First published: Winter 2015
“Recollections: Art from the Ames Gallery”, an overview of the work exhibited during its long run, is on display in the Craftsman-era home Bonnie shared with her husband, Sy Grossman, since 1969. Sadly, Sy passed away after a fall shortly after this interview.
I sat down with Bonnie in one of the spaces throughout the house where she exhibits artwork and what she describes as a gallimaufry of items, including bottle whimsies, carved walking sticks, quilts, tramp art and antique kitchen utensils. She is credited with introducing the work of previously unknown visionary and outsider artists, including A. G. Rizzoli, Dwight Mackintosh, Alex Maldonado and Barry Simons.
Creatures, Barry Simmons
Rose Kelly: How did you begin running a gallery and how did you choose the name?
Bonnie Grossman: I was helping a friend who owned a craft store, the Artifactrie, with a gallery in the back. Soon, I was running the gallery and I wanted something short, easy to remember and at the beginning of the alphabet. In 1972, I moved the gallery here to our home. It was to be a temporary solution while I went in search of a better place. I never found one. At the beginning, I bounced back and forth between showing either academic art or folk art and the works of self-taught visionary and memory painters. Our son, Michael, told me that I needed to focus on one or the other.
RK: How did you become involved with the local PBS television station, KQED and its annual auction fundraiser?
BG: I thought that participation as an “art solicitor” or offering our gallery as a collection site might bring us some attention. Before long, I became director of the art portion of the auction. I invited art critics and writers like Cecil McCann and Charles Shere to review donated artwork and to select artists for art-themed TV shows. This was an incentive for people to donate quality art. I co-produced five television shows, including ones that featured Wayne Thiebaud and Joan Brown. Self-taught artist Alex Maldonado donated his artwork to the cause.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #88