Gordon A. Locksley
Locksley, Gordon Allen Private art dealer and collector of contemporary art, passed away quietly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 1, 2014 after a brief illness. He was known for his wit, his sense of humor, his thoughtfulness and for maintaining relationships and friendships across continents and over decades of time. Mr. Locksley was not interested in learning how to use the latest office technology to keep in touch with friends and colleagues. In fact, he preferred using hand written, humorously signed post cards and faxes to share his love of life, books and insights into events and art. He could always add a quote from his favorite anthropologist or philosopher to illustrate an idea or insight about life or the art world that he generously shared with younger people in the art world or friends in general. Mr. Locksley loved reading, was a self-educated man, and until his eyesight failed due to many decades of macular degeneration, read a book a day and loved watching classic movies in theaters and on television. Even when he no longer could see printed words he listened to the latest audiobooks on his portable disk player. He always shared printed books and audiobooks with friends and libraries. Many friends today have his insightful notes scribbled in the margins of books he passed on to them. He never lost his love of learning and he shared this with people as well. Mr. Locksley was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 27, 1930 to William and Sheila Locksley. His grandparents came from Poland before World War Two. Mr. Locksley was very close to his grandparents and his many aunts and uncles. His love for hearty, crusty breads came as the result of spending hours as a child with his grandfather Isidore and grandmother Ella, who owned a bakery. It was known for the best onion rye bread in Chicago. Mr. Locksley always told stories about his family, some rather humorous and always with love. Until he passed away, Mr. Locksley was the oldest member of the Lukowitz family. His father worked in a pharmacy and also for Max Factor as a salesman. He listened to operas every weekend on the radio and Mr. Locksley learned how to appreciate and value great performances growing up in Chicago from his father, who won several telephone call-in contests. He learned to love fragrances and their histories from his father as well. He was very close to his mother, who was a housewife. She and her sisters baked and canned vegetables together. Mr. Locksley learned his love of cooking from her and his aunts, especially his aunt Freda. Many of his friends have heard him tell stories and quotes from his aunt Freda. In fact, his family was filled with wonderful, caring members who helped Mr. Locksley become the man he became. As a teenager, he worked as an usher and in the cloak rooms of many of the theaters of Chicago which had live performances by famous people. Mr. Locksley fondly remembered meeting many who came through Chicago, most notably Sophie Tucker. He met and became friends with Jimmy Epenstein, who was a famous interior designer in Chicago. Mr. Epenstein took him to his first French restaurant where Mr. Locksley accidentally ordered scrambled eggs. Mr. Epenstein ordered the same. Later in life Mr. Locksley learned and spoke French and Italian fluently but always told the story of Mr. Epenstein with great fondness. He moved to Columbus, Ohio for a brief time and then to Minneapolis, Minnesota where he arrived on a bus in a snowstorm wearing an opera cape. Never one to sit still, he checked into the YMCA and began working various jobs. In 1954 he met George Shea who was an associate professor in Japanese language and literature at the University of Minnesota. They started the Red Carpet Beauty Salon and Red Carpet Beauty College, eventually locating it downtown on Seventh Avenue. Mr. Locksley styled hair for a living and on the weekends flew to national hair conventions for Revlon demonstrat- ing haircuts up on the turning stage for the attending hair stylists. Mr. Locksley later wanted to become an antiques dealer but a friend, Jan Van der Mark-chief curator at the Walker Art Museum, encouraged him to seriously look at contemporary art which was just starting on the East Coast. He started selling posters off of the Red Carpet Salon walls to customers for $25.00. The Locksley Shea Gallery began as a private gallery and became one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Minneapolis, located in a magnificent home on Mt. Curve Drive. Dayton's 12 Gallery, headed by Felice Wender, was its main competitor. Miss Wender later became a very close friend of Mr. Locksley's. The Locksley Shea Gallery was famous in the 1960's and 70's for its opening night parties with Minneapolis/St. Paul Society and contemporary artists all partying together. Artists such as Christo, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Brice Marden, Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Rauschenberg all came for the opening night party of their exhibitions. Christo wrapped two nude models in cellophane one night; outrageous costume parties with live bands, multiple bars, and dancing were the norm. Mr. Locksley remembered Donald Judd being a big drinker and the most fun of the visiting artists. Mr. Locksley was also part owner of one of the first gay bars in downtown Minneapolis, Sutton Place. He and his lawyer, Elliott Kaplan, worked tirelessly with local licensing authorities and the city council to create a higher visibility for gay rights and equality. Mr. Locksley strongly believed in equal rights for everyone. He was a frequent guest on a local television program and participated often as host of a Minneapolis radio talk show. His knowledge and sense of humor attracted very large viewing and listening audiences. Mr. Locksley hosted several auctions and fundraising events on public television in Minneapolis and St. Paul. He raised more money for the local public television station than any other host in the 1970's. In 1974, right after a very bad snowstorm, Mr. Locksley sold a Chuck Close painting to a famous London collector over the telephone. He and his business partner left Minneapolis immediately for Rome, Italy and never returned to live in the city. He moved to Cannes and Paris, France; returning to the United States in 1994 and settled in Palm Springs, California. His residence was used as a set location for the movie Oceans Eleven. in 1998, Mr. Locksley met Wayne Boeck and they moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They lived in a high rise on the beach and married when same-sex marriages became legal in the United States. He was very active with the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, generously loaning contemporary works of art for a private collector exhibition, "With You I Want to Live," in 2010. Mr. Locksley had also loaned works from his collection to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. both museums were recipients of gifts of art from his collection. His wishes were that he not have a memorial service and that his ashes and a favorite pet's be spread on the mountainside above Palm Springs, California. He felt that this was an appropriate ending for a life well-lived. Arrangements entrusted to Kraeer-Fairchild Funeral Home. kraeerfairchild.com
Published on February 9, 2014
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