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.
This photo came today in my email — a photo of John Botts, my painting teacher at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design. Wow. I owe so much to John Botts — he made me see what I really was, which is a photographer. When he saw the first photographs I took, he gave me a book — the first edition of Robert Frank’s book, The Americans.
It is probably fair to say that the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition this year is the most controversial Toledo Area Artists Exhibition there has ever been, and not for the art either, because we don’t get to see the art until November. The show is controversial this year because of the circumstances created by the Toledo Museum of Art and the questionable decisions that the museum has made that put the show and the museum in a bad light even before it opens.
Were they really? Pleased with our region? Doesn’t seem so.
Out of all those entries that they looked at — 4,175 images, 44 videos, and two audio entries, the museum curator in-house judges could barely find any Toledo artists for the show who didn’t work at the museum, or weren’t friends of theirs, etc. or weren’t the most recent presidents of the Federation of Toledo Art Societies, the group that was formed in 1918 to put on this show, to put in the show.
And then the curators had to go beyond the Toledo area to fill it in with out-of-town artists from Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Grand Rapids Michigan, Muncie Indiana. Our Toledo Area Artists Exhibition.
We have so many artists in the Toledo area, yet in a show that has only 28 artists this year, cut down from a show that had 76 artists last year, a show that historically ranges anywhere from 70 to 120 artists — of 90% real Toledo area artists, the museum this year has to go 150 miles out in all directions to pick out 17 artists who live outside of the 17 counties that comprise the Toledo area – the 15 counties of NW Ohio and the two bordering counties in SE Michigan?
Then, with our show taken over by metropolitan areas that are not our own, over half of the meager remaining 11 artists chosen actually from this area, from all the 4,175 images that they got to select from, are artists within the “Museum nucleus?”
Is that okay with you?
Do we really have to drink this water?
Is it fair that 435 artists paid $30 each thinking that they were entering a fair competition (435 x $30 = $13,050) when they never had a chance because the museum judged it and got to put in their employees and friends, then fill it up with a pick of artists in big metropolitan areas not our Toledo area, that the museum has the audacity to call the 95th Toledo Area Artists Exhibition?
The reason why the annual TAA show started using outside jurors after eight years into their history was so that the show could be judged fairly and without conflicts of interest.
So this year, 2014, for the 95th annual show, why did museum staff members make themselves the jurors of the 95th Annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition? Was it so they could unfairly get to pick fellow museum employees and friends, for some unknown reason, or maybe it was because they got Christopher Knight to be the money judge and they wanted to make themselves look good?
How does that make you feel, big vibrant Toledo art community? Are you ready to trade in your chance at entering the TAA show every year, along with the chance of winning and getting recognition for your creativity at the great white marble pillared Toledo Museum of Art, for the condescendingly concurrent series of workshops run by the Federation to teach you how you can be more professional like those “full time” “professional” artists who are supposedly so much better than you, that are showing in your place, in your TAA show?
This show belongs to us, the Toledoans, to help “us all” be better artists, as well as, in return, for “all us” artists to contribute to and continue the artistic cultural history of Toledo that is and can only be us. And why don’t we clean up our water too.
Please keep the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art and for the Toledo area artists. It’s our legacy and it belongs to us. It’s our tradition.
The Toledo Area Artists Exhibition for Toledo area artists is the oldest regional art competition affiliated with a museum in the United States. It gives the art community a great sense of pride to compete and get in to the prestigious museum show, that features and celebrates the talents of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. It’s 95 years old. Must it go so soon, so young in European terms, just a baby in comparison.
Herral Long, beloved long-time Blade photographer passed away on Saturday, June 14.
He photographed every United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as day-to-day newsworthy events in Toledo for six decades. He was forever curious and experimental as a photographer and often said that taking a great picture was like catching a butterfly.
He was an award winning photographer and named Ohio News Photographers Association’s first Photographer of the Year in 1967.
He was a free spirit and founding member of Joyce Perrin’s Any Wednesday, a gathering place for poets, artists and musicians, a Toledo art scene tradition which has been going on since 1964.
He played a dulcimer and wrote songs for his wife, Marcy, who had Alzheimer’s disease, believing that one’s sense of hearing is the last to go.
He began photographing for the Blade in 1949 and retired in 2009. Herral Long arranged the timing of his retirement so that The Blade would have to keep on a recently-hired photographer, Amy Voigt, whose position was about to be eliminated. Herral felt that she was very talented and by his stepping down, it would give her an opportunity.
