In honor of Valentine's Day, a love story (of sorts) about a painting of a heart.
It was the perfect valentine, a lovely, delicate pink heart, painted in acrylic on paper and owned by the late art collector and philanthropist Mary Schiller Myers.
Mrs. Myers loved that small painting. It was by Jim Dine, the Ohio-born pop artist known for his series of heart paintings. This was not one of those museum-sized multiples that often take up whole galleries. No. This was small, simply framed and hung on the wall by a staircase in Mrs. Myers' Fairlawn Heights home.
One day, a New York City museum (which shall remain nameless) asked to borrow the little pink heart painting for a Dine retrospective.
Mrs. Myers sent the work, carefully crated, along with specific instructions on how to display it.
It was not to be shown behind shatterproof plastic, she said, because if the painting came in contact with the plastic, it could, under certain circumstances, adhere. The museum curator said OK.
When the retrospective was over, the museum shipped the painting back to Akron. When Mrs. Myers uncrated her little heart, she was horrified to discover that although the exhibit curator had followed her instructions to the letter, the packer had not.
The beautiful little pink heart painting must have been shipped in a hot environment, Mrs. Myers recalled, because the paper had come away from its mount and the painting was stuck to the shatterproof acrylic that had been used in place of glass for shipping.
Mrs. Myers was devastated and (after giving the museum a piece of her mind) called Jim Dine to tell him what had happened.
“No problem,” he said (or words to that effect). “Send it to me. I’ll fix it.”
Off went the painting to Dine. And he kept it... and kept it... and kept it.
By and by Mrs. Myers called Dine again. “Where’s my painting?” she said (more or less).
“I’m still working on it,” said Dine.
Uh oh, thought Mrs. Myers.
After several vague descriptions of what he was doing to the work, Mrs. Myers flat out told Dine to return her painting. Immediately. He seemed reluctant, she said, but eventually back came the painting.
“And when I opened it up,” Mrs. Myers said. “My beautiful little pink heart was now black.”
The moral of the story?
Well there are several. But the main take-aways are: If you ever lend an artwork for an exhibit, make sure you have an iron-clad, written agreement on how the work is to be handled, displayed and shipped. And, two, never, ever let an artist do a major repair on one of their own works. That’s what art restorers are for.
Note: This story was told to me by Mary Myers herself. At the time, I didn’t double-check with Dine, but those who knew Mrs. Myers and her collection (former Akron Art Museum Director Mitchell Kahan, for one), said it was true.
Hearts for Art
Art is for everyone. And almost everyone can fall in love with art, right?
The Akron Art Museum is relying on that while it holds a popularity contest of sorts. The AAM wants to know: Which artwork currently in its galleries does its visitors love the most?
Through today, when visitors enter the museum, they are being asked to go to the museum’s front desk (where admissions tickets are sold) and pick up a paper heart. Take the heart with you. When you find your favorite artwork, snap a photo or take a selfie with you and your heart in front of it.
Next, post your selfie with the tags #akronartmuseum #heartsforart201. Then vote for your fave by leaving the heart on the floor in front of it (floor only, please). On Friday, check the museum's social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, where you’ll discover which artwork got the most love.
After-School Mind Unwind — 4-6 p.m. every second Thursday for ages 5-12 and their grown-ups. This Thursday: Meme Collage Valentines. The Akron Art Museum open studio offers caregivers and kids room and time to express themselves and unwind, tech-free. Registration required. To register, go to https://bit.ly/2Gnt0zc. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Admission free to all.
Opening — A 5-7 p.m. reception is being held for the Myers School of Art “83rd Annual Juried Student Exhibition.” Awards are announced at 6 p.m. The exhibit is on view at the University of Akron Myers School of Art, Folk Hall, 150 E. Exchange St., through March 1. 330-972-5950; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.uakron.edu/art/galleries.
Art Tour — At 10:15 a.m. Kevin Greenwood, the Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art at Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum, gives an informal tour of his new exhibition, “Nature and Nostalgia in Early 20th-Century Japanese Art.” Meet in the King Sculpture Court for this free "AMAM in the AM" program, 87 N. Main St., Oberlin. 440-775-8670; http://www2.oberlin.edu/amam/.