Ed Gilbert, the renowned gallerist behind the Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco, passed away on July 19, 2024, at the age of 67. The cause of death was cancer, according to his husband, Kern Shin. Gilbert was a prominent figure in the international art scene, known for championing the work of California Beat artists, Bay Area conceptualists, and other experimental artists from the region.
A Passion for Art and Artists
Gilbert began his career in the art world in 1988, when he joined Gallery Paule Anglim as a gallery manager. He was soon promoted to director, and became a close collaborator and friend of the late Paule Anglim, who founded the gallery in 1970. When Anglim died in 2015, Gilbert took over as gallerist of the renamed Anglim Gilbert Gallery, which moved to the Minnesota Street Project in the Dogpatch neighborhood in 2016.
Gilbert was widely respected for his curatorial vision, his professionalism, and his integrity. He had a keen eye for discovering and supporting emerging and underrepresented artists, as well as maintaining long-term relationships with established ones. He represented 66 artists, including lauded names such as Bruce Conner, Jacob Hashimoto, Mildred Howard, David Ireland, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Gay Outlaw, and Catherine Wagner.
“He got to know artists,” said Howard, who met Gilbert in 1991. “It wasn’t something on the surface. He dug deep into the understanding of art and the creative process.”
Gilbert was also known for his impeccable and colorful style, often sporting suits in bright pinks and oranges, intricate prints, and experimental designs. He was a familiar and friendly presence at art events throughout the Bay Area, always ready to engage in lively and insightful conversations.
A Commitment to the Art Community
Gilbert was not only a gallerist, but also a generous and active member of the art community. He served on the board of the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and as board president of the Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco. He was also a proponent for the preservation of the David Ireland House at 500 Capp St. and an early supporter of the Creative Growth and Creativity Explored art centers for the developmentally disabled.
Gilbert felt a responsibility “to keep a healthy ecosystem between artist, commerce, and the nonprofit side of arts,” said Sharon Maidenberg, the former executive director of Headlands.
Gilbert’s contributions to the art world were widely recognized and appreciated. In a statement to The Chronicle, Minnesota Street Project founders Deborah and Andy Rappaport called Gilbert “a shining light on the San Francisco art community.” Janet Bishop, the chief curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, said Gilbert “represented the absolute best of the Bay Area art world.”
A Legacy of Inspiration and Innovation
Gilbert’s death is a huge loss for the art world, but his legacy lives on in the artists he championed, the gallery he led, and the people he touched. He will be remembered as a visionary, a mentor, a friend, and a lover of art.
“Ed was truly one of a kind — a consummate professional and stand-up human being. He brought extraordinary grace, integrity, intelligence and warmth to every aspect of his work as a gallerist,” Bishop said.
Gilbert is survived by his husband, Kern Shin, and his daughter, Dorian. His interment was at Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary in Newhall, California