Visitors to Bill Gorelick’s SouthPark office may wonder if they’ve mistakenly stumbled into a contemporary art gallery rather than the headquarters for an investment firm.
Each office, hall and conference room holds collectible art glass produced by some of the most recognizable artists producing work today.
The ballet of light and reflections that swirl in the space is matched only by the glint in Gorelick’s eyes when he discusses his project of sharing his art collection with the public through an innovative initiative and exhibition with Central Piedmont Community College.
With his wife, Patty, brother, Shelton, and sister-in-law, Carol, Gorelick, 79, has loaned 28 pieces of art glass and paintings to CPCC from their collections in a professionally curated exhibition at CPCC’s Levine Campus in Matthews. The installation runs through February.
Visitors will find a variety of styles and techniques on display, including ceramics from Michael Lucero, a glass vase by Sidney Hutter, bronzed curves by Laszio Lukacsi, face jugs by Billy Ray Hussey and Steve Abee.
Gorelick came up with the idea of sharing works with the public after CPCC President Tony Zeiss visited his office.
“Dr. Zeiss saw the collection here and commented on how much the works might be appreciated in a public setting such as on campus at the college,” said Gorelick. “This matched up with a longstanding desire I’ve had of taking art to the public, particularly students who might not ordinarily have access to contemporary art. This type of art glass is approachable and captures people’s attention on many different levels.”
‘Art is inspiring’
The Gorelicks agreed to loan CPCC part of their collection if the college would establish museum-quality displays and lighting to showcase the work. Bill Gorelick was intentional with this request because he hopes similar installations can be established at other campuses and other donors such as museums, galleries and individuals will take advantage of the space to share their collections.
“Art is inspiring and impactful,” said Gorelick. “It offers something to everyone, and it should be barrier-free.”
Gorelick began collecting art glass nearly 40 years ago when he was introduced to the idea by his cousin, collector and philanthropist Isaac Luski.
“I didn’t know much about the varied techniques or the different artists, I just knew how I felt when I saw it and when I collected it,” said Gorelick. “Isaac likes to develop relationships with the artists and acquire pieces directly from them. As my tastes have developed and I’ve learned more about the various styles such as cast glass, blown glass, fused glass or what have you, I have developed relationships with galleries across the country and typically acquire pieces from various artists through them.”
Gorelick and his wife have collected more than 200 pieces of art glass, much of it on display at his office where the airy and well-lit space houses dramatic and multi-colored glass sculpture at every turn.
A translucent green and red-specked orb the size of soccer ball sports amoeba-like tendrils by glass-master Dale Chihuly and claims a prominent position outside a conference room. A striking “flock” of Harvey Littleton-produced swans delicately grace the hall outside Gorelick’s workspace.
‘Share the joy’
“Glass has so much energy and vitality, said Gorelick, “I love the various styles and techniques. I want to share the joy I get from enjoying this work with others. This art is meant to be displayed and enjoyed.”
The loan initiative undertaken by Gorelick is illustrative of a trend in philanthropic circles, said Michael Marsicano, president of Foundation For The Carolinas on North Tryon Street, where many pieces collected by the Luski family are on public display.
“A growing number of art collectors seek to share artworks they have acquired in less formal settings,” said Marsicano. “These patrons have enjoyed living with artworks in the comfort of their homes, and they are eager to enable others to have more intimate experiences with art than most museum settings allow. When done well, placing artworks in public spaces where folks naturally assemble – such as libraries, schools and colleges – can enable more accessible opportunities for engagement.”
The CPCC exhibition is showcased at the College’s Levine Campus in Mathews and is on display in a heavily trafficked corridor.
“We would love to have other exhibits and gallery spaces on all of our CPCC campuses,” said Vanessa Stolen, CPCC director of development. “The CPCC Foundation is currently exploring philanthropic avenues to support this vision.”
‘Their greatest gift’
Brenda Lea, executive director of institutional advancement for CPCC, said, “The college looks for ways to develop our students that go well beyond vocational training and expose and educate them to the creativity and beauty found in the arts and many other important aspects of life. The feedback we have received regarding the collection has been nothing short of inspiring, not just from students, but faculty and staff as well.”
The Gorelicks have supported a number of cultural and educational institutions in Charlotte, such as Shalom Park, Mint Museum, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte/Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte Country Day School.
“It is rare to find philanthropists like Patty and Bill Gorelick who not only share their time, talent and financial resources but also share their passion for art,” said Marsicano. “For most their adult lives Bill and Patty have painstakingly collected works of art with loving care. They are sharing this very important and personal part of their lives with all of us. This may be their greatest gift of all.”
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