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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

TFAS100+5 = Fraud

The Toledo Federation of Art Societies claims that the upcoming art show, TFAS100+5 is a continuation of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, yet it is at best a bastardization of the show, to be sure.

TFAS100+5 = fraud

The Toledo Federation of Art Societies is invoking the tradition of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, that of the show that they killed that was held at the Toledo Museum of Art for 95 years. They are doing the new show to increase their membership. You have to be a Federation member to enter this “reboot” show! You can only enter the show “with independent membership [of  TFAS] and a [mandatory listing, making yourself a forced member in the] TFAS artist directory”.

The show and all of its requirements are for the federation’s own corporatey benefit, to feed their own corporatey agendas, and not for the benefit of the individual artists of Northwest Ohio.  Our Northwest Ohio art and artists are secondary to the federation’s agenda.

By entering the show, you have to join their club, and you must agree to be listed on their online artist directory – free endorsements for them to build up their broken Toledo Federation of Art Societies. The TFAS deceived us, deceived our community. They were traitors to the tradition of the long-standing, oldest museum-hosted regional show in the country, the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition. The past presidents of TFAS and their friends got themselves a big payoff for killing the show, rewards of which culminated in 2014. The TFAS president at the time defended it all by saying that’s how it is – that’s the world we live in. I remember the condescending program the TFAS had concurrently to this last TAA show with all of the insiders in it — teaching the poor artists who didn’t get in how to be professional artists.

Buyer beware!

The reboot regional show is not inclusive and it does not promote equality.

Having to be a member to be in the regional art show is discriminatory.

If you have to be a member of the _ _ _ _ party (you fill in the blanks) to be in the show, that’s discrimination.

It is not a continuation of the TAA show — the TFAS killed the TAA show and we can never forget it! Eight years ago, in 2014, they put their own federation presidents into what became the last Toledo Area Artists Exhibition.

The “federation” wants to use your work to promote their agenda — it’s a requirement!

Another requirement — your work has to be for sale! You may not enter the show without your work being for sale! You must donate 30% of the proceedings — it must be donated — 10% to the Federation and 20% to a very specific University of Toledo temporary art department fund.

Preeminent Toledo artists avoided this show when the TFAS came up with it two years ago. The top Toledo artists were courted individually to partake in the new show, but most of them said no thanks.

The Toledo Federation of Art Societies has fragmented the Toledo art community.

The TFAS100+5 is a membership drive. The audacity, after the TFAS killed the 95-year old art museum show so flamboyantly in 2014, but not before they rewarded themselves.

The TFAS100+5 show is a fraud.


The TFAS should be lobbying the Toledo Museum of Art to give us our previous, prestigious, 95-year old original show back. But the TFAS doesn’t want to do that. The museum is a member, could that be it? Instead they attempt to resuscitate their moldy, corrupt organization that killed our show in 2014. They do this today by forcing artists to be a member and be listed on their online database, as if that is a normal requirement to enter a mediocre so-called regional show for all regional artists that they call a biennale. The TFAS serves their own agenda and hurts the Toledo art community by making the artists who simply submit to the so-called regional juried show become a Toledo Federation of Art Societies member. What for?

A sense of belonging – NOT

It is truly ironic that the Toledo Museum of Art’s five year plan set forth one year ago was to promote a sense of belonging — and one year into it, the museum has rediscovered its commitment to the community and seems to be finding its roots — yet the artists and art groups lassoed by the TFAS don’t bother to seize the obvious opportunity at this moment to lobby for the return of the local art community’s great Toledo Area Artists Exhibition.  The Toledo Black Artist Coalition spoke up for Black Lives Matter in 2020, and they were heard loud and clear by the Toledo Museum of Art. Look at the changes the museum has made as a result! Black artists of Toledo are highly admirable for their courageous activism. As for the rest of the art community, they have lost their vision. They are at risk of getting suckered in by the corporatey self-serving Toledo Federation of Art Societies (based on the two 19th-century single-sex male and female art “societies,” plus the art museum — rotten leftovers of the spoiled 95-year tradition of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art, killed in 2014.)


What is going on with the historic art collection of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition Purchase Awards?

The Federation was asked by the Toledo Museum of Art to move the collection from the museum’s storage about 20 years ago. So they moved it into a closet at the Toledo School for the Arts, in the charge of the Toledo public school system.

Perhaps the Federation could give the historical collection to the Toledo History Museum, as the collection shows how Toledo was once such a vibrant art community. The collection is an albatross on the Federation, as well as a perversion, considering their role in demise of the TAA show. The TAA purchase awards should belong to the people.


The Museum in the Seventies

Categories
Artists of Toledo

But will they bring back our show?

A critique on the museum’s 5-year plan for growth
as reported by The Blade
The last paragraph in the above article.

