20 North Gallery salutes the memory of a dear friend who dedicated her life to the arts and made 20 North Gallery the premier independent fine art gallery of our region. She passed away on May 13, 2019.
Margaret “Peggy” Brennan (Grochowski) Grant (Toledo, Ohio)
Art Director Emerita, 20 North Gallery
Full Obituary: Margaret “Peggy” Grant, 89, passed away at Ebeid Hospice (Sylvania, Ohio) on May 13, 2019. Born Margaret Mary Brennan to Edward Julian and Estelle Smith Brennan on September 19, 1929 in Baltimore, Maryland, she was soon dubbed “Peggy” in tribute to a beloved aunt. Peggy grew up in a family steeped in the history of horse racing. At Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Monmouth Park in Oceanside, New Jersey (managed by her grandfather and father, respectively), she mingled with celebrities and luminaries, including Samuel Riddle, the owner of racehorse Man O’ War. These experiences honed her appreciation for networking and her superb skills in making connections that would later assist her lifelong involvement in the arts: as a collector, curator, art consultant, commercial artist, fine artist—and for eighteen years, as the art director of 20 North Gallery. Today, her double portrait of Mr. Riddle and Man O’ War hangs in the corporate offices of national racing publication Blood Horse Magazine and, in 2009, her winning connections took her to the Royal Stables of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to watch races from his official box.
As an artist, Peggy studied under the direction of Jacques Maroger at the Maryland Institute of Art (Baltimore), receiving a degree in Fine Art in 1952. She continued her studies at the Schuler School of Art (Baltimore), University of Fribourg (Switzerland), the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (now the College for Creative Studies) and The Toledo Museum of Art School of Design in Ohio.
In 1952, her professional career in the arts began when she answered an advertisement for the position of commercial designer for Palmer Paint Company, a firm in Detroit that would produce the world-renowned Paint By Number kits for Craft Master. There she met Polish refugee and painter Adam Grochowski (becoming Adam Grant, upon receiving his US citizenship in 1955), whose life experiences as a Holocaust survivor and work as a fine artist would inspire her and her life’s avocation as his curator and tireless supporter. Peggy and Adam married in Baltimore on April 24, 1954. The Grants moved to Toledo when Craft Master relocated to this community. In addition to her career at Craft Master, she served as a commercial designer with several other corporations, illustrated a book for children (Forty Fabulous Tales by Aesop, 1982), as well as continued her own work in portraiture. In 2016, her painting, Artist and Son, was accepted into the permanent collection of the Midwest Museum of American Art (Elkhart, Indiana).
Peggy Grant served as art curator for Owens-Illinois Corporation from 1981 to 1984, assembling a corporate collection of over 400 works of art encompassing the major movements in contemporary art from the mid-20th century onward. There, she mounted several exhibits including Sculptural Glass (which introduced the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly to the Midwest), Nature in Glass, Art in America: A Selected Exhibition of Works from the Butler Institute of American Art, and a 50-year retrospective of the work of studio glass pioneer Dominick Labino. In addition, she served as the curator of Toledo Hospital, assembling the foundation of what would become the ProMedica corporate collection; the Sculpture Garden of Ottawa Hills (Ohio) and the Schedel Gardens in Elmore (Ohio). Peggy also independently produced and curated over 75 shows for museums, art centers, corporations and various non-profit cultural institutions from 1981 to her retirement in 2013. She was also a consultant to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History 2001 exhibit, Paint by Number: Accounting for Taste in the 1950s.
As the art director of 20 North Gallery, she curated over 100 exhibitions involving local, national and international artists. Her major, ground-breaking exhibitions include the Wood Sculpture exhibit in cooperation with the Ohio Crafts Museum in Columbus, Ohio; Glass Month ’96 with the International Michigan Month of Glass; The Baltimore Realists, (continuing to the Midwest Museum of American Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Evergreen House, Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland), Adam Grant: Figure Master, (continuing to the Toledo Museum of Art; University of Toledo; Collegium Maius, Krakow, Poland); and the Annual Black History Month Exhibit, begun by Grant in 1977, which was the oldest, continuing Black History Month event in Toledo during its 37-year run. She also coordinated an exhibit of her late husband’s work at the Polish Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Her final exhibition was of her private collection at 20 North Gallery in 2017.
Peggy Grant’s influential career as an artist and curator was exceeded only by her contributions to the many organizations of which she was a member and the accolades they bestowed upon her. She was a lifetime member of the Toledo Opera Guild and for many years a TMA docent, serving on the committee for cultural diversity for the TMA’s board of directors. She also served as a member of the board for the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (ACGT); the Toledo Modern Art Group, of which she was a founder; the Glass Collector’s Club of Toledo; the Toledo Artists’ Club and The Blair Museum of Lithophanes. She was an Honored Life member of the Athena Art Society and past member of the Toledo Federation of Art Societies, where she served as a delegate and an officer for ten years, receiving their Special Award in 1997. She was published in Who’s Who of American Women in 1996. In 1984, she received Ohio’s Distinguished Citizen’s Award for Art Education and, in 1999, the ACGT Community Achievement Award. She was the 2007 recipient of the Toledo YWCA Milestones Award for Women in the field of Arts & Sciences and a 2008 recipient of the Crosby Award from the Toledo Botanical Garden. In 2009, she received recognition from the Polish Government for her work in promoting the artistic contributions of her late husband and in 2012, she was awarded the Bene Merito medal, the Polish Order of Merit, bestowed upon her for her world-wide contributions to promoting Polish culture through the arts.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brother Edward Julian Brennan, Jr.; sister-in-law Mary Catherine O’Sullivan Brennan; daughter-in-law Anne Talbot Brennan; dear cousin Margaret McCusker Hummel and, in 1992, by the love of her life, Adam Grant. Like her late husband, Peggy donated her body to science through The University of Toledo Medical College.
Peggy is survived by her sons Thomas (Amy) Grant and Adam Mark Grant, grandchildren Greg, Megan and Audrey Grant, nephews James (Karen) Brennan and Edward Brennan, niece Clare Brennan and many great-nieces and nephews, as well as a host of dear friends, artists and her loving colleagues at 20 North Gallery, Eric Hillenbrand and Condessa Croninger.
Friends will be received on Friday, May 24 at Gesu Church (2049 Parkside Blvd, Toledo, OH 43607) from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the memorial mass at 10 a.m. A reception at the Gesu Sullivan Center will follow immediately after the mass.
Letters and cards of condolence may be sent to 18 N. St. Clair Street, Toledo, Ohio 43604. To offer condolences online, follow the link below.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Toledo-Poznań Alliance, to further appreciation of Polish culture, or to the Athena Art Society.
Peggy Grant’s stellar international connections, her unswerving commitment to art and artists—and her exemplary mentorship and insistence on professionalism in the arts—enriched the community and the lives of all who call Northwest Ohio home. Her dedication made 20 North Gallery the premier independent fine art gallery in the region. We will be forever grateful to her.