Elliot Perry was playing basketball professionally when he was booked on a flight to Japan with an NBA coach who introduced him to art collecting. Ultimately, his collection would grow large enough to be put on display in Flint, Michigan:
“On that long ride, he was talking about how he got started collecting art,” Perry said. “He asked me if I knew anything about art, and I didn’t know one thing.”
Over time, that would change. Perry would become something close to obsessed with art, checking out galleries or meeting artists whenever he flew to another city for a game. When he would make bets with his teammates on basketball shooting games, his wager was always that they had to accompany him to a museum or gallery at the next stop. […] Perry started collecting work from “the old masters” but in time became more interested in contemporary art. […] The works are all by African American artists and touch on issues particularly close to the African American community — but that means lots of ideas, and lots of different points of view.
And lots of art. The exhibit includes everything from traditional paintings, abstract sculpture, even one piece that is a neon sign. There are large works and small, intricate works.
“All of these deal with themes with identity, what it means to be an African American person in today’s culture,” said Tracee Glab, associate curator of exhibitions at FIA. “So there are a lot of interpretations of that. … It’s not only the points of view of these artists, but the point of view of the people who collected them.”
And, according to Perry, who’s looking at them. About 60 percent of the Perry collection is in storage, while the remaining 40 percent is in his house. Sometimes, he says, he takes it for granted. Other times, he’s amazed that he’s surrounded by so much art — something he’s glad his 6-year-old daughter is exposed to also.