David Alan Grier on Navigating the Art World as a Black Collector

5. Conversations with his late father My father was the smartest person I know – he went to college at 16, then went to medical school a...


5. Conversations with his late father My father was the smartest person I know – he went to college at 16, then went to medical school and became a psychiatrist. He has been dead for six years, and I miss being able to use him as an intellectual and spiritual sounding board. I find myself talking or asking questions, trying to talk to my brother about what my father would have thought of this or that. I wish I could always phone him and talk to him, or just ask him to call me and say, “Can we let off some steam?” Can I storm? It’s not like we had this great relationship when I was younger, but we had this relaxation when he grew up. This is how life is.

6. Be a tourist in New York I lived in an apartment in Times Square when I was doing “A Soldier’s Play,” and I can’t imagine how I would have lived if I had stayed in Manhattan during the pandemic. But I can’t wait to come back for the Tonys. I love to walk around Central Park, go downtown and shop, dress and eat great food. I really love the Armory Art Show and wish I had been there for it. It’s all the super touristy things that I missed.

7. Slow, low Sunday meals I’m alone now while I work here, but still, on Sundays it’s in my veins to potty, low and slow. I make a soup or a seafood stew, or a chicken soup from scratch – it takes all day, just kind of a gurgling on the stove. It fills the house with that smell that’s just like, oh my God. My nephew, when he was very little, came to my house for Christmas and I remember he got up early in the morning and said, “Uncle Dave, your house smells bad. Well. ” [Laughs] If I was home it would be baby back ribs, or oxtail and cheese polenta, whatever takes all day.

8. The Sermons of CL Franklin When Aretha Franklin came to see me on Broadway in “Porgy & Bess,” I remember telling her I would listen to her father’s sermons in the 1950s. The cadence and rhythm of a black preacher is in my bones , it’s in my soul – I love it all. It’s like being in church. He goes to announcements first, like “We need this; we need it. ”or“ We’re trying to raise more money here and there. ”Then came the sermon, the religious part. And it ended with a story – usually a biblical story – that was perfectly crafted and choreographed, so that by the time he left the pulpit, it was a rock concert.

9. Stetson Silverbelly Open Road Cowboy Hat This is my favorite hat, man! The profile of this hat is an old Southern White in the 60s. I never thought I would wear this, but I love it. It’s an off-white, almost bone-in color because there’s no dye – they don’t treat the felt or the fur, so it really shows its wear and tear, all the blemishes and sweat marks. I wear it as much as I can, and it’s broken enough now to look like an old pair of shoes.

10. Collect black artists I have been collecting for over 20 years now. I really wanted to collect because I didn’t think I could – even walk into a gallery and say, “I’m interested in this painting. It’s as if the art world is doing everything to push you back.

I started collecting vintage movie posters, all-black movies, and from there I slowly moved on to art – mostly emerging and mid-career black American artists. These were the artists I could afford, and these were the artists who represented and painted the world I was living in right now. I like to find new young artists. I collected Walter Prize for two years. When I saw his images, I immediately liked them – the raw numbers, his use of color. Usually I buy a few pieces and then this person gets sexy and famous, and I can’t afford it anymore.

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Newsrust - US Top News: David Alan Grier on Navigating the Art World as a Black Collector
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