Inside the Mind of a Powerful Chicago Art Collector

Before the age of social media, art galleries often acted as the gate keepers of information. They secretly prefer (and many still do) that artists don’t learn how to get their own clientele. We however, encourage it. One thing is for certain, their most prized possession has always been… their big collectors. We’re talking about people who don’t even know what the term “sticker shock” means.

In hopes of giving other creatives a leg up on the competition, we recently interviewed an intriguing individual. This particular collector (who’s chosen to remain anonymous) has been stimulating the art economy for years. Some of his past purchases have completely altered the careers of emerging and established artists. We’ll explore a small glimpse of his home. We’ll also speak with him on how he selects artwork and what he looks for in artists. Throughout our interview, he’ll go as the alias “ Mr G.

AR: What created your fascination with art ?

Mr. G: It’s a wonderful thing to experience what can be created by the talent of people who dedicate themselves to a skill or a set of skills. Art is such a broad term for sharing our imaginations with others and I don’t know how anyone can not be fascinated by that. When I attended Art Basel awhile back, that’s when I think the collecting aspect really took shape.

I think like most people, I’m fascinated with creatives, the act of creation, and the meaning we can put into our work as well as the meaning we find in our work. This is true of artists and just people in general.

Sandra Chevrier — LA CAGE JE N’AI PAS PEUR, 2018

Mr G: Sure, so for many, Art Basel can distract people away from what the whole event is really about. As you probably already know, there are live music acts and an endless amount of partying going on. From a business perspective, that’s the down side. The upside is that it opens a door to many people who aren’t regularly exposed to great art. You have to choose to go through that door and be culturally aware.

AR: Can you elaborate more on your Art Basel experience?

Mr G: I quite honestly do both…Art for me has to have a “Thing” that I enjoy, emotionally or spiritually; for lack of a better term. I look at it as a portal or a channel into emotions or thoughts or nostalgia. It’s emotional and spiritual because it resonates and it can expand and create new thoughts in the minds of those who experience it, but it can also be a great investment. Anyone who denies the power inherent in the different sides of that coin do themselves a disservice as investors or artists. Art is an investment, it has to be respected for its embodiment of another person’s time, materials and the honing of their talent to allow them to channel their inspiration into physical form. You have to look at the skill and care they dedicated to bringing their creations to life and the sacrifices of that. For me, finding art that I love is the real joy of collecting. While I do think about the investment implications, I’ve learned that if I find something I love, that connects with me, it’s energy is normally undeniable. If its energy is undeniable to me, I can feel confident others will feel my love and pride in owning it and then I’m naturally an advocate for the artist and for their work. So in this way I’ve made sure I’m always happy with my purchases personally, I’m always speaking to that artist’s talent, and the art and what I see in an artist spreads throughout my network. It’s of course pretty basic to buy what you love and then no matter what you love what you own.

AR: Do you make purchases on art with investment in mind or more so as something you love?

In recent years, I’ve loved exploring respected local artists in the cities I travel to and particularly street artists in Chicago. There is an interesting element at play with artists who have begun to hit their stride and have confidence in their style. Street artists tend to have that explosive exposure phase that comes with working on murals and commissioned pieces and that is naturally followed by an exponential growth phase in the desire of collectors who can find their work. If you’ve been a supporter of that artist, then of course you get to benefit from the subsequent scarcity in available work and an artist can finally have pricing power, at which point everyone in the ecosystem of that artist wins. Along with them as they advance in their career. I think the right partners in this formation of inspiration, creation, network, exposure…etc is really powerful.

AR:What area of art have you been most excited about recently?

We got up for a moment and looked around at a few pieces. Mr. G was happy describe what influenced him to make the purchase of each piece of art.


Originally published at on June 30, 2020.

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