Artists of Toledo

Crucifixes of Artists of Toledo

The commonality of LeMaxie Glover, Adam Grant, Carroll Simms, William H. Machen and their crucifixion artwork.  clockwise from the top:

LeMaxie Glover, 1968  (1916 – 1984)

LeMaxie Glover made this crucifix for the baptistry at St. Richards Church in Swanton, Ohio. It is carved out of the finest walnut.

LeMaxie Glover was born in Macon, Georgia in 1916. His family moved to Toledo when he was small. He loved his art classes at Macomber and Libbey high schools. LeMaxie got married and had three kids, and supported them with a job working on trains. Art became his hobby. He took classes at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design in the 1940’s. Encouraged by teachers and at the age of 34, he decided to become an artist.

One day Mrs. McKelvy, a wealthy woman and great supporter of the art museum, called LeMaxie on the phone and asked him if he’d like to study for a master’s degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He couldn’t, he said, because he had a family to support. So she offered to cover all of their household bills with a monthly check. LeMaxie received a scholarship to study at Cranbrook and earned his masters in 1956. That year, the Toledo Museum of Art gave him a one-person show. Offered a professorship at Cranbrook, he turned it down because he felt a strong need to give back to his Toledo community, since he was helped so much. He returned to Toledo and taught art at Woodward High School.

In 1968, amidst the heated-up racial tensions, he asked to be transferred to the inner-city Scott High School, where he could be of more help. 1968 is the year he was commissioned to carve this crucifix, which expresses the strength of Christ and the pain and suffering that Christ felt as he died on the cross.

LeMaxie Glover was a celebrated artist in Toledo. The Toledo Museum of Art was a major influence on him. He got his start with the serious art classes the museum once offered to the adult community. The museum’s most generous patron, Mrs. McKelvy funded his higher education. He showed in the Toledo Area Artists Exhibitions from 1956 to 1964, and in 1973 and 1974, in the museum’s Black Artists of Toledo Exhibitions. In 1970, his was one of the final Toledo Museum local artist solo shows (that had been stopped temporarily while the museum remodeled the back entrance, but then never resumed.)

One of the first to receive a Walbridge study grant from the Toledo Museum, LeMaxie Glover toured and studied at museums in Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Florence, Milan, Paris, Amsterdam and London. He was a charter member of the Toledo Museum of Art Minority Advisory Committee.

LeMaxie Glover died in 1984 at the age of 67. He inspired generations of artists in Toledo, including Robert Garcia (who actually had the very last local solo show mentioned above, after LeMaxie Glover.)

Adam Grant, 1976  (1924 – 1992)

Adam Grant painted this crucifixion in 1968 for the Corpus Christi University Parish in 1968. It hangs today in the chapel.

Adam Grant’s 2004 retrospective catalog begins with, “Adam Grant was born to be an artist.” It’s all he ever wanted. Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1924, he was a Roman Catholic, and he was a slav – a group victimized by Hitler.

In the fall of 1943, 19-year old Adam Grant was shoved into a train to Auschwitz, imprisoned, and later sent to the labor camp at Mauthausen, near Linz, Austria.

The 11th U.S. Army liberated Mauthausen on May 6, 1945. Adam Grant, extremely weak, very alone in the world, was taken to a camp for misplaced persons. Five years later Adam got himself to America, to Hamtramck, Michigan, where he connected with a creative community and resumed his art. There he got a job designing “Paint-by Numbers” kits and met his future wife, Peggy, who he married in 1954 and moved to Toledo.

The art of Adam Grant, who witnessed so much human transformation and experienced unimaginable pain, was concerned with the human form. The face of Christ that Grant painted is at peace, as if it is the moment that his soul left his body.

Adam Grant suffered from depression all of his life. He was a prolific painter who lived in Toledo. His work was shown internationally, including 33 times in the annual Toledo Area Artist Exhibitions, a solo show at the Toledo Museum of Art, and he was the recipient of a posthumous 2005 Toledo Federation of Art Societies Special Award. He died in 1992 at age 67.

The Grants loved the work of LeMaxie Glover. On their 6th wedding anniversary, Adam gave Peggy a sculpture of a torso made by LeMaxie Glover.

