136 Toledo, OH: Libbey Libbey Libbey

The Toledo Art Museum was in Collinwood, a neighborhood that reinforced Andy's point about the mixing of people. Here, it was a mixing of ethnicities, but more obviously of wealth. Gentrified mansions on sprawling lawns co-existed with derelict homes and gang gunfire. Collinwood also boasted the United States's only Plateresque Cathedral, a style from sixteenth-century Spain.

As Andy mentioned, Toledo was famous for Libbey glass, which, in its heyday, was second only to Tiffany in prestige. Libbey was the largest cut glass factory in the world during the late 1880s. The head of the company, Edward Libbey, and his wife Florence organized Toledo's art museum. As might be expected, the museum collection highlight was its glass art, most donated by Libbey himself.

The Hopper here, Two on the Aisle, shows a theater with three patrons. In the foreground at right, an elegant woman sits alone in a box seat. In the distance, a woman drapes her coat over a seat, while a man in a bow tie and black coat stands beside her and looks back toward the empty seats. Or he looks at the woman in the box seat. Even though the couple's together, they're not looking at each other. Hopper chose to paint not the production, but the drama of the humans as they arrive. In the bottom right corner is the edge of a box seat, as if you were viewing the scene from there; Hopper gives you a front-row seat.

Jo modeled for both female characters (as usual), and the name was Jo's suggestion. Rehn sold Two on the Aisle within a month for fifteen hundred dollars, Hopper's highest price to date. Ironically (for a painting of theatrical subject), it was obtained for the Toledo Museum from the Macbeth Gallery. Two on the Aisle was Hopper's first significant painting of a theatre scene.

One note in the files misspelled the title, and I realized that, like other Hopper painting titles, this could be taken as a pun. Take the "a" off the last word and the painting's title becomes "two on the isle." Knowing Hopper, I presume he meant the isle of marriage that he washed up on just a couple of years previously. Perhaps a life preserver is suggested by the white, rounded form of the loge (and by extension, the woman in it). Maybe influenced by others' slips, I made one of my own. In transcribing the information that the painting's frame was "gilt," I mistakenly wrote "guilt."

On my earlier visit, they had hung the painting at the end of two long shotgun galleries, and it looked perfectly real from far away. On this visit, it hung next to a Georgia O'Keeffe titled Brown Sail Wing and Wing Nassau. Rather than her nebulous flowers or skulls, this shows a crisply geometric brown sail against a blue sky with a lighthouse in the bottom right corner. The sharp lines and sea motif make the painting look like something Hopper might have painted. On the other side of the Hopper was his friend Andrew Wyeth's The Hunter, which shows a bird in a tree, looking down on a passing hunter. The joke on who is hunting whom Hopper would have appreciated.

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