Discovering Art Collectors

Dale Eastman’s “A collector’s guide to the exploding art market” (San Francisco Magazine, January 2008) is a thorough introduction to collecting art. It features advice from local gallery owners, a list of five artists, and a reading list.

Eastman’s reporting spanned an impressive breadth — including web resources, international fairs, downtown galleries as well as alternative and artist-run spaces. The East Bay is hardly mentioned (it is, after all, San Francisco Magazine) but Oakland’s Josh Keyes and Swarm Gallery (where I’ll exhibit a new project in February) are featured prominently in Jim Hughes’ beautiful photos.

The cover photograph — a salt and peppered white male with cool glasses peers into the camera as if examining a work of art — is somewhat vanilla compared to the idiosyncratic personalities profiled inside: renegade techies, queers, family men still adjusting to their new tax bracket. The subtext is heterogeneity: San Francisco is still quirky, and by (optimistic) extension, all comers are welcome. Hopefully the next feature will include collectors of color, and emerging collectors of modest means.

The profiles of collectors starts off with a photo of Jeff Dauber, a burly dude with full sleeve tats and an even fuller ‘stache. It’s a shot fired, a proclamation that you don’t have to belong to beautiful people society pages to collect art. (Then again, why not have bikers and bears replace the gallerinas in Swells?) I also enjoyed reading about Scott and Nancy Oliver. Presumably, they helped to build the Oliver Arts Center at my alma mater. I pictured them as hands-off philanthropists, when in reality they are the owners of a construction business and the kinds of folks who feed, house and help artists during site-specific commissions.

Thanks to Eastman for the insight.


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