Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eakins, The Gross Clinic- Needs Post Op Care

The Gross Clinic has been saved from the table but there is some more care that needs to be given. The fund is only partially raised and more donations will be needed to end this operation. In today's Inky there is great reporting by Stephan Salisbury, Inquirer Culture Writer who has held the spotlight on the effort to save The Gross Clinic. He and Edward J. Sozanski, Inquirer Art Critic should get a prize for their coverage of this story. I would know very little about what happened if this story hadn't been covered with such depth.

Sylvester Stallone, made a Philly comeback story that many would dismiss as pugilistic junk. The Rocky fight shares the same virtue as the fight to keep The Gross Clinic. Art comes in all forms.

The Keep Eakins Fund still needs help so please give what you can.

Merry Christmas, there really is a Santa!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Philly KO'd the Princess of Cheap

I was reading this Attyood blog on and it occurred to me that there are many who will never get art. Wal-Mart imports most of it goods from China. If these were made here perhaps there would be less poverty and problems for the city to worry about. The truth is that we have a need for more and better jobs. The debate should be about how high we can bring ourselves not how we can cut up the pie. The French got rid of Marie Antoinette because of her excesses. Why blame the 2000+ who gave to the Eakins fund? They likely give to other causes as well. Where are the millions who go to football games, rock concerts and movies making the rest of the entertainment companies wealthy. Why don't they help the poor. The Eakins painting should be around for five hundred years or more if we take care of it. $68,000,000.00 /500= $13,600 per year, looks like a good investment to me.

Theres Nothing Gross About That

Welcome to Phillyville: We Win!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Saved- The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins

Thank you! News from the Inky. PMA press release.

I would add thanks to those artists who stood on the streets and made visible the concern for this painting. Let the wealthy institutions remember that ten dollars from an artist who makes under $18,000 annually is as big a gift as millions from a large foundation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eakins Fund- looking to the future

In today's Inky the discussion turns to the means of protecting the future sale of important art.

"So if money talks in the art world and if historic designation is a cumbersome and possibly inappropriate safeguard, what protection would an art emergency fund provide? Those contributing to the local effort to buy The Gross Clinic will be given the option, if the effort fails, of having their money added to an emergency fund. (Or they can have it returned.)" by Stephan Salisbury.

My solution would borrow from the efforts to protect open space from development. I would buy the first right of sale for any art work that might be sold in the future with the terms of having the appropriate time to raise funds for such a purchase. All important art will continue to increase in value and if the trend continues some art may cost hundreds of millions in the next ten years.

Non Profits have laws of governance that are controlled by the State and are different than private individuals. Their directors must meet the interests of their mission as well as the public trust granted them as a tax exempt organization. Schools such as Jefferson receive charitable contributions that allow them to raise funds from many sources. Those contributors get tax breaks on those gifts. The public does have an interest in what is under their stewardship.

Each State should create a fund to protect it's cultural heritage. This could include an increase in the funds for purchase of art directly as well as a cultural patrimony rights act that would stop the sudden raiding of art from vulnerable institutions. Valuable art should be treated with the same controls as financial paper (stocks and bonds).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mary 1951-1984

Mary was an artist. We met while students at PCA. She was an illustration major and I was a sculptor. She was from Southwest Philly and had graduated from West Catholic Girls High School with a Mayors' scholarship to attend art school. She was very talented and worked hard to become successful as an artist. Her work post school included, Art Director at North American Publishing for three monthly magazines, Printing Impressions and two others. She was the Art Director for Met-Pro Corp. where she won a Gold Medal from The Art Directors Club for one of her ad campaigns. She had many dreams and yet her life ended today twenty- two years ago. I still miss her deeply.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Thomas Eakins- Charles Haseltine

The earlier works of Eakins were exhibited by Charles Haseltine painted by Eakins and interred in the same place.

Dear Santa- Save The Gross Clinic

In a recent comment on WHYY's blog, The Sixth Square , the question is asked "where are we on the fundraising?", with the implied hope that the art museums are getting close to their goal. I hope that the PMA, PAFA and the others joined in this effort are overwhelmed with contributions and are spending all their time opening letters and talking to those who are major supporters.

My letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

Please don't give me any more things that I don't need. I have many things that clutter my life that go unused. There are more needy than I and toys don't thrill me like when I was a child. Time to make art is all I really need with a bunch of clay and some drawing paper. Rather then give me stuff, give peace to the world. Give hope to those who have none. Make children's lives joyful with no need to kill.
If you have a little left over please give the Philadelphia region "The Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins.

To my friends and relatives: Please give a donation to PMA rather then something to me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thomas Eakins Grave

It is Friday night and I have nothing to do. Guess where Thomas Eakins is buried and who else is in the same cemetery.

Eakins Agnew Clinic Composition

Originally uploaded by Charles Hankin.
The Agnew Clinic by Thomas Eakins is really two paintings in one. The operation can be seen as the primary subject, with all the light while the student body is separate. The painting was commissioned by Dr. Agnews students whom appear in the background. They are portraits with individual gestures and expressions. Eakins saved a space for himself as an observer. The ellipse of the operating well defines the space of the painting with the breast at the center. Unlike The Gross Clinic the patient's face is visible to the viewer. All the rest of the figures radiate around this point. The change in operating procedures is apparent with the dress of the physicians. The background is relatively flat almost modern in today's art aesthetic.

In the WHYY blog, The Sixth Square, there is a discussion of the Eakins meaning to Philadelphia.

Eakins National News- NPR & NY Times

In the NY Times there is a story that tries to present the story of the sale of "The Gross Clinic" by Eakins. What is missing is the voice of the artists who have spoken out against the sale. I guess that artists don't matter to Ms. Vogel.

The same can be said about the NPR reports found here.

