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Artists of Toledo

Toledo’s Unmuseum

“The superpower that an art museum has is when something goes up on the wall, it’s considered good. We set the cannon,” told the new Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, to Forbes.com in 2022.

The director of the museum really said that! They make their own “artists” now.

the new toledo unmuseum

Watch them take the art out of the museum and rebrand themselves at the expense of Edward Drummond Libbey and the citizens of Toledo. It’s all happening right now. Is it a breach of fiduciary duty to the founders and donors of the museum and to Toledoans? Will the Ohio Attorney General stop it?

Three famous French Impressionist paintings – a Matisse, Renoir and Cezanne – thrown out the door of the white marble pillared museum and sold to the highest bidder, grossing $61 Million, on May 17, 2022.

The remaining French Impressionist paintings were banished to a back-room across the street from the museum in the Glass Pavilion!

The Glass Pavilion was built in 2006 to display the glass collection.

Banished to a back room gallery in the Glass Pavilion — Toledo Museum of Art’s outstanding collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.

The Glass Pavilion, with its curved glass walls was built in 2006 to display the museum’s glass collection.

But since then, the leadership of the museum has completely changed. The new people, not from Toledo and with little if any experience running a museum, are having a field day “rebranding” the museum and selling off valuable paintings from the Impressionist collection. They act with no regard for the museum!

The Impressionist paintings hung in two front galleries of the museum — they were often the first galleries a visitor would go to. Off of one of these galleries is the director Adam Levine’s office. He must have hated the paintings so much that he moved them across the street, essentially to the back alley. The paintings apparently represent racism to him and old white man supremacy and offend the newly organized department/Director of Belonging (who has no museum experience but was a reporter at The Blade for many years), not to mention the new Chief People Officer, heading up the new “People” department.

Asian art will occupy the former Impressionist galleries —  contemporary Asian art all the way back to ancient Asian art. Visitors can now contemplate the politics of looted art (which is also on view in the African collection in the opposite front gallery) before arriving at the Great Gallery of European Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Or will their “old master” paintings be banished as well?

It was just last year that they took the American art from the American Galleries in the west wing that had been thusly funded by the Barbers, and moved it all to the back of the museum, shaming the art with controversial wall text.

The relocation of the popular paintings from the museum to the Glass Pavilion makes it hard for visitors with mobility issues to have equal access to artwork. They will have to go down 26 steps to get to Monroe Street, then cross the four-lane busy street without a traffic light to follow a long curvy sidewalk leading to the Glass Pavilion. The  relocation contradicts the principles of the newly formed Access Initiatives Department. This issue exists, in spite of the new Conda Family Manager of Access Initiatives (the department manager’s salary being perpetually funded by an endowment from the Conda family).


P.S.

The museum can’t stop spending money on surveys and branding and rebranding. Here are some quotes from the design firm, Scorpion Rose Studio, who designed the museum’s new spyglass logo, about how the museum came to them for branding because they wanted to look modern and inclusive.

We answered with a total rebrand, including strategy and a holistic design system, that will help TMA continue its journey toward the kind of modern museum they strive to be – one that has its doors open to all.

We grounded the rebrand on a strategic platform: The transformative power of art is for all of Toledo.

TMA’s previous brand voice – academic, critical, elite – created a barrier to expanding its audience to those who felt historically excluded.

B.S.!!

I remember taking art classes at the museum, for over 15 years. Everyone was included, no one felt unwelcome. Then two years ago, they hired a Brand Manager from Colorado for a new branding department who branded the museum “academic, critical, elite” to justify the “new” branding of being inclusive and welcoming, the very qualities the museum possessed from the beginning.

THE MUSEUM IS FREE FOR EVERYONE, THANKS TO THE FOUNDERS.
“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.
The Toledo Museum of Art was built on the principle of community.

November 1919 in front of the art museum: looks like inclusion to me.

Toledo Museum of Art Archives
Former City Councilwoman June Boyd and her great grandchildren at the museum, 2021 (posing with a friendly museum guard.)

Adam Levine came to our democratic museum in 2020 as the new director and made a huge blunder right away by saying the museum should remain neutral during the George Floyd crisis. Ever since then he’s been bending over backwards, blaming the museum for being racist, and making radical changes to our museum. Or could it be a smokescreen for selling off our famous Impressionist paintings to private collectors?

