Categories
Artists of Toledo

Before they sold off masterpieces prominently on display

Our museum should not be a catalog for billionaires to add to their art collection at our expense.

The day I shot these photos, on October 13, 1979, I was teaching a children’s Saturday photo class. It took place under the stage of the Peristyle. We went up to the galleries, as Saturday classes often would.

This photo is of the center entrance of the museum. The first gallery a visitor would come to was that gallery in the upper left, and on view here, in the distance, is the famed Cezanne, The Glade, that Adam Levine sold at auction on May 17, 2022, touting it was necessary in order for diversity.

This is a student in my class. She’s taking her first photo — in it appears The Glade by Cezanne, which is right next to Renoir’s Bather, which was also sold off by Adam Levine.

This photo shows a diverse group of people in that very gallery — so why did Adam Levine think that the museum did not attract diversity? Is it because he was using diversity as a smokescreen for his outrageous sale of three French Impressionist paintings, two of which were bought with funds from the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment and were Libbey’s gift to to the people of Toledo, but Adam Levine took those proceeds and funded a separate private fund devoid of public scrutiny and against the wishes of the Libbeys — in the amount equal to that of the Libbey Fund?

Right next to the Cezanne and the Renoir paintings that Adam Levine sold is Renoir’s sculpture of a bather, shown here on the left. Adam Levine considered the painting of the bather by Renoir redundant and not necessary for the museum to keep, since they had the sculpture of the bather by Renoir. He said that the museum never intended to have more than one example of any one artist so therefore they sold the Renoir painting of the bather. Note the diverse group of children drawing on the floor in this room.

After leaving the first gallery, where the Cezanne and Renoir paintings were shown prominently, a visitor would enter the next gallery, where one of the first paintings in the gallery hanging on the right would be Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait that Adam Levine also sold. Here, a visitor examines a sculpture by Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), Le Monument à Debussy, (in conversation with the Renoir sculpture in the first gallery) with the Matisse painting hanging in the background.

Important to the museum’s collection.

So that’s three very famous, highly valuable paintings that were prominently on display at the Toledo Museum of Art, showing that these were the first paintings out of hundred of works of art that a museum visitor would encounter. But in 2022, these highly valuable paintings were called redundant and mediocre by Adam Levine, and sold for “diversity,” supposedly.

Here are two young black men enjoying the museum. This was in 1979. The museum has always had a diverse audience. But now Director Adam Levine keeps careful head count, mapping and going out of his way to exploit diversity or is that just a cover for the unconscionable sales he made of the museum’s great artwork?

Here’s a shot of the photography classroom under the stage of the Peristyle. In the background, a student is drying his print on the ferrotyping drum.

Incidentally, the children’s Saturday photography classes have also disappeared.

Photography is such an interesting medium. How could I have known then, when I was taking these photographs, that they would have such meaning today?

43 years later, three important and significant paintings that were hanging in the museum’s main galleries would be shipped to Sotheby’s where the Cezanne and the Matisse would be sold to the same buyer, for $57 million, and all three, grossing $61 million, would duplicate the value of the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment Fund, putting the money into a private fund, not subject to public scrutiny, and skirting past Libbey’s rules and wishes for the museum that the Libbeys began. Reducing the art collection and taking away Libbey’s legacy. Shame on Adam Levine and shame on each one of the museum board members and Libbey Endowment trustees for their total breach of fiduciary duty and loyalty to the Libbey Trust and to the Toledo Museum of Art.

We will never see the paintings on the museum walls again. But I have photos. And this story to tell.

(If you zoom in on the flash, you will see me there.)


I am hoping that the findings of the Charitable Law Section of the Ohio Attorney General, which has been investigating the museum and the Libbey Trust for about five months now, will be bringing justice to Libbey’s trust, to our museum, and to the people of Toledo. The Ohio Attorney General’s office has the power to find out who bought the paintings and under what circumstances. They can investigate all the inner workings of the board of directors and the trustees of the trust that let this happen. They can do a complete audit. Can Adam Levine and the trustees of the museum and the Libbey trust actually be allowed to transform Libbey’s endowment into private funds devoid of the restrictions of the Libbey Endowment?

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Who bought our Cezanne, The Glade?

It was the gift of Edward Drummond Libbey.

 A one-year anniversary look-back. 

Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey gave their money to fund and start the Toledo Museum of Art, and to keep it going with stipulations made in their wills and trusts. The museum sold paintings that the Libbey Endowment paid for and started a new fund equal to the amount of the Libbey Endowment that takes the Libbeys out of the equation. In theory, the Toledo Museum of Art has always been Edward and Florence Libbey’s creation and gift to the city of Toledo. The current “stewards” of the museum are breaking their fiduciary duty to the museum and to the city of Toledo.

One year ago today, on May 17th, our valuable French Impressionist painting, The Glade by Paul Cezanne was sold at auction at Sotheby’s for $41.7 million, along with Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait for $15.3 million, to the same mysterious buyer. Both of the paintings were bought with funds from the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment. Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant (Bather), was also sold at auction, for $2.7 million, possibly thrown in as a red herring.

Although the museum has recently spread the rumor that this painting had been in storage in the museum’s basement for a long time, this photo, above, is proof that it was not in the basement. On the left is a section of a photo that I took on October 27, 2021, and on the right is a Toledo Museum of Art-credited photo of Bob and Sue Savage with the painting on the wall behind them. The photo of the Savages was used in a press release in regard to their recent donation and was published in at least one newspaper in June 2021, this found online on the BG Independent News.

The current so-called “stewards” of our museum took the Cezanne painting right off the wall of Gallery 33 and shipped it to Sotheby’s. But it was an important painting. Cezanne is considered the father of modern art. It was one of the first paintings a person would see when they visited the Toledo Museum of Art.

We were told this:

The director, Adam Levine and the board members and other so-called museum “stewards” as well as an outside consultant took a vote as to which of the two Cezanne paintings that the museum owned they thought was the best, The Glade or Avenue at Chantilly. They all decided that Avenue at Chantilly was the best. So then they told us that the museum had never intended to have multiple examples of an artist, so they were selling The Glade, along with an “extra” Matisse, as well as the Renoir painting of the nude bather that was apparently too similar to the Renoir sculpture of the nude bather in their collection. Adam Levine told us that Edward Drummond Libbey would want them to get rid of the Cezanne, Matisse and Renoir because they were mediocre, invoking Libbey in this quote:

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.”

