Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Would you buy a used Lincoln from a li-guy?

Would you buy a used Lincoln from library guy appalling Paul LeClerc?
Does LeClerc, age 64, look shifty? He certainly cannot be trusted with treasures central to the civic history of New York.

• • According to The N.Y. Times, no one wanted to buy one used Washington from him either.
• • Reporter Carol Vogel noted: Defying high anticipation, one of two portraits of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart that have been in the New York Public Library's collection for more than a century failed to sell at Sotheby's yesterday in an auction that had generated advance controversy.
• • Vogel added: The works are among 16 paintings, watercolors and sculptures that the New York Public Library put on the block yesterday to raise money for its endowment. The decision, announced in April, drew protests from many art lovers and museum curators who said they felt that the library was jettisoning treasures central to the civic history of New York... ["Library's Art Auction Fails to Meet Expectations" By CAROL VOGEL 1 December 2005, N.Y. Times].
• • Carol Vogel's article is online:
• • Covering the same subject in The New Criterion, Hilton Kramer took the mink gloves off first. And Kramer wastes no time peeling the banana. Here's his title: Deaccession roulette: On an unfortunate art world practice.
• • Hilton Kramer wrote: The word deaccession is one of those bureaucratic coinages whose chief purpose is verbal obfuscation. If a museum director tells you he has “deaccessioned” 18 Cézannes, you think for a second, “Oh, that’s nice” while you wonder exactly how to conjugate the verb “to deaccess.” What would happen if museum directors were more direct? Suppose, for example, instead of saying “I have deaccessioned 18 Cézannes” he spoke in plain English and said: “I have looted my collection of 18 Cézannes in order to sell them and raise money to cover the budget shortfall I created by imprudent management.” It sounds rather different, doesn’t it?
• • Culture maven Hilton Kramer knows what's kosher and what's traif. He added: As far as I have been able to discover, we have no reliable figures on the number of paintings and other types of cultural property that have been lost to the public as a result of “deaccessing” works. The practice is not illegal, but it is often suspect or even shady, especially when the transaction relies — as it often does — on a high degree of secrecy and speed in order to lower the risk of public intervention. ... [Hilton Kramer's article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 24, December 2005, page 21.]
• • Read Kramer's essay online --
• • Speaking about treasures central to the civic history of New York, what could be more beloved to a Greenwich Village resident than the 19th century landmark that our neighborhood heroes and heroines rescued? Since 1993, when Paul LeClerc was hired by the New York Public Library, he has overseen the progressive deterioration and shameful neglect of Jefferson Market.
• • Chairperson of Community Board 2, Maria Passannante Derr expressed her dismay: "Very few would disagree that this is a building of historical and architectural value to the Village. However, Jefferson Market has been left in a decrepit state for some years now. ... Buildings must, in fact, be preserved if preservation attributes are attached to them..." [The Villager, 30 November 2005].
• • Poorly managing many of the NYC libraries he is paid handsomely to oversee, fat-cat Paul LeClerc needs to hear public opinion. Express your thoughts about LeClerc and Jefferson Market Library. PLA is a division of the American Library Association [at 50 E. Huron, Chicago, IL 60611].
• • ALA’s toll-free tel.: 1-800-545-2433; fax:312-280-5029; e-mail:
• • Talk to Paul LeClerc, NYPL President & CEO: T 212-930-0735 * T 212-930-0736

Photo: Paul LeClerc, president, NYPL [no relation to St. Paul]

Jefferson Market.