Oral history interview with Jon Shirley

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.shirle18
Creators:
Shirley, Jon, 1938-
Riedel, Mija, 1958-
Dates:
2018 August 7-8
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
6 Items
sound files (4 hr., 35 min.) Audio
digital, wav
75 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview with Jon Shirley conducted 2018 August 7-8, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art and the Center for the History of Collecting in America at the Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection, at Shirley's home in Medina, Washington.
Scope and Contents
Mr. Shirley recalls hiring architect George Suyama to design a 23,000-square-foot home to house the art collection Shirley was assembling with his wife, Mary; growing up in Honolulu, Philadelphia, and Puerto Rico as his father was in the military; an influential humanities class at the Hill School; discovering Alexander Calder while still in high school; studying at MIT; his 25-year tenure with Radio Shack and Tandy International Electronics stores; a five-year period in Brussels that expanded his knowledge of art; his and Mary's move to Seattle and subsequent engagement with art glass and Pilchuck; becoming president of Microsoft and taking the company public; the evolution of his Alexander Calder collection to 40+ works (what has been called the best privately held Calder collection in the U.S.); his 30+ year friendship with Chuck Close, collecting more than 30 of his works, and financing "The Portrait Speaks;" his long-term engagement with the Seattle Art Museum and in particular the founding and endowing of the Olympic