In a 1969 Toledo Museum of Art Catalog for a show he was in, it is reported that he was interested in mountain climbing, sailing, photography, palm reading.
He was a wonderful, charming person and friend to all.
Marguerite Michaels is an awesome supporter of the arts. I met her a few years ago at Marcia Derse’s Christmas sale. She told me she had recently bought one of my Confabulations photos at the Hudson Gallery. It was the one of two women on the sidewalk. At Marcia’s, she bought my abandoned church photo from my Still Standing series — maybe it reminded her of the time that she almost became a nun (she went through everything but the final vows.) Later, she bought my Woolworth’s photo and an artist book I made of my mother, Audrey Gentieu’s movie star pastel portraits. She took great pleasure in building her art collection, which went gangbusters during the “great recession.” She bought a ton of local art, and I for one really appreciate her for that.
Marguerite is a strong and brilliant woman. After realizing that becoming a nun was not her calling, she moved to New York, where she worked for Time Magazine as a journalist, and eventually became the Bureau Chief in Nairobi. Living in Africa, Marguerite became well-versed in African Art and collected it. She came back to Toledo around 10 years ago, for the same reason that brings many of us back — to help family. She immersed herself in collecting all kinds of art, and she brought contemporary African art to Toledo. In October 2013, Marguerite helped curate and sponsor an African Art exhibition at the Hudson Gallery. This photo above is Marguerite with artist Tunde Odunlade at the show.
Marguerite is bold and courageous. For all the things she has done in her life, she has utilized her fullest heart and soul. She has now decided that, for whatever personal reasons, she did not need any of her collections in her life anymore and is selling everything. Just like that. No regrets, no emotion holding her back from her mission. Her latest chapter as a collector has abruptly come to an end. Her estate sale, which includes the entire contents of her house, is taking place every day this Easter week, culminating on Saturday. Her collection of Toledo artists is an eclectic snapshot of contemporary local art — work by Mr. Atomic, Willis Willis, Dave Wisnieski, Jan Dyer, Scott Hudson, Jay Bumbaugh, Lana Pendleton Hall, Richard Reed, Karl Mullens, Annie Crouter, Skot Horn, Paige Koosed, Bob Beach, Dominic Labino, Baker O’Brien, Ann Tubbs and yours truly.
Edith Franklin, ceramicist and one of Toledo’s finest artists, passed away last night, August 31. She was 89. Edith was an inspiration to so many of us. She was small in stature but large in personality, and never one to rest. She was a woman-about-town, always attending events. Her presence will be sorely missed.
I met Edith in 2009, not long after I started my Artists of Toledo.com website. I photographed Edith and her artwork at her home in Ottawa Hills. Because she was aware of my historical research experience, she asked if I would be interested in helping her organize her papers. We spent weeks going through boxes and trunks, pulling out the most relevant records, which she then donated to The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections, at The University of Toledo. I posted some items on her page on my website, here: http://artistsoftoledo.com/franklin/.
Edith was a potter at heart who worked in clay for nearly seven decades. Always open to new ideas, she was experimental with her work. She participated in the historic Studio Glass Workshop that took place at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962. The pieces she made at the workshop are now in the museum’s collection and were featured in the May-August 2012 issue of ARTMATTERS.
Edith was proud to have attended every day of this year’s Glass Art Society (GAS) Conference, which celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the 1962 workshop that started the Modern American Studio Glass Movement. Edith walked the runway, modeling haute couture made out of glass, at the 2012 Glass Fashion Show.
We had brunch with the Machens today to discuss how we can try to save and restore Machen’s severely damaged stations of the cross paintings at St. Francis de Sales Parish. These paintings are such an important part of Toledo’s history. We need to write letters and raise money for the restoration. We think we know a good home for them. Machen was Toledo’s first artist.
