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Interview with Art Collectors Neil and Sigrid Gold

Art collector Neil Gold and his wife Sigrid’s life with art is a true romance, which reflects the way the two met. Neil, who grew up in Miami, Florida and Yonkers, New York, farms and imports fresh flowers from South America.

While waiting for a flight at New York’s La Guardia Airport, by chance he met his future wife who was visiting her aunt. Married for 23 years with a daughter, they caught the art collecting bug from Neil’s father and stepmother, Michael and Sirje Gold, who are prominent collectors of modern and emerging art in Los Angeles, California.

Art collectors that come from families that collect art are exposed to art and collecting at an early age. Tell us about any memorable childhood experiences with your parents’ art collection. What was the first artwork you purchased and how did you buy it?

NG: As a boy I discovered comic books. I found the graphic medium to be exciting as it combined narrative and typically fantastic characters with extraordinary powers and visually striking drawing. From about 9 to 15 years old I became an avid collector of comics such as Spiderman, Captain America, Batman and Robin and many more.

I was encouraged [to collect the comic books] by my folks as it kept me out of trouble, and I guess they appreciated the creativity of the medium. I would attend gatherings of young collectors and trade or spend my hard earned allowance from mowing the lawn.

"Microscopic Entrance", Hand Cut Paper, Jen Stark

Some of the illustrators later became very respected for their work, such as Frank Frazzetta, Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit), Basil Wolverton, Jack Davis, Mike Ditko (Spiderman) and Jim Steranko.

My earliest recollection of my father and stepmom Sirje's collecting was at the Coconut Grove Art fair in Miami. This was when I was about 12, and the Grove back in the seventies was a pretty groovy place. I soon felt Dad and Sirje's passion for art, walking around the art fair, talking to artists and really having fun. They purchased a raw metal sculpture of a dude riding a chopper. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I guess that was the beginning.

Describe your art collection. How does it differ from your parents and are there any similarities?

NG: First let me say that my wife and I are both passionate about art, artists and collecting. We tend to make decisions together although not exclusively. Sigrid loves photography and abstract painting. We both enjoy art with a wry sense of humor or should I say artists.

Dad and Sirje have been collecting modern art and discovering new emerging artists for many years. They have a really varied collection: painting, sculpture and photography from an amazing array of talented artists.

They have had a tremendous influence on Sigrid and I, visiting galleries and museums with them and learning about the great American modern artists, such as Rothko, Calder, Oldenburg and Mark Di Suvero.  

Two years ago, we were attending Miami’s Pulse Art Fair. My wife, Sigrid, was with Dad and Sirje, and Sigrid fell in love with a painting by a very good California artist, Brad Eberhard, a beautiful abstract with great color and imagery called "The Searchers."

I was working, so Sigrid asked me to meet them and check it out. I didn't care for it at the time, but Sigrid felt very strongly about it. I told her if you love it buy it. She did, and I have since come to appreciate it and like living with it too.

We have acquired some of our collection on visits to California, such as a magnificent painting by Tony De Los Reyes. We saw his show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and had really loved a triptych that Dad and Sirje have of his depicting " The Piqua" from Melville's Moby Dick. Tony was captivated after reading it and did a series of work based on it. Our painting is a wonderful foreboding view of “The Piqua” from the deck of another whaling vessel and the ropes and lines of the sails. Tony is an amazing guy.  

We also have work from an amazing painter we saw in Los Angeles, Nathan Redwood. It’s an ethereal dream world with lush brushstrokes, and we have a really cool, whimsical sculpture from China Art Objects Gallery by Paul Cherwick. 

“Untitled” 2007, Nathan Redwood

We have also been involved with the Hollywood Art and Culture Center in Hollywood, Florida through our friendship with Jane Hart. She is their Curator of Exhibitions that we met through Dad and Sirje.  

We have met some very talented Florida artists and are acquiring works locally, such as Sinisa Kukec’s (a contemporary of Jon Pylypchuk) sculpture created upon his ex-girlfriend’s dresser made with resin and graphite, lounging sensually on top.

What kind of advice would you have for someone interested in buying art for the first time?

NG: Go and see things. Visit galleries and museums. See art fairs and meet people. Get a feel for what turns you on. The art scene is a lot of fun. The people involved, in our experience, are creative, culturally diverse and intelligent. You can’t help but enjoy the experience.

SG: I would say to start out by going to gallery openings and joining a local arts and culture center like we did. Get to know people and talk and meet the people that are involved. Buy what you like and what you would want to see in your house on a daily basis

Tell us your thoughts on purchasing art from online galleries and/or auctions.

NG: I think that if you are familiar with the artist and the works and you verify the integrity of the online auction/ gallery, why not? Although, we are more touchy- feely [collectors].

What was the most recent addition to your collection?

SG: The last addition was the Tony De Los Reyes piece [Neil] described.

NG: You are wrong, sweetheart. The last piece we acquired was the Paul Cherwick sculpture.

"The Reach", Ink & Oil on Linen, Tony De Los Reyes

“Double Gulp”, Polychromed Wood, Paul Cherwick

Is there one piece of artwork that you must look at everyday in your home? Describe it.

NG: I love the new piece we got from Sinisa Kukec. It is a sculpture that he did about a conversation with a dear friend. It reminds me very much of Christo’s pink Surrounded Islands in Biscayne Bay. It’s hanging on the ceiling of the gallery in our home. Although, I am thrilled with different pieces at different times.

SG: We talk to Norman on a regular basis, [which is a head sculpture by Los Angeles-based Danny First]!  He’s a funny and pretty interesting character. I look at him every day and every time I pass him.

“Norman”, Danny First

How do you see your collection in 10 years from now?

NG: I hope that as we grow, learn and experience life so too will our collection. Art is an extension of who you are.

Many people think that art collecting is only for the very wealthy? How can someone with limited funds buy art?

NG: In life, we associate experiences, people and places through objects. I believe that is why people collect things: coins, butterflies, Hummel, baseball cards. Art magnifies that because of the intellectual and emotional aspects, as well as the excitement. 

I believe living with art is rewarding. I don’t think you have to be wealthy. Many of the young artists we love are doing work for the love of it and are very reasonable. They are happy that you support them by buying their work. Also, there are edition prints from companies like Gemini Gel that allow you to get really well known, amazing artwork affordably.

SG: Through local arts and culture centers and local galleries, and do not be afraid to ask what a piece might cost

If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would he or she be?

SG: Some of the old modern classic [artists] that were hanging out together in New York City during the fifties and sixties.  I think that would be pretty cool, like Cy Twombly, Robert Motherwell, Willem De Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

NG: Let’s see… Maybe a nice New York deli lunch with Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit and the graphic novel) and Mark Rothko, two very cool dudes!!!