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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

TMA’s disgraceful national review

Wow! Read this: Toledo Museum: A Treasure Trove of the Best – But chasing the diversity, equity, and belonging unicorn, it might derail itself 
And this:  Toledo Is Great on Glass but Disses American History – Its glass collection is superbly presented, but American art is trashed as ‘white supremacist’

The Toledo Museum of Art is getting national attention — but not in a good way. Unfortunately the unflattering critique by art critic, Brian T. Allen in the National Review is right-on. The museum is using its stellar collection to promote a trite, tired and divisive political point of view, reducing great art to the level of mere illustration, targeting the lowest common denominator. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

It’s missing a few points though…. like perhaps the museum has gone all out with their inclusion theme as a smokescreen to cover the bigger picture. They want us to look over here at their diversity theme and not follow the money. Like the questionable sudden selling of the museum’s three great Impressionist paintings for over 61 million dollars and starting a whole new unrestricted fund with it. Taking from Edward Drummond Libbey’s bequest and defying his rules. And who exactly bought TWO of these paintings? Hopefully the Ohio Attorney General, in their current investigation of the Libbey Endowment Trust funds, will uncover it all.

The mayor is a dope

Toledo’s mayor, in a dollop of snark and a show of ignorance, said the museum catered to “Florence Libbey types,” which means a high-society dame, the kind who wear a tiara to weed the orchid patch. It’s safe to say he’s a dope. The museum’s not a colony of the country club. It has cultivated a broad-based appeal and affection. And a mayor shouldn’t trash the thing that adds the most class and cachet to his city. Toledo, after all, isn’t the Paris of Ohio. – Brian T. Allen, Toledo Museum: A Treasure Trove of the Best, National Review

Yes, the mayor of Toledo, Wade Kapszukiewicz, is a dope. And it is safe to presume that this line of thinking was fed to him by the museum’s newly appointed “Brand” department and manager — a man who lives in Colorado! Once you trash the beginnings of the museum, and the Libbeys, and the museum’s history — a museum built by progressive founders who gave the gift of the museum to all of the people of Toledo — the exact opposite of the image that the mayor of Toledo is promoting — it’s easy enough to trash the art inside of it and whisk it away.

As they destroy the museum’s legacy, they can easily sell off the museum’s masterpieces. If they can get away with secretly selling valuable paintings that were purchased with funds from the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment, a publicly scrutinized trust fund, and move those assets into a secret private fund, or who knows what they do because the public no longer has access, they set a precedent and can keep doing it until the museum has no resemblance to the intentions of the founders.

If they were not going to buy art right away with the proceeds (as per the wishes of the Libbey trust) then why didn’t they simply put it back in the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment Fund? I’ve read Libbey’s will in regard to the trust and there is absolutely nothing in it that would stop them from putting the money back into the endowment fund.

The wills of the Libbeys make it very easy for the Trustees to do what they think is best — but of course that freedom is predicated on the Trustees’ fiduciary duty. The Trustees are legally required to do their best to act in Libbeys’ stead, but it appears that they are breaching that trust. And they are dwindling the endowment away (check it out for yourself at the Lucas County courthouse — it’s public information) while the museum builds up a private fund. Is there a conflict of interest? Some of the same Trustees of the Libbey Trust are on the Board of Directors of the museum.

While they, to quote the article, cater relentlessly to Toledans living within a two-mile radius of the museum” and drag people from their homes to raise that percentage for what is, after all, an ego trip” (but never answer the emails of community members or respond to open letters on blogs, being the hypocrites they really are) they are actually stealing from the people of Toledo.

This happens because the mayor of Toledo, city council, museum board members, donors, members, etc., play along with them (after all, they go to the same parties and have the same lawyers) and they are all such dopes.

