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The Case Continues: Fisk Back in Court Today to Argue for Walton Deal

Fisk University President Hazel O’Leary

Fisk University just won’t give up trying to do that $30-million deal with Alice Walton to monetize its Stieglitz Collection, which was given to it by artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Back in court everyone goes later today (Wednesday), including representatives from the office of Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, who has not publicly taken a position on the plan, other than to say that “a significant factor in our evaluation will be whether a reasonable
alternative emerges that would allow the Stieglitz Collection to remain
here on a full-time basis.”

Fisk will argue in Tennessee Court of Appeals for reversal of a lower court decision that prevented the university from selling for $30 million a half-share in the Stieglitz Collection to Walton’s planned Crystal Bridges Museum.

Back in August, I described Fisk’s initial appeals brief in my post titled: A Brief That Strains Belief (where I linked to the brief’s full text).

Meanwhile, Erik Schelzig of the Associated Press suggested Monday that while Fisk has reopened its Carl Van Vechten Gallery to display the collection (as ordered in the February decision by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle), little appears to have been done to promote public awareness, let alone visitorship.

Schelzig reports:

The gallery on Fisk’s Nashville campus reopened to little fanfare in October after nearly three years out of the public eye….[Lucious] Outlaw [Jr.], now a professor at Vanderbilt University and a critic of the
school’s [Fisk’s] management, said officials there haven’t made enough of an
effort to drive traffic to the collection. “Obviously a lot more could be done and should be done,” he said….

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said he was unaware the collection was
back on display when asked about it by The Associated Press. The
governor said it was unusual for him not to have heard about the
gallery reopening. “I usually get about 14 invitations to help launch one of those,” he said.

A Fisk spokesman did not return a message seeking to find out how many people have visited the gallery since it reopened.

an ArtsJournal blog