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Why these art collectors in Orange County are focusing on artists of color




LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11:  (L-R) Dr. Hao Nguyen, Gianna Drake-Kerrison and Demetrio Kerrison attend MOCA's Leadership Circle and Members' Opening of Kerry James Marshall: Mastry at MOCA Grand Avenue on March 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MOCA)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: (L-R) Dr. Hao Nguyen, Gianna Drake-Kerrison and Demetrio Kerrison attend MOCA's Leadership Circle and Members' Opening of Kerry James Marshall: Mastry at MOCA Grand Avenue on March 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MOCA)
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MOCA

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Gianna and Dee Kerrison are married executives who work in the financial service sector. But you could say their life's work is collecting art, specifically, the work of African Americans and other artists of color. 

They're among Southern California's best-known collectors of work by such artists.  KPCC's Josie Huang spoke to the couple before the holidays and Dee explained how they first got started after moving from New York to Orange County almost 20 years ago.

"We were used to a huge amount of culture, and Newport Beach was relatively culturally bereft," said Dee Kerrison, "especially when we moved down there. So, we always went to Los Angeles."

Their collecting started with photography, but when they began to hyperfocus on Los Angeles, it shifted to contemporary art.

Dee: "We like work that reflects our experience. You know, we're African American, my parents are from the south, they're part of that great migration. So, we sort of like work that tells a story, arguably, work that's political."

For the Kerrisons, it wasn't only about collecting art but helping artists navigate the intimidating waters of the art world. 

Gianna: "We may not be able to financially pay for or financially afford the work, but what we find important is being there to support them...I think it's a really important thing to follow them through their journey."

The Kerrisons also spoke about how things have changed for artists of color since they began collecting and where they hope things will go in the future.