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 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 (who came to work at the museum with no museum experience, and learned about art museums on the job) 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

Questions for the Board of Directors of The Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art has never sought to have multiple examples by the same artist,” Adam Levine told museum supporters as to why the museum deaccessioned three paintings by Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir in April 2022. Above are two examples of what the Museum has two of: two Rembrandts and two Van Goghs.*

Questions about the deaccession of our Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir paintings from the museum’s collection

To rationalize the deaccession of the paintings by Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir, Adam Levine told museum supporters that the paintings were inferior, and that the museum never sought to have more than one example of any given artist. He said that the Libbeys would want them to rid the museum of these paintings because they were mediocre, quoting Edward Drummond Libbey himself: “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.”

Those were lies. The paintings were not mediocre, and Libbey’s quote was taken out of context. The museum has always intended to have multiple examples of certain important artists. The Toledo Museum of Art is a teaching museum. These paintings were a big part of a small but strong collection of French Impressionist art, historically significant as marking the beginning of modern art, and the Toledo Museum of Art and the people of Toledo were so lucky to have them. Seems like it was for the money, and an eager buyer who wanted to buy our famous French Impressionist paintings from our collection, that made our museum officers want to sell them.

Many people objected to the deaccession, including Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times who wrote this May 6, 2022 article: COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE.

The Blade wrote three articles prior to the sale, including an April 25, 2022 editorial written by the editorial board, TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER.

I published on this website an Open Letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees that I sent to board members by email.

The day before the sale, The Blade ran an article by Jason Webber, CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS. In the article, the Toledo Museum of Art’s 2019-2020 interim director, John Stanley, who is retired now, spoke for the museum, saying he thought the deaccession was a “brilliant idea,” saying something to the effect of, what do those people who object to it know about art anyway, and “this is the world we live in.”

Then the night of the auction, we find out that the Cézanne and the Matisse were sold to the same buyer for a total of $57 million. What are the odds?

If that is not weird enough, to top it off, we discover John Stanley’s connection to a Las Vegas casino regarding French Impressionist paintings, and the owner of the casino, who collects them. John Stanley was COO of the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston when the museum rented 21 Monet paintings to the Bellagio. The owner of the casino, Steve Wynn is well-known as a collector of French Impressionist paintings. (This Vanity Fair article, Steve Wynn, the Uncrowned King of Las Vegas, mentions his masterpieces by van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir.)

Meanwhile, Adam Levine is going overboard to make up for his 2020 George Floyd memo mistake, in which he published a memo he wrote to his staff advising that the museum was remaining neutral. Now, two years later, it seems he still can’t do enough to make up for it, but is the Toledo community being played, perhaps as a convenient distraction?

So we have to ask…

Who bought the paintings the museum deaccessioned last month? Did the buyer have any contact with anyone working at or associated with the museum before the decision was made to deaccession them or before they were sold?

What were the “market realities” that made Adam Levine “pull the trigger,” as described in Christopher Knight’s May 6, 2022 L.A. Times article, Commentary: An Ohio museum is holding the biggest sale of artwork yet. It’s unconscionable.?

Why is John Stanley on the “Art Committee,” when he is not a curator, and his educational background is in business and finance and not in art? Who else is on the “Art Committee?” Isn’t John Stanley retired, as reported in The Blade’s September 8, 2021 article about his 1.5 million gift to the museum? Is he a paid consultant, and if so, what for? Does he live in Toledo or New York, or somewhere else?

Our famous French Impressionist paintings thrown out the door.

How did the museum decide to deaccession exactly those three paintings out of all the 30,000+ artworks that the museum has on display in our museum and in storage? Is selling artwork for the money an approved ethical reason to deaccession? How did all three deaccessions happen to be French Impressionist oil paintings exclusively? Was someone interested in the paintings before the museum put them up for sale?

Will the new museum officers be determining the one best painting of every artist that the museum has in its collection, and deaccession all others? Will it depend on outside interest of the possible sales of culled artworks? Will the museum curators be doing the same kind of collection culling with our collections of prints, drawings, photographs, books, sculptures, furniture, and ceramics?

Why did they decide to keep the late period big bronze figure sculpture of Renoir’s, but get rid of the late period Renoir painting of the nude white woman? Because they were so similar, or was it for some other reason?