Announced only 38 days before the auction, Toledoans protested the sale. The Blade and the Los Angeles Times published editorials against the sale. The Blade wrote that it doesn’t make sense to deaccession the museum’s best paintings, and that as the museum represents Toledo, they shouldn’t be selling them. The Los Angeles Times wrote in authoritative detail that the deaccession was unconscionable. But it didn’t stop our museum “stewards,” because the museum had arranged with Sotheby’s for it to be a done deal. Our “stewards” stipulated the auctioned paintings to be “Guaranteed Property” with “Irrevocable Bids.” If the paintings didn’t sell, they became the property of Sotheby’s.

How important was our Cezanne?

It was very important. Here it is on the cover of Museum News after it was acquired in 1942, and the text.

Museum News March 1943 – download PDF here

ADDED TO THE LIBBEY COLLECTION

LANDSCAPE by Cezanne brings to the Toledo Museum the union of nature and an intellect especially attuned to it. Here is a man who worked always from fact and expanded it enormously by his understanding. When morning lights the southern wall of Gallery Twenty-four, The Glade admits us to its spell. Sit down for twenty minutes and enjoy it without effort or prejudice, as if pausing here to await a friend on a morning’s walk. Surely a simple landscape, this place where we choose to rest. Sunlight laps the warm earth at our feet; the low scrub flares into second-growth trees, none of them remarkable for size or majesty. Yet the place has elemental grandeur; this small area is instinct with sun and wind, the joy and sparkle, the grace and severity of life itself. Through to the left opens a little vista, made more intriguing by the slender tree that cuts our view. Trunks at the right have grown aslant toward the sunlight. Cezanne was deeply conscious of his “sensations in the presence of nature” and he is able to convey them to us in the surface sparkle of his brilliant brushwork and the solid foundations of form and space and volume that compose this world about us. These sapling trunks fling pyramids of foliage on the summer air. Between them pulses heat and light. Tree after tree separates itself from the mass and takes on individuality. Far to the left, the sun strikes the ruddy earth once more. The distance grows with contemplation.

Beside the Cezanne hangs a landscape by Monet, and we learn to see more truly if we compare the two, the Monet representing the high tide of Impressionist painting, and the Cezanne still Impressionist but with instinctive turn toward those more solid qualities which were to rebuild international art in our time. Monet’s objective was light and atmosphere, colors laid side by side, not mixed on a palette, but fused by our eyesight to more sparkling vivacity. Monet in this canvas shows more of heat and sun and shimmer, but the distance down The Glade is more firmly defined than are Monet’s miles across the bay to Antibes. Cezanne’s trees toss more solid form into the air than Monet cared to give to the very walls and towers of his city. Monet’s summer day is the gayer of the two, more lyric, not so epic as the Cezanne of darker majesty. Turn to the left of the Glade and you will see the work of Pissarro, with whom Cezanne painted the summers of 1873 and 1874 at Auvers. From this older French master stems Cezanne’s only recognizable heritage in art. From him he learned to look with care at the world before him and to be more aware of nature than introspective in his vision. Pissaro’s methods of painting were effective, flexible and assured, and Cezanne went on to develop them further into his own idiom.

Cezanne said, “I wish to make of Impressionism something solid and durable like the art of museums.” He worked a lifetime from dawn to twilight to keep the light and atmosphere at their height yet give them a foundation of geometric forms, the solid structure of all things, set in resounding space. Volume and space were aims in some degree of most masters in the history of art, yet Cezanne unified these objectives and knit them into a single powerful restatement, from which derives much international art of our time. All artists today who emphasize three dimensions, all those who go deeper than decorative surfaces, all modern artists are somewhat different since Cezanne lived his years of unremitting work from 1873 to 1906. Some artists can only reflect the great; being devoid of creative gifts themselves, they add nothing of their own temperament. Other imaginations speak their own native dialect of the Cezanne language. None would have painted the same, had not this quiet, shy man lived before them. The Glade gains its form through Cezanne’s minute observation of color. His eye took in not only the local color inherent in an object, and the colors reflected upon it by surroundings, but the subtle changes of hue which shape for our eye the recession and turn of surfaces which enclose the volumes of reality. He pursues these manifold aims with innate simplicity and discretion. So interwoven is the resulting fabric of color, texture, volume, and space that no one aspect of the creation breaks through the grave composure of the whole. Minute and unremitting was his scrutiny of nature. Across the surface of his canvas flickers unceasing life compounded of transparent slender brushstrokes. Effects were built up, layer upon layer, hour after hour of slow contemplation, conviction, action. Often his brush was washed in turpentine between strokes to keep his color more exact and pure. Slow work and humble effort and absorbed devotion to nature filled his life to the exclusion of all but a few friends, his wife and affectionate son. From 1892 to 1896 he painted in the forest of Fontainebleau and along the river Marne. Some time he passed at Aix in Provence. As The Glade would seem to have been painted between these years, we are not sure of its exact locale. Perhaps near Aix or not far from Paris he found this clearing circled by rich green. Landscapes are frequent in his masterly production. A writer has compared his canvases with photographs of the scenes he chose to paint. He can see with striking clarity how much Cezanne’s vision simplified and reinforced the salient facts of nature. From her casual vegetation he developed a vast and solid structure of space, volumes, dramatic sequence of related objects.

Because of his methods of work, his exceedingly patient analysis of nature, this artist had need of equal patience in all his subjects. His great still life compositions are instinct with apples, bottles, clocks, fabrics whose complete lack of motion is but one step beyond the painter’s exceedingly slow method of painting them. His still lifes are among the most remarkable of all time. Resolute and personable, these inanimate objects take on a majestic finality which is the reward of his intellectual and sensitive perception and translation of a three-dimensional world into the two dimensions of the picture plane. His portraits are equally magnificent, forceful and direct. They are limited to the figures of friends, those relatives or devoted ones who could be asked for even a hundred and fifteen hours of unflinching quiet, as was Vollard. A village group sat absorbed by their cards day after day while Cezanne immortalized them as The Card Players. The nude attracted him throughout his life, but with slight success due to the hazards inherent in his dream of having large groups of unclothed models motionless for long periods outdoors in a provincial society. He was too sincere to paint them in the comfort of a studio and by imagination surround them with the light of heaven. Born to security beneath the rule of his most autocratic father, he was always assured of funds for a modest existence. Later inheritance brought him comparative wealth, but he continued a simple life, devoid of ornament. Sincere and shy, despite profound intelligence, he guarded his independence and in isolation dedicated himself to research in vision and paint. We learn the truth direct from the words of an artist and so can picture Cezanne profligate with paint, squeezing the luscious tubes of expensive colors and exclaiming, “ I paint as if I were Rothschild!” And, more seriously, “I live under the impact of sensations. I go ahead very slowly, as nature appears very complex to me and incessant effort is required. One must look at the model carefully and feel very exactly and then express oneself with distinction.”

