The Cincinnati Wing Celebrates Its Tenth Anniversary

June 21st, 2013  |  Published in June 2013

The Cincinnati Wing
Celebrates Its Tenth Anniversary

By Laura A. Hobson

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Cincinnati Wing of the Cincinnati Art Museum made history by becoming one of the first art museums in the nation to devote permanent gallery space to a community’s art history. The wing opened on May 17, 2003 to rave reviews and remains as popular today as it was when it opened a decade ago. Not only do people from Cincinnati visit the wing, but attendees from all over the country visit – often with a view to establishing their own wing in their home town.

Highlights of the wing include works by Frank Duveneck, John Twachtman and Edward Potthast, whose show is now open at the CAM. The wing also has the third largest collection of works by Queen City painter Robert Scott Duncanson, an important African American artist in the 19th century. With 18,000 square feet of gallery space, the wing showcases more than 400 objects costing approximately $13 million – and is one of the major attractions of the museum.

To commemorate this important milestone of the wing, the CAM will kick off Cincinnati Summer, a ten week celebration of programming and events. These include turning the parking lot into a boardwalk complete with food trucks and live music; a game night; local artists; a movie night; lectures and tours. An entire day will be focused on Rookwood pottery.

Vase, 1906, The Rookwood Pottery Company (American, est. 1880), Harriet Elizabeth Wilcox (1869–1943), decorator, earthenware, Painted Mat Inlay glaze line, Gift of the Louis Haffner family, 1975.6

The wing’s inception was in 2001 when Dr. Kenneth Kreines, a museum board member, complained to Jack Beatty, then CAM president, that the decorative arts were inadequately represented in the galleries. Mr. Beatty agreed and rewarded him for griping by appointing him chairman of a committee to come up with the solution. With the involvement of Timothy Rub, then CAM director; Anita Ellis, deputy director, curatorial affairs; and other devoted staff and volunteers, the concept of a museum wing that would be devoted to all of the arts of Cincinnati, not just its decorative arts, evolved – and the rest is history.

Writing Desk,1870s, Catherine Peachey (American), American black walnut, mahogany, black cherry, yellow poplar and brass, Gift of Irene Edwards, 1979.4

An endocrinologist by training, Dr. Kreines with his wife Barbara have a long standing passion for studying and collecting art and antiques. Humble in his approach, he says, “I am a doctor, not a builder.” Nevertheless, he guided the complicated project, which eventually included the restaurant and sculpture garden, to fruition. Representing their commitment to the museum, the Kreines couple made the lead gift for the wing.

Tied closely to the Cincinnati Wing is Julie Aronson, curator of American Painting, Sculpture and Drawings since July 1999. Editor of “The Cincinnati Wing: The Story of Art in the Queen City,” the catalog that accompanied the exhibit, Julie has captured the spirit and intent of the wing with photographs and text.

Julie points out that works are still being donated, often art depicting Cincinnati or Cincinnatians as well as objects made by Cincinnati-trained artists, including Rookwood fireplaces and pottery. Director Aaron Betsky says, “Starting in the middle of the 19th century, Cincinnati nourished generation after generation of painters, sculptors, furniture makers, silversmiths and ceramicists whose work was of an international level, and it continues to do so today.”

Elizabeth Nourse (1859–1938), The Mother (La mere), 1888, oil on canvas, Gift of the Procter & Gamble Company, 2003.93

As she took a visitor through the wing, Julie pointed out significant paintings such as Western art by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and Seth Easton. She notes the steady attendance of the wing: “The patrons are very proud of it and feel strongly connected to the pieces.” The wing even includes the Cincinnati Public School collection of art in one of the sixteen galleries, divided by themes such as ceramics, art carved furniture, American Impressionism, Western art, arts and crafts metalwork and the twentieth century. Procter & Gamble gave its collection to the Art Museum, which Phyllis Weston, arts consultant, helped build. Many of the paintings of the company now reside in the wing. Also of note in the wing is the original model of the Tyler Davidson fountain.

Dr. Kreines has a deep interest in the Cincinnati Art Museum having founded the American Arts Society and the Decorative Arts Society with the goal of stimulating collecting and discussion. Eventually, he served on the Board of Trustees of the CAM and now is a member of the Founders’ Society and the Building and Grounds Committee of the museum.

With the $13 million renovation of the CAM in 1993 and the advent of Aaron Betsky, CAM director since 2006, Dr. Kreines has seen an increased number of exhibitions and observed the museum growing in size and collections. Private collections sometimes become public collections. “People have to have an interest in the museum, then they donate,” Kreines observes.

Working until two years ago, Dr. Kreines served as clinical professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati and ran its diabetes clinic for over 25 years. Born in New York City, he attended New York University and the University of Cincinnati where he received his M.D. A long-time member of Adath Israel Synagogue, he met his wife Barbara there. Fortunately, she shared his interest in the arts, and together they became avid collectors, museum goers and auction attendees. “It is very nice for a marriage to have this passion,” he says of his and Barbara’s interest in the arts.

Dr. Kreines credits his uncle Samuel Rockwern, M.D., a collector in his own right, with his avocation in art. Dr. and Mrs. Kreines have spent their lifetime collecting art, which now furnishes their house in Amberley Village. Originally interested in English antiques, they switched to American items with visits to such places as New England, Winterthur and Williamsburg. His favorite piece at home is “Cherry Blossoms” by Frederick Carl Frieseke, an American Impressionist.

In New York City at Israel Sack Inc., a famous antiques store, Barbara Kreines saw a Chippendale tea table, which she wanted. Because the price was too high, Barbara said to her husband, “I bet you could make me one.” Because Dr. Kreines has a hobby of woodworking, self-taught, he created a replica of the tea table as well as several other pieces of furniture that decorate his house.

Julie’s career began with a B.A. in art history from Brandeis University in 1981. While her first love was Renaissance painting, she gravitated away from that genre to more current art. A background in European art prepared her for American studies. Julie went on to receive an M.A. in art history from Williams College and a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware in 1993. From there she gradually worked her way up to be a full-fledged curator at CAM. When she arrived, Julie received a crash course in the art of Cincinnati from many people, including colleagues and area art dealers.

In addition to the Cincinnati Wing catalog, highlights of Julie’s publication career include “Eternal Summer: The Art of Edward Henry Potthast” and “Perfect Likeness: European and American Portraits.” One of her favorite lectures is “Reconstructing Porkopolis: The Cincinnati Wing at the Cincinnati Art Museum,” given at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in New York, 2003.

Highlighting her major acquisitions is “My Backyard” by Georgia O’Keefe painted in 1943. Recently acquired at Christie’s auction in New York for $1.5 million, the art represents the largest amount spent on an American painting by the CAM. People are always giving to the collection, keeping the wing fresh.

Art for all – in the Cincinnati Wing.


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