Niagara Gazette

March 2, 2014

GLYNN: Famous 'Niagara' art in gallery under attack

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — One of the most famous paintings  of Niagara Falls is owned by an art gallery in the nation’s capital but it’s future there may be in jeopardy.

“Niagara,” by Frederic Edwin Church (1857) is among the priceless pieces in the collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. In 1985, the classic painting was loaned to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, displayed as part of the centennial anniversary of the Niagara Falls State Park. That short stay at the Knox was arranged by the late Paul Schoellkopf, a longtime member of the Niagara Frontier State Park Commission and the vice chairman of that centennial committee.

At the Corcoran Gallery, however, the coveted collection now faces troubled times, based on the Washington Post article last week by Eric Gibson, the newspaper’s leisure & arts editor. He contends that no museum has ever willed itself into oblivion as the Corcoran Gallery has done with its plan to become part of George Washington University which will assume ownership and responsibility for the 1897 Beaux Arts building. Incidentally, the financially-plagued Corcoran needs an estimated $100 million for deferred maintenance and upgrades.

Gibson adds that of all the decisions by the Corcoran’s board of directors, this one (to collaborate with the university) is the worst. He predicts the partnership will be the end of the gallery. The proposed agreement calls for a new name too: “The Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art.” Under the restructuring, only a corner in the Corcoran would be reserved for a Legacy Gallery for a rotating display of the museum’s “signature works.” And anything the National Gallery didn’t want would enter a “distribution plan” to place the works in other U.S. museums.

If Church’s “Niagara” ever ended up in that degraded ranking, surely the Albright-Knox could provide a suitable home for it. What a splendid boost that would prove to the area tourist industry.  

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HELPING HANDS DEPT.: Angelo Sarkees’ idea to assist the needy paid off when he launched the “Deposit for Food” plan, collecting  bottles and cans that people often toss into the garbage. After collecting some 6,000 such items in the summer and fall and converting that volume into cash, he presented checks of $350 to Community Missions and $300 to the Heart, Love and Soul Food Pantry, 939 Ontario Ave., Niagara Falls. Sarkees was assisted in the project by Fran Giles, vice president of community relations for the Modern Corp., Lewiston. Modern also donated recycling boxes and bags to recover the bottles and cans. 

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OUT OF THE PAST: More than 50 years after Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller’s son Michael disappeared in the Asmat Cultural Region near New Guinea, the mystery may be solved, based on new evidence reported in the current issue of The Smithsonian. The younger Rockefeller’s body was never recovered.

The in-depth magazine article features excerpts from the book “Savage Harvest, a Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art,” by Carl Hoffman. The book will be published later this month.

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Buffalo Niagara Builders Association has presented state Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, with its 2013 Industry Appreciation Award in recognition ot industry excellence.

Maziarz was cited for his efforts in supporting policies that stimulate economic activity in Western New York. the builders association, a non-profit organization that serves as the voice of builders and developers, includes resident and commercial builders, contractors, supplies and others.

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TRIVIA QUIZ: (Answer to Thursday question) - Johnny Cash was the first entertainer when the Niagara Falls Convention Center opened in 1974.

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.