Exhibition celebrates acquisition from collection by the Smithsonian Institution
20 North Gallery presents the triumphant return of the exhibition, The Grant Collection, featuring a variety of media—painting, photography, ceramic, glass, drawings, sculpture, jewelry and mixed media acquired by the prominent Toledo-area arts advocate, Margaret “Peggy” Grant. The exhibit opened January 12 and continues through March 31, 2018.
Central to the exhibition is the artist proof of the Paint By Number canvas, The Last Supper (after da Vinci), which was designed and painted by Mrs. Grant’s late husband, Adam Grant. Created in 1964, during the Grants’ time at the Craft Master company, The Last Supper canvas became the highest selling kit in the genre of numbered painting.
In December 2017, this artist proof from Mrs. Grant’s collection was accepted into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH). The Last Supper will remain on view at 20 North Gallery as part of a Paint By Number historical display until its journey to the Smithsonian for induction into the NMAH collection.
20 North Gallery owner Eric Hillenbrand states, ‘Ever since Peggy Grant served as a consultant to the 2001 Smithsonian Paint By Number exhibit, she hoped that the artist proof of The Last Supper would find a permanent home in their collection. But on a larger scale, the fulfillment of this plan is recognition of the indelible impact that Peggy and Adam Grant have had on popular culture in our nation. The Craft Master Paint By Number brand has long been a “Toledo Treasure” in our local history—but now there can be no question that the Grants and their colleagues were truly creating national treasures. It is fitting that this work is soon to be enshrined in the Popular History collection of the National Museum of American History.’
In addition to the superb fine art in The Grant Collection, the exhibit includes historical Paint By Number canvases and memorabilia, as well selected works from the Paint By Number collection of the late Ann Goodridge, a dear friend of Peggy Grant, in tribute to her indelible rôle in this American popular culture phenomenon as one of the original designers of the Paint By Number canvases.
The Paint By Number section of the exhibit includes pieces both designed and painted by Peggy and Adam Grant during their time at Craft Master. Some have been featured in museum exhibitions of Paint By Number history, most notably the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History 2001 exhibition, “Paint By Number: Accounting for Taste in the 1950s.”
Paint By Number
The cultural phenomenon of Paint By Number began in 1950 at the Palmer Paint Company in Detroit (Michigan). Commercial artist Dan Robbins based his concept on Leonardo da Vinci’s practice of numbering sections of his canvases for apprentices to complete. After trial and error, Robbins’ painting kits became arguably the most loved—and most vilified—hobby of the “new leisure class” of 1950s Americans.
As the business rapidly grew, Robbins hired additional designers, including Adam Grant and Margaret “Peggy” Brennan, whose artistic partnership soon evolved to marriage. Robbins became their good friend, as well as the head of art direction for Palmer Paints and, later, the Craft Master company of Toledo (Ohio).
Not only hugely popular, the kits were also highly controversial, accused of debasing the concept of original art. But the combined testament of generations of fans has demonstrated that, by making the process of painting more accessible to everyday folk, “Art,” itself, became more approachable and no longer the sole province of the cultural elite. Paint By Number canvases were proudly displayed in the homes of hundreds of thousands of people who possessed a new-found appreciation for the creative process. Many fans attest that, through the introduction of Paint By Number, they had the courage to later attempt their own original paintings—a proud accomplishment for Mr. Robbins and all those who grew the brand.