations regarding the museum doing business with board members? For example, buying insurance, accounting, managing investments, and other kinds of deals with various organizations, when the officers of the various organizations are directors on the board – how could the directors possibly vote no against any deaccession proposal, or anything that is recommended by the director, when financially, their businesses are so entangled with the museum? To be put in such a position, how are they are expected to be loyal to both interests at once, if one interest is the organization they work for, and the other interest is the public interest, say if they thought in their heart that the paintings should not be deaccessioned, but then they don’t want to rock the boat or interfere with the business relationships of their organizations doing business with the museum?

We should not tolerate the director and officers lying to us and selling our best art. They had a fiduciary duty first and foremost to care for these particularly important paintings that were a major part of our French Impressionist collection and our collection as a whole and keep them safe for future generations. That’s what museums do.

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Edward and Florence’s Wills

What reputable museum sells valuable paintings from their great French Impressionist collection to “broaden the narrative of art history?”

Selling off Paul Cezanne’s Clairière (The Glade); Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant simply makes no sense. These and other proven lasting works draw people to the museum from near and far. EDITORIAL – TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER   The Blade, Editorial Board, April 25, 2022 

Diversity is achieved through addition, not through subtraction. Removal of the works from the collection does nothing for diversity. There are ethical guidelines in the field that concern reasons for deaccession and increasing diversity is not among them. One could say that it’s performative rather than substantive. It looks like you’re doing something, when the question remains are you really doing something by taking great works of art out of a collection. – Christopher Knight, Pulitzer prize winning art critic and author of COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE (Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2022), as quoted in the The Blade, Jason Webber, May 16, 2022CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS

The Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey President, Director and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, portrayed the Matisse, Cézanne, and Renoir paintings as being mediocre, disingenuously invoking Edward Drummond Libbey’s approval in a Libbey quote, as if Libbey would approve of the deaccessions of these valuable, famous and popular paintings. Mr. Levine wrote this in his April 8 deaccession justification letter to members: 

As Edward Drummond Libbey put it in 1912: “Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.”

Mr. Levine said that deaccessions, such as that of these three masterpiece paintings, are written “by design” in the wills of Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey.

Twisting the intent of Edward and Florence’s wills, who by the way have paid for about 85% (just my BFA college-educated guess from looking at the museum’s online catalog) of all the art in the Toledo Museum of Art, as well as having paid for the building itself, their wills which stated that the proceeds of anything sold from the collection has to be spent on artwork only, is a basic ethical principle regarding the deaccessioning of artwork in any museum collection. But Adam Levine, 11th Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, made it seem as if Libbey intended for the art in the collection to be traded as if it was a stock portfolio! Indeed, Adam Levine told Christopher Knight in regard to selling the Cézanne, it was time to pull the trigger.

Adam Levine pulled the trigger on our famous Impressionist paintings and shot them out the door.
The rules in the wills

From the Edward Drummond Libbey Will:

All paintings, other pictures and works of art by me bequeathed said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, by this my Will, or by any codicil thereto, and all paintings, pictures and other works of art by it or them acquired by expenditures from said income, shall at all times be properly and appropriately housed in one or more rooms of The Toledo Museum of Art in said City of Toledo, each of which rooms shall at all times be designated and plainly marked “The Edward Drummond Libbey Gallery”; each and every of said painting, other pictures and works of art shall at all times be plainly marked “Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey”, and shall be kept adequately insured against loss from fire, theft and other causes. Said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, may temporarily loan for the purposes of public exhibition elsewhere any such painting or other picture or work of art, upon taking proper security for its safe return; and it and they may, from time to time and at its and their discretion, sell or exchange any painting or other picture or work of art purchased by expenditures from said income, and from the proceeds thereof may acquire some other or others.

From the Florence Scott Libbey Will:

One-half (1/2) thereof in the purchase of paintings, statuary, furniture and other works of art, each of which, when so acquired, shall have designated thereon, or near thereto, the following words: “Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott”, and shall be permanently installed in one or more rooms of the building or buildings of said Museum of Art, each of which shall be designated and known as the “Maurice A. Scott Memorial Gallery” and the other one-half (1/2), thereof to be used and expended by said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, for any of its corporate purposes. Any articles, so purchased, if deemed advisable or desirable, may be sold or exchanged, and the proceeds of every such sale used as income in the purchase of some other work of art.

Building the museum’s fine collection took many years, and much effort went into it. French Impressionism is popular and valuable work; it is very accessible; it is considered to be the starting point of modern art. The Matisse (purchased in 1935) and Cezanne (purchased in 1942) were purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey.

Adam Levine wrote in his April 8 letter to museum supporters:

The Toledo Museum of Art has never sought to have multiple examples by the same artist—fewer than 11% of the artists in our collection are represented by two or more paintings;  

We will use these proceeds to create a new acquisition endowment.

YIKES!

using the sales of the Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir to create a new acquisition endowment!! But doesn’t the Libbey will specify that proceeds from any sale be used for art, right now, not to be used to create a new entity of a new endowment — the money is not even going back to the Libbey Endowment to be used on art soon enough? What about the Libbey name and attribution to the gift of the artwork that will be purchased? What about Mrs. McKelvy? What the heck! What’s the set-up cost going to be for this “new endowment” and how many hands are in that pot?

Gee Wiz!

If only Adam Levine had been fired on the spot after he came out with his crude George Floyd memo that stated how the staff should stay neutral. Instead, the museum trustees went along with his rationalization that there was something fundamentally wrong with our museum, as if it reflects bias and discrimination against the black community. Nothing could be further from the truth, except for the hiring of Adam Levine and keeping him on after he published his thoughtless memo.

A field day

The Toledo Black Artist Coalition had a field day.

November 18, 2020, five months before she was hired by the museum to be the first “Director of Belonging and Community Engagement,” Rhonda Sewell’s heart emoji on a Toledo Black Artist Coalition Facebook post, implying that the Toledo Museum of Art is elitist and racist. It is important to note that the painting by Philip Guston in this post does not have anything to do with the Toledo Museum of Art. 
“On Monday, January 17th the Toledo Museum of Art is open as a gathering place to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Come enjoy a full day of programs and exhibits that celebrate African-American artists and culture. Feel the united spirit of our diverse Toledo community.”

This year, the museum opened its doors on a Monday for the first time in 110 years to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It just happened to be the 110th anniversary of the day the museum opened the doors for the very first time, ever. But there was no mention of that at the museum. Mum was the word. I was there, and I asked several employees, including a trustee who was going around introducing herself, and none of them knew. The museum historian knew though — they called and asked her! Couldn’t the museum figure out how Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the 110th anniversary of the opening of the new museum could be celebrated together? How pathetic for our museum trustees to think that they had to sell out the museum’s history in order to honor black history.