Will the new Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery be curated by outside curators? Will it be for serious professional local artists, or will it be for neighborhood outreach projects? Will it only be for people who live in the two-mile outreach radius that the museum is concentrating on, as outlined according to the museum’s strategic plan, Program 3 listed under Objective 1? (Toledo Museum of Art Strategic Plan, /OBJECTIVE 1: Transition to Active Community Outreach and Engagement –  “TMA will maintain a focus on the two-mile radius immediately around the Museum.” /Program 3: Engage Local Artists.)

The New York Philharmonic requires musicians to audition behind a curtain, so that the reviewers or judges don’t know the race or the sex of the performer; the musicians are chosen on their artistic merits. Can the museum share with us the results of the survey they made of the classifications and rating systems of the artwork in our collection? How do they determine the sexual orientation of the artist? Will they be requiring that information about local artists who want to show at the Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery?

Are the new acquisitions going to be based on a quota system?

Will they be leveling up the museum’s collection of paintings to have an equal number of paintings by women artists, since the museum has been so male-centric, and if so, will the percentages match the population’s racial, poverty-level, and zip-code demographics of Toledo? Will they be buying, or selling, paintings to make it equitable?

According to Adam Levine in his April 8 letter to museum supporters, Important announcement from The Toledo Museum of Art, “We will use these proceeds to create a new acquisition endowment.” Does that mean they are creating a new acquisition endowment with the approximate $54 million they took from the paintings? For the two paintings that were originally purchased from the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment, why isn’t the money being returned to the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment until such time that it is used to by new art, as is required?  Did they talk to the family of Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy about the deaccession of her gift of the Renoir?

When the director says that they are going to draw less from the Libbey Endowment, does he mean that they are going to sell two of its most valuable paintings and create a whole new endowment, free of any of the restraints or ties to the past?

On January 17, 2022 this year, why couldn’t the museum figure out how to celebrate its own 110th anniversary on the same day that you opened the museum on a Monday for MLK Day?  If the leaders of the museum cannot feel comfortable honoring the museum’s own history while at the same time wanting to honor Black history, then shouldn’t we have better leaders? Shouldn’t the least we expect from Adam Levine or any director is that they show respect for The Toledo Museum of Art’s own history? And shouldn’t we also expect them at the very least to be good stewards of our best artwork and not to sell it off for the money, since it is a museum we are so lucky to have as Toledoans, and we want to keep our best artwork safe for future generations?

What percentage of the museum’s expenditures on new artwork in the past 10 years went to buy “diverse” artwork?

According to probate court records, the museum has been taking upwards of $500,000 out of the Libbey Endowments ($300,000 from Edward’s, and estimating that it is around $200,000 from Florence’s) over the past two years, granted for June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2022, on account of Covid, taking from the part of the endowment funds that are are meant to be used only to buy art. They filed and received a temporary variance on the Endowments’ rules, so they could use the money not to buy new art, but instead for expenses on “the direct care of art,” since the museum is somehow suffering financially. How is it that the museum is deserving of that variance to use the Endowments’ art acquisition money for expenses, when they have been hiring more employees, giving raises to employees, adding employee benefits, and sending employees off into the field to do things like to set up “art-making stations” in housing revitalization projects with developers? Why didn’t they want to buy diverse art with that money?

Considering that the museum didn’t use that variance money on art purchases as the museum expands “outside of its walls,” (indicating that the museum has plenty of money), but they got the money for “direct care” of the artwork in their collection, but instead of caring for the artwork, they sold the museum’s three great paintings out of a collection they are expected to care for, according to the fiduciary duty as the director and the officers of the museum, to set up a new endowment to buy new art, but why didn’t they buy new art with the $500,000 in the first place, without selling our three great paintings?

Don’t they care about how it appears that they could be buying museum board members’ votes, when there is a conflict of interest and ethical considerations regarding the museum doing business with board members? For example, buying insurance, accounting, managing investments, and other kinds of deals with various organizations, when the officers of the various organizations are directors on the board – how could the directors possibly vote no against any deaccession proposal, or anything that is recommended by the director, when financially, their businesses are so entangled with the museum? To be put in such a position, how are they are expected to be loyal to both interests at once, if one interest is the organization they work for, and the other interest is the public interest, say if they thought in their heart that the paintings should not be deaccessioned, but then they don’t want to rock the boat or interfere with the business relationships of their organizations doing business with the museum?

