Some of my favorite art stories

I’ve always loved art museums, starting with going to the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco growing up, and continuing with more in-depth appreciation while I studied in Vienna, Austria during college. Here are some favorite stories that I’ve covered for The Enquirer.

O'keeffe My Back YardCincinnati Art Museum buys first O’Keeffe: Suspense, tension, heart-stopping timing and finally jubilation – not emotions usually associated with putting art on the walls of Cincinnati Art Museum.

But for curator Julie Aronson, who in May won a bid for a stunning landscape painting by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, the auction with Christie’s in New York was exciting but harrowing. Read the full story and watch a video interview with the curator here. (photo: O’Keeffe’s My Back Yard, 1943)

The artist installing his work, "Crown," at Cincinnati Art Museum. Photo by The Enquirer/Glenn Hartong
The artist installing his work, “Crown,” at Cincinnati Art Museum. Photo by The Enquirer/Glenn Hartong

“Cincinnati Art Museum’s ‘Crown’ exhibit under fire” offered a chance for readers to weigh in with two ProConIts at the story’s end.  It reignited debate on guns, art and whether “Crown” was too edgy for Cincinnati’s venerable museum. Some people believed it should not be opening at all.

On an October day in 2012 when the museum was closed, an unprecedented art event by conceptual artist Todd Pavlisko took place. As a Navy SEAL sniper took aim from his perch near the front lobby, a forest of video and still cameras documented bullets whizzing through the center gallery and into a cube mounted in Great Hall.

Result: The show opened, but the videos were turned off during visits by school children.

Iranian lute
Iranian lute

Cincinnati’s magnum opus: It was a secret known to few Cincinnatians and to virtually no one outside of the Cincinnati Art Museum. For decades, a spectacular trove of more than 800 antique musical instruments languished – untouched, neglected and forgotten – in storage throughout the museum’s meandering undercroft.

The discovery means that Cincinnati could possess one of the most important collections of non-Western musical instruments in the United States. The collection spans four centuries and represents the cultures of more than 20 countries on four continents. It has drawn the attention of musical instrument specialists and curators in top museums across the nation.

“I was shocked,” said Charles Rudig, a Cincinnati native, antique instrument expert and former head of musical instruments for Sotheby’s Auction House. He has been hired by the museum as a consultant to help evaluate and catalog the instruments.

“They’ve got a fabulous world music collection. It’s wonderful. It’s big. And it’s very similar to the Metropolitan Museum (New York) collection.”

About 650 of the instruments were donated to the museum around the turn of the century by a single collector, a wealthy Cincinnati industrialist named William Howard Doane. Many of them are so-called “world music” instruments. Doane traveled the world and snapped up African drums, exotic stringed instruments, keyboards and mallet instruments.

With the public’s insatiable interest in world music and global cultures today, the rare find is perfect timing.

Note: This important story turned into an exhibition of these amazing world music instruments during the 2012 World Choir Games

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