“Belonging and Community Engagement” Director Rhonda Sewell’s January 19, 2022 tweet – a selfie with one of her favorite pieces of art – the Renoir sculpture of a nude woman in bronze that was deemed to be so similar and so much better than the Renoir painting of the nude white woman, that the painting had to go.
The two so-called “similar” late-period Renoirs. A painting that is too similar to a sculpture! Guess which on the Toledo Museum of Art chose to keep. What is the museum telling us? Its value on the open market was merely 5% of the total of the three, and this painting was a valuable part of Mrs. McKelvy’s female-eye-curated collection bequest. Was it thrown in as a symbolic sacrifice, or as a distraction? Will details be revealed that make it even more sinister than we can imagine? Read on….
April 26, 2022: What will next year bring? A museum without its venerable French Impressionist collection. A divisive museum. If that is Rhonda Sewell’s idea of progress, then congratulations.
The “brand” of “belonging”

Is it good stewardship for the Director of The Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, to add two new departments — “Branding” and “Belonging” – erasing and re-writing the museum for the black community (some would call it pandering), while at the same time dismantling the museum’s wonderful French Impressionism collection for $50+ million? Adam Levine has ridded us of a good third or more of our valuable, popular, historically significant French Impressionist paintings, calling it in the name of “diversity.” One thing is for sure, he is getting a lot of negative publicity.

And then there’s this.

To sell our Renoir, Matisse and Cézanne out from under our valuable public collection, into secret, private hands, only for us to find out that the two most expensive paintings were sold to the same buyer, sales that are shrouded by the convenient secrecy of a Sotheby’s auction, then to discover a casino connection to our former “interim” director, John Stanley… who strangely became the museum spokesman for The Blade’s article on May 16, 2022CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS saying that, basically, what do those people who object to the deaccessions know about art anyway, and “this is the world we live in….” It’s outrageous!

Hired to oversee the business aspects of the 2018 plans for the museum building renovation, then used as the interim director when Brian Kennedy suddenly left the museum one year before the end of his contract, John Stanley isn’t on the board of museum trustees, but for some reason, he is on the so-called “Art Committee” that recommended the deaccession (even though he has no degree in art – only in business and finance, and was hired by the museum to work on the new construction – so what does he know about art?) But when the going got tough with the public outcry against the auction, John Stanley was the spokesman the art museum put out front to deal with it.

And speaking for the museum on Facebook was the charming troll-like, aptly-named “Brandi Black.” She appeared on top of every Blade article about the deaccession, and also on my Toledo Now page, posting sarcastic ad hominem and name-calling attacks on everyone who dared to question the sales of the paintings. She used the face of Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Not everyone would recognize the honorable judge’s friendly face. Judges are meant to be behind the scenes, after all. They are not celebrities. “Brandi Black” changed her Facebook moniker picture to Ketanji Brown Jackson (from a white cartoon face) on the day before Adam Levine announced the deaccession. Hmmm…. Did the museum actually hire her, or was she just volunteering? Only the Brand Director knows for sure. Either way, she certainly made the museum look bad!

How strange that Brandi Black’s May 18 comment on The Blade Facebook post for their article, CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS, mentions 12 Monets, John Stanley and the Museum of Fine Arts, and that Brandi Black personally watched the Sotheby’s auction — all at once!
What are the odds?

Check out this article about the rental of 21 Monet paintings to a Las Vegas casino by the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston, during the time that John Stanley was the COO of that museum.

A museum’s stellar Impressionist collection rented out to a casino!!

How interesting to find out that John Stanley was the COO at the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston when they rented out 21 French Impressionist Monet paintings from the museum’s stellar collection to a Las Vegas casino, the Bellagio, for a generous rental fee.

The owner of the Bellagio casino, Steve Wynn, is an avid collector of French Impressionist art; such articles are easy to find on Google.

Is it possible that the sale of our valuable French Impressionist paintings could have been prearranged?


The Libbeys lost a child – a baby boy – in 1895. After that, they poured their hearts into making a great, democratic art museum for all of the people of the city of Toledo – it’s our inheritance. It’s our museum.
It’s our museum!

The trustees are expected to be good stewards of our museum. The least they can do is to take care of our art and heritage and not sell it off. Our museum is not to be used as a catalog of artwork for sale. After this deaccession tragedy, shouldn’t we be seriously safeguarding our multiple Rembrandt and van Gogh oil paintings and other valuable paintings from being casualties of a future corrupt deaccessioning, now that we know that such a travesty is not only possible, but suspiciously probable, considering the circumstances surrounding the loss of our three valuable French Impressionist paintings this month?


P.S.

Why does the museum put flowers on the grave of the Libbeys, three times a year — on Easter Day, Memorial Day, and on November 13?

Because they have to – it’s in Florence Scott Libbey’s will. But I wonder, since Adam Levine and the museum trustees are making such swift and radical changes out from under the original intentions of the founders of our great, progressive museum  — calling our museum out for being somehow socially unjust, when our museum has been the most democratic and forward-thinking museum of them all, selling artwork gifted by the Libbeys to make a new acquisition endowment, just how long will the trustees be keeping those flowers going on that grave?

P.P.S.

And what have they done to the Ward M. Canaday Gallery? There are no exhibitions in it anymore — they’ve had a movie playing in it for the past eight months. Are they going to sell the name of the gallery (their 2018 renovation construction plan illustrations replace the space with a generic name, capitalized, “Center Gallery”) to a philanthropist for a period of time until death puts the patron cold in the grave, at which time the museum will rinse and repeat? Will the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Gallery be at risk, as well? Is this part of Mr. Levine’s big money-making, blood-sucking, self aggrandizing plan to make our museum the envy of every museum in America?

The Toledo Museum of Art used to be the envy of every museum in America before the trustees diminished its great children’s art classes that served the entire Toledo area school system. Over 2,000 children of all ethnicities, chosen by the schools’ principals with recommendations from teachers, choosing children for the program on the merit of the child’s apparent proclivity for artistic creativity, attended art classes every Saturday during the school year, for nearly the entire 20th century. The Libbeys’ wills actually mention more in regard to the importance of education than they speak of art.