We should not tolerate the director and officers lying to us and selling our best art. They had a fiduciary duty first and foremost to care for these particularly important paintings that were a major part of our French Impressionist collection and our collection as a whole and keep them safe for future generations. That’s what museums do.


*Other artists of which there are two or more paintings in the Toledo Museum of Art collection include: Jean-Siméon Chardin (two bought at the same time in 2006 by esteemed curator emeritus Larry Nichols, a big deal was made by the museum about these two paintings being added to the collection), François Boucher, Thomas Couture, Charles Courtney Curran, Edgar Degas, Wilder M. Darling, Eugène Delacroix, Thornton Dial Jr., Gustave Doré, Thomas Doughty, Henri Fantin-Latour, Beverly Fishman, August Franzen, Gajin Fujita, Carl Frederick Gaertner, Luther Emerson van Gorder, Francesco Guardi, Childe Hassam, Martin Johnson Heade, Yoshida Hiroshi, Carl Robert Holty, Manuel Hughes, Roberto Humeres S., William Holman Hunt, Jozef Israëls, Karl N. Kahl, Gabriel Liston, Jacob Maris, Anton Mauve, Jean-Francois Millet, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, Edmund Henry Osthaus, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Camille Pissarro, Henry Ward Ranger, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Niklaus Rüegg, Sebastiano Ricci, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Frank Stella, Yves Tanguy, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, Benjamin West, Alexander Helwig Wyant, Jacques Blanchard, Charles Loring Elliott, Thomas Gainsborough, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Gustave Courbet, Nicolas Poussin, Aert van der Neer, and Joos van Cleve. But now the museum only has one painting by Cézanne, and only one painting by Matisse, because they sold the other two for $57 million.

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Edward and Florence’s Wills

What reputable museum sells valuable paintings from their great French Impressionist collection to “broaden the narrative of art history?”

Selling off Paul Cezanne’s Clairière (The Glade); Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant simply makes no sense. These and other proven lasting works draw people to the museum from near and far. EDITORIAL – TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER   The Blade, Editorial Board, April 25, 2022 

Diversity is achieved through addition, not through subtraction. Removal of the works from the collection does nothing for diversity. There are ethical guidelines in the field that concern reasons for deaccession and increasing diversity is not among them. One could say that it’s performative rather than substantive. It looks like you’re doing something, when the question remains are you really doing something by taking great works of art out of a collection. – Christopher Knight, Pulitzer prize winning art critic and author of COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE (Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2022), as quoted in the The Blade, Jason Webber, May 16, 2022CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS

The Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey President, Director and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, portrayed the Matisse, Cézanne, and Renoir paintings as being mediocre, disingenuously invoking Edward Drummond Libbey’s approval in a Libbey quote, as if Libbey would approve of the deaccessions of these valuable, famous and popular paintings. Mr. Levine wrote this in his April 8 deaccession justification letter to members: 

As Edward Drummond Libbey put it in 1912: “Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.”

Mr. Levine said that deaccessions, such as that of these three masterpiece paintings, are written “by design” in the wills of Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey.

Twisting the intent of Edward and Florence’s wills, who by the way have paid for about 85% (just my BFA college-educated guess from looking at the museum’s online catalog) of all the art in the Toledo Museum of Art, as well as having paid for the building itself, their wills which stated that the proceeds of anything sold from the collection has to be spent on artwork only, is a basic ethical principle regarding the deaccessioning of artwork in any museum collection. But Adam Levine, 11th Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, made it seem as if Libbey intended for the art in the collection to be traded as if it was a stock portfolio! Indeed, Adam Levine told Christopher Knight in regard to selling the Cézanne, it was time to pull the trigger.

Adam Levine pulled the trigger on our famous Impressionist paintings and shot them out the door.
The rules in the wills

From the Edward Drummond Libbey Will:

All paintings, other pictures and works of art by me bequeathed said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, by this my Will, or by any codicil thereto, and all paintings, pictures and other works of art by it or them acquired by expenditures from said income, shall at all times be properly and appropriately housed in one or more rooms of The Toledo Museum of Art in said City of Toledo, each of which rooms shall at all times be designated and plainly marked “The Edward Drummond Libbey Gallery”; each and every of said painting, other pictures and works of art shall at all times be plainly marked “Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey”, and shall be kept adequately insured against loss from fire, theft and other causes. Said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, may temporarily loan for the purposes of public exhibition elsewhere any such painting or other picture or work of art, upon taking proper security for its safe return; and it and they may, from time to time and at its and their discretion, sell or exchange any painting or other picture or work of art purchased by expenditures from said income, and from the proceeds thereof may acquire some other or others.