This says everything about how art is viewed in America when artists voices are shut out of the discussion. It is no wonder that people are surprised by the reaction to the sale. In the Times story Ms. Vogel quotes Mr. Goldsmith:

“I’m happy to see people passionate about something,” said Phil Goldsmith, a former chief financial officer for the City of Philadelphia. “But this takes me by surprise. I’m passionate about the increasing homicide rate in the city and the number of homeless people I see on the streets, but it never entered my mind that ‘The Gross Clinic’ is so important.”

Perhaps if Mr. Goldsmith talked to artists he would understand the interest in Eakins and their passion for the painting.

The PMA and PAFA have done a great service in leading the effort to keep the painting in Philadelphia. I think it would be interesting to report about what artists who have a kinship with Eakins think. Of course many in the art world wish realism had died with Thomas Eakins. What would have Thomas Eakins said about the sale of his painting? He was not against selling his art. Would he have preferred a museum or wealthy collector buy it? Was the sale to Jefferson alumni his dream? What seems clear is that he painted the next paint- every day.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thomas Eakins Sculptor

Thomas Eakins was also a very good sculptor. I like this relief along with his many others.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Save The Gross Clinic- Thomas Eakins

I have little more to say except please help. The PMA web site has the ten reasons to save the painting and how to give.

Monday, December 11, 2006

What is the moral worth of a $68 million painting?

There have been a few who in the past weeks questioned the moral value of spending $68 million dollars on "The Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins. This is a mute point because it was the original parties who arrived at the value.

Many would agree that helping the poor is very important.
Catherine Drexel used her fortune to help the Native Americans and the poor. Alice Walton chose to spend her wealth on creating an art museum while Bill Gates funds health care. Those with wealth find those charities that they care to help. I have heard no call for the churches to give up their art collections to help the poor. Art can be a source of spiritual healing. "The Gross Clinic" inspires and gives hope.

If there is a concern for improving health care and ending poverty in America then raise the minimum wage to $17.50 per hour.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Artists working to save the Gross Clinic

Stephen Salisbury in the Inky reports today:

"Local artists plan to gather today from 11 a.m. to noon at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps to sell buttons and pass out information in an effort to keep Thomas Eakins' painting The Gross Clinic in Philadelphia.

Thomas Jefferson University announced the sale of the Eakins masterpiece Nov. 10 to a partnership of out-of-town museums. Proceeds of the $68 million sale will go toward fulfilling the university's strategic plan.

The university gave local institutions until Dec. 26 to match the price and keep the painting in the city.

The artists will sell blue "Keep 'Gross' in Philadelphia" buttons for $2."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NY vs Philly- Hicks vs Eakins

In today's NY Times there is a story about the conservation of the portraits in the NY City Hall. What struck me is the contrast between the way art is treated in the two cities. In NY they find ways to celebrate their cultural heritage while in Philly it seems like an afterthought. NY has an active Art Commission while Philly closed the Office of Art and Culture. Both have art painted by leading 19th. Century painters.

Thomas Hicks worked in NY before Thomas Eakins worked in Philly. They both studied at PAFA, traveled to Europe to study painting and painted portraits of famous people of their day. Thomas Hicks is almost lost to the history of art in America, eclipsed in fame by his now famous older cousin Edward Hicks. Thomas Eakins is regarded as one of the finest portrait painters of all time in Philadelphia. Style and taste change in our culture. What was important yesterday will be set aside tomorrow.

While there are many artists in the past there will always be new artists to define the current culture. Art is not frozen in time.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Eakins, Barnes and Dewey- Art for the People

Yesterday in the Inky There was a short article about the Wilson High School art collection. It seems that the principal Charles Dudley was an art collector. The school acquired the paintings for the purpose of including art in the children's lives. The Inky also reports that the art that was removed from all the Philadelphia schools should be rehung for all to see. Money seems to be the issue. Some want the art sold to help pay the shortfall. The conflict seems to be that the school board doesn't want to raise taxes and fund art or even keep art in the schools. Even the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program works with students and prisoners.

What a contrast to the current policy of excluding art from children's education. Is it no wonder that the Trustees of Jefferson felt no value in keeping The Gross Clinic for it's students.

It would seem that there is a movement in America to remove art from daily life and only have it in museums and wealthy collections. This is far from the Barnes and Dewey model of having a cultured public.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Inky Eakins- The Shock of the Price

Today Stephan Salisbury reports in the Inky that there might be a strain on local fundraising for Philadelphia non profits.

I see this cultural tidal wave to be an opportunity for the arts leadership to see the Philadelphia region as a center for creativity. The demand has brought together a common goal that should help to focus on the needs of all who work to promote the arts here.

The reason the painting sale happened started with a desperate attempt to kick start a fundraising campaign. Do those who are tasked with finding the resources for large projects have any idea what the local interests are? Are they solely focused on the goal at any means?

This time of year I receive many requests for donations. The development databases are running on overtime. I can tell that they are created by computers because they are ignorant of my current circumstances. It is almost like they have created an identity for me that has some mythic nature. They have taken my name and assume that I am wealthy.

I digress, is the fundraising sector, dependent on databases, as flawed as the intelligence created to fight the war?

The sale of The Gross Clinic is a symptom of a disease that spreads through our society. We don't know who we are or what we care about. I went to see the movie Babel last night (movies are my only entertainment these days) and the theme of cultural difference struck me as important. The cultural divide between those who work everyday to make art and those who have the wealth to acquire art is very wide.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 01, 2006

Eakins Fundraiser

Thanks to a post on Artblog I had an idea:

How about an eBay charity auction as a fundraiser for the Eakins painting? I would donate a drawing. This would take lots of work but it might give artists who have little to give a chance to help.

Labels: ,