Not to mention that the museum killed the 96-year old tradition of the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition and got rid of the exhibition’s purchase award collection at the Toledo Museum of Art, banishing it to a closet in a Toledo high school. Included in the collection are works by such diverse local artists as Marvin Vines and Robert Garcia. Maybe the Director of Belonging and Community Engagement ought to look into this closet collection and bring the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition back. The Canaday Gallery seems to be readily available.

All the museum has to do to make itself enviable again is look back on its own history of how it engaged the community – check down in that memory hole and pull it back up.

The bodies are still warm.


A timeline journal of articles and events surrounding the deaccession:

Toledo Museum of Art’s Controversial Unconscionable Tragic High-Profile Deaccessions

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Toledo Museum of Art’s Controversial Unconscionable Tragic High-Profile Deaccessions

“These works of art were clear choices for the Museum to deaccession, due to very similar and/or higher quality works by the same artists represented in TMA’s deep European collection,” a museum representative told Hyperallergic. Hyperallergic.com, Elaine Velie, April 27, 2022

Controversial Unconscionable Deaccessions
by the Toledo Museum of Art

a timeline journal of the unconscionable deaccessions of the French Impressionist paintings, including articles in national publications, Artists of Toledo blog posts, comments and emails 

April 23, 2022

This is the story of the deaccession of three very popular paintings at the Toledo Museum of Art, and Mrs. McKelvy’s legacy. “She had the courage to acquire only works of art she liked and always considered that one day her collection would be the heritage of all of us in this community,” Director Otto Wittmann said in 1964 of the gift to the museum of her valuable French Impressionism collection, which she put together with an educated feminine eye. She was more than a collector, she supported local artists who went on to influence the very fabric of our community. For example, the great artists and teachers, LeMaxie Glover and Diana Attie. But the museum is selling her Renoir, without even a nod to her importance to our community. Maybe because she’s a woman….

Goodbye Matisse Renoir and Cézanne

Subject: The great art heist of 2022
From: penny gentieu
Date: 04/23/2022 12:01PM
To: rdurant@tps.org

Dear Dr. Durant,

Good afternoon! I wrote a new page on the website, Artists of Toledo. I would love for you to read it. It’s about the sale of our masterpieces through the perspective of one of the donors, Mrs. McKelvy, and how she helped to support talented Toledoans. We know how the Board feels, please consider how the community feels.
I would love to hear back from you. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Penny Gentieu

Subject: Re: The great art heist of 2022
From: rdurant@tps.org
Date: 04/23/2022 12:12PM

Hello Mrs. Gentieu,

We appreciate this great testament of Toledo art history. I am sharing this with the TMA Education Committee and our TPS Foundation.

Thank you for sharing,
TPS/ Toledo Proud!
Sent from my iPhone

Subject: Re: The great art heist of 2022
From:Adam Levine <ALevine@toledomuseum.org>
Date: 04/24/2022 10:06AM

Thanks for sharing Dr. Durant.
Penny, as you may recall from our meeting of more than a year ago, I have an open door.  I would have been delighted to discuss our decision-making with you, including the history of Mrs. McKelvy’s collection not included in your narrative, before you published this.
Have a wonderful weekend, all.
Best,
A

April 25, 2022

The Blade’s excellent editorial today about why the Toledo Museum of Art should keep its Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir. Bravo, Blade!

Editorial – Toledo Museum of Art should keep its top tier

The Blade, Editorial Board, April 25, 2022 

Selling off Paul Cezanne’s Clairière (The Glade); Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant simply makes no sense. These and other proven lasting works draw people to the museum from near and far.

Every museum director retains the right to pursue their own paths as Adam Levine is doing. Yet the museum is an integral part of Toledo’s art culture. The museum is not in a vacuum. While privately maintained, the museum does represent Toledo to the outside world.

Fund-raising campaigns are a constant in the art world and a campaign to raise funds to diversify the museum’s collection makes more sense than throwing storied works into the market to be lost forever to Toledo.

Building a better, more inclusive future for museums does not need to come at the expense of the top tier of its current collection.


April 27, 2022

Covering the director’s memo mistake. A new blog post on Artists of Toledo. Our brand new woke Toledo Museum of Art. Guess what? Your new branding is old.

Covering the director’s memo mistake


April 28, 2022

A very interesting article just published in Hyperallergic about the Toledo Museum of Art.

I remember that last year, Adam Levine was quoted as saying he wanted to better represent the population of our country, but now apparently he needs to reflect the entire world. “A collections audit indicated the greatest imbalances exist across gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, nationality and geography, and material/medium,” reads TMA’s press release. “The newest additions reflect the Museum’s commitment to adding artworks of the highest quality that reflect the diversity of world history.” As if they need to impose the power that they have to influence the public about what kind of art is relatable to who.

We should do what they did when this happened in Baltimore — people made them withdraw the artwork from the auction. See the link in this article.

The Toledo Museum of Art Is Deaccessioning Impressionist Works to Diversify Its Collection The Ohio museum is planning to auction off three paintings by Cézanne, Renoir, and Matisse with the goal of “broadening the narrative of art history.”

Hyperallergic.com, Elaine Velie, April 27, 2022


April 28, 2022

Baltimore Museum of Art uses COVID as cover to sell a Warhol. Floodgates open by art critic Christopher Knight published in the Los Angeles Times nine days before the Baltimore Museum pulled their paintings from the auction block. I have similar thoughts about our deaccession, that our director’s overzealous actions are covering director’s infamous George Floyd memo mistake and I wrote this last night: http://artistsoftoledo.com/…/covering-the-directors…/
But anyway, just one little interesting tidbit from Knight’s article:
“Deaccessioning concerns have been on the rise for many years. Alarmed, the American Alliance of Museums accepted a white paper on the subject last year.
The document is clear: Deciding whether to deaccession an object should be made ‘separate from the process of deciding how to use the proceeds.'”
Toledo Museum of Art decided what they were going to do, then they decided which paintings to deaccession….
Baltimore Museum uses COVID as a cover to sell a Warhol. Floodgates open

Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight, October 19, 2020


April 29, 2022

The museum should save our famous French Impressionist paintings from the auction block.

Open Letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees

Open letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees


May 1, 2022

Our famous French Impressionist paintings thrown out the door.

They are getting rid of the good art and diminishing our museum.