Here is a little history from Sotheby’s website.
Paul Cézanne
1839 – 1906
Clairière (The Glade)

oil on canvas, 39 ½ by 32 in. 100.3 by 81.2 cm., Executed circa 1895.

Clairière (The Glade) is one of the largest landscapes Cézanne ever painted, measuring a meter in height. Recent scholarship by Walter Feilchenfeldt has brought a new focus to the significance of size in the artist’s paintings: “There is no question that an artist such as Cézanne chose the size of his canvases with deliberation. Though we will never be able to discover why he used different small sizes, he must have chosen the large ones with the intention of creating an important painting” (Walter Feilchenfeldt, By Appointment Only: Cézanne, Van Gogh and some Secrets of Art Dealing, New York, 2006, p. 237). Feilchenfeldt examines large-scale canvases of figures, still lifes and landscapes: “The most enlightening statistical outcome,” he writes, “is the evaluation of the large-size landscapes. They represent all of Cézanne’s motifs, with the exception of Jas de Bouffan and the Quarry of Bibémus, and are all to be considered among the artist’s masterpieces. There are only two early ones…. Of the remaining seventeen canvases, the majority group themselves by subject in twos, making us wonder if this was intended by the artist” (ibid., p. 240). The present work is paired with Sous-bois (see fig. 1), a part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

Provenance
  • Baron Denys Cochin, Paris
    Ambroise Vollard, Paris (acquired on 26 October 1899)
    (possibly) Auguste Pellerin, Paris (acquired by March 1901)
    Emil Staub-Terlinden, Männedorf (acquired by 1923)
    Wildenstein Galleries, New York (acquired from the above in 1942)
    Acquired from the above in 1942 by the present owner
Literature
  • Fritz Burger, Cézanne und Hodler, Munich, 1913, pl. 104 (titled Waldlichtung)
  • Fritz Burger, Cézanne und Hodler. Einführung in die Probleme der Malerei der Gegenwart, Munich, 1918, pl. 109, illustrated (titled Waldlichtung)
  • Fritz Burger, Cézanne und Hodler, Munich, 1919, pl. 109, illustrated
  • Fritz Burger, Cézanne und Hodler, Munich, 1920, pl. 109, illustrated
  • “Vie de Cézanne” and ”Lettres de Cézanne,” L’Esprit nouveau: revue internationale d’esthétique, no. 2, 1920, p. 142, illustrated
  • Fritz Burger, Cézanne und Hodler, Munich, 1923, pl. 108, illustrated
  • René-Jean, “L’Art français dans une collection suisse: La Collection de M. Staub-Terlinden,” La Renaissance de l’art français et des industries de luxe, vol. 6, no. 8, August 1923, p. 472 (titled Sous bois) 
  • Pierre Courthion, “L’Art français dans les collections privées en Suisse (suite): La Collection Emile Staub,” L’Amour de l’art, vol. 7, no. 2, February 1926, pp. 42-43 and p. 40, illustrated (titled Paysage)
  • Lionello Venturi, Cézanne: Son Art, Son Oeuvre, Paris, 1936, no. 670, vol. I, p. 209, catalogued; vol. II, pl. 215, illustrated (titled Clarière and dated 1892-96)
  • Maximilien Gauthier,”L’Art français du XIXe siècle dans les collections suisses: une heure avec Charles Montag devant les chefs-d’oeuvre de la peinture française réunis à la Galerie des ‘Beaux-Arts,'” Beaux-arts: Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, no. 285, 17 June 1938, p. 12
  • “Art News of America: Toledo’s Cézanne,” Art News, 15 April 1943, p. 6, illustrated (titled The Glade)
  • Abraham A. Davidson, “Toledo Acquires Fine Cézanne Landscape,” Art Digest, vol. 17, no. 16, 15 May 1943, p. 9, illustrated
  • Toledo Museum of Art, ed., Museum News, no. 101, March 1943, illustrated on the cover
  • Edward Alden Jewell, Paul Cézanne, New York, 1944, p. 20, illustrated (titled The Glade and dated circa 1892-94)
  • Molly Ohl Godwin, Master Works in the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, 1953, p. 32; p. 33, illustrated (titled The Glade)
  • Alfonso Gatto and Sandra Orienti, L’Opera completa di Cézanne, Milan, 1970, no. 689, p. 117, illustrated (titled Radura and dated 1892-96)
  • John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, no. 814, vol. I, p. 58, illustrated in color and p. 490, catalogued; vol. II, p. 284, illustrated (titled Clarière and dated circa 1895)
  • Walter Feilchenfeldt, By Appointment Only: Cézanne, Van Gogh and some Secrets of Art Dealing, New York, 2006, p. 242, illustrated in color (titled The Glade and dated circa 1895)
  • Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash, “Clairière, c.1895 (FWN 302).” The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cezanne: An Online CatalogueRaisonné https://www.cezannecatalogue.com/catalogue/entry.php?id=790 (accessed on April 1, 2022)
Exhibited
  • Basel, Kunsthalle, Paul Cézanne, 1936, no. 50 (titled Waldichtung and dated circa 1896)
  • Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Five Major Paintings by Paul Cézanne, 1936-37
  • Paris, Galerie de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts, La Peinture française du XIXe sièce en Suisse, 1938, no. 11 (titled Clairière and dated circa 1892-96)  
  • Toledo Museum of Art and Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, The Spirit of Modern France, 1946-47, no. 55, illustrated
  • New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., A Loan Exhibition of Cézanne for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary, 1947, no. 55, p. 60, illustrated (titled Clarière and dated 1892-96)
  • Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, Six Centuries of Landscape, 1952, no. 56, n.p. (dated 1892-96)
  • New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc, Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, 1959, no. 41, n.p., illustrated (titled Clarière and dated 1892-96)
  • Vienna, Kunstforum and Zurich, Kunsthaus, Cézanne: Finished—Unfinished, 2000, no. 113, p. 334, illustrated in color (titled The Glade and dated circa 1895)
  • Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art and Aix-en-Provenance, Musée Granet, Cézanne in Provence, 2006, no. 145, p. 268, illustrated in color (titled Clearing and dated circa 1895)
  • Humelbaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Cézanne & Giacometti—Paths of Doubt, 2008, no. 42, p. 318, illustrated in color (titled Glade and dated circa 1895)
What the auction looked like at the moment of the winning bid on Cezanne’s The Glade, sold at auction on May 17, 2022 going for $41.7 million – same secret buyer also buying the Matisse for $15.3 million on the same night:


  • Who bought the paintings? Was it prearranged?
  • What happened to the money – money equal to the value of the Libbey Endowment?

