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 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:


  • Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • Glorious Splendor: Treasures of Early Christian Art
  • Fired Up: Contemporary Glass by Women Artists
  • The Mummies:  From Egypt to Toledo


  • 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


  • 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:


  • Seven Sisters: Tjungkara Ken acrylic on linen


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • DIANA AL-HADID The Seventh Month
  • 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


  • Saint Francis of Paola by 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


  • 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 some of their “diverse” acquisitions over the past nine years:


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