It would have been my mother’s 89th birthday last week, on October 18. Audrey Gentieu was a great artist, even as a young girl. I knew that she was prolific at an early age, but it never really hit home until yesterday when I received an email from someone in Florida who sent me a photo of this landscape oil painting that my mother painted when she was only 12 years old. I was pleasantly surprised to see this painting that my mother painted when she was so young, and that it was technically so sophisticated. Isn’t it great how the internet can bring people together, with something so close to our heart.http://artistsoftoledo.com/audrey-gentieu-1922-2009/
I am very saddened to learn tonight that Wil Clay died. I feel fortunate that I met him last year and photographed him at his studio. I admired him for his accomplishments in the publishing world as well as for his paintings and sculptures. Wil Clay illustrated a children’s book about Rosa Parks — I photographed him with his portrait of her. And I photographed other important works. In addition, one of his favorite teachers was Ernest Spring from Macomber High School, and I photographed him with a painting he owned of his. This painting was in the City Paper this fall — of the Rose’s Sail & Rail Diner. I had looked forward to showing him that but hadn’t quite yet. Wil Clay seemed young and vibrant. It just makes you realize how delicate life is.
Over Thanksgiving, on our way to Princeton from Baltimore, we stopped at the Hagley Library in Wilmington Delaware to look up one of Toledo’s most famous artists, Edmund H. Osthaus, painter of dogs. The Hagley is renown for its archives of early American industry, centering upon the history of America’s first large corporation: The Du Pont Company. Next to the library is the Hagley Museum. It’s more like a living museum, consisting of Du Pont’s large village of restored nineteenth-century powder mills and yards. The Du Pont Company manufactured explosives and gunpowder.
Back in 1992, it was The Hagley Museum and Library where I first experienced the joys of historic research, and where I became hooked. My initial contact with the library came soon after I learned that my great great grandfather, Pierre Gentieu, was a photographer. The library owns his photo collection. I called the library and the pictorial curator, Jon Williams, sent me xeroxed pages from a book regarding Pierre’s photos and his work for Du Pont. He said that Pierre’s photographs were integral to the restoration of the Hagley Museum in the 1950’s. I surmised that Pierre was considered a bit of a rock star at the Hagley. Because of Pierre, I felt like they rolled out the red carpet and that was pretty cool! It was a great beginning to a long and fascinating journey into the research of my photographer ancestor.
It felt similar last week after I enquired about Edmund Osthaus. My last-minute email to Max Mueller, imprints curator at the library, asking to research Edmund Osthaus the following day resulted in a rolling cart carrying folders of original source documents and precious items from the pictorial collections, as well as introductions to the new administration director, Joan Reynolds Hoge-North, and to Debra Hughes, the curator of the museum (incidentally, who is not only from Michigan but from Ann Arbor as well, my favorite getaway close to Toledo.) My research at the Hagley has only just begun…
Edmund Osthaus, who came to Toledo in 1886 at the invitation of David R. Locke (creator of the Petroleum V. Nasby letters) to head up the brand new Toledo Academy of Fine Arts, who then became a charter member of The Tile Club group of artists that dreamed up the Toledo Museum of Art, was in his 30’s in the 1890’s when Du Pont first commissioned him to create paintings of hunting dogs for advertisements for their new product, “smokeless” powder. Osthaus and Du Pont enjoyed a prolific association for about 20 years until around the time of WWI when Du Pont transitioned from manufacturing explosives to chemicals. Du Pont used Osthaus’s watercolor and oil paintings for postcards, signs, calendars and reproductions that were displayed in hunting lodges and clubs across the country. This exposure undoubtedly did quite a bit to boost Osthaus’s fame. I’m curious, how exactly did it happen?
Among the archives at the Hagley were handwritten letters from Osthaus’s son Franz and other relatives. I learned that Nina Stevens, the assistant director and wife of George W. Stevens, the first director of Toledo Museum of Art, and Osthaus’s wife, Isabel Carlton were cousins, and there was a suggestion of a rift with the Toledo Museum that apparently only Franz would know. Juicy!
The Hagley Museum and Library is a very cool place. Not only was it key to my discovery of a personally significant link to an ancestor, but now I find it to be the repository for a cache of information on an important “branch” of Toledo’s communal artistic family tree. My Pierre project lasted a good 15 years, resulting in a manuscript and “maquette” for a book that I hope someday to publish. Working on Artists of Toledo.com conjures up all the wonderful feelings I had working on my ancestor project, and I don’t even have to worry about getting it published as a book because as a “work in progress” website, it’s an ongoing publication that is instantly accessible to the world, yet could be a never-ending project for me. I consider it my giant Pierre project.
(I wonder if Pierre ever met Edmund Osthaus, after all, Pierre worked in the Du Pont office until his retirement in 1912. That would be amazing! Okay, I admit, it would be amazing only to me!)