Here’s a link to a blog page that lists many of their diverse and contemporary acquisitions in the past 10 or so years http://artistsoftoledo.com/…/covering-the-directors…/

I think most of the people running the museum are brand new. It’s like giving the keys to a Maserati to a kid with a learner’s permit. The museum doesn’t even have a curator who is a specialist of  Impressionism. And of course nobody except for the historian really understands the depth of the art education ties to the community that made this museum so special. Nor do they understand the importance of such patrons as Mrs. McKelvy, who meant for her collection (including the Renoir they are selling) to be for the community’s benefit. She gave scholarships to many, including three artists who became beloved teachers — Sister Jane Catherine Lauer, LeMaxie Glover, and Diana Attie. McKelvy’s father was the third president of the museum, and her son Charles was a museum trustee until he died in 1999.

They love their off-site programming so much, they could take these three masterpiece paintings and put them on an art mobile that they should acquire next, from one of the many endowments they have, and they could drive it through the various neighborhoods that they so desperately want to reach out to, perhaps with some music over the loud speaker, and they could give away free ice cream as an enticement to look at the art. And that will promote equality and inclusion. Just a thought. Ha ha. I’m kidding again. P.S. These paintings could very well be lost to some rich billionaire in Russia or China, and we’ll never see them again. Maybe that’s their plan. So sad. And that’s no joke.

Why don’t they just change the name to the Promedica Museum of Mediocre Art and get it over with. Just kidding.

We have two Rembrandts, should we decide which one is better and sell the other one? Same with van Gogh — we are very rich with our two van Goghs, should we let one van Gogh go and buy an object from 12th Century Southeast Asia instead, because it’s “art without bias?” Are we too Miro-rich? I counted over 50 works by Miro.

Who gets to vote? The two Matisse oil paintings are equally as beautiful, in my opinion. And as for the Renoir, it is important to our collection because it is the only painting we have that is representative of his late period. Also, the removal of this painting breaks apart Mrs. McKelvy’s female-eye-curated collection of art that she gave to our community, (interesting that the Matisse they are keeping is also from her). Mrs. McKelvy was a great patron of Toledo artists, which matters very much, and to break up her collection is to break up her memory. I wonder what Diana Attie thinks, our great drawing teacher who got her start with a scholarship from Mrs. McKelvy. McKelvy’s father was President of the museum, and her son was a trustee until he died in 1999. I think this heritage means quite a lot as to who we are as a community.

These are all highly popular valuable paintings that we should not be getting rid of, for any reason. Toledo Museum of Art is one of the most richly endowed museums in the country. The museum buys new art all of the time. They should just make do! And they should stop with the attention-getting theatrics already!


May 7, 2022

Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Christopher Knight’s commentary in the Los Angeles Times on the deaccessioning of our Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne.

Commentary: An Ohio museum is holding the biggest sale of artwork yet.
It’s unconscionable

Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight, May 6, 2022

I know those paintings. As a graduate student in the mid-1970s, I was a fellow at the TMA. Back then, it never occurred to me that the word “permanent” in the museum’s stellar permanent collection apparently meant 67 years, max.

The marvelous Cézanne, a nearly abstract spatial structure built from flat, planar brushstrokes of green, blue and ochre, even has an irrevocable bid. An unidentified buyer has a murky financial interest in the sale and, if outbid, gets compensation from the auction house for putting up the irrevocable bid in the first place.

Coincidentally, a pivotal 1993 Kerry James Marshall painting, “Beauty Examined,” hits the auction block two days after Toledo’s pictures, consigned to Sotheby’s …… Marshall, as a Black American, insists that the legacy of white European painting is as much his as anyone’s. “Beauty Examined” seamlessly — and analytically — melds elements drawn from sources as diverse as Rembrandt, Charles White, Paul Gauguin and Yoruba court art.

Levine asserted that a Cézanne sale had been discussed internally for years, and market realities made the difference in pulling the trigger now.

The for-profit market today leads much of the nonprofit museum world around by the nose. But the core museum mission is collecting, researching and preserving great art, and a conservative strategy of privatizing irreplaceable public assets in the name of liberal progress is backward. The Toledo sale is unconscionable.


May 9, 2022

While the Art Institute of Chicago puts on a major Cézanne exhibition, our museum treats our precious art by Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir like a stock portfolio, where the market conditions are ripe, and Adam Levine tells us it’s time to “pull the trigger.” Really insensitive considering that so many Toledo children are being murdered with guns.

Time for a new director, from Toledo this time, who cares about art and the people, and not his own personal agenda.

Paul Cézanne, a Painter’s Painter: A major exhibition of the French master explores his role in the invention of modernism

Wall Street Journal, J.S. Marcus, May 9, 2022


May 16, 2022

Thank you Jason Webber for writing about the Toledo Museum of Art deaccession tragedy again, and thank you for interviewing me and including the link to my “Open letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees.” They are running the museum like a big corporate business instead of like an art museum that should be putting the art first. “This is the world we live in,” said John Stanley. It’s money, money money – we sure DO understand how it is in the world we live in – don’t we ever!

Controversy surrounds Toledo Museum of Art sale of three paintings

The Blade, Jason Webber, May 16, 2022

Diversity is achieved through addition, not through subtraction,” Mr. [Christopher] Knight said. “Removal of the works from the collection does nothing for diversity. There are ethical guidelines in the field that concern reasons for deaccession and increasing diversity is not among them. “I am a huge supporter of diversifying collections, but this is just a quick fix. It’s a high-profile fix. One could say that it’s performative rather than substantive. It looks like you’re doing something, when the question remains are you really doing something by taking great works of art out of a collection.”

Toledo artist Penny Gentieu recently posted an open letter to the TMA trustees advising them not to go through with the planned sale. In the letter, Ms. Gentieu stated she believed current museum Director Adam Levine’s emphasis on diversity was a public relations move designed as damage control to stave off criticism when the museum refused to publicly take a stance on the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Ms. Gentieu said she has not received a response from TMA about the letter.

“The Toledo Museum of Art has always been inclusive and diverse and free for all walks of life,” Ms. Gentieu said in an email. “The director, Adam Levine, made a colossal mistake after the George Floyd murder, telling the staff that they are remaining neutral. To cover up for his mistake, he dove headfirst into rebranding the Museum to be inclusive with diversity. So now his big plan to attract attention to himself is to sell off three great world-class paintings from our permanent collection.”

Former TMA director John Stanley, who serves on the art committee of the Museum board of trustees, said he thought the deaccession was “a brilliant idea” when it was presented by current TMA director Adam Levine.

“What’s their understanding of how these three paintings, in particular, relate to other paintings or objects by those artists in our collection,” [John Stanley] said.

“This is the world we live in,” Mr. Stanley said.


May 17, 2022

John Stanley of the Toledo Museum of Art said, to paraphrase, what do those people who oppose the deaccession of the Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse paintings know about art?