The painting was deaccessioned because it was mediocre, at least that is what the museum “stewards” and “trustees” gave us as an excuse for them to take it off the museum’s wall and ship it to Sotheby’s. It was all done in secret. Makes one wonder that under these circumstances, since nobody gets to know anything, perhaps our museum could be used as a catalog for a wealthy buyer to arrange a purchase.

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 Mr. Levine.  – The Blade, Controversy surrounds Toledo Museum of Art sale of three paintings by Jason Webber, May 16, 2022

Secrecy at this level is incredibly powerful. The stewards of the museum, with the very high level of trust and privilege given to them, have the responsibility to act within the founding principles of the Libbeys, and to not betray the museum by using Libbey assets to create a whole new fund without any of the rules and the public scrutiny and oversight required by the Libbey Endowments.

This painting, as shown above, meant a great deal to our museum. An issue of Museum News featured it on the cover. It was a big part of our story.

Decades later, for an entirely new set of “stewards” to treat it like crap is so disloyal. To spread it around that “people are sick of the paintings by tired old white men” is subversive and traitorous, not to mention divisive.

They were put in charge of caring for our museum and preserving our collection – it is not theirs to tear apart and sell off.

Lying about the quality of the painting and the number of artworks intended to be collected by one artist as a reason to deaccession an important masterpiece by Cezanne is dishonest and a breach of fiduciary duty.

The Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment Trustees are negligent:
  • Why didn’t the Libbey Trustees put flowers on the graves of the Libbeys on Easter day this year, as required in the Florence Libbey endowment?
  • Why didn’t the Libbey Trustees get the Libbey Endowment Fund Account Statement filed with the Lucas County Probate Court on time this past year? They received a “Notice To Trustee of Failure to File an Account” from the Probate Court Judge.
  • Why is the balance of the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment Account 20% less in value on June 30, 2022 than it was on July 1, 2021? Are they that bad with money, that the fund would drop in value by $12,000,000, when it never even grew during the high-flying pandemic years when stock portfolios at other museums increased quite a lot?
  • Why would the Trustees of the Trust allow the museum to take money from the sale of two paintings purchased from the Libbey Endowment Fund and not oversee that it was returned to the Libbey Endowment Fund until it was used to purchase art?
  • Isn’t it a conflict of interest for Libbey Endowment Trustees to also be on the Toledo Museum of Art Board of Directors?
  • Why did the Trustees file for a variance from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022 to use money from the Trusts of both Edward and Florence Libbey that was required to be spent on artwork, to be spent on something else, claiming pandemic hardship, considering that Adam Levine announced in The Blade on March 26, 2023 that they had actually increased their budget by 20% during the past three years? If they could increase their budget by 20%, then they were dishonest about needing a variance due to Covid hardships. They also received $3,484,260 in Covid relief money which was disclosed on their public charity 990 tax filings.

Why didn’t the Toledo Museum of Art celebrate the 110th anniversary of opening of the museum on the first Monday the museum was ever opened, which was for Martin Luther King Day in 2022? They couldn’t manage to celebrate both? Or do they simply not care whatsoever about the museum?

Do the current “stewards” of the museum actually hate the museum? – Are they robbing the museum of assets in order to create an entirely different institution without any of its rules?

Are the current “stewards” of the museum and of the Libbey Endowment purposefully defying the intentions of the Libbeys, who started the museum and funded the museum throughout its history?

Why did the Toledo Museum of Art kick out the local artist community by taking away our once-proud Toledo Area Artists Exhibition that brought the entire community together?

Will the Toledo Museum of Art be selling more artwork and not be telling us?

Should the current “stewards” of the Toledo Museum of Art be allowed to sell off the artwork of the museum and funnel the money into a completely different fund – a new fund without any of the restrictions that the Libbey Trust has – restrictions that helped make the Toledo Museum of Art become what it is today? Don’t the Libbey Endowment trustees have a fiduciary duty to look out after the best interests and the intentions of the Libbeys for the museum, as put forth in the Libbey wills? How could they let this happen?

Is it fair that the Toledo Museum of Art gets grant money in the name of the Toledo Museum of Art for them to spend that money on only on a 2-mile radius for 12 afternoon art sessions for seniors averaging $9,998 for each session (my goodness!) instead of sharing that grant money and programs with the entire Toledo area community of seniors? Will the museum disclose exactly what they are spending the money on?

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Museum shrinking away from founders

The Toledo 2-Mile Radius Museum of Art

It’s Edward Drummond Libbey’s birthday today – he was born on April 17, 1854. Some people care – like the alumni of the high school named after Mr. Libbey that was torn down in 2012 and never replaced, and the runners of the “Florence Scott Libbey 419 Race” in honor of Edward Drummond Libbey’s wife. As for the Toledo Museum of Art, they stopped putting flowers on his grave, letting his memorial look terrible one week ago on Easter Sunday, a day that the museum is required to decorate the grave with flowers, as stipulated by the Florence Scott Libbey Endowment. (see my last post, No flowers for the Libbeys the year.)

Adam Levine’s recent guest editorial in The Blade

After my guest editorial in The Blade on March 18, where I showed that the museum is moving away from the wishes of the Libbeys, Adam Levine countered with his own editorial on March 26, “Museum growing on mission set by founders,” where he grasped to make connections with the founders – as if words, regardless of deeds, would make it so.

I found a lot of inconsistencies in his editorial. Here they are.

Comments on Adam Levine’s March 26, 2023 editorial

First of all, it was George Stevens’ wife, Nina Spalding Stevens, who instituted the art classes. At least give her that much credit. Nina and George ran the museum together. Yes, a woman was a partner in running our museum, way back in 1903. Imagine that.

Secondly, the adult classes back then in the beginning and through at least the 1970’s and 1980’s were quite extensive, nothing like we have now, and to say that they are “as we still know them” is just not true.

The museum let the richness of the adult art classes slip away when the university took over by hiring their own faculty in the 1990’s when moving to the new Gehry building that is attached to the museum. The adult population now has to pay a ridiculous tuition and unfair activity fees to take the university art classes. It’s a great disservice to the community. Over in the museum basement in the old school, there’s not much going on.

This is not true, I went to the University of Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art School of Design in the early 1970’s and my art classes were university credits.

My sister went to the University of Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art School of Design in the 1960’s and her art classes were university credits.

Many artists on this website had art classes at the museum that were applied to their University of Toledo BA degree, going back to the 1940’s, maybe earlier, such as Carroll Simms, LeMaxie Glover, Edith Franklin (who had her credits for her art classes in the 1940’s and 1950’s applied toward her degree in 1987, when she turned 65 and wanted to get her degree so she could teach. All she had to do was pay the extra amount to the university, as adults could take adult art classes at the museum in the past without being a university student, and it was cheaper. University students pay university tuition.)

Except that Adam Levine has shrunk it.