Carroll H. Simms, 1968  (1924 – 2010)

Carroll Simms made this bronze crucifix for St. Oswald Church in Tile Hill, Coventry, England. Titled Christ and the Lambs, it is hanging on the outside front of the church and is viewable from the highway.

Carroll Harris Simms was born in Bald Knobb, Arkansas in 1924, where his great-grandfather, a freed slave, was the first schoolmaster of Bald Knobb Special School for Negros. Carroll was inspired to pursue art from watching his grandmother make quilts. His first drawings were of locomotives and trains.

Hard times brought the family to Toledo in 1938, where Simms flourished and developed as an artist. In 1944 he received a scholarship to Hampton Institute, which opened his mind to the cultural richness of of African-Americans. He returned to the University of Toledo in 1945 and took art classes at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design. From there, he received a scholarship to Cranbrook, funded by Toledo’s great art supporter, Mrs. McKelvy, who would a few years later do the same for LeMaxie Glover.

Simms graduated from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1950. Staying close to Toledo during his formative years, he took part in an active museum-centered group of peer artists, A.R.T. He showed his work in Toledo Area Artist Exhibitions, where he won the Sculpture First Award for Mother Earth and Honorable Mention for The Workman in 1949. He won the Sculpture First Award again in 1950, and was rewarded with a solo show at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1951.

Carroll Simms lived in Nigeria for two years, not to study art but to soak up the culture. He was the recipient of two Fulbright scholarships to research West African art, in 1968 and 1971. He became a professor at Texas Southern University in Houston. Carroll Simms, together with artist John Biggers, whom he had known since the Hampton days, built the university’s art department from the ground up. Today he is known for his abstract sculpture linking to an African past. His public art is well-known in Houston and the world. He died in Texas in 2010.

Carroll Simms designed his crucifix without a cross, embodying it within the figure of Christ. The sculpture is modern, tribal and medieval, notable for the large hands, asymmetrical arms, foreshortened legs, resolute expression and wide open eyes.

William H. Machen, 1869  (1832 – 1910)

William Henry Machen painted this painting of the crucifix for St. Francis Parish in Toledo, completing a set of the Stations of the Cross.

William H. Machen is Toledo’s first known artist. At the age of 15, he immigrated with his parents and siblings to Toledo from Holland, his family displaced by political exile of 1790’s France.

His grandfather, Constant De Besse (1762-1828) was a Girondist during the French Revolution. As Vice-Mayor of LeCateau (birthplace of Matisse) his duty was to arrest suspects, but he allowed Catholic priests to escape. For this he was arrested and condemned to death by guillotine. He bribed his jailer and, helped by two brothers who were revolutionists, he escaped and crossed the border into Germany. From Wesel he went to Holland where he changed his name to Machen, 1797. (This history written on the family tree.)

William Machen was the “first artist to recognize the beauties and traditions of Northwest Ohio, and to give them a certain dignity and purpose,” making paintings that show us today what Toledo looked like in the very beginning, and even before. He was 20 when he made his first entry in the journal he would keep of all the paintings he made throughout his life. A devout Catholic and organist for St. Francis Parish for 31 years, he painted the Stations of the Cross for the church.

In 1931 a fire nearly destroyed the paintings. The smoke and fire damage to the paintings was treated with a poor restoration, which further damaged the paintings. In 2007, the paintings were crated and stored in the church to await their fate.

William Machen’s great nephew, Jim Machen, hired me in 2012 to photograph the paintings. I put them on my website, and together we tried to elicit support for their restoration. After exhausting all possibilities of support and enduring other disappointments, Jim died in 2020.

Just one month later, the story of the paintings on my website was discovered by an architect who was renovating a church east of Toledo in Genoa, Ohio. Then on Good Friday, 2021, I was commissioned by the priest to digitally restore and print on canvas the stations, using my high quality photographs taken in 2012. What a privilege. I spent days working on each one, so I know what it is like to contemplate and closely witness, as both an artist and a human being, the crucifixion of Christ.