Well Mr. Stanley, we know what we like! The Metropolitan Museum in New York has a bunch of oil paintings by Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse. But they are not as cool as the Toledo Museum of Art, who now only has one of each.

And Christopher Knight, mentioned in the article, is a Pulitzer Prize winning art critic who won his prize in 2020 for his excellent criticism of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Google his articles — he’s a great writer with a great mind!

I guess the next thing the Toledo Museum of Art will do is divest itself of all the extra Rembrandts, van Goghs, Miros (of which they have 50 pieces alone!) etc., to make MORE big money.

When John Stanley, who was only an interim director at TMA after Director Brian Kennedy skipped out of his contract and the museum had to go looking for a new director on the quick, which turned out to be Adam Levine, was at the Whitney, how many Edward Hopper and Jasper Johns paintings did he deaccession, since they have so many?

The Tate Museum has how many Turners? They have nine rooms of them!

Saying that the TMA needed to divest themselves of multiple artworks by the same artist is a bunch of hooey! I’d like to see that in their museum guidebook! It’s merely an excuse to make a boatload of money.

“This is the world we live in,” said Mr. Stanley. Not a convincing reason to sell off major artwork. I don’t think these paintings have any bias, either. These paintings are biased, really? They certainly have beauty. But biased? Au contraire!

I just wonder who has them now, since we will probably never see them again.

Mr. Stanley said of the deaccession, what do those people who oppose the sale know about how the painting relates to the sculpture in their collection? It was a brilliant idea! “This is the world we live in.” Did they throw in the Renoir late-period nude oil painting just for show, as a symbolic gesture – the sacrificial painting? A distraction?


May 18, 2022

Wonder how it turned out that the two most valuable paintings were bought by the same buyer? Who was it? And what did they have to do with the museum before the paintings were put up for auction? A fair question. It needs to be investigated, as a matter of public trust.

A Marie-Therese Painting by Picasso Achieves $67.5 million at Sotheby’s

Barron’s, Abby Schultz, May 18, 2022

The Toledo Museum of Art sold three works to fund future acquisitions that realized US$59.7 million, with fees. In addition to the Cézanne, which sold just above a high estimate range, the museum sold Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait, for US$15.3 million, with fees, after a more than seven-minute bidding battle, to the same bidder who purchased the Cézanne—a collector on the phone with Helena Newman, Sotheby’s worldwide head of impressionist and modern art. 

3 Toledo Museum of Art paintings sell for $51.2 million at auction

The Blade, Jason Webber, May 18, 2022


May 25, 2022

A museum’s stellar Impressionism collection rented out to a casino!!

Is it a “brilliant idea,” as TMA John Stanley was quoted in The Blade May 16 article, Controversy surrounds Toledo Museum of Art sale of three paintings regarding the sale of our Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir, for an art museum to rent out 21 French Impressionist paintings from their stellar collection to a casino in Las Vegas? Well yes, apparently John Stanley thought that was a “brilliant idea” as he arranged it as COO at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, in 2003. Wow. Artwork meant for the public used in a Las Vegas casino for a percentage of the admissions revenue.

Now we have the unconscionable sales of popular, valuable and famous paintings from our museum, with the Cézanne and Matisse paintings sold to the same buyer, shrouded by Sotheby’s secrecy, a broken chain of provenance, the public blindfolded as paintings are ripped from the permanent collection. Public trust flies out the window.

How do museum insiders really feel about it?


Categories
Artists of Toledo

Open letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees

Visitor at the Toledo Museum of Art examining a sculpture by Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), Le Monument à Debussy, with Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait hanging in the background.

April 29, 2022

Dear Honorable Trustees of the Toledo Museum of Art:

What are you doing to our museum? As members and visitors, you now racially profile us by zip code and categorize us by age. Our art is profiled through subjective categorization with your study determining that “a collections audit indicated the greatest imbalances exist across gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, nationality and geography, and material/medium.”
Please explain how you determine the sexual orientation of a painting? If you did another audit to look into the sexual preferences of the artists that are already in the museum, I’m sure you would find a lot of diversity.
A few decades ago, the museum stopped doing their great Saturday classes for about 2,500 Toledo public school children, a very diverse group by the way, and then wondered why young people were not coming to the museum. And so they started a 24-47 membership category. Short lived because the members got older. So they switched their focus from age to race.
So many categories, and statistics show an imbalance, so you deaccession our best paintings and use them as currency. Fast and easy money when you sell the famous ones. Why don’t you do a fundraiser instead? Or are you just trying to make a point at the expense of our valuable French Impressionist paintings?
Perhaps you don’t appreciate the gifts the museum has been given because you didn’t have to pay for them. And after a great donor and supporter of black, white, and even female local artists, such as Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy is dead, say 50 years or so, you don’t need to remember her, either. In fact, why bother remembering the 110th anniversary of the opening of the new building, because it fell on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, a day which you opened the museum on a Monday, for maybe the first time ever. The museum’s anniversary was not in the program; it was not to be remembered or embraced, it could not be part of the communal memory. It somehow was a conflict of interest, you couldn’t figure out how to honor the museum on Martin Luther King Day, as if they can’t go together. So fervent you are to push away your history, because it’s just too white, like the building that you apologize for being so off-putting.
Somehow, a press release was leaked to a TV station, who did announce the museum’s anniversary that day. But it seems you made sure that no one who worked at the museum that day knew, or let on that they knew, that little fact, in the museum’s effort to promote “diversity.” (I was there that day, and I asked about their anniversary, and nobody knew.) So our history gets pushed down the memory hole. We are told that we need a realignment. We need “unconscious bias training” and experts are brought in. We need to sell our masterpieces because, face it, they are just too white. Too French!
But isn’t all of this just overcompensation for Director Adam Levine’s infamous George Floyd memo mistake? Could it be that Levine is running amok and that we are just too nice to say, hey, stop it!  I think it’s obvious to many that this wild publicity stunt that draws world attention to Adam Levine is a stepping stone for his next position, and that we will be left with a museum collection that doesn’t actually speak to our community or reflect the museum’s own rich history.
We just had a director whose program was visual literacy — how to look at art. And now we have a director who tells us what art we should be relating to, according to our genetics and personal heritage. Wow! He’s telling us that if you are black, you shouldn’t relate to our French Impressionist paintings, since they were done by white European men. Even though the Impressionist movement was such a historical artistic break-through, and has led to other important movements, and that these paintings are so accessible and have influenced all kinds of artists regardless of the color of their skin.
Unfortunately for Levine’s attempt to imply that somehow the museum is not inclusive and diverse is the overwhelming proof of the museum’s longstanding history of inclusion and diversity.
Adam Levine is using us like an anthropology project, and he’s applying some heady mathematics. Not to mention psychology, writing this to us in his April 8 announcement of the deaccessioning:  “As Edward Drummond Libbey put it in 1912: ‘Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.’”
As if our three beloved, popular, and very valuable, paintings, that until very recently hung on the walls, paintings that people came to see, are being deaccessioned because they are mediocre.  Yet they will bring $62 million.  And Toledoans are so nice, letting Adam Levine remake the museum because of ethnic and sexual orientation results from an audit (to draw attention away from his memo mistake). He conveniently erases our progressive and inclusive history, projecting a sense of shame on us for having our magnificent French Impressionist collection, which he projects on the museum itself. As if the museum cannot buy art fast enough to make up for the so-called diversity inequities. But actually that has been what the museum has been doing for the past many years, if you look at the new art and the shows. There have been ethnically diverse shows covering the world since the beginnings of the museum.
We were always taught to only buy art that we love. It takes courage, as Otto Wittmann said of Mrs. McKelvy’s collection. But today, the museum seems to have forgotten that principle. Instead, they do audits and make graphs; they profile and compartmentalize. They tell us what to like on the basis of our background or age or sexual orientation, that certain art should speak to us when other art should not. Instead of bringing us together, they pull us apart, and needless to say, love of art doesn’t have anything to do with it.

