ELMORE – A VIP grand opening reception held on June 17 at the Schedel Arboretum & Gardens for the Blair Museum of Lithophanes was highlighted by the attendance of collector Laurel Blair’s nieces GeeGee, Carrie, Donna and Robin Blair along with GeeGee’s husband Alan Lomax and granddaughter Haley.
The family traveled here from New Jersey, Georgia and North Carolina and wouldn’t have missed the opening “for the world” according to GeeGee Blair who added, “Laurel would have been absolutely thrilled to see his collection on display in this wonderful 19th century manor house here in its new home at the gorgeous Schedel Gardens.”
The four sisters are daughters of Toledoan “Banana George” Blair, Laurel Blair’s brother. Robin Blair recalled that, “Our Uncle Laurel and our dad had a lot of fun in their lives.” George Blair often accompanied his brother on trips abroad in search of pieces to add to his collection of nearly 3,000 lithophanes that were donated to the Schedel Foundation last year by the City of the Toledo.
Lithophane enthusiasts Steve and Julie Taylor were in attendance who, along with the Taylor Automotive Family, sponsored the reception and other grand opening events during the year.
Also in attendance was Margaret Carney, Ph.D. the original curator of the collection, member of Friends of the Blair and author of the book Lithophanes which presents years of accumulated research and provides information on the history, forms and techniques involved in lithophane. Guests at the reception were given a copy of the book to commemorate the occasion. Friends of the Blair president Pat Scharf was emotional as she thanked Dr. Carney for her early work with the collection and noted, “We might not be here today but for Margaret.” Longtime and now deceased Toledo arts benefactors Posy and Bob Huebner were also instrumental in making the original museum possible.
Lithophane is a European decorative art form dating to the early- and mid-19th century in which detailed images were carved by artisans into beeswax, then cast and fine layers of translucent porcelain added. When the lithophane is backlit, typically by lamp, or candle before the electric light, the lights and darks in the carving are seen in minute detail making the pieces look three-dimensional.
Laurel Blair donated the collection to the City of Toledo for safe keeping and exhibition shortly before his death in 1993. The Friends of the Blair was formed and transformed a small space at Toledo Botanical Garden into the original Blair Museum where the collection would be displayed for 17 years.