Browne Goodwin began collecting art in the 1970s, and has been a champion of emerging artists across the country, specifically in Texas, LA, and Chicago. He shared his story with us and why he is excited about what is happening in Chicago.
CAC: For how many years have you been collecting art? What made you start?
BG: I have been collecting art for over 45 years, starting shortly after I married. My late wife and I had both been interested in art since our college years, visiting museums and exhibitions and reading about art, and we soon found that we were interested in acquiring art to install in our home. We started by visiting a few print dealers in Los Angeles, and were quickly referred to the Graphic Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which at that time had an extensive agenda of study groups about prints and drawings, collector and studio visits, commissioned prints for sale to members, and other activities to encourage collecting. An early mentor was Ruth Weisberg - then a professor at the University of Southern California, and subsequently the Dean of the Art School there, and also a neighbor of ours in Santa Monica. I held several positions in the Graphic Arts Council, including Programs Chairman, Commissioned Prints Chairman, and Council President.
CAC: Have you noticed trends in how you collect - specific types of art, styles, etc...
BG: Our art collecting started with prints - mostly contemporary by American and European artists. We soon added early 20th Century American prints, encouraged by galleries in Los Angeles and in Washington, DC, where we frequently visited on work assignments. We then focused on contemporary works by Los Angeles artists, as we became acquainted with galleries, print publishers, other art institutions, and many artists. We concentrated on collecting works by artists that we knew, as there was a large, vital community active in LA. When we moved to Austin, TX after more that 30 years in LA, we quickly became absorbed in the Austin art community, and changed our focus to collecting work by Texas artists. After ten years in Texas, we relocated to the Chicago area, where my wife had grown up and still had some family, as she had become ill and wanted to be near some of her family until she passed away a year later.
My art collecting activities resumed after a year off to care for my wife, and the first place I visited to learn about the Chicago Arts Scene was the CAC. I quickly became interested in their activities, joined the Collectors Circle, and attended as many of their events as I could. The staff, members, and artists I met at CAC referred me and introduced me to Chicago galleries, artists, and other venues. These in turn pointed me to other art venues and art activities, in which I became emerged. I have been collecting art by Chicago artists now for over three years (with an occasional acquisition from Texas artists I still follow and some artists from Maine - where I was raised). My collection has become more varied in Chicago, but still concentrates on smaller works which will fit on my walls or on shelves and cabinets throughout my fairly small house.
CAC: Beyond being a champion of Chicago's visual arts, you are also very involved with musicians in the city, specifically experimental jazz musicians. For you, how do the two art forms relate and coexist?
BG: I have been a follower of jazz and other music since my high school days, and have become actively involved in listening to and supporting the improvisational jazz community in Chicago. As I attended many jazz concerts in nightclubs, concert halls, and even residences, I observed that many of the jazz artists were also interested in visual art, and many visual artists appreciated jazz. It seemed to me that trying to schedule jazz performances in galleries or other art venues would be attractive, and since I had many contacts in both fields, and time to work on such events, that I would try to get the musicians and art spaces together. In the last few months, I've been able to arrange several jazz/visual arts events, and all of them have generated enthusiasm from the participants and the audiences who have attended. I'm now working on a continuing series of concerts in several different art galleries.
CAC: You have been a supporter of CAC's The ANNUAL since the beginning in 2015. This year, you are launching, in partnership with Spudnik Press and CAC, a prints program. These are special limited edition prints made by CAC residents, that will be sold during the exhibition. Why was this important to you to start?
BG: I have been a member of the Chartwell Collectors Circle and also the Art Institute's Prints and Drawings Council for three years, and have enjoyed what I have learned from both. I was involved in similar groups in California and Texas, and I felt that those groups were more successful in encouraging beginning collectors than the groups here in Chicago, so I thought that perhaps I could to try to develop some programs that might encourage new collectors. To that end, this year, we are commissioning a portfolio of limited edition prints by artists who have been involved in CAC, to be printed at Spudnik Press. We plan to issue the portfolio for sale at the Annual in September. If we are successful with this project this year, we hope to continue it with the involvement of more artists as well as more of the excellent small print presses in Chicago.