In the spirit of community involvement, I’m compelled to offer some feedback on the recent article in The Blade about the museum’s future. But first a discussion about the last paragraph in the article, “The Toledo Museum of Art was founded in 1901 by Mr. Libbey and his wife, Florence Scott Libbey.”  That’s incorrect – The Toledo Museum of Art was founded by a group of artists.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to say that Libbey was not important in the establishment of the museum – he was by far the chief benefactor in establishing the Toledo Museum of Art. But to say that he and his wife founded it is like throwing the museum’s populist history down the memory hole.

There are many near-contemporaneous accounts of how the Toledo Museum of Art was founded by a group of artists.

In the book, Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo from the earliest times down to the present Vol. II, published in 1910, which includes biographical sketches of prominent Toledo men, there is no mention of Libbey founding the museum, but there is mention of Edmund Henry Osthaus being “one of the founders and incorporators” of the museum.

This is how Osthaus is described in the Toledo Museum of Art’s own collection:

The Blade, October 29, 1926. Obituary of George W. Stevens, the museum’s long-time second director, founding member of the Tile Club, the group of artists responsible for “procuring a museum of Toledo.”

The Blade, September 30, 1922: “Museum Idea Takes Form” In 1893, the painter, Thomas Parkhurst formed the Tile Club, a group consisting of artists and architects in 1893. In 1900 the club had its first exhibition at Parkhurst’s store on Superior St. Out of that event grew a movement.  After the exhibition, the group of artists and architects was so enthused and fired up with the idea of establishing a home for art in Toledo that they got together with George Stevens as the leader, and talked art museum day and night. Robinson Locke, son of David R. Locke of Petroleum V. Nasby letters fame, helped through The Blade. Finally, George Stevens, “in an inspired moment” elicited the co-operation of Edward Drummond Libbey, who gave them the use of an old building on Madison Ave. and 12th Street to use for the museum, but they needed money…

The Blade, March 27, 1923
The Blade, March 27, 1923

Edward Drummond Libbey was the biggest benefactor, and he encouraged community involvement because everyone wanted a museum that belonged to the people. Libbey matched donations, and children collected pennies to contribute to the building fund.

The Toledo Museum of Art was always OUR museum….

Nearly all cities of any size in the country have their museums and galleries, which are fast becoming a necessity….We owe it to ourselves, to the school children of Toledo, and to the future generations to see that our good work shall continue, that we lay a foundation so solid and so complete that the future citizens of Toledo will look back upon this, our pioneer work, with praise and appreciation. — Edward Drummond Libbey. First annual report of The Toledo Museum of Art.

By the Seventies, the museum was in high gear: it was a leading teaching museum, providing annually about eight Educational Fellowships, training museum professionals from all over the country, who also helped with the free children’s Saturday classes that drew around 2,000 children per week. The Toledo Museum of Art ranked in the top 10 American art museums for popularity and assets. It was the center of the community art scene, with not only Saturday classes for grade school and high school students, but for its small but superior college art program in the basement of the museum, the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design, which extended to adult classes. That really brought in the community.

The museum also had monthly shows featuring local artists from 1933 to 1970, 540 in total, for both men and women artists. Beginning in 1918 it hosted the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, celebrating the local art community. The museum was alive with community involvement.

The Blade, February 15, 1993

In the 1990’s, the museum’s School of Design and much of the adult education ended when the Frank Gehry building was built, which was connected to the east side of the museum. The University of Toledo’s School of Visual Arts occupies the space, taking over for the museum’s School of Design. The extensive children’s Saturday class program slipped away. The Saturday class program that had served the community for many decades became a sorry shadow of what it used to be.

What have they done to OUR museum?

Director of the museum from 2010 to 2019, Dr. Brian Kennedy at the Toledo Museum of Art Halloween party, October 28, 2010

In 2014, under the new director Brian Kennedy’s watch, the venerable, 95-year old tradition of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition came to a shameful demise when the Toledo Museum of Art opened the show to entries from Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus, populations nine times the size of the Toledo region, while simultaneously limiting the show to only 27 artists. To add insult to injury, they stuffed it with Toledo Museum of Art insiders, mostly men. Additionally, the show was totally devoid of diversity, the absence of which is not the norm and has never been the norm for our TAA show.  See a full account of the 2014 show on this website, in the tag cloud in the footer of this page.

In 2011, Brian Kennedy presented his five-year strategic plan. I remember him saying that if art classes were available at one place in town, they were not necessary in two places because that’s redundant, we should save resources. Kennedy’s “basic principles” projected on the screen contradicted what he was saying there, as would his subsequent actions to what was projected on the screen.

An overhead slide projected at Brian Kennedy’s presentation of his “5-year Strategic Plan.” at the 93rd TAA jury dinner, August 2011.

