In Memoriam - Jimmy Economos andd James Willis

We have lost two more great ones this summer in Willis and Economos - both were major figures in tribal arts during the past four decades. We shall write more in the Fall issue of our newsletter.

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SANTA FE, NM.- James Economos, the legendary art dealer, passed away peacefully on July 29 at the age of 80. His husband of 50 years, Gilbert Hampton, was at his side. Born in New York City, James studied at Columbia University. His eye for African, Oceanic, and American Indian art established him as a leader in the field and had a major impact on the development of many significant public and private collections, including the renowned collection at the St. Louis Art Museum. After living in New York and Denver, he settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he had an eponymous gallery.

James Willis passed away In San Francisco September 2nd. “James Willis has collected tribal art since 1955, and opened his public gallery in 1972. The gallery initially exhibited both tribal and contemporary art. He became specialized in tribal art, and was the first gallery in United States to hold specific tribal theme exhibits. The public gallery was established for thirty years of exhibitions.

He has been in business since 1972. He has worked together with his wife Lin Chen-Willis since 1991. Since 2001, they have a private gallery by appointment.

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Since 2003 to present 2018, he is appointed to five three year terms to the White House Cultural Property Advisory Committee of eleven members, who advise the President of United States on cultural property issues. He was on the San Francisco Craft and Folk art museum board; member of San Francisco Friends of Ethnic Art; M.H. De Young Museum Tribal Arts Study Committee; New York Center for African Art; San Francisco Art Dealers Association, and early participant of BRUNEAF Belgium.

He previously participated in tribal exhibitions in Brussels, Paris, New York, and in San Francisco; Caskey-Lees, Objects of Art, Contemporary Art fair and Fall Antique show. He led collector trips to Europe and Africa in the eighties. He and Lin love to travel worldwide.”