Again, Adam Levine invokes our great museum’s reach when he has actually shrunk the museum’s focus from a community of over a half a million down to a community of 18,000 people all within a small 2-mile radius, forsaking the larger community that is 36.111 times that in head count, from a number which reflects the museum’s local reach in their own words, noted in their 5-year strategic plan – “its 650,000-person metropolitan statistical area.” (see below)

The Libbey Endowment Trust variance

In the summer of 2020, the museum filed a petition with the Lucas County Probate Court for a temporary variance on the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment Trust to use less than the trust-stipulated 50% of the annual draw on the purchases of art, on account of the economic hardship of the pandemic. They were granted, for two years, ending July 1, 2022, the use of $150,000 per year to be taken from the art purchase fund to be used on “direct care costs of art” instead of on buying art. And I am guessing they did the same thing with the Florence Scott Libbey Endowment Trust, as well.

So it seems contradictory that the museum was able to increase their budget by 20% during the past three years – years that they were claiming hardship and diverting art-purchase funds. And during this time they also sold three of our famous paintings for $59 million, claiming to want to spend it on new art. All it’s been spent on so far is a new financial vehicle that’s making money for financial people.

5-year plan said so

Also, this contradicts the statement in The Blade on March 9, 2021, reporting that the 5-year plan calls for decreasing the percentage the museum draws annually from the Libbey endowment —

The plan calls for financial changes that include increasing the budget from about $18 million to $20 million, and decreasing the percentage the museum draws annually from an endowment that founder Edward Drummond Libbey established for the museum upon his death in 1925.

over budget already, and it’s only been 2 years

Also, the increase in the budget two years ago was about 12%, but now he is saying the budget has increased by 20% — 8% more than the 5-year plan called for.

the remote control of the museum

Why do we have curators who live outside of Toledo? Adam Levine hired a consulting curator, Lenisa Kitchiner, for the museum’s African collection. Although the museum doesn’t mention it in their press release, she is the Chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., with an educational background in literature, African studies and politics, not art history.

Why did the museum hire a curator of ancient art, Carlos Picon, the director of the Colnaghi art gallery in New York, who is an ancient art dealer? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? 

What is going on that the Toledo Museum of Art is hiring people from out of town who do not live in Toledo, or even in Ohio, to run our museum remotely?

Why “rebrand” the museum?

Adam Levine started a brand-new department, Brand Strategy, to redefine our museum, hiring Gary Gonya, who lives in Colorado, as the director of the department. First, Adam Levine painted our museum as being somehow elitist if not downright white supremacist, (see, Blade article, June 2021) when it had always been a progressive, democratic museum for all of the people.

“Art museums…Elite. Erudite…but for many, the word ‘inaccessible’ must also be included on that list.”

“…their auras of excellence can deter the average citizen from feeling they are places to frequent, enjoy, and learn from without having a gold-embossed degree in one’s back pocket.”

“the art museum really is looked at as a place for the people on the river…”

“Mayor Kapszukiewicz said there historically has been a sense that the art museum was a place for the Florence Libbeys of the world. Mrs. Libbey was a patron of art married to Edward Drummond Libbey, the owner of Libbey Glass Co. and the art museum’s president from 1901–1925.”

Then Gary Gonya came in and said, “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.” Art Matters, Winter/Spring 2022

Now Adam Levine harks back to the museum’s founders, claiming ownership of the museum’s progressive, democratic history.

It’s as if what they have done by discriminating against most of the people in the Toledo metropolitan area in favor of people who live in a small geographic area, and by selling our best paintings, isn’t actually a big break from the founding principles instead.

A new Communications Manager, a department which is now overseen by Brand Strategy, was hired at the museum who was living in Lansing Michigan. She appeared on TV saying that Toledoans want to see themselves on the walls. She wrote and edited a belated quarterly Art Matters Magazine in September 2022, and then after just a few months of museum employment, she left. There has not been another Art Matters Magazine since then.

TMA was greater when the budget was half as much

Even though they have added the Branding Department, a Chief People Officer and a Director of Belonging and Community Engagement and fully staffed these new departments, and even though they spend $3.6 million more this year than they did three years ago, the museum has not managed to continue the things that has made it great.

The School of Design made the museum great. The great Saturday Children’s Class program that was coordinated with the Board of Eduction to provide about 2,500 public school children (parochial school children too) with an extensive, full-school-year program of art classes is what made the museum great. Free at first, then nearly free.

The adult art class culture and community that the museum used to have made the museum great.

The annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition that brought together the region’s art community, that celebrated their creativity and made everyone feel part of it and welcome made the museum great.

Selling our valuable and historic art

It is so ironic that while expanding budgets and commandeering endowment fund art allocations for other uses, that Adam Levine took away perhaps the most important thing that made our museum great.

Adam Levine sold three of our world-class famous historical French Impressionist paintings that we had in our collection for a very long time. These paintings were a substantial part of the museum’s small but strong collection of French Impressionism. These paintings meant so much to our community, and people came from near and far to see them. They were very accessible. Cezanne is considered the father of modern painting.

The museum’s great art made our museum great.

Invoking Libbey to pass off a lie

Adam Levine took our Cezanne, The Glade, right off the wall and sold it for $41.7 million. He lied to us about the reason why he was doing that, saying that the painting was mediocre and Libbey would have wanted us to get rid of it, and that the museum never meant to have two examples of any one artist.

He embarrassed us to world by promising our other Cezanne to the Art Institute of Chicago’s Cezanne Exhibition taking place concurrently, which is documented full page in the show’s catalog as being in the show. Instead he sold our other Cezanne, The Glade, right off the wall, just two days after the opening of the important Cezanne Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Just wondering why the art acquisition numbers indicate that a lot more art was bought during that time? I saw a work with the number 2022.92. That would indicate it was the 92nd work bought in 2022. And he states here that they acquired only 75 works over 2 years. Did they buy and sell works to flip them, perhaps? Funny thought but with all the weirdness going on at the museum, I wouldn’t put it past them.

TMA has never not explored world art

The Toledo Museum of Art has always explored art of the entire world, it doesn’t need to raise budgets and hire more employees to do so. What the museum needs are art curators who are connoisseurs, not statistical survey satisfiers.

Unimpressive shows and few of them

I counted only five shows in 2022, and they were unimpressive. Two shows in the past two years were showing the restoration of artwork. The second show like this, in the fall of 2022, was used as a fundraiser to raise money for the restoration of certain pieces, which is funny because the restoration of art is what the Libbey variance of 2020 was about (“direct care of art”) – the museum received extra money for this use, yet there they are trying to get the public to pay for the restoration of the glass dress that represents the Libbeys themselves. The variance diverting Libbey’s money for the restoration of art was not even used to care for Libbey’s deeply important and meaningful legacy.

