Tuesday, July 05, 2011

East coast blogger asks Crystal Bridges official why museum enabling Fisk art sale

O'Keeffe donated collection to Fisk in 1949
The day was a day that will live in infamy almost 6 years ago when news broke that North Nashville's Fisk University was trying to sell art pieces in its renowned Stieglitz Collection to pay its bills. Thanks to baffling of the school's more recent attempts to sell to the Wal-Mart Empire heiress, who has been busy scoring art from other places, the demand for Steiglitz seems to be waning, according to art blogger Lee Rosenbaum. She hits a museum official with a hard set of questions:

Q: The point is that [Association of Art Museum Directors] was directing its comment at Fisk, over which it has no leverage. And the place where it does have leverage is the place that desires membership in AAMD. My question is: How do you justify in your mind being the other side of a transaction that has been condemned by the leading professional organization in your field?

A: Parse your words carefully. It's been condemned strictly for the use of the funds. We have nothing to do or to say about that.

Q: But you're enabling it.

A: I don't know that you can say that. If I buy something from you and I give you a dollar, do I have the right to tell you what to do with the dollar? I mean, really! [Then again, if one disapproves of the purpose for which the seller will be use that dollar, one can decline to participate in the transaction.] ....

Stieglitz, who was married to O'Keeffe
You've asked me and others have asked me, "Would I enter into that contract?" I don't know. The circumstances were very different at the time. At this time in the life cycle of this museum, would we be pursuing that collection? Probably not. We don't really need that collection in the way I think it was perceived we needed that collection four or five years ago. [Emphasis added.]....

I reacted so strongly to your comment about us being enablers because I don't think that's true at all and the impetus for entering into the discussion was to help save Fisk because I think it's a travesty to think about standing idly by while Fisk, the most historic black university in the country, goes bankrupt. And that was absolutely Alice's goal in entering into any discussion.

Q: If Alice really felt that way, she could give them the $30 million!

A: She HAS given them. She has made pledges to the university.

Q: I thought it was $1 million. [This is revealed in the court papers.]

We hear the same mantras over and over again about building and attracting elements that promote economic development, but we already have cultural qualities that make us a better, more desirable community and that we find ourselves challenged to preserve. I'm rooting for the Wal-Mart heiress to continue to lose interest so that Georgia O'Keeffe's intentions are respected. North Nashville needs the Stieglitz Collection to stay at Fisk more than it needs a new baseball stadium.

1 comment:

  1. A building that housed and displayed the collection for all to see would certainly prove a draw for citizens and art fans from around the world.

    It's something that "ordinary" citizens could get behind, as well as the Latte Liberals like Dean, Barry and Steine who are preoccupied with changing Nashville's image.

    Such a building could be built on the Fisk campus, or on land adjacent to the campus. Funding could be partially provided by the city, and perhaps someone like the heiress (with their name attached).

    I don't know if this idea has been floated around, but it provides a perfect opportunity for Dean to pursue his agenda in a way that actually makes sense for the city.