From the Florence Scott Libbey Will:

One-half (1/2) thereof in the purchase of paintings, statuary, furniture and other works of art, each of which, when so acquired, shall have designated thereon, or near thereto, the following words: “Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott”, and shall be permanently installed in one or more rooms of the building or buildings of said Museum of Art, each of which shall be designated and known as the “Maurice A. Scott Memorial Gallery” and the other one-half (1/2), thereof to be used and expended by said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, for any of its corporate purposes. Any articles, so purchased, if deemed advisable or desirable, may be sold or exchanged, and the proceeds of every such sale used as income in the purchase of some other work of art.

Building the museum’s fine collection took many years, and much effort went into it. French Impressionism is popular and valuable work; it is very accessible; it is considered to be the starting point of modern art. The Matisse (purchased in 1935) and Cezanne (purchased in 1942) were purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey.

Adam Levine wrote in his April 8 letter to museum supporters:

The Toledo Museum of Art has never sought to have multiple examples by the same artist—fewer than 11% of the artists in our collection are represented by two or more paintings;  

We will use these proceeds to create a new acquisition endowment.

YIKES!

using the sales of the Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir to create a new acquisition endowment!! But doesn’t the Libbey will specify that proceeds from any sale be used for art, right now, not to be used to create a new entity of a new endowment — the money is not even going back to the Libbey Endowment to be used on art soon enough? What about the Libbey name and attribution to the gift of the artwork that will be purchased? What about Mrs. McKelvy? What the heck! What’s the set-up cost going to be for this “new endowment” and how many hands are in that pot?

Gee Wiz!

If only Adam Levine had been fired on the spot after he came out with his crude George Floyd memo that stated how the staff should stay neutral. Instead, the museum trustees went along with his rationalization that there was something fundamentally wrong with our museum, as if it reflects bias and discrimination against the black community. Nothing could be further from the truth, except for the hiring of Adam Levine and keeping him on after he published his thoughtless memo.

A field day

The Toledo Black Artist Coalition had a field day.

November 18, 2020, five months before she was hired by the museum to be the first “Director of Belonging and Community Engagement,” Rhonda Sewell’s heart emoji on a Toledo Black Artist Coalition Facebook post, implying that the Toledo Museum of Art is elitist and racist. It is important to note that the painting by Philip Guston in this post does not have anything to do with the Toledo Museum of Art. 
“On Monday, January 17th the Toledo Museum of Art is open as a gathering place to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Come enjoy a full day of programs and exhibits that celebrate African-American artists and culture. Feel the united spirit of our diverse Toledo community.”

This year, the museum opened its doors on a Monday for the first time in 110 years to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It just happened to be the 110th anniversary of the day the museum opened the doors for the very first time, ever. But there was no mention of that at the museum. Mum was the word. I was there, and I asked several employees, including a trustee who was going around introducing herself, and none of them knew. The museum historian knew though — they called and asked her! Couldn’t the museum figure out how Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the 110th anniversary of the opening of the new museum could be celebrated together? How pathetic that they had to sell out the museum’s history in order to honor black history.

“Belonging and Community Engagement” Director Rhonda Sewell’s January 19, 2022 tweet – a selfie with one of her favorite pieces of art – the Renoir sculpture of a nude woman in bronze that was deemed to be so similar and so much better than the Renoir painting of the nude white woman, that the painting had to go.
The two so-called “similar” late-period Renoirs. A painting that is too similar to a sculpture! Guess which on the Toledo Museum of Art chose to keep. What is the museum telling us? Its value on the open market was merely 5% of the total of the three, and this painting was a valuable part of Mrs. McKelvy’s female-eye-curated collection bequest. Was it thrown in as a symbolic sacrifice, or as a distraction? Will details be revealed that make it even more sinister than we can imagine? Read on….
April 26, 2022: What will next year bring? A museum without its venerable French Impressionist collection. A divisive museum. If that is Rhonda Sewell’s idea of progress, then congratulations.
The “brand” of “belonging”