In 2015, a few months after the 2014 TAA show debacle, I was at the museum attending the senior curator Larry Nichol’s gallery talk about a particular painting we were sitting on front of in the gallery, when at the end, he asked the small group of people before him, mostly age 45 and up, how to bring younger people in. I raised my hand and said, bring your children’s classes back. Bring the TAA show back. Bring the monthly local shows back.  He said, “noted.”

What did they expect would happen to attendance at the museum, when they take everything away that enlivened the art community, from classes for children and adults to lending a wall for a local art show?

Yoga on the steps of the museum if you are between 24 and 45. July 2014

The exclusive, discriminatory “Circle 2445” membership effort designed to bring in the museum’s desired younger members was short-lived. The overt ageist discrimination insulted many people.

click on letter to see more…

In other ways too, the Museum became unresponsive to the Toledo community. For example, here’s a story having to do with Toledo’s first artist, William H. Machen, who died in 1911. Over the years, his descendants have approached the museum for advice, once in 1941 and again in 2015 — see the contrast in responses between the third museum director, Blake-More Godwin and the ninth director, Brian Kennedy…

In 2019, Brian Kennedy resigned after only eight years to become the director of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. (Which might be a fine historical museum that is owned by Harvard University, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the great Toledo Museum of Art.)


Now then, back to the subject of this post, a critique of the new 5-year plan as outlined in the above screen-shotted March 9, 2021 Blade article…

the new 5-year strategic plan
  1. to continue to build on its diverse collection...   Well that’s good, because Edward Drummond Libbey’s bequest stipulates that half of the money taken from the fund in any given year must go to buying new art.
  2. working more closely with local artists through a more active outreach and engagement strategy…   Does this mean they will bring our Toledo Area Artists Exhibition back? Have they forgotten the relationship they used to have with local artists? I hope they will read my blog post, it’s outlined above!
  3. becoming an employer of choice through support and retention policies…   Hasn’t the Toledo Museum of Art ALWAYS been an employer of choice? Or are they talking about the museum guards, whom for many years were hired from our community of senior citizens, but about 10 years ago the museum started replacing senior citizens with young people, who just aren’t sticking with the job like the seniors did, because being a long-time museum guard is a dead-end job… Are they using young people for their ageist young image?
  4. creating a platform for operational excellence through the upgrade of visitor amenities, making museum access a priority, growing the museum’s financial base and becoming more efficient…   
Are we doing great?

Culture of Belonging
and Authentic Integration
of great art and everyday community

As if words, regardless of deeds, will make it so.

That’s exactly what the Toledo Museum of Art used to do. The Toledo Museum of Art didn’t have to try to be authentic — the Museum oozed with authenticity and community involvement. That’s because it was our museum – it belonged to the people of Toledo – it was Edward Drummond Libbey and the artist founders’ intention – funded in part with the pennies of the children who have since become our forefathers.

Will the Toledo Museum of Art bring back our venerable, prestigious Toledo Area Artists Exhibition? Will they bring our classes back? Will the Museum ever be the center of the working artist community again? Or will it continue to be a place for yoga on the front steps for the 24-45 crowd, and “baby and me” looking-at-art classes in the galleries for bored (but sufficiently young) parents?

The artists of Toledo can’t wait to find out.

The last authentic Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, 2013, and the 94th TAA Awards Ceremony at the Peristyle. Brian Kennedy and Amy Gilman handing out awards. The prestigious juried exhibition has launched many a young artist’s career.
Categories
Artists of Toledo

Letter to the Editor of The Blade

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

The upcoming Toledo Area Artists Exhibition, Nov. 21 through Jan. 4 at the Toledo Museum of Art, will have only 11 artists from the Toledo area.  The previous exhibition had 64 local artists.

Seventeen artists outside of our 17-county regional area got into the TAA show from as far as Cleveland, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Muncie, Ind.

I am a member of the local art community and operate a Web site that details Toledo’s art history (artistsoftoledo.com). I applied for the exhibition but wasn’t accepted.

Of the 11 Toledo area artists who were chosen, most have inside connections to the art museum, which gained control of the exhibition from the Toledo Federation of Art Societies in 2011. I question whether the jurying was ethical.

It is unacceptable that only 11 Toledo area artists were picked out of 462 total entrants. The museum should not be entitled to use the TAA name because it is a misrepresentation.

TAA is the oldest regional art competition affiliated with a museum in the country. Obviously, the museum has no respect for Toledo’s traditions or its artists. Toledoans donate to the museum, believing it is community oriented. Donors may want to rethink donating to a museum that treats the present-day community this way.

Penny Gentieu

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Herral Long Photographed the Pulse of Toledo for Sixty Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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