Adam Levine should not be selling off our three French Impressionist masterpieces by MATISSE, RENOIR, AND CÉZANNE to raise even more money in the name of diversity when we just had a major fundraiser in 2017 that brought in $43 million, not to mention the numerous endowments the museum already has for buying art, and the Art Ambassadors, the Georgia Welles Apollo Society, and the Libbey Circle who also buy new art.

Let’s save these three great French Impressionist paintings. Let’s not allow our great collections to be used by the director to get attention in the art world, to make his statement – all in the name of damage control. Our museum is already inclusive and diverse and it does not need to be rebranded.

Please do what the Baltimore Museum of Art Trustees did exactly 18 months ago, on October 28, 2020. Take these paintings off of the auction block.

Respectfully,

Artists of Toledo

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Covering the director’s memo mistake

Our brand new woke Toledo Museum of Art
guess what?  Your new branding is old.

“We will develop an inclusive brand voice and experience that inspires all people and awakens their connection to the deep human story we all share.” Gary Gonya, Director of “Brand Strategy”

That’s what all museums do.

From the beginning of the Toledo museum, there have been people of all ethnicities and walks of life attending art classes and participating in art shows, and shows that speak to everybody, and to act as if we haven’t been inclusive is insulting.

Toledo has always been diverse, and to imply that Toledo has not been diverse is incorrect. Adam Levine, the new director, is the one who wrote the infamous memo after the George Floyd murder stating that the museum’s position on that should be neutral. We certainly were outraged! As I venture to guess were most people in Toledo.

Adam Levine does not have to overcompensate for his mistaken memo by trying to assert that the museum members and patrons and contributors were ever the least bit not for diversity or inclusive. Our history at the museum has always encouraged diversity through their century of Saturday art classes for Toledo Public School system students and others, The TAA show has always been inclusionary since the beginning. The history of shows at the museum defies their argument that somehow the museum is not inclusive or diverse – that is completely false.

There is overwhelming proof that the museum has always been all for diversity and their free open-door policy has alway been like that. The door is open and it’s free, and it was made that way by the progressive founders in 1901, and has stayed that way for 121 years.

The museum does not need to be rebranded because of the new director’s mistaken memo, and Adam Levine should not be selling off our three French Impressionist masterpieces by MATISSE, RENOIR, AND CÉZANNE to raise even more money in the name of diversity when we just had a major fundraiser in 2017 that brought in $43 million, not to mention the numerous endowments the museum already has for buying art, and the Ambassadors, the Georgia Welles Apollo Society, and the Libbey Circle who also buy new art.

Enough already with the overcompensation for the mistake he made with his memo.  We have more than enough money to buy new diversified art, as the museum has been doing all along, (see list below showing new acquisitions in just the past eight years) without selling our French Impressionist masterpieces. Unless he’s just selling them to make a statement.

If they really want to be more inclusive and accessible, they could make their parking lot free.

Maybe we need some diversity in our directors. How about someone from Toledo? I’d even be happy with a woman.

Saint Francis of Paola (2003) by artist Kehinde Wiley (American, born 1977) hanging in the 2014 museum show, Speaking Visual: Learning the Language of Art. It was acquired by the museum in 2005.

Here are some of the shows from the past few years that would be considered diverse and inclusive:

2013

  • Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art

2014

  • INSIGHT: CONTEMPORARY SENSORY WORKS   Works of art by three major contemporary artists—Pinaree Sanpitak of Thailand, Magdalene Odundo of Kenya, and Aminah Robinson of theUnited States
  • PEOPLE GET READY: 50 YEARS OF CIVIL RIGHTS

2015

  • A COLLABORATION WITH THAI ARTIST PINAREE SANPITAK
  • Guest Artist Pavilion Project (GAPP) resident Pinaree Sanpitak, The Hammock
  • 2016  (focusing on “representation” shows)
  • Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection
  • The Rise of Sneaker Culture

2017

  • Kara Walker, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)
  • Doreen Garner, GAPP artist

2018

  • Glorious Splendor: Treasures of Early Christian Art
  • Fired Up: Contemporary Glass by Women Artists
  • The Mummies:  From Egypt to Toledo
  • EXPANDED VIEWS: NATIVE AMERICAN ART IN FOCUS

2019

  • Global Conversations: Art in Dialogue
  • Life is a Highway: Art and the American Culture
  • Anila Quayyum Agha: Between Light and Shadow
  • Expanded Views II: Native American Art in Focus
  • Mel Chin

2020

  • Yayoi Kusama: Fireflies on the Water
  • Mirror, Mirror: The prints of Alison Saar
  • Thornton Dial: Trip to the Mountaintop
  • Picture ID: Contemporary African American American Works on Paper

New, “diverse” acquisitions include:

2013

  • Seven Sisters: Tjungkara Ken acrylic on linen

2015

  • Nam June Paik (South Korean, 1932- 2006), Beuys Voice

2016

  • Kara Walker (American, born 1969), 15 prints from the portfolio Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)
  • Alfredo Jaar (Chilean, born 1956), Be Afraid of the Enormity of the Possible
  • Silvia Levenson (Argentinian, born 1957), Strange Little Girl #7
  • Gajin Fujita (American, born 1972), Hood Rats
  • Saibai Island, Torres Strait (Northern Islands, Australia), Mask
  • Alice Neel (American, 1900–1984), Nancy and the Rubber Plant