The shape of things to come

The coming show about extinct birds, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg – Machine Auguries: Toledo is running an extra-long time for a show at a museum that claims to be working on bringing in repeat visitors – seven long months – from April 29 to Nov. 26. The show is not sponsored by the Libbey Endowment Fund. Instead, it’s sponsored by 8 different sponsors, including corporations, donors, foundations and the Ohio Arts Council: “Presenting sponsors Susan and Tom Palmer, Season sponsor ProMedica, Platinum sponsors Taylor Cadillac, the Rita B. Kern Foundation, and The Trumbull Family and Silver sponsor Dana Charitable Foundation. Additional support provided by the Ohio Arts Council and the Boeschenstein Family Foundation.” All those corporate sponsors, and still, the museum is charging $10 for non-members to see it.

Nearest neighbors being left out? a big lie

First of all, the museum is free and the doors are open. We can thank Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey for that. The museum has always welcomed everyone, since Day 1.

The museum’s 2021 5-year strategic plan puts TMA’s reach at 650,000 people for the Toledo Metropolitan area. Over the decade, they report having about 380,000 visitors per year.

The 2-mile radius is 12.57 square miles and the Toledo Metropolitan area is 240 square miles. So therefore, the 2-mile radius of the museum is only 5.24% of the museum’s Toledo Metropolitan area. 8% of the museum’s attendance from the 2-mile radius neighborhood is a lot more than 5.24%, and 14% is way more. So how have the “nearest neighbors” been left out?

“An active approach to community outreach not only increases the level of offsite programming, but in so doing, it allows TMA employees to create personal relationships and invite program participants individually to visit the Museum,” the plan reads. The Blade, March 9, 2021, Museum outlines 5-year plan of growth

All this effort the museum has recently made to hire more people (raising the museum’s budget by $3.6 million with public and private grants) to befriend and make personal relationships with a select area of their total reach, and to hand-hold these neighborhood people to get more to come to the museum, and to pass out free memberships (good for free parking and special shows) at the expense of all other visitors who are not members to which they raised the parking fee by 45%, has made the statistics grow to 14% for the visitors being from the 2-mile radius – a large percentage compared to the overall population of the museum’s reach – but are they accounting for less people coming from other areas? Is reducing the attendance of the other areas part of the plan too? Because they are absolutely leaving everyone else out.

A siphon and a funnel

It’s like a siphon of most of the former efforts the museum made for the entire community being funneled into one place – the 2-mile radius.

Closing museum on a Friday to dismantle the Great Gallery for a private party for themselves and the 2-mile radius

The museum was closed on a Friday in October 2021 to put on a private concert with John Legend that was supposedly for the kids in their outreach program but ended up being a private party for adults. Using the Great Gallery, where most of the Old Master paintings are displayed including the Peter Paul Rubens, they removed the paintings from the gallery walls, risking damage to the museum’s most valuable collection, and replaced them with contemporary paintings by black artists. Information was initially released that it would be for the neighborhood kids they are doing outreach for. However, it was reported in the Sojourners Truth newspaper after the concert that only 40 children attended, who came from the seven different “communities” within the 2-mile radius of the museum. Along with 400 adults who had a party for themselves. Printing a full-page photo of their private concert in the 2021 annual report, the museum asserted that the museum would be doing more private functions like this in the future.

Not very Libbey-like

Why would the museum close its doors to the public on a busy day to have a private party with the neighborhood? Why does the museum feel that the people from the neighborhood can’t relate to the great collection that the museum presently has? Isn’t that a supreme insult to people of the neighborhood? Or is it all just a smokescreen to sell off our great paintings?

Art-making experiences for seniors in the 2-mile radius only
siphoning $9,998 per art-making session

The Toledo Museum of Art just received a grant to give art lessons/art experiences to senior citizens in senior centers. See story in M-Living here: Toledo museum program takes art to older adults

The grant, for $119,916, from Michelson Philanthropy, “a pioneer in creative aging,” will be used to give a 6-session art program at two senior centers serving seniors in the special “2-mile radius” this summer, summer of 2023. That works out to be $9,993 for each art-making session.

There are many seniors all over the city of Toledo, many of them who have never been to the Toledo Museum of Art as well, and to isolate a small section of Toledo to pour $119,916 into 2 senior centers for just 12 art making sessions this summer is divisive, strange, and unbelievable. Toledo has 14 or so Senior Centers, and most of them are out of luck. Many people in their communities are feeling unwanted, isolated, lonely, poor and miserable. Survivors of the pandemic, but for what. To emerge into a world that literally doesn’t want them anymore.

we made you but now we decided to eliminate you

The museum made note in their 5-year strategic plan that they have way too many older educated white women. They don’t like us anymore, so I guess we have to sit the rest of our lifetime out.

How could the museum have known, when we were little children, educated at the museum’s Saturday classes and also having college classes at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design, that we would stay so interested in art when we would grow up – that we would enjoy going to the museum so much that it would make the Twenty-first Century museum director’s socio-economic and racially profiled and ageist statistics explode his mind? There are some people that don’t fit in to their new branding – also called, discrimination.

Adam Levine’s solution is to cut us out, just like he got rid of the French Impressionist paintings that skewed their art collection so male and so white.

Over the past decade the Museum has received, on average, 380,000 visits per year, which as a percentage of its 650,000-person metropolitan statistical area ranks it among the top five most visited art museums per capita, according to annual statistics from the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Though TMA can claim a history of executing on quality and community, this Museum, like so many others, has implemented its strategies in ways that have not been equally inclusive or equally accessible. Though TMA is known across the world for its outstanding collection, that collection reflects a Eurocentric view of the world. Likewise, the demographic attributes of those 380,000 annual visitors skew Caucasian, female, older, affluent, and highly educated. – TMA Strategic Plan 2021

Exactly WHAT strategies have not been inclusive or accessible? Our museum is NOT “like so many others.” Our museum has been collecting diverse art from the very beginning. For example the Henry Ossawa Tanner painting purchased in 1913, for just one example.

Nothing has ever stopped the museum from making diverse purchases. They have been buying quite a lot of non-European-type-non-white-male art for the past several decades. in fact, I made a survey of art acquired by the museum from 2017 to 2022, and it lines up pretty closely to U.S. Census statistics of nationality and race. See my survey here: The Artists of Toledo Report.

Are they going for full collection-wide parity? Are they not going to collect art by white men altogether?

Money and politics

Could it be that they are using the outreach program to politically organize the 2-mile area, using the neighborhood as a pet anthropological experiment?

Will their radicalism in our meek Midwest town that lets them do anything win them the fame they so desperately seek?

expanding? or pushing us over the edge?

