She helped her husband, Charles Gilman Jr., acquire photographs for the corporate collection of the family business, Gilman Paper Co., many of which are now part of the Gilman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After her husband's death in 1982, Sondra Gilman met Celso Gonzalez-Falla, who shared her passion for photography. After more than 30 years of marriage, their exceptional private collection comprises some 800 photographs, some of which appeared in MOCA Jacksonville's 2013 exhibition Shared Vision.
As chair of the MOCA Board of Trustees, Charles Gilman III is steering the Museum during a crucial period of growth and change, which includes the search for a new director. He and his wife, Marilyn Gilman, who are avid photography collectors, are presenting sponsors of Retro-spective: Analog Photography in a Digital World, which opens on September 24.
We asked Gilman to talk about his affection for art and his long history of service to MOCA Jacksonville.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up and went to school in New York City, but on weekends and holidays we flew to South Georgia where the family business was located. It made Kraft paper from pine trees. I remember checking brown paper bags from the city candy stores for the Gilman logo stamped on the bottom. During the week, I was a typical New York school kid. On weekends, I grabbed my cane pole and Red Rider BB gun and headed out for some fun. Apparently, the southern lifestyle won out, but my love of the arts has stuck with me.
Ever since childhood, I have enjoyed making things in shop or art class. In high school, it was ceramics. During college, I spent many hours in the sculpture studio working in wood and majored in art history. By the time I moved to Jacksonville, I didn't feel like making art for a living, but I wanted to be a part of that scene. My parents collected art--mostly photography--and covered the walls of our home with it, so I just assumed that was what one did with walls, but I wasn't ready to collect.