2017

  • Ancient Roman, Season Sarcophagus. Marble, about 280–290 CE
  • Ancient Roman, Bust of a Flavian Matron. Marble, late 1st–early 2nd century CE
  • Jaume Plensa (Spanish, born 1955), Paula

2018

  • DIANA AL-HADID The Seventh Month
  • NATIVE AMERICAN ART –
  • Acoma Pueblo, Embroidered Manta
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo, Polychrome Pottery Jar
  • Cheyenne, Model Tipi Cover
  • Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation, Northern Plains, Ledger Drawing #3
  • Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation, Northern Plains, Ledger Drawing #5
  • Robert Campbell, Jr. (Indigenous Australia, 1944-1993), Killing Magpie Geese
  • Titus Kaphar (American, born 1976), Watching Tides Rise
  • Yun Fei-Ji (Chinese-American, born 1963), High Noon
  • Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, born 1924), Aram (Convertible Series)
  • Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, born 1924), Untitled
  • Kiki Smith (American, born 1984), Seated Nude.
  • Toots Zynsky (American, born 1951), Pienezza
  • Hiroshi Yoshida (Japanese, 1876-1950), Moonlight of Taj Mahal No. 4
  • Elias Sime (Ethiopian, born 1968), Tightrope, Zooming In
  • Sherrie Wolf (American, born 1952), Zebra with Cherry and Fava Bean
  • Beatriz Caravaggio (Spanish), Different Trains
  • Gajin Fujita (American, born 1972), Rider (benzaiten music goddess)
  • Elizabeth Murray (American, 1940–2007), Stay Awake
  • Hung Liu (American, Chinese born, born 1948), I Hear Their Gentle Voice Calling
  • Carrie Mae Weems, well-known for The Kitchen Table Series (1990), embodies the artist as activist
  • Moody Blue Girl is part of a series Weems started in 1989 called Colored People

2019

  • Saint Francis of Paola by artist Kehinde Wiley
  • Monir Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, 1924–2019), Untitled
  • Alison Saar (American, born 1956), Topsy and the Golden Fleece
  • Joyce Scott (American, born 1948), Nuanced Veil
  • Agus Suwage (Indonesian, born 1959), Keberangkatan
  • Wendy Red Star (American, Crow, born 1981), iilaa/ee =car (goes by itself)+ ii =by means of which+ daanniili = we parade
  • William Villalongo (Amencan, born 1975), Beautiful Boys.
  • LaToya Ruby Frazier (American, born 1982), 2 photographs from the series, Flint is Family: a. Shea at work driving bus 38, Route 45 for Flint Community Schools Transportation, First Student Co. b. Shea Zion departing Flint Ml for Mississippi at 4 a.m. on June 25th, 2016

2020:

  • Thornton Dial (American, 1928-2016), Trip to the Mountaintop
  • Martha Pettway (American, 1911-2005), “Housetop”-“Half-Log Cabin”

Adam Levine came to the museum as director in April 2020.

Here’s a link to a pdf on the museum’s website that shows many of their “diverse” acquisitions over the past nine years:

https://www.toledomuseum.org/sites/default/files/exb_globalconvocaptionsheet_0.pdf

FROM THE TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART’S MISSION STATEMENT:

COMMUNITY RELEVANCE: We will be an integral member of our community and will be responsive to issues of community concern and importance, particularly as they relate to the arts.

VALUES: As individuals, we pledge that our relationships with one another and with our audiences will be governed by: Integrity; Respect; Trust; Cooperation; Positive Approach; and Self-Discipline.

see also:

Open letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees

Goodbye Matisse Renoir and Cézanne

Edward Drummond Libbey and Martin Luther King

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Goodbye Matisse Renoir and Cézanne

A tribute to the Mrs. McKelvys of the Toledo Museum of Art

From the introduction of The Collection of Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy
Written by Otto Wittmann, Director, Toledo Museum of Art, 1964

Margaret Gosline McKelvy was one of Toledo’s great benefactors, yet she was so modest and so reticent that few knew all that she did for the community in which she lived. Her joyous and lively interest in the arts and people expressed itself in two ways that profoundly affected this community through its Art Museum. Her father, William A. Gosline, Jr., who was President of the Museum from 1934 to 1947, had taught her to love and collect art. She had the courage to acquire only works of art she liked and always considered that one day her collection would be the heritage of all of us in this community. Her acquisitions were planned to supplement the collections of the Art  Museum yet they remain a very personal expression of her strong and sure taste. Her collection will strengthen and enrich the Art Museum, giving pleasure to all who visit it.

Mrs. McKelvy liked young people and helped many to obtain the education necessary to pursue a useful life. In the arts she gave scholarships to promising young artists, so that they could become technically proficient.  Many became art teachers, and are now benefiting countless children through their teaching. With typical modesty, Mrs. McKelvy gave these scholarships either through the Museum, as Gosline Scholarships, honoring her father, or through the Toledo Board of Education, as Gilmartin Scholarships, honoring Elizabeth C. Gilmartin, former Supervisor of Art Education in Toledo’s public schools. Few knew the name of the donor.

Mrs. McKelvy was a lifelong resident of our community, served on the boards of many charitable institutions in addition to being a Trustee of this Museum. The delightful and personal collection of works of art given to the  Museum by Mrs. McKelvy is recorded in this catalogue. Her pictures and objects will give pleasure to many. Her generous and lighthearted spirit will live on in these works of art and in the hearts of all those whom she helped, and who are now helping others to learn from and enjoy the arts.

A collection of valuable French Impressionism and other French art which was made from a woman’s point of view, Mrs. McKelvy used her critical feminine eye to collect art with the intention of giving it to the Toledo Museum of Art. And now the museum is selling her Renoir.

Check out Mrs. McKelvy’s bequeathed collection that was published in this booklet by the Toledo Museum of Art in 1964:

The Collection of Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy

UPI article about the museum’s 1990 Impressionism show, which got the second highest attendance of any show in the history of the Toledo Museum of Art. But they are going to sell three of these most popular paintings for a 12th century object from Southeast Asia, perhaps, according to the museum’s Brand Strategy Director, Gary Gonya.
The Great Art Heist of 2022

Goodbye, Matisse, Renoir, and Cézanne. The new director of the Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, tells us that you are no good for the museum anymore, that we have too many of you, that you are not even that good, that you don’t serve the community fairly, even though you are so popular, that people go to see you first when they visit the museum, and 6,700 people came to see you in the Impressionism show on the Saturday after Thanksgiving one year.

