Logan School District addresses pending sale of art

The following statement was recently posted on the Logan City School District’s <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2012995458983895&amp;id=1603501973266581″ target=”_blank”>Facebook page</a>. The statement is a response to the ongoing debate regarding the district’s decision to sell valuable pieces of original art. The 11 pieces of historic art are scheduled to be <a href=”http://www.davidericson-fineart.com/current-exhibition/” target=”_blank”>auctioned off on January 31, 2018</a>.

<em>The recent news coverage of the Logan City School District Board of Education decision to auction a number of paintings has resulted in several questions that have been directed to the District. Here is some background information that we hope clarifies the District’s current course of action.</em>

<em>When the remodel of Logan High School began the Board of Education secured all artwork in the building that the district was aware of. This was done in order to prevent damage and loss during construction. The artwork was stored in multiple locations at the high school and District Office.</em>

<em>In January of 2017 the Board and District Administration were attempting to determine how to appropriately care for a large Minerva Teichert painting the District owns. Due to the size and value of the painting, it was determined that there was a not a location in the District to appropriately display it. The costs of repair and conservation of the painting were also cost prohibitive for the District. It was at that time that we began conversations with the Utah Capitol Preservation Board to determine whether they could help with the preservation of the artwork. It was through those conversations that it was decided to place the painting on loan at the state capitol, and the Capitol Preservation Board would assume the significant cost of restoring and conserving the painting.</em>

<em>At the same time, the District commissioned an appraisal of the artwork we had at Logan High. It was through this process that we became aware of the monetary value of several of the paintings. Many of the paintings in the District’s collection were of comparatively little monetary value when they were originally acquired by the district. Over time, the value of several paintings has increased to the point where the character of the collection has changed from what it originally was. It has transformed into a collection that includes some work by artists who have become renowned with time.</em>

<em>An inventory of the artwork had been conducted in 2000, but that inventory did not include an appraisal of value of the artwork. After receiving the appraisal report, the District reached out to a number of individuals in the fine art community to seek feedback on possible approaches to caring for the artwork. Some of the paintings in question have been damaged over time due to inappropriate display and storage, and vandalism. Many of these pieces of art are museum quality pieces, and because of their historical and monetary value, the Board of Education believes the paintings merit conservation and secure display options. Over the course of multiple conversations it was determined that the cost of providing these options made the ongoing possession by the District impractical.</em>

<em>Once that decision was made the District Administration began investigating how that process would be managed. Our conversations with individuals in the art community led us to believe it was unlikely that an individual museum would willing to purchase all of the paintings in question, although a number of philanthropic foundations in the state were in the habit of purchasing art collections with the intent of preserving public access to the artwork. It has been suggested that the District could donate the artwork to a museum. The District Administration determined that although that would preserve the integrity of the collection, the donation of the entire collection to an outside entity would provide no benefit to the current students of the District. After thoughtfully considering the input received from the individuals the District consulted, the decision was made to sell some of the highest-value paintings at auction. Out of forty-two paintings, eleven were selected to be sold. The remaining thirty-one paintings would be displayed in our schools and continue to represent the artistic heritage of the Cache Valley community.</em>

<em>The District has never authorized the release of artwork to local goodwill organizations, including Desert Industries.</em>

<em>The course of action taken by the District allows the artwork to be preserved, and ensures it is placed in the care of individuals and organizations who are able and willing to care for it appropriately. The District is in the process of creating high quality reproductions of these paintings for display in our schools, which will allow students to still become familiar with the artwork and artists in question.</em>

<em>Selling these selected pieces of art provides funds that may be used in two possible ways. First, the funds allow the District to restore and conserve the other pieces of art that remain in the District’s possession. Secondly, the funds will be used to create an endowment to provide supplemental education and cultural experiences for students who would be otherwise unable to access those experiences. Participation in national art competitions, scholarships to allow students to travel to Washington D.C. and participate in the Close Up program, and travel to national music festivals can all be supported through an endowment, based on proceeds from the sale of these paintings. These funds will be accessed through an application process overseen by our District Foundation.</em>

<em>The potential sale of the artwork was discussed in multiple open Board meetings, and each of those meetings, including the agenda, was advertised in accordance with our standard practices.</em>

<em>The Logan City School District administration and Board of Education appreciate the historical and monetary value of the artwork that is currently in the District’s possession. We recognize it is the result of the effort and care of several individuals who acquired the artwork over time. The District will continue to proceed in a manner that allows us to demonstrate appreciation for the artwork, appropriately care for the paintings, and fulfill our stewardship to the students of the Logan City School District.</em>

<em>We appreciate the feedback that has been shared with us, both in favor of and in opposition to the Board’s current course of action. Our community’s engagement is a source of strength to our schools, and we value the ongoing conversations between the Board of Education, District Administration, and our patrons.</em>

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