Hypocrisy and the Lucas Collection
In his May 14 letter to The Sun concerning the Maryland Institute College of Art's ownership of the Lucas collection, Kenneth A. Willaman asks the core question.
After the many years our museums have spent cataloging and lovingly conserving works of art, can citizens expect those same works to be found on the auction block at Sotheby's?
The answer is a resounding "Yes."
The records of both the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Gallery reflect this.
One need only to review the December 12-13, 1991 Antiques and Islamic Art catalog of Sotheby's to find precious antiquities from Henry Walters' prized Massarenti Collection, articles that formed Walters' own original bequest, for examples of Baltimore's patrimony recently sold to the highest bidder.
The BMA will frequently prune a painting or two from a collection to provide funds for other purchases in keeping with the museum's commitment to the citizens of Baltimore to provide a broad, comprehensive, fine collection of art.
The new wing of the BMA is stocked, even as I write, with valuable, unique paintings and sculpture on loan.
These works will no doubt be carefully conserved and secured during the loan period at public expense in exchange for the privilege of the loan until the works are returned. The concept of requiring payment from the owner of a loaned piece of art by a museum is ludicrous.
George Lucas and Henry Walters were well regarded, successful businessmen who well knew how to create contracts to fulfill their wishes and to bind those with whom they did business.
Neither of these gentlemen ever indicated in their copious writings that their intention was to have the collection remain in perpetuity either at the college or in Baltimore. Why are ill-informed parties continuously stating otherwise?
Henry Walters in particular knew how to devise art to the citizens of Baltimore, and he did so. And yet, having taken title to the Lucas collection he forwarded it to the Maryland Institute without ever bothering to look it over, or to indicate the gift was restricted in any way.
Indignation over the Maryland Institute's decision to sell the Lucas collection rings hollow. Just as the BMA and the Walters review their assets, selling from time to time a favorite painting in pursuit of their larger mission, so does this living, vibrant, well regarded college of art.
The institute's board and volunteers have been quite skillful in fund-raising, but the endowment is less than one-fifth that of other well regarded colleges of art.
Its mission is to produce painters of paintings, printers of prints, and, yes, designers of magazines, videos, CD-ROM and film. All Marylanders can take pride in the performance of the Maryland Institute and its students.
The Maryland Institute is not a museum; its case for selling the Lucas Collection is compelling. Those who moralize tempt hypocrisy.
Charles M. Solomon
Bring Back Puzzle
I feel your decision to eliminate the crossword puzzle in The Sun Magazine is unfair to us crossword puzzle fanatics.
Much of my enjoyment of the Sunday edition of The Sun was knowing I had three crossword puzzles to occupy my Sunday morning.
In addition to losing one of my beloved puzzles, the placement of the New York Times crossword puzzle in the center of the page makes it almost impossible to fold the paper in such a way that the puzzle can be worked minus creases and bumps under an otherwise smooth surface.
Why not move the book reviews to the Arts and Entertainment section and give us back our other puzzle?
Karran O'Connor Chaney
Why are the crossword puzzles taking a back seat for book reviews? Can't you just add another section for the books and leave the puzzles there for your readers who enjoy them so?
This is not the first time you "picked" on the puzzles. Please bring back the puzzles I have for so many years enjoyed solving.
Jane H. Wampler
Notwithstanding the tongue-in-cheek aspect of Peter Jay's May 18 column, I am angered by it.
I am angered because it is written by a conservative Republican. Conservatism is a partial cause of some of the inequities we find in the O. J. Simpson story. Furthermore, if the "Contract with America" becomes law, Mr. Simpson will be even better off.
Mr. Jay notes that Mr. Simpson cannot be prosecuted in federal court for the murder. He is right. Why can't he be? Because there is no federal law against domestic violence.
The liberal Democrats that Mr. Jay loves to hate (for this liberal Democrat, it is quite mutual) have been trying for sometime to pass such a law.
Moreover, even if we had passed such a law, the Supreme Court may well have declared it unconstitutional, thanks to 12 years of very conservative appointments.
Secondly, the system will not be through with Mr. Simpson should he be acquitted. His potential liability in civil suits is tremendous. His two children, Nicole Simpson's family and Ron Goldman's family all have potential lawsuits.
Furthermore, in all of these law suits, the punitive damages could be in the tens of millions of dollars. However, if the "Contract with America" becomes law, limits will be placed on punitive damages.
In short, Mr. Simpson cannot be tried in federal court because we did not have the foresight to pass a federal law against domestic violence.
And if we are so blind as to pass the GOP's tort reform bill, we will allow Mr. Simpson to be free and rich. Mr. Jay's politics seem more to blame for this than mine.
Dollar Coin Bills
Your recent article about the move in Congress to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin stated that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the government could save $120 million a year due to the fact that coins last longer than paper.
In fact, such a prediction is widely disputed. U.S. Mint Director Philip Diehl recently told Congress that switching to a mandatory $1 coin would actually cost the government $22 million over the first five years.
And that's not even counting how much more we consumers will be paying if this silly bill is passed. The prices of vending machine products are sure to rise if the dollar coin becomes mandatory.
According to industry figures, about half of all vending machines will have to have a $2 bill acceptor added, and every machine will have to have a new "tubing" device added so that machines can not only accept the $1 coin, but give it back as change.
These modifications will run about $2.7 billion, according to the nation's second largest manufacturer of coin and bill acceptor devices.
Do you think these costs will be passed on to the consumer or absorbed by vending companies?
HTC David Ryder
The writer is former director of the U.S. Mint.
No Done Deal
Your paper's coverage of the community-input meeting for the Towson Marketplace revitalization plans ("Too many movie screens, residents say" -- May 23) was unbalanced and misleading.
Citizens spoke out against not only the number of theaters but also midnight movies, late-night noise and traffic and the introduction of multiple liquor licenses.
The 150-or-so people in attendance were overwhelmingly opposed to the plans as they exist -- which is a good indication of community feelings, yet your paper quoted two of the three people who spoke out in favor and only two of the 140 or so people who were opposed.
Your reporter might have better served the community by clarifying a matter which was confused by the developer's remarks at the end of the meeting.
In order for him to proceed with his plans for a theater complex the developer must obtain a "special exception" from the county zoning board. A public hearing will be held, and residents' comments will be heard. Until the "special exception" is granted, this is not a done deal.