The museum is leaving everyone else out. The museum has always been about art, but now it seems they have traded art for money and politics. Lots of grant money for the taking. They are doing focused outreach in this 2-mile radius area, which is what the Arts Commission had always done in the past.

The museum should be a museum. Let the arts commission be the arts commission.

Adam Levine is the steward of our museum, it is not his to remake. 

People come to the museum. It has art. It has education. It has a beautiful marble pillared building. It is a place for personal contemplation. It is not a place to be bullied. It is not a place to be beaten over the head with politics.

People who run the museum first and foremost must care for the art for future generations. They shouldn’t be selling it off. They shouldn’t be trying to make themselves famous at the expense of Toledoans. It’s ridiculous that they claim to want to remake our museum to set an example for all other museums to follow. As if to let them recreate our museum for the sake of their own notoriety among other museums would make us proud. Our museum was a great example for other museums from the beginning, but it never set out to make fame its priority. The art and the people of Toledo were always the museum’s priority, and should be now.

Our museum always used to welcome everyone and was fair to everyone. Our museum served everyone. Our museum never had to do surveys on the race or gender or income level of their visitors. Our museum never discriminated against people based on their zip code, but they love doing that now.

What George Stevens said in 1903

What would our founders think?

What do you think?

Categories
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. artistsoftoledo.com

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.

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Proposal to hire art teachers at the Toledo Museum of Art

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.
We’d like to have adult and children’s art classes back.
I hope this proposal helps.

Hire four teachers full-time. They teach one or two adult art classes four days a week at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design. The adult classes are ceramics, metals, painting, printmaking, and life drawing. In the afternoons, the teachers go out in the field to the assigned remote art stations that the museum has set up for Owens Corning and Promedica in the federally funded housing projects for the “Art Out of School” program, part of the DEAI plan. The teachers have Monday off, but work a full day on Saturday for the Free Children’s Saturday Classes that the museum brings back.

The salary for the teachers would start out at $52,000, plus the full package of benefits that the museum administrators and special employees receive — 25 Days of Paid Time Off Annually, Birthday Paid Day Off, Medical, Dental, & Vision Insurance, 403b Retirement Savings Plan, Short-Term Disability, Long-Term Disability, Term Life and AD&D Insurance Plans (especially important for teachers working in the field), Paid Parental Leave, Pet Insurance, Employee Assistance Plan, Museum Family Membership, Employee Discounts in the Museum Store, Café, Studio Art Classes, & of course the unspoken preferential opportunities for exhibiting their own art at the museum.

All recipients of museum fellowships are required to teach a class. Just one class that includes the entire community’s involvement, since the museum strives to include the community. Which is exactly how it was done before the original Toledo Museum of Art School of Design classes were eliminated. If it was good enough for Adam Weinberg, who is now the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, who in the late 1970’s was a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at the Toledo Museum of Art, and who set up the children’s photo classes, it’s good enough for the Toledo Museum of Art fellowship grant recipients today.

Perhaps the full cost would be $500,000 annually to administer, considering the extra guards and maintenance workers needed, to augment the modest tuition that could be charged.

The restored Toledo Museum of Art School of Design would be supported by Owens Corning, Promedica, Key Bank, The Andersons, Fifth Third Bank, Dana Corporation, Libbey Glass, Hickory Farms, Mercy Health, Ernst & Young, Toledo Trust, Buckeye CableSystem, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, The Greater Toledo Community Foundation, as well as the Libbey Endowment and other endowment funds.

It would be a way for the troubled Toledo Museum of Art to get back to its roots, to recapture our culture, and give back to the community. The museum has always been inclusive and fair to everyone – it should not discriminate against anyone today. It should spend its money on education that is fair for everyone, and stop spending money on relentless data-analyzing and profiling our community.

It doesn’t make Owens Corning and Promedica look good, who are the benefactors of the Art Out of School program, when the teachers are expected to work freelance, at near minimum wage, without benefits, outside the museum walls in federally funded housing projects. The teachers are expected to work for practically nothing. They are expected to put their lives at risk, while the other museum employees get all sorts of benefits and are surrounded by museum guards. Restoring the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design would take care of that, and make it fair for everyone.

A crowd of people in front of the Toledo Museum of Art in November 1919: looks like inclusion to me. We never had a problem before, but now we have to put two highly paid administrators in charge of diversity and create two or three or four new departments — when all that money would go a long way hiring teachers and restoring the School of Design. Is this the result of Adam Levine’s infamous George Floyd memo mistake? The board should have fired him then. Talk about smoke and mirrors and diversion, while our masterpieces are being sold out from under us under suspicious circumstances

Art Out of School brings world-class programming from the Toledo Museum of Art to people in surrounding areas. Programs such as this align with Owens Corning Foundation’s aim to empower people in the community,” said Don Rettig, president of the Owens Corning Foundation.

That’s wonderful to help this small community, but not at the disenfranchisement of rest of the community. Children and adults outside of this very specific group of people are not included. What is worse is that the public art programs that formed the fiber of our large, democratic community have been eliminated, such as the free children’s Saturday classes that were for children from all walks of life, along with a robust adult art class program, and the very special century-old May Show that brought together the entire Toledo area art community, a local art show encompassing 17 counties.

The museum’s way of inclusion in 2022 is to alienate their beloved larger community by selling famous French Impressionist paintings, as if subtracting great art makes them more diverse. They do this after greatly reducing classes and killing the community art shows (which fairly represented women and men.) Then they raise the museum parking fee by over 40%, and this is to help with inclusion?

The museum is erasing the past and rewriting history. The public is supposed to believe that the Toledo Museum of Art has not been fair to minorities. Two highly paid administrators are hired to oversee the issue. Their focus is on racial equity, not gender equity. Yet the female half of the population has been marginalized by the art world, and most recently and quite vividly by the Toledo Museum of Art with the elimination of classes and shows that offered women fair and equal opportunities. Amidst the museum’s hypocrisy, countless Museum Fellows are added to the “diversity” mission. A new “Branding” department is created with an extensive P.R. staff, fully employed with extensive benefits. They focus their education efforts on a small minority in public housing projects and expect teachers (mostly women) to work freelance without health insurance! This is how the museum “helps” the community instead of buying art and reinstating its legacy art education program for the benefit of the entire community.

Our progressive founders, Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey, would want their money back.

The following are pages from the Toledo Museum of Art’s archives  regarding the museum’s free children’s Saturday art classes that benefited 2,500 children every Saturday during the school year for nearly a century:

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Remembering Edith Franklin on her 100th

Remembering Edith Franklin on the 100th anniversary
of her birth, December 2, 2022.
Can you feel it – Edith Franklin is in the air. No wonder, it’s her Centennial.

