I recently had a chance to speak with Collier Gwin, the owner of Foster-Gwin Art & Antiques, located on Hotaling Place in the heart of Jackson Square. Gwin opened in 1984, dealing mainly in antique furnishings, decorative objects and Greek and Roman antiquities, but soon developed an interest in art, purchasing his first painting in 1992 from Paul Thiebaud, son of Wayne Thiebaud … and never looked back.
Today he specializes in San Francisco abstract expressionist paintings and sculptures from the late 1940s through the 1960s, with emphasis on eminent graduates of the SF Art Institute. One of the more engaging aspects of his presentation is the connections he makes between this art and Greek and Roman antiquities, often displaying the two side by side. He says that while the SF Fall Art & Antiques Show appreciates this unusual approach, many major art fairs prefer art only, which he feels is unfortunate.
His considerable client list includes the likes of David Rockefeller, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and sports figures like Ichiro Suzuki, Gregg Popovich and Joe Lacob. Numerous local notables have patronized the gallery for years, including Clint Reilly (owner of the Gazette), Dodie Rosekrans, Diana Knowles, Dolph Andrews, and members of the exclusive Villa Taverna club located directly across the street. “A great painting changes a room,” he says, shifting gears to the occasional bargain hunter who wanders into the gallery, falls in love with a particular piece, but ends the conversation with something like, “Thanks for all your help, but I’m going to try and find one for less.” To which Gwin replies, “You will. It just won’t be this one.”