Monday, November 27, 2006

Philadelphia Museum of Art Accepting Donations to Save Eakins from Wal-Mart Heiress

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is making an effort to keep Eakins' "The Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia. Please note that everyone who supports this cause can help by making a donation to a fund specifically set up to purchase the painting:
Save "The Gross Clinic"
Your donations will contribute to the $68 million needed and will send a powerful message that the American public wants to stop the plundering of America's libraries and collections.

More at:
Save "The Gross Clinic"
Keep "The Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reading Obama on Thanksgiving

Barack Obama

I have been reading Barack Obama's new book, "The Audacity of Hope" on this Thanksgiving. Obama's astute words on Abraham Lincoln brought to mind the ongoing need for healing, thanks and humility in the United States. On October 3, 1863 as the Civil War raged, President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday in November:

"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise... for deliverances and blessings, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, and commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Keep Eakins' "Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia

Thomas Eakins
"Gross Clinic"
96"x78" oil on canvas 1875
-image courtesy Thomas Jefferson University

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by the Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton and under construction in Bentonville, Arkansas, is trying to pry away another important painting from its longstanding home. Carol Vogel in the New York Times reports that Thomas Jefferson University - a medical school in Philadelphia - has decided to sell the work which was purchased for $200 by University alumni in 1878. The proposed sale price is $68 million and the painting would be shared between the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the not yet completed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Crystal Bridges' recent plunder of Asher B. Durand's "Kindred Spirits" from the New York Public Library set a poor precedent.

Asher B. Durand
"Kindred Spirits"
44"x36" oil on canvas 1849
formerly in the collection of the New York Public Library

Carol Vogel goes on to report that Thomas Jefferson University seems to be "mindful of potential objections from residents of Philadelphia, Eakins’s lifelong home,[and] has given local museums and government institutions 45 days to match the offer."

"Anne d’Harnoncourt, director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said she would immediately explore the possibility, perhaps in tandem with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. “It’s a painting that really belongs in Philadelphia — his presence still resonates here,” she said of Eakins’s masterwork. “There may be a way we could band together to make it happen.”

I am in on this one and hope that the Philadelphia Museum will accept offers from around the country to help keep "The Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia.

Thomas Eakins
"Gross Clinic"
96"x78" oil on canvas 1875
-image courtesy Thomas Jefferson University

More at:
New York Times on the Gross Clinic

In Philadelphia they are aghast at the news-
"This is our cultural heritage. We cannot let it be bought.

If we sell it, we are selling Philadelphia's future. Would we allow the Liberty Bell to be bought? This is no different.

Philadelphia is the home of the first hospital, founded by no less than Ben Franklin. A tradition grew out of that, a tradition that is summarized by this painting. We have a rich history of medicine that will be plundered by the sale of this art."
-from Phillyville

And the alumni from Thomas Jefferson University are livid:
"Isn't this a little like selling your soul to the devil? Couldn't Jeff issue bonds in the usual fashion and go into debt like any respectable university?

Says Bob Barchi (University President), "We're not a museum. We're not in the business of art education" and in two sentences betrays his failing grade on his Two Cultures book report , a crushing ignorance of the centrality of art to the human experience, and spins Jefferson's expansion as an Eakins rejection redux.

Heroic myth writ large (Homer) or small (Rocky Balboa, Luke Skywalker) inspires great things in real life, just as Eakins painting of Gross has inspired countless artists, physicians and patients. It is arguably Philadelphia's David. But Philadelphia is not Florence, and the Jefferson Board no Medici."
Is Art Important to Medicine?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vote Tomorrow and Remember the Ghosts of Baghdad & New Orleans

Ghost of New Orleans
Gregg Chadwick
"Ghost of New Orleans"
48"X36" oil on linen 2006

We were in my studio Saturday night mourning the loss of our country to Karl Rove, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Enough is enough. Vote tomorrow and vote for a House and Senate of the future. Thomas L. Friedman said it well in the New York Times:

"Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century -- to bring out the best in us. His "genius" is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country's health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you're not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has -- through sheer incompetence -- brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq -- and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate -- it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we're as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don't think we're that stupid. On Tuesday, November 7th we'll see."

-by Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times, November 3, 2006