I met Edith early on when I was building this website about the historical artists of Toledo. At the age of 87, she was majorly downsizing, selling her house and her collections. She asked me to help organize her papers to give to the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at the Carlson Library of the University of Toledo. We worked on it for almost a year. Here she is donating her papers, shown with the Canaday’s archivist and director, Barbara Floyd (incidentally, who is also the author of The Glass City):

Edith Franklin was quite active. On any given night, she’d be out. She maintained that lifestyle until the week before she died in hospice, three months short of her 90th birthday.

Brian Kennedy, the ninth director of the Toledo Museum of Art, gave a eulogy at Edith Franklin’s Memorial Service on September 2, 2012. He described her as a “delightful chirpy smiling diminutive lady with big eyeglasses and a beautiful necklace who never missed a party.”

“As Director of the museum she loved, where she had studied and taught, which she visited so often, and where in 1962 she participated in the historic first Toledo Glass Workshop, Edith cared deeply that Toledo has a great art museum. After all, Edith had been the very first female artist to receive a solo show at the museum, back in 1958.”

Edith and the Museum

Director Kennedy’s description of Edith in his eulogy was colorful, and she did care very much that Toledo had a great museum, but Edith Franklin was not the first female artist to receive a solo show at the Toledo Museum of Art – not by a long shot. Born in 1922, Edith was a third-generation artist of the once-flourishing and inclusive museum artist community. Seventy women before Edith received local artist solo shows at the museum, starting with Isabel Kuhlman in 1933. (All the local artist shows – 540 local artists from all walks of life – are a thing of the past. See a complete list of the local artist museum solo shows here along with the current museum director’s unfulfilled promise to bring them back.)

Growing up in Toledo and benefiting from the Toledo Museum of Art free children’s Saturday Classes, Edith’s love of clay developed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School during WWII in 1943-44. That’s not all that developed in Boston, as she returned to Toledo in 1945 with her new husband who had served in the Navy. By 1947, they had two children.

Edith took pottery classes at the Toledo Museum of Art School of Design for 41 years, from 1945 to 1986. These classes, at a world-renown museum, connected her to the world of pottery, where she got to know the greats. (She couldn’t do that today! Pottery classes for adults have been eliminated. The adult artist community is no longer welcome at the museum – which is quite ironic, since the museum has a new so-called community “Belonging” department with a special director.)

Edith showed her work in nearly every annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition from 1952 to 1982, and won the Purchase Award in 1982. (Not to digress again, but what a shallow new museum director Brian Kennedy was, to have known Edith so well, and to have seen how her history with the museum so perfectly exemplified the beneficial symbiotic relationship between the museum and the local art community, but then to have killed the nearly 100-year old Toledo Area Artists Exhibition just two years after Edith was gone.)

Edith’s style

Edith incorporated text into her work. Her grandson said that what he learned from her was to take risks, to not fear failing, and to speak truth to power. “Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

Many of Edith Franklin’s works revolve around the word “Love.”

Rocket to Love – 27 3/8 inches tall

Edith Franklin was experimental and influenced by what was going on. In a 2000 interview, Edith said,

The artwork since 1948 keeps getting better, it is growing. A lot of that is due to people like Harvey Littleton, who taught at the museum, as well as Hal Lotterman, Dan Woodward, and Hal Hasselschwert. They helped break us out of the ‘red barn’ and ‘sailboat’ mold. People like Harvey talked about ideas that questioned the essence of art and what we were supposed to do with it. The fifties were marked by mentors like these.

In this photo, taken at her 1958 solo show at the Toledo Museum of Art, (on the walls are paintings by Clay Walker), Edith sits next to her double-spouted vessel. It looks like the paintings. Perhaps she was influenced by the work of Toshiko Takaezu, an abstract-expressionist ceramic artist from Hawaii who was Edith’s exact same age. Ms. Takaezu, in the 1950’s, was a teaching assistant at Cranbrook, the esteemed art academy north of Detroit with close peer connections to the artists in Toledo, including Harvey Littleton, Carroll Sims, Clyde Burt and LeMaxie Glover, all clay artists. Edith’s piece, titled Patio Pot, acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in 2016, could have been inspired by the double-spouted vases Toshiko Takaezu was making at the time. Or perhaps it was the other way around.

Edith and some of her distinctive work, photographed in 2010:


Edith and the 1962 Toledo studio Glass Workshop
The birth of the studio glass movement

Edith’s glass pieces from the first glass workshop in March 1962, acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in 2011:


Edith and the 577 Foundation

One of Edith’s favorite stories was how she got her first job at the age of 65. Here is the long and the short of it, as she tells it, first to Barbara Floyd, and then at her 88th birthday party and launch of her new scholarship fund:

Edith at her 88th birthday party and fundraiser event to kick off the new Edith Franklin Youth Scholarship Fund. 150 friends and art supporters were present, including Herral Long, Marty Reichenthal and Joyce Perrin shown in these two photos.  What an arty gang! R.I.P., arty gang.


Edith built her own kiln
brick by brick, rivet by rivet

She wanted to give back – and so she has.

Edith was a great potter who attributed her success to having luck. She was in the right place at the right time, and she seized the day.

Good luck to all of the Edith Franklin Scholarship recipients. I hope they find a supportive, engaging community to live in so that they can be lucky, too. It’s not so great in Toledo anymore, I’m sorry to say – because all the valuable opportunities local artists once had have been taken away. No free museum classes for public school children, no solo shows for local artists, no annual art exhibitions for the community of artists, no adult classes in a museum-centered school where monumental artistic advancements can be developed, such as the birth of the studio glass movement in 1962, which helped the Toledo Museum of Art just as much as it helped the participants and glass artists. The soul of the community has been swept out of the museum, and with it, all of the potential greatness.

Those who happen to live in federally funded housing projects within two miles of the museum are in luck, however. The museum got millions of dollars from Owens Corning and Promedica for installing on-site art-making studios, complete with on-site classes taught by art museum instructors, in ten housing projects. They tout that it serves 18,000 people. I wonder how many are artists. I’m happy for the few artists who qualify, but unfortunately for most of Toledo’s children and adults, since 94% of the population of Toledo does not live in federally funded housing projects, 94% percent of the community is out of luck. If it had not been for the museum classes and shows that were available to the entire Toledo area community throughout the twentieth century, the opportunity for Edith, who lived in Ottawa Hills, to give back with her Edith Franklin Youth Scholarship Fund would have been lost.

I guess that’s why they call it the Greatest Generation – it was before the museum cut us off. Here’s to Edith Franklin, born 100 years ago today. Keep her in your memory, there is much to learn from her.