LOGAN, Utah - A petition is circulating after the Logan City School District announced its plans to sell original works of art purchased by students in the 1930's.
Karen Horne is the great, great granddaughter of Alice Merrill Horne, a Utah state legislator from the early 1900's, who came up with the, "Milk Money Art Fund."
Crystal Young-Otterstrom is the Executive Director of the Utah Cultural Alliance, which started the petition.
“These are paintings that were purchased by Utah school children with their milk money in the 1930's, in the midst of the great depression,” said Young-Otterstrom.
Almost a century later, the Logan City School District’s board of education has decided to sell eleven of the paintings, which are worth between $5 and $250,000 in a sealed bid auction.
“My jaw dropped and my heart sank …None of the board members or the superintendent seem to be educated as to the meaning of these paintings and they probably just saw dollar signs,” said Horne.
The art community is worried these culturally valuable paintings, will be sold to private collectors, making it impossible for students to view them.
“It’s much more compelling to see a work of art in person. See the brush strokes. You can almost feel the soul of the artist in that object,” said Horne.
“These paintings provide an intangible benefit to children. It helps them see the possibilities of what they themselves can create,” said Young-Otterstrom.
However, Logan City School District Superintendent, Frank Schofield says the money raised in the auction will be used towards art education.
“For us to donate the art to a museum would essentially be the district handing over a resource that is intended for the benefit of our current students without any guarantee of benefit for them,” said Schofield.
The school board plans to use the funds to restore and eventually display thirty other lower value paintings. They also want to create an endowment fund, for scholarships that will allow students to travel and visit out of state art museums.
“I know there has been some concern that that these would be used to pay for athletic equipment or team travel for athletics that has not been an approved consideration by our board of education,” said Schofield.
The Utah Cultural Alliance started a petition, hoping to convince the school board to change their mind.
“There’s no way of ensuring they’ll stay in Utah or stay public,” said Horne.
“These works were brought to the school because Alice believed that all school children, whether rich or poor, should have access to great culture,” said Horne.
So far, the petition has more than 400 signatures. To sign the petition, visit http://www.utahculturalalliance.org/lcsd-art-collection.