William Machen did not thrive in Toledo, having lived in the city before the art museum was built. He missed the symbiotic relationship that developed between the museum and the local artists. Machen left in 1882 for Detroit where he found more support as an artist. Ironically, he left Toledo right before other artists, such as Parkhurst, Stevens, and Osthaus coming to Toledo were to form the club that was to create the Toledo Museum of Art. Machen eventually moved to Washington DC and died in 1911, seven months before the young Toledo Museum of Art opened the doors of their beautiful new marble building.

William Machen’s work has always been overlooked by the museum. Even when the museum had their recent show about the War of 1812 in 2013, and another in 2015 about artists and the Civil War, the museum did not include Machen’s paintings, which would have enhanced the shows and told our story as a community. (See here) Neither Jim Machen nor I were able to make an appointment with the museum when we were seeking advice about the state of disrepair and possible restorations of the original Stations of the Cross paintings. That’s because William Machen was born too early, and I was born too late. The museum-nurtured Toledo art community that lasted for over 100 years was actively being severed with the corrupt ending of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition when we attempted to seek their advice.

William Machen was a scholar, musician, artist, linguist, writer and faithful son of the Catholic church – an immigrant who tried to make his home and art in Toledo. His body was returned by train to Toledo in 1911 and buried under a modest marker in Calvary Cemetery on Door Street, just a few feet away from the greatly reduced new 2-mile radius of interest of the Twenty-first Century Toledo Museum of Art.

The four artists have many things in common — each one moved to Toledo for a better life, each one has a train story, and each one expressed through their hearts and souls the crucifixion of Christ. Three out of four had a lot of help from the Toledo Museum of Art, really enhancing their lives on this Earth.

You have to wonder, why has the Toledo Museum of Art forsaken the artists of Toledo?

For money and politics – The Toledo Museum of Art sold out our community for the grants.

Artists of Toledo

Museum paints a divisive narrative

Here’s what Toledo Museum’s Belonging and Community Engagement Director Rhonda Sewell said, in regard to the museum’s politically motivated DEAI plan, “What it’s saying is that now we are not only going to look at maybe one ethnicity or one race or one region for art history’s sake in our collection.”

The new museum administrators paint our museum as having been racist. Perhaps that is to justify the radical changes they are making, from the narrowing of the museum’s community focus, to the selling of our famous French Impressionist paintings, and now they report the reinstallation the American gallery in the narrow gallery at the back of the museum, moved from the large elegant American galleries of the west wing (that were endowed by the Barbers.) It seems that the museum founded by the Libbeys for all citizens of Toledo is being dismantled and transformed into something entirely different. My letter to Michael Bauer, CEO of Libbey, Inc. who is new this year to the Board of Directors of the Toledo Museum of Art.

March 21, 2023

Dear Mr. Bauer,

As a new board member of the Toledo Museum of Art, I thought you would be interested in my editorial about the Museum that was published in The Blade on Saturday. I’ve attached a clipping for your convenience.

I’ve written to all of the board members several times during last year, but my concerns have never been addressed. I have a website that is pretty detailed about the issues written about in my editorial.

It’s a shame that these issues need to be brought up. We used to have a wonderful museum that was beyond reproach. It served the entire community, not just a two-mile radius. The Libbeys would not have wanted that, and Mr. Libbey wouldn’t have wanted the paintings sold, diminishing the Museum’s great Impressionist collection to replace his endowment with a new endowment of equal amount, which circumvents the rules he set down for the use of the money and removes him from the picture. The money should have been used to buy art, or it should have been put back into the Libbey Endowment for new purchases of art as soon as possible. The art bought with that money should credit Libbey, not a new endowment.

Our museum had always been for everybody. But today, Adam Levine and Rhonda Sewell have made our museum divisive, using diversity as the excuse.

Rhonda Sewell was quoted in The Blade on October 1, 2022 in regard to the museum’s politically motivated DEAI plan, “What it’s saying is that now we are not only going to look at maybe one ethnicity or one race or one region for art history’s sake in our collection,” yet that is a blatant misrepresentation of the Museum, which has always been one of the most progressive community oriented museums in the country. Funny that the painting they use for promoting their American Art installation, which is by the black artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner, was acquired by the Museum in 1913. But they are quick to erase the Museum’s legacy to paint a false narrative that our Museum has never been diverse.

