The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is planning a major expansion – hoping to break ground in September to increase the Gallery by fourty percent, including three or four thousand square feet of storage space. Which they’ll need, in order to house a remarkable donation from one of their patrons.
“So, this is actually a piece by William Wiley” explains Andrew Beckerman, as he points to one of the paintings hanging in his Victoria home.
“When I was young, my parents had very little money, and a cheap excursion for us was once a month on Sundays…and go into museums that were free in New York City.
“We alternated month by month between the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History, so probably starting at the age of six or seven, I was exposed to this stuff.
“I bought my first piece at the age of 11, I bought my second piece at the age of seventeen or eighteen.”
His roommate at grad school in California became an art gallery owner. Beckerman bought a few pieces through her.
A move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, opened his eyes to Native American artists there.
“When I was living there, you know, which now goes back eleven years, Santa Fe was actually the third largest art market in the United States, after New York and Los Angeles.”
Beckerman moved to Canada eleven years ago. He’s now been a citizen for two. And he’s decided to donate many of these works.
“Not being a pharaoh” says Beckerman with a smile, “there was no reason for me to be buried with it, and I actually have more stuff than I can display.”
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria will receive Beckerman’s gift, valued at $750,000 dollars.
“The collection contains a lot of material from New Mexico” explains Gallery Director Jon Tupper, “which we don’t really have in the collection right now, and we should have, because we represent works from around the Pacific Rim.”
Beckerman will be donating cash to the Gallery as well.
“My cash donation is actually a ‘challenge-grant.’
“For the Art Gallery to get my one-hundred thousand dollars, they have to raise another one-hundred thousand in new money, preferably from individual donors like me.”
Trained as an architect, Beckerman believes we must be open to one another’s views of the world.
“Seeing the world through other people’s eyes, whether it’s reading, watching film or looking at art, just expands our minds, and opens us up to the potential for new experiences.”