Columbus, Ohio USA
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Diamonds Are Forever
Under the direction of Lynne Muskoff, Gallery V scintillates
By Elizabeth Ann James
June 2004 Issue
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PHOTOS © Gus Brunsman III
Eleven Years of Persistence Pays Off...
In June of 1993, Lynne Muskoff and four partners opened Gallery V at 694 North High Street in the Short North. By 1996, the other partners had moved on, but Muskoff chose to remain and dedicate herself to the world of art and is continually grateful that she did. Today Gallery V is one of the most respected galleries in the area, featuring regional, national and international artists working in a variety of media, price, and style.
SNG: How did Gallery V begin?
LYNNE MUSKOFF: Well, I'm one of five original owners who felt that with the closing of Gallery 200 and Spangler Cummings Gallery, a void would be left in the Columbus gallery landscape. There were five of us, museum docents and friends. One of us had a master's in art education. One of us was very good at the business side. Two of us were at City Center having lunch, talking art and the Columbus scene, and we decided we wanted to become partners in a gallery. We put our heads together, found the 694 space and we did it! For various reasons, moves and career changes, everyone else eventually left, and since 1996 I've been on my own. Here I am, eleven years later, as director, and I've kept the name, Gallery V, because of the original five of us.
SNG: What do you think about the art market and how do you make decisions on what to buy
LM: Well, it's always capricious. That's why anyone reputable in the business will advise "Buy what you like." Again, it's unpredictable. After September 11, that awful time, New York galleries and galleries on the coast, were taking losses. The noted Schmidt-Bingham Gallery and many other galleries closed. But we continued to sell. I don't know why. Maybe people wanted to make themselves feel better. Art can do that. I don't buy or sell art in order to match a chair or decorate a room. Art is alive and enriching of life. One of my favorite things is selling somebody their first piece of art. They may buy just one or two paintings at first, and then... It (art) will change you.
SNG: Who's your audience, whom do you sell to?
LM: Well, our audience is everybody. Anybody can walk in and see the art. And we seem to have developed a large group of young collectors who've learned to trust the Gallery's direction.
SNG: Could you elaborate?
LM: At first they want houses and cars; in time they visit a gallery, that's fun, then other galleries, and they see something they want and buy it and begin to see more and buy another piece of art. This is a large city; there is affluence here. Affluence tends to draw patrons to galleries. There's a strong university community too. That's one reason I think "the more galleries the better." We have a lot of MFA graduates from Ohio State, CCAD. Only a small percentage of them will be able to continue to make art. Yet, we need the artists and they need us. Again, the more galleries the better.
SNG: Can you go farther with that?
LM: People get into art step by step; they "educate their eyes." They may start at one gallery, but they'll eventually go from gallery to gallery, and a dynamic atmosphere is created. Loving and understanding art is a journey, for them and for me. And I love to answer questions.
SNG: Give me an example.
LM: Recently a couple came in. The man, probably in his late forties, had started to read about art. He looked at James Moore's Two Creamer Jugs and, when he asked, I was able to explain that Moore, one of our most popular painters at Gallery V, is a very spiritual person. Moore wants us to see simple ordinary objects as sublime. The neutral background and the folded cloth draw our attention to the ordinary. The couple were delighted and asked other questions. I love to answer questions. I love to read art history, and I encourage others to do that. The artists stand on each others shoulders.
SNG: Who's your favorite, well, one of your favorite artists?
LM: Picasso. I think he's the greatest artist who ever lived. He kept reinventing himself; he kept reinventing art – Cubism, the other periods.
SNG: Do you travel often to shows?
LM: I'm lucky. We, my husband John Muskoff and I, we love to see art together. We go to shows in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, and see 80 or 90 percent of the major shows. We went to Paris to see Manet's Picnic, and it was so beautiful that I felt like somebody had hit me on the head. It took my breath away. Again, educate your eye. If you can't go to New York get on the net. The major galleries have websites.
SNG: How do you select art? And you from an artistic background, growing up?
LM: I "educate my eye" and that's done over time by seeing, by reading. And, no, not a bit; when I was growing up I was totally uninterested in art. When we were young marrieds we heard about Emerson Burkhart's openings at his house. They were exciting, fun, so many people, and of course, his art. One year we went to an Upper Arlington art show, and we bought two watercolors. You know, we've never tired of them. They remind me of where we used to live. We both look at it even now. Art is addictive. Like chocolate.
SNG: What do you do when you're not working?
LM: Well, yes, I do have another life, but it's woven together with art. Both John and I went to Denison University. He's an attorney. We have good friends, and we go to art shows. I'm lucky. He likes to look at paintings. Our whole family loves art. We've got three adorable grandaughters in Xenia. When she was eleven, one of my grandaughters won first prize for her picture of a horse, at the county fair. That was fun. Now she's a tennis player. ... Yes, I like to read, mostly books that deal with art in some way.
SNG: Yes, you turned me on to Cunningham's novel The Hours with Virginia Wolfe as a character. What are you reading now?
LM: I love to read nonfiction books about art. I can't wait to read Ross King's Michelangelo and The Pope's Ceiling. And Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari; we were in Africa last summer. The DaVinci Code – I'm telling you, Liz, you won't put that novel down.
SNG: I'm probably the only person in Columbus who hasn't read that, but I probably will. Here's another question. What's good about being in Columbus, as far as the art scene?
LM: Our museum is a treat. "The Circle of Bliss" and the Sirak Collection, fantastic. Nannette Maciejunes, as the new director, is just the right person. And the Wexner puts us on the map. We have CCAD and Ohio State. Art leads to more art and to more educated eyes.
SNG: You read, you have a nice family, but if you have other leisure time how do you spend it?
LM: Leisure time? Gallery V isn't a hobby; running a gallery is work, a full-time job. I love what I'm doing; it's a struggle, it's a joy.
Gallery V, 694 N.High Street, opened in June 1993, eleven years ago. Bouquets and congratulations are definitely in order. Under the meticulous, and tenacious, direction of Lynne Muskoff, the Gallery has continued to grow and to maintain the highest standards possible for the exhibition of art.
"Art By Architects," which closed at Gallery V on May 22, 2004, drew a large crowd to its opening. It was a show to fall in love with. Watercolors by George Acock informed us, through accurate depictions of modest buildings and historical settings in Cuba and Central America. Acock's paintings are accurate yet washy; it's hard to "catch" detail in watercolor, but Acock does it. And he is unafraid to express lyricism, a tinge of vulnerability. Red-and-white garbed girls stand against La Escuela, the school, on the invitation image. A bereted somebody, Che perhaps, looks down from the wall.
Frances Campini's oils on canvas, bright sharp-edged nudes and portraits, spoke from across the room. They're the ultimate in "attractive," and that's a compliment. Frank Elmer reigned supreme, elegant. With smallish hard-edged ink-on-paper drawings. Unassuming yet wonderful buildings, such as St. Lazarus Chapel in Portage County.
Two years ago, Gallery V was responsible for bringing Jules Olitski to Columbus. In the '60s and '70s, Olitski broke art barriers with his colorfields, one of which became the legendary "Tin Lizzie" inspired by a rusting automobile. Not too long ago, the eminent critic Clement Greenberg annointed Olitski "the best living painter." Through the persistence and charm of Lynne Muskoff, Olitski agreed to show his then-new watercolors at Gallery V. In conjunction, he presented an irascible and informative lecture to a full house at the Columbus Museum of Art.
James B. Moore is a five-star participant at Gallery V. The former Columbus College of Art and Design instructor has broken time barriers; he's a new old master with zen-like tendencies. In a way, he's a minimalist; he tends to paint one or two simple subjects against a totally austere background. His oil painting is masterly. Realist. The fold in the linen, the weave of the fabric. The petals of an iris. The porous sides of a clay jug. With integrity and joy, through a subdued palette, Moore continues to portray "the sacred as ordinary," and people buy his work through Gallery V. His list of solo and group exhibitions, with that of corporate and private collections, numbers over a hundred names. Among his public permanent collections are the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and California State University. Moore teaches at Humboldt University in California.
Stephan Pentak, highly successful painter of abstract-scapes, recently showed his "Tributaries," at Gallery V, a series celebrating marshlands and waterways. Pentak is a much admired painting instructor at Ohio State University, and he is the author of two books on painting technique. His emphasis is on color and spacious simplicity, and the results are beautiful. Pentak is one of the "hottest" contemporary artists in the United States.
Claude Bauret Allard showed her large "Paris" abstractions, succinct yet dreamy pastels, at Gallery V in 2002. Bauret Allard is unbeatable at her memetic expressions through pastel. Her actual scenes of Paris, memories sifted through emotion, were not realist. They were romantic yet edgy abstractions - "Off the charts!"
Bauret Allard flew in for the Gallery V opening in 2002. She said that her fears of anti-French sentiment "evaporated" during the marvelous opening. Bauret Allard's first exhibition was held at The Gallery Jean Drevet in Chambéry, France, in 1955. She has work in many notable collections, including that of Mairie de Paris, and has shown in the Helene de Roquefeuil Gallery, Paris, and Gwenda Jay Gallery in Chicago, as well as at Gallery V.
Bauret Allard will be among the artists presenting in Gallery V's "Summer Salon," which opened on May 27 and will run through July 24, 2004. The artist will show new work. Remembered for her pastelled and weathered "Trash Cans" and a lovely "Moldy Fruit" series, the artist is likely to have another surprise up her Parisian sleeve! Muskoff says that the "Summer Salon" honors artists who do not have major Gallery V shows during that current season, in this case 2004. Pentak, Olitski and Moore will continue to be available through the Gallery even though they are not featured. The "Salon" will feature paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and stoneware. Those who know art will recognize these names: Derek Anstis, Tamie Beldue, Paul Ching-Bor, Rob Colgan, Ed Corle, Sharon Dougherty, Christian Faur, Dan Grantham, Melinda Kay, Liu Ji, John Kortlander, William Kortlander, Chi-Kit Kwong, Julie Taggart, Phillip von Raabe, Sean Wilkinson.
Rob Colgan's Jesus sculpture may draw attention because of the high interest in The Passion and The Da Vinci Code! Muskoff says Melinda Kay will show something "really surprising and unusual, wait and see."
Sharon Dougherty, known for large and lustrous abstracts, has been painting new and unusual oceanscapes "with a hint of the moon." Tamie Beldue, teaching at CCAD, will show remarkable graphite drawings.
Following the "Summer Salon," which closes July 24, work by two outstanding photographers will be shown in the Gallery. Judith McMillan and Hiroshi Hayakawa will exhibit photographic art. The drawings of Belgian-born Paul-Henri Bourguignon, a dim yet eternal star, will show in the back gallery.
Candice Madey, who has been Lynne's gallery manager, has finished her MFA degree and is in New York as I write! Her personable and talented presence will be missed. Danielle Julian Norton, described by Lynne as "having a similar warmth and personality," will be the new manager. She received her BFA from CCAD, and her MFA from Notre Dame and has taught at Otterbein and Notre Dame.
The exhibited work at Gallery V emits a steady platinum glow. Remember the old saying, "Diamonds are forever"?
Under the direction of Lynne Muskoff, Gallery V scintillates, a Hope diamond in the sometimes insubstantial universe of contemporary art.
Lynne Muskoff (1937 - 2016)
Columbus Dispatch Obituary
694 N. High Street in the Short North of Columbus, Ohio
Editors Note: Gallery V closed in June 2006
Thank you, Lynne, for bringing world-class art into the neighborhood for the past 13 years and for helping create the Short North’s excellence with your unique contributions and hard work.
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