The Mint Museum Uptown’s Vault presentation, currently on exhibit and organized by guest curator Jessica Gaynelle Moss, features objects from the private collections of four prominent Black art collectors living in Charlotte: Judy and Patrick Diamond, Nina and James Jackson, Christy and Quincy Lee, and Cheryse and Christopher Terry. 

A range of collector theory and methodology around collecting is presented through objects from each of their private collections. Visitors will be able to explore vintage photography, original paintings, prints, sculptures, furniture, vinyl records, and other culturally specific ephemera.

In 2018, the National Art Services Executive at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Evan Beard, published an article called ‘The Four Types of Art Collectors’ on Artsy, the world’s largest online art marketplace. In the article, Beard categorized all art collectors into four general groups: The Connoisseurs, The Enterprising Collector, The Trophy Hunter, and The Aesthete. The four Charlotte-based collectors featured in The Vault exhibit have distinctly different approaches and philosophies of art collecting that mirror this framework and are categorized in that manner below.

The Enterprising Collectors

Cheryse and Christopher Terry might not have always considered themselves collectors but their research-based archival practice says otherwise. The Terrys are true custodians of the history, culture, and nuanced narratives of the artists in their collections. They feel as though they have a distinct duty and responsibility to protect Black artists and to preserve Black culture. They believe that art history is just too important to be left to art historians. As enterprising collectors, “their goal is to destabilize the canon, challenge the ancient regime and define (and increasingly redefine) art history through collecting.” The Terrys will exhibit their collection of over 30 afro picks, hundreds of magazines, records, toys, advertisements and other culturally specific and historic ephemera in The Vault.

The Trophy Hunter

This group leverages their art to do big things (like take over a large company) during their lifetimes, and uses their art to create a legacy after death. Christy and Quincy Lee have amassed an incredible collection of works by Black artists. Their home is a museum of rare historical, artistic and cultural interests. “When touring their home, I was awestruck by the remarkable talent, history and legacy on every wall, and hearing a detailed account of how each piece was procured. The Lees are active at auctions and hunt as a matter of sport,” says Moss. The Vault will feature works from the Lee Collection by artists Albert Wells, Charles Alston, Bryan M. Wilson, Juan Logan, Antoine Williams, and J. Stacy Utley.

The Connoisseurs

What started as a casual hobby grew into a spark for Judy and Patrick Diamond, making them connoisseurs whose collecting has “developed over time through relentless efforts and devotion.” The Diamonds have spent the last 48 years amassing a collection of Black art that incudes works by some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Romare Bearden and Elizabeth Catlett. They buy methodically, and rarely, as an investment. They are privy to the market, incredibly knowledgeable, and maintain great friendships with the artists whose work they collect. In this exhibition, they will share works by Hale Woodruff, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, John Tweedle, Margaret Burroughs, Elizabeth Catlett, and Nellie Ashford.

The Aesthete

These unique individuals possess an innate eye and tend to be more aesthetically aware of the world around them. They are driven by a visceral response to an object. They are not motivated by the status of financial gain, but prioritize storytelling and personal histories. Nina and James Jackson are very supportive patrons of the arts. They frequent museums for openings and events, but tend to prefer the shop to the galleries. For The Vault, The Jacksons will be sharing paintings by Thomas James “T.J.” Reddy, prints by Kerry James Marshall, and a collection of over 50 Black Santa Claus dolls and figures. 

The Mint Museum Uptown Vault exhibit continues through September 17. You can see the exhibit at Mint Museum Uptown, Levine Center for the Arts, at 500 S. Tryon Street.

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