Words: Collector Conversation with Demetrio (Dee) Kerrison
Danielle Obolevitch, ISCA intern, had the pleasure of interviewing Demetrio (Dee) Kerrison, a friend of ISCA. Dee and his wife, Gianna, are executives in the world of finance. Apart from their roles in finance, they have been collecting African American art for a while and have been actively supporting under-recognized artists. Through their collecting and support of artists of color, Dee and Gianna hope to support diversity and foster a community.
Dee Kerrison, Jerry Saltz and Inez Suen at the Independent Art Fair March 2019 in New York
Danielle asked Dee several questions about him, his time as an art collector, and his friendship with Inez Suen:
Danielle: With your backgrounds in finance, how did you and Gianna enter the world of art collecting?
Dee: I have always collected; comics as a kid; then record albums especially those with interesting covers; vintage movie posters and sneakers/shoes. I began to collect fine art when I moved to Southern California. I began attending photography art fairs and began collecting photographic images and books. I began collecting modern masters such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Gordon Parks, Howard Bingham, Roy DeCarava etc. I transitioned from photography to Contemporary art focused on the African Diaspora after joining William H. Johnson Foundation (a non-profit organization which awarded a $25,000 juried prize annually to emerging African American artists.
Danielle: What was the first work you purchased?
Dee: The first art work I acquired were images by a photographer named Tony Gleaton who documented the African story across the Americas; specifically the African heritage in Mexico.
Danielle: As a collector of African American art, what do you hope to achieve with your art collection?
Dee: a. Live with Art (Aesthetics). b. Reflect back to me images of myself, heritage, culture etc. c. Support artists of the African Diaspora who were undervalued, under-recognized and were making extraordinary work.
Danielle: What advice would you give to new collectors on getting started?
Dee: See as much art as possible in museums, galleries etc. and attend art fairs. Also, read art publications to develop a point of view and gain some understanding of the artists and their practice.
Danielle: How did you meet Inez and get involved with ISCA?
Dee: Me and Inez were introduced a few years back by a mutual friend (an art gallerist) during Art Basel Miami at a Jack Shainman beach party.