Matisse, Renoir, and Cézanne brought the community together. The Matisse, Renoir, and Cézanne are great works of art that the Toledo community loved and made us proud of our Toledo Museum of Art.  They are part of the fiber of the museum that is us, the diverse and artistic Toledo community that makes up the Toledo Museum of Art.

LeMaxie Glover at work, Blade photo, courtesy of Karen Glover

Mrs. Margaret McKelvy, LeMaxie Glover’s benefactor, bequeathed The Bather by Pierre Auguste Renoir to the Toledo Museum of Art. It was part of her curated personal collection of French art. 

“She always considered that one day her collection would be the heritage of all of us in this community.”  – Otto Wittmann, Director, 1964

And now they are getting rid of a major painting from her collection under the guise of diversity.

Could it be that the new museum director is using us, making half of us feel ashamed that we have so much French and European art, and planting the seed that the other half needs to question whether or not French and European art really speaks to them, as if it should only speak to people of French and European descent? Could it be that it is the director who cannot relate to the art in our art museum, since his expertise is in ancient art, anthropology, and mathematics?

If it were not for Mrs. McKelvy’s generous support of LeMaxie Glover, our local art community would not be as diverse as it is today. Our museum has always been progressive and welcoming to every person in this community, no matter what ones’ personal heritage.

LeMaxie Glover was influenced by the impressionistic work of Renoir, as were many art students in Toledo. LeMaxie Glover learned his craft and his art at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design, and Mrs. McKelvy gave him a scholarship to Cranbrook Academy of Art. McKelvy was an important patron of Glover’s. In return, LeMaxie Glover was not only one of Toledo’s best sculptors, but he also served unselfishly as an art teacher at Woodward and Scott High Schools for many years, helping generations of Toledo youth appreciate and create art.

Pugilist, LeMaxie Glover 1967, terra cotta. Collection of Karen Glover. Photo by Penny Gentieu

As if they need to sell our masterpieces in order to buy more art, anyway.

It makes a good story in Art News

The museum can buy more diverse art without selling their French Impressionist masterpieces, with the $4 million that they can spend on art every year from the income of the Libbey endowment alone. Many Toledoans treasure the masterpieces in our museum. Selling off these paintings to get a quick $40 million to buy “diverse” art (with their eye on a 12th century object from Southeast Asia) is foolish. They could do a fundraiser. The museum curators often add one hundred or more artworks each year. Do they really have sell our venerable, valuable French Impressionist masterpieces from important collections to buy more art?  They will be losing the support of the bequeathing community.

Perhaps in the future, donors should loan, instead of bequeath their great works of art to the museum, so when a new director comes along and wants to deaccession it, the artwork can be given to another museum that might appreciate it, without the first museum getting to cash it in. I wonder how Mrs. McKelvy’s heirs feel about the museum’s deaccessioning of her Renoir. At least if it’s going to be monetized, Mrs. McKelvy’s many descendants should benefit, not the new museum director who is actively diminishing her legacy and erasing the museum’s rich history.

In his April 8 letter to museum members about the sale of the three paintings, Adam Levine went into detail about the Libbey Endowment Fund but didn’t even mention Mrs. McKelvy, whose Renoir was given directly by her, and not bought with the funds of the Libbey Endowment, as were the other two paintings.

It must be a very touchy subject these days among Toledo’s wealthy patrons who are thinking about bequeathing art. Because the artwork is wanted today, but “get it the hell out of here” tomorrow, as their memory will be. (That is, depending on the whim of the new museum directors, who are not Toledoans, and will probably be getting the hell out of here as soon as they can, too. Lately, since 2005 or so, directors of the Toledo Museum of Art tend stay around for only seven years.)


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


See The Blade’s April 25, 2022 editorial:

Toledo museum of art should keep its top tier


see also:

Covering the director’s memo mistake

Edward Drummond Libbey and Martin Luther King

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Whatever happened to Isaac Rader?

Isaac Paul Rader  (1906 – 1986)

Isaac Paul Rader, famous for his paperback cover illustrations, is “entirely a Toledo product.”

He learned his craft by taking classes at the Toledo Museum of Art; his teacher was Karl Kappes. At the tender age of 14 (he might have been 15), he won top prize in the fourth annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art. That made him famous – his museum win was a true legend enduring all of his life and written about in his obits!

He moved to Detroit, where, in his twenties, he made a name for himself as the premiere artist for official portraits of judges.

Then he moved to New York and became a magazine illustrator. His paperback covers, created in the 1960’s, are highly collectable.

Google Images screenshot, 2022
The Toledo Blade, June 26, 1986
Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1986
Toledo Times, March 28, 1921, Isaac Rader “entirely a Toledo product.”
Toledo Blade March 1921, The Carpenter by Isaac Rader. An oil painting of his father at work, painted life-size.

The first prize going to a 15-year old caused quite a stir in Toledo — but he had to win. His stunning painting, which was painted life-size, was better than any other entry. The jury included Nina Spalding Stevens (head of the art school and wife of the museum director) and Blake-More Godwin (who would become the next museum director, in 1927.)

That was the last year the Federation did their own judging. For every Toledo area artist show after that, the Federation utilized judges from out of town (until the last two, in 2013 and 2014, which were judged by the museum director and associate director– we know what happened after that…)

Another reason to bring back the real Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art, to help Toledo artists become famous like Isaac Paul Rader!


Subject: May Show Season
Date: 04/06/2022 11:19AM
To: ALevine@toledomuseum.org, rsewell@toledomuseum.org

Dear Adam and Rhonda,

I just posted a new-found artist, Isaac Paul Rader, on artistsoftoledo.com – I thought you might be interested. At age 14, he won top prize in the TAA show, and went on to have quite a career as an artist. Just an example of the missed opportunities for young Toledo artists without the museum’s annual area artists show. It means something to be shown at the Toledo Museum of Art – it can really change one’s life!

It’s exciting to see the changes at the museum — how is the Community Gallery coming along?

All the best,

Penny Gentieu


Goodbye, Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne

Categories
Artists of Toledo

The Robert and Sue Savage Gallery for local artists

happier than all get out about the new Community Gallery, coming soon, at the Toledo Museum of Art!

Thank you, Adam Levine, Randy Oostra, museum board members and last but not least Mr. and Mrs. Savage, for bringing back our local artist shows.

The Blade, June 21, 2021, Savages donate for community gallery