ABSTRACT: Parallels between the Monterey History and Art Association's "Town Gossip," a 1920 oil painting by Monterey artist Euphemia Charlton Fortune. and the Flanders Mansion are presented. QUESTIONS are asked of The Monterey County Herald Editorial Board.
In a recent editorial and article about the Monterey History and Art Association’s 1920 oil painting by well-known Monterey artist Euphemia Charlton Fortune entitled “Town Gossip,” The Monterey County Herald reported that the painting was to be auctioned by John Moran Auctioneers, Inc. of Altadena, CA. on February 17, 2009, until the Association Board convened a special session and its members agreed to negotiate with Moran Auctioneers to have the artwork recalled, along with five other paintings.
Striking parallels between “Town Gossip” and the Flanders Mansion, including, as follows:
• “Town Gossip,” is a “signature painting by a world-famous Peninsula artist,” according to The Monterey County Herald. The English Cottage Tudor Revival Flanders Mansion is described in historic preservation documents as “a remarkable example of Gutterson’s mature work” and represents “the only know example of cavity wall construction in the region.”
• Regarding “Town Gossip,” The Monterey County Herald’s editorial stated, “the importance of the piece and its strong local connections — the artist as well as the Monterey setting — weigh strongly in favor of keeping it in place.” Similarly, Flanders Mansion is important, due to it being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has strong local connections, due to its being built by Paul Flanders and historically being an integral part of Mission Trail Nature Preserve since the formation of the city’s largest park in the early 1970s.
• The Monterey County Herald’s article on “Town Gossip” quoted Monterey History and Art Association board member Brian Call as stating that “no fiduciary emergency occurred that required the sale of its assets.” Similarly, regarding Flanders Mansion, there is no fiduciary emergency requiring the sale of the Flanders Mansion property.
• Quoted in The Monterey County Herald was Erin Smith, a grandniece of Fortune, who stated, the painting "should be part of the community, not someone's private collection." And Fortune’s nephew, James R. Fortune stated "It's not just a painting, but a part of Monterey they're giving away. Someone who was here, who's saying this is what it looked like. It's linked to a plethora of things involving the history of Monterey. It would be a shame to have it disappear." Similarly, the Flanders Mansion should remain a part of the community and it is more than just a building that the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea would be giving away, it represents a part of Carmel-by-the-Sea and therefore it would be a shame to have it sold into private ownership.
• The Monterey County Herald’s Editorial Board implored the Monterey History and Art Association to “reconsider its unfortunate decision to put the piece on the block.” They hoped that “this charming and important work can remain in our midst.” They implored the Association to “explore every way possible to keep ‘Town Gossip’ in the town where it belongs.” And finally, the title tellingly stated, “A shame to lose local artist's star painting.”
QUESTIONS: If and when a majority of Carmel-by-the-Sea City Council Members vote to sell the Flanders Mansion Property, will The Monterey County Herald Editorial Board view the Flanders Mansion in the same manner they view artist Euphemia Charlton Fortune’s “Town Gossip” oil painting? Will the Editorial Board conclude that it would be a “shame” to lose a National Register of Historic Places historic resource, that the Flanders Mansion should remain “where it belongs,” in the public domain? Will the Editorial Board implore the City Council to “reconsider its unfortunate decision” to sell the Flanders Mansion Property?
(Sources: A shame to lose local artist's star painting, THE HERALD'S VIEW, The Monterey County Herald, 01/30/2009 and Board unaware of painting's pending sale, Negotiations under way to recall five artworks from auction, KEVIN HOWE, Herald Staff Writer, 01/31/2009)