In response to a survey of museums made by Artnet titled the 2022 Burns Halperin Report, in which the Toledo Museum took part, I made my own survey of the art bought by just the Toledo Museum from 2017 to 2022. My survey is here, The Artists of Toledo Report. It shows an uncanny balance of the percentages of art acquired of American artists by race and sex relative to population percentages of race and sex. In my research of historic Toledo artists, almost all of whom have had a close relationship with the Museum, it shows a good percentage of notable black artists throughout the history of notable local artists, from Frederick Douglass Allen, born in 1886, an early art student of the Museum’s once-great art school who participated in eight Toledo Area Artists Exhibitions including the first one, to Carroll Simms and LeMaxie Glover in the 1940’s and 50’s who got their start at the Museum School of Design and were given scholarships to study at Cranbrook Academy of Art by a wealthy museum patron, Mrs. McKelvy  (who donated her French Impressionist paintings in a specially female-curated collection she gave to the citizens of Toledo via the Museum, from which her Renoir was plucked and sold – so much for honoring women), to the “Black Artists of Toledo” exhibitions that the Museum had in the 1970s and 80’s, to the first black board member of the Museum in the 1990s. And that’s not to mention all of the diverse art collected by the Museum throughout the past century including the African collection that was started in the 1950’s, and especially all of the art acquired in the past 20 years, including art bought for the museum by the Apollo Society. I don’t see how anyone can fault our museum for not being diverse.

To now frame the Museum as having been white art only, and then to disenfranchise the community outside of a two-mile radius is terrible. The Museum should be expanding its reach, not shrinking it. Whereas the Museum for many decades educated 2,500 children from all over the city in a Saturday Class program for children who really wanted it, Adam Levine exploits our communal memory of that program by saying he is bursting “out of the walls” building art making stations for 18,000 residents of low-income housing developments and equipping them with art teachers. People still believe that the Museum has that wonderful Saturday children’s classes program, but today it is a mere sliver of what it once was. The Museum is living on a reputation that it can no longer live up to. The Museum’s school should have grown, not shrunk. Here’s my proposal for how the Museum can start to rebuild the school — and do outreach at the same time.

If you think it’s fair to the citizens of Toledo to have taken that away from the general public and funnel most of the Museum’s educational efforts into a government housing project, I’d really like to know your reasoning. If the children’s Saturday class program had not been available to me growing up, I would not be the artist I am today, and that goes for a lot of Toledo artists. I lived five miles away from the Museum and attended Toledo public schools. I went to the Saturday classes for all the years that it was open for me. It helped me have a successful artistic career in New York. I have work in the Art Institute of Chicago, and I have the Toledo Museum to thank. But now that opportunity has been taken away from most of the youth of Toledo.

Thank you for your time. I’d love to hear back from you.

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

Artists of Toledo

LeMaxie Glover’s Crucifix

St. Richard’s Church in Swanton, Ohio

LeMaxie Glover’s lifesize walnut crucifix in the babtistry of St. Richard’s Church in Swanton, Ohio.

LeMaxie Glover, 1916 – 1984

Le Maxie Glover was born in Macon, Georgia in 1916. He received a MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

He showed at the Toledo Museum of Art in the Toledo Area Artists Exhibitions from 1956 to 1964, and the Black Artists of Toledo Exhibitions in 1973 and 1974. He had a one-man show at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1970.

He showed in the Michigan Area Artists Show in 1957, Ohio Sculptors Show in 1962; the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, 1963; Contemporary Sculptors Show at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1963. He had numerous one man shows.

He is in the collections of the Williston, N.D. Museum of Art; the Besser Museum of Art, Alpina, Michigan; and in numerous Toledo area institutions.

see more on his artistoftoledo page: LeMaxie Glover, 1916 – 1984

LeMaxie Glover’s sculpted terra cotta portraits

Grandfather Theodore Lyte, LeMaxie Glover 1961, terra cotta
Michael, 1964; Donald, 1964; Pugilist, 1967; Unknown Young Man, 1973.

Blade photo
Blade photo

Painting of LeMaxie Glover by Ernie Jones
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