If you haven't been among the hundreds of visitors who have flocked to the Toledo Museum of Art in the last few months to see an exhibit of modern American photography, you have just two weeks left to get there.
Installed in the museum's Graphic Arts Galleries, a series of corridors located near the Museum Cafe and Collector's Corner, "Modern American Photography " has played to crowds since opening on Sept. 26. It closes Jan. 4.
"It has become a phenomenon," said Julie Mellby, curator of works on paper. Mellby attributes interest in the exhibit both to the astonishing images from the museum's collection of photography and their relevance to visitors.
Some of the most popular pieces in the show, which is made up of 150 of the best photographs in the museum's 20th-century American collection, include Edward Steichen's shot of Isadora Duncan dancing in the Parthenon in Athens and Garry Winogrand's famous snap of Marilyn Monroe, skirt a-blowing, taken on the set of Seven-Year Itch.
There are more. Look for Winogrand's portrait of John F. Kennedy speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, his back to the camera while his image glows on a TV set in the foreground, and Gertrude Kasebier's platinum print of Auguste Rodin, signed by Rodin himself after the donor, Toledo piano salesman Lewis H. Clement, sent it to Paris to obtain the sculptor's autograph.
Names are big in this show: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Alfred Stieglitz, to name a few.
So are familiar figures and sights. Longtime Toledoans will recognize a former landmark at Madison Avenue and Superior Street downtown when they see Michael Smith's portrait of The Wheel restaurant. The photo is part of a portfolio of 75 local images the museum commissioned photographer Michael Smith to do in 1980.
And yes, that's Toledo jazz great Art Tatum at the keyboard of a piano in Herman Leonard's photo.
Interesting stories-behind-the-pictures also abound:
w The eight Ansel Adams photographs are just a small grouping of what the museum owns. They were acquired directly from the artist and printed for the museum thanks to the efforts of donor Harold Boeschenstein, Jr., who first proposed making the gift in 1971. For many years, Boeschenstein had been listed as an "anonymous donor" and only recently has agreed to have his identity revealed.
w Berenice Abbott's image, New York at Night, took nine months to set up as the photographer identified, then awaited, just the right night of December to capture a scene of midtown Manhattan with its lights aglow
w At first glance, U.S. Shield by the Chicago-based team of Arthur Mole and John Thomas appears to be a simple shot of a patriotic emblem. Closer inspection reveals that this example of "human pointillism" is in fact a photograph of 30,000 officers and enlisted men assembled in formation at Camp Custer in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1918. Mellby said relatives of some of the participants have come to the exhibit to try to identify their kin. She has provided magnifying glasses on request to assist them.
The exhibit of works in portraiture, landscape, and other genres is something of an anniversary celebration for the museum, which organized another "Modern American Photography" exhibit in 1934. Toledo's museum was one of the first in the country to begin collecting American photography, Mellby said.
"Modern American Photography" can be seen through Jan. 4 in the Toledo Museum of Art Graphic Arts Galleries from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.