Columbus, Ohio USA
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Lynne Muskoff (1937-2016)
Gallery V owner loved art, travel, books, and family
By Margaret Marten
May/June 2016 Issue

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Lynne Muskoff Gus Brunsman III

Former Short North gallery owner and arts advocate Lynne Muskoff died on April 13 from cancer. She was 78.

Muskoff owned and operated Gallery V for 13 years. The gallery, which Muskoff started in 1993 with four other women, was titled Gallery V to represent the five owners. Located at 694 N. High St., (where the Sherrie Gallerie is now housed), it became one of the most respected commercial galleries in the Short North, featuring regional, national and international contemporary artists. The founders, all docents at the Columbus Museum of Art, entered into the project hoping to contribute their individual strengths and talents to the business, but within a year, most of them had stepped down.

One of the five, Lynda Paul, remained with Muskoff for two years, often managing the gallery alone while Muskoff was travelling. She said the two had actually conceived the idea together. She recalled an early conversation about opening the gallery while having lunch together at City Center downtown. Muskoff asked her what she planned to do with her recent graduate degree in art education, and Paul responded that she wanted to open an art gallery. Muskoff, delighted with the idea, said she would like to do that too, and after some research, they began to formulate a plan that eventually included the other members. Two years after the opening, however, only Muskoff remained to manage the gallery. She continued to do that with imagination and fortitude for over a decade.

Paul said that during their early work together, the two travelled around Ohio to scout out talent. But before long, the gallery developed a solid reputation and artists were coming to them, and “it just grew from there.” One memorable excursion was a trip organized by Gallery V to visit the Athen’s artist David Hostetler that included a busload of artlovers. It was pleasant while it lasted. “So we got down there in this rickety bus,” said Paul. They walked around, and Hostetler spoke, but they ran into a problem driving back. “Coming home, as we got into Columbus, the bus lost a wheel,” she said. “This bus was rolling uncontrollably, the tire rolling the other way, but we got it stopped and everything was all right. It was quite an adventure for us!”

“Adventuresome” is the word Sharon Connor used to describe Muskoff. Connor (the former Sharon Dougherty) was one of her gallery artists and a longtime friend. “She was a leader, for sure,” said Connor. “And so easy to get along with. She always wanted to do everything.” The two belonged to the same book club for over forty years and travelled together. “She found artists in New York and Chicago that she then represented,” said Connor. “I was with her on some of those trips. It was very fun to look at the new artists and be able to learn more about the contemporary scene.”

Over the years, Gallery V represented renowned artists like Han Xin, Jules Olitski, sculptor John Kortlander, and Paul-Henri Bourguignon. Local restaurateur Dick Stevens of the Elevator Brewing Co. said Muskoff introduced him to Bourguignon’s paintings and that he now has the largest collection of his work in the city. “I was walking past her gallery. Never been in there before,” he said. “I saw Bourguignon hanging on the wall. I literally just saw it out of the corner of my eye. I ended up buying it.” The painting, Port-au-Prince, was Stevens’ first piece by the artist. “Then I just got hooked on him. I would buy them all if I had the money. I love him.”

Muskoff continued to participate in the arts community after closing her gallery in 2006, attending openings and events with her husband, John. They also travelled throughout Europe visiting museums and exhibitions. She was invited to join the national board of advisors at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum. The director, Justin Kronewetter, said she was extremely active and loyal. “She served religiously,” he said. “We mounted several exhibitions that involved artists she had previous experience with. She brought all those people to my attention.”

“Lynne was just well informed about everything,” said Paul. “She was a voracious reader,” adding that she has no idea how Muskoff learned to use the computer in the early ‘90s but was impressed (and mystified) when she eventually brought it into the gallery and began to use it to run the business. Her knowledge and leadership qualities were passed on to others. “Young gals who worked for her really learned a lot from her,” said Connor.” Candice Madey went on to open her own gallery in New York City and still has it, which Lynne was very proud of – mentoring her.”

Muskoff’s husband says she was interested in everything, but art was her main focus. He remembers her as always smiling, always curious. “She was very bright, and a good business person,” he added. Rebecca Ibel, another longtime gallery owner, recalls Lynne’s smile as well. “She always brought joy and a smile and a kind word. She was just such a lovely person. She enjoyed being in the art community.”

Survivors include her husband, two children, and three grandchildren.

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