Ed Gilbert, owner and director of Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco, died over the weekend at the age of 67. A spokesperson for the gallery identified the cause of death as cancer. Beginning in the 1980s, Gilbert championed California formative art movements, including work among the Beats and Bay Area Conceptualists. He was a tireless promoter of West Coast experimentation at a time when the evolving art scene around it was viewed with indifference—or even contempt—by New York’s cultural arbiters.
Gilbert served as the long-time director of Gallery Paule Anglim and, following the death of its founder, Paule Anglim, in 2015, assumed leadership. The enterprise was subsequently renamed Anglim Gilbert Gallery, and a second gallery space was opened in 2016 in San Francisco. Though maintaining an international roster of artists, the gallery specializes in Gilbert’s foremost interest in art from California.
Gilbert moved there in 1980, following a year in New York and a long stint living in Europe, against the advice of his colleagues. “New friends in New York cautioned against the West, suggesting I keep my San Francisco visit short,” he wrote in the Brooklyn Rail. “The prejudice was stern and entrenched: if there was a California Bohemia it produced weak poetry, clumsy craft and derivative painting. No names of artists were cited, just sniggers about beads, ferns and macramé—a dismissive disinterest, for sure.”
Once settled, Gilbert never left and found himself taken with the conceptual work of artists such as Lynn Hershman Leeson (currently represented Anglim Gilbert Gallery) and Howard Fried, as well as visionary artists like Ruth Asawa and Martin Wong. Disseminating their influence became a full-time, lifelong mission.
“A community of artists, writers and performers has revealed itself to me and to a steady stream of other transplants,” he wrote. “Have the emissaries and the many artists and art professionals who left for the cultural capitals spread the word?”