Is it good stewardship for the Director of The Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, to add two new departments — “Branding” and “Belonging” – erasing and re-writing the museum for the black community (some would call it pandering), while at the same time dismantling the museum’s wonderful French Impressionism collection for $50+ million? Adam Levine has ridded us of a good third or more of our valuable, popular, historically significant French Impressionist paintings, calling it in the name of “diversity.” One thing is for sure, he is getting a lot of negative publicity.

And then there’s this.

To sell our Renoir, Matisse and Cézanne out from under our valuable public collection, into secret, private hands, only for us to find out that the two most expensive paintings were sold to the same buyer, sales that are shrouded by the convenient secrecy of a Sotheby’s auction, then to discover a casino connection to our former “interim” director, John Stanley… who strangely became the museum spokesman for The Blade’s article on May 16, 2022CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS saying that, basically, what do those people who object to the deaccessions know about art anyway, and “this is the world we live in….” It’s outrageous!

Hired to oversee the business aspects of the 2018 plans for the museum building renovation, then used as the interim director when Brian Kennedy suddenly left the museum one year before the end of his contract, John Stanley isn’t on the board of museum trustees, but for some reason, he is on the so-called “Art Committee” that recommended the deaccession (even though he has no degree in art – only in business and finance, and was hired by the museum to work on the new construction – so what does he know about art?) But when the going got tough with the public outcry against the auction, John Stanley was the spokesman the art museum put out front to deal with it.

And speaking for the museum on Facebook was the charming troll-like, aptly-named “Brandi Black.” She appeared on top of every Blade article about the deaccession, and also on my Toledo Now page, posting sarcastic ad hominem and name-calling attacks on everyone who dared to question the sales of the paintings. She used the face of Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Not everyone would recognize the honorable judge’s friendly face. Judges are meant to be behind the scenes, after all. They are not celebrities. “Brandi Black” changed her Facebook moniker picture to Ketanji Brown Jackson (from a white cartoon face) on the day before Adam Levine announced the deaccession. Hmmm…. Did the museum actually hire her, or was she just volunteering? Only the Brand Director knows for sure. Either way, she certainly made the museum look bad!

How strange that Brandi Black’s May 18 comment on The Blade Facebook post for their article, CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS, mentions 12 Monets, John Stanley and the Museum of Fine Arts, and that Brandi Black personally watched the Sotheby’s auction — all at once!
What are the odds?

Check out this article about the rental of 21 Monet paintings to a Las Vegas casino by the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston, during the time that John Stanley was the COO of that museum.

A museum’s stellar Impressionist collection rented out to a casino!!

How interesting to find out that John Stanley was the COO at the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston when they rented out 21 French Impressionist Monet paintings from the museum’s stellar collection to a Las Vegas casino, the Bellagio, for a generous rental fee.

The owner of the Bellagio casino, Steve Wynn, is an avid collector of French Impressionist art; such articles are easy to find on Google.

Is it possible that the sale of our valuable French Impressionist paintings could have been prearranged?


The Libbeys lost a child – a baby boy – in 1895. After that, they poured their hearts into making a great, democratic art museum for all of the people of the city of Toledo – it’s our inheritance. It’s our museum.
It’s our museum!

The trustees are expected to be good stewards of our museum. The least they can do is to take care of our art and heritage and not sell it off. Our museum is not to be used as a catalog of artwork for sale. After this deaccession tragedy, shouldn’t we be seriously safeguarding our multiple Rembrandt and van Gogh oil paintings and other valuable paintings from being casualties of a future corrupt deaccessioning, now that we know that such a travesty is not only possible, but suspiciously probable, considering the circumstances surrounding the loss of our three valuable French Impressionist paintings this month?


P.S.

Why does the museum put flowers on the grave of the Libbeys, three times a year — on Easter Day, Memorial Day, and on November 13?

Because they have to – it’s in Florence Scott Libbey’s will. But I wonder, since Adam Levine and the museum trustees are making such swift and radical changes out from under the original intentions of the founders of our great, progressive museum  — calling our museum out for being somehow socially unjust, when our museum has been the most democratic and forward-thinking museum of them all, selling artwork gifted by the Libbeys to make a new acquisition endowment, just how long will the trustees be keeping those flowers going on that grave?

P.P.S.

And what have they done to the Ward M. Canaday Gallery? There are no exhibitions in it anymore — they’ve had a movie playing in it for the past eight months. Are they going to sell the name of the gallery (their 2018 renovation construction plan illustrations replace the space with a generic name, capitalized, “Center Gallery”) to a philanthropist for a period of time until death puts the patron cold in the grave, at which time the museum will rinse and repeat? Will the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Gallery be at risk, as well? Is this part of Mr. Levine’s big money-making, blood-sucking, self aggrandizing plan to make our museum the envy of every museum in America?

The Toledo Museum of Art used to be the envy of every museum in America before the trustees diminished its great children’s art classes that served the entire Toledo area school system. Over 2,000 children of all ethnicities, chosen by the schools’ principals with recommendations from teachers, choosing children for the program on the merit of the child’s apparent proclivity for artistic creativity, attended art classes every Saturday during the school year, for nearly the entire 20th century. The Libbeys’ wills actually mention more in regard to the importance of education than they speak of art.

Not to mention that the museum killed the 96-year old tradition of the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition and got rid of the exhibition’s purchase award collection at the Toledo Museum of Art, banishing it to a closet in a Toledo high school. Included in the collection are works by such diverse local artists as Marvin Vines and Robert Garcia. Maybe the Director of Belonging and Community Engagement ought to look into this closet collection and bring the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition back. The Canaday Gallery seems to be readily available.

All the museum has to do to make itself enviable again is look back on its own history of how it engaged the community – check down in that memory hole and pull it back up.

The bodies are still warm.


A timeline journal of articles and events surrounding the deaccession:

Toledo Museum of Art’s Controversial Unconscionable Tragic High-Profile Deaccessions

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Whatever happened to Isaac Rader?

Isaac Paul Rader  (1906 – 1986)

Isaac Paul Rader, famous for his paperback cover illustrations, is “entirely a Toledo product.”

He learned his craft by taking classes at the Toledo Museum of Art; his teacher was Karl Kappes. At the tender age of 14 (he might have been 15), he won top prize in the fourth annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art. That made him famous – his museum win was a true legend enduring all of his life and written about in his obits!

He moved to Detroit, where, in his twenties, he made a name for himself as the premiere artist for official portraits of judges.

Then he moved to New York and became a magazine illustrator. His paperback covers, created in the 1960’s, are highly collectable.

Google Images screenshot, 2022
The Toledo Blade, June 26, 1986
Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1986
Toledo Times, March 28, 1921, Isaac Rader “entirely a Toledo product.”
Toledo Blade March 1921, The Carpenter by Isaac Rader. An oil painting of his father at work, painted life-size.

The first prize going to a 15-year old caused quite a stir in Toledo — but he had to win. His stunning painting, which was painted life-size, was better than any other entry. The jury included Nina Spalding Stevens (head of the art school and wife of the museum director) and Blake-More Godwin (who would become the next museum director, in 1927.)

That was the last year the Federation did their own judging. For every Toledo area artist show after that, the Federation utilized judges from out of town (until the last two, in 2013 and 2014, which were judged by the museum director and associate director– we know what happened after that…)

Another reason to bring back the real Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art, to help Toledo artists become famous like Isaac Paul Rader!


Subject: May Show Season
Date: 04/06/2022 11:19AM
To: ALevine@toledomuseum.org, rsewell@toledomuseum.org

Dear Adam and Rhonda,

I just posted a new-found artist, Isaac Paul Rader, on artistsoftoledo.com – I thought you might be interested. At age 14, he won top prize in the TAA show, and went on to have quite a career as an artist. Just an example of the missed opportunities for young Toledo artists without the museum’s annual area artists show. It means something to be shown at the Toledo Museum of Art – it can really change one’s life!

It’s exciting to see the changes at the museum — how is the Community Gallery coming along?

All the best,

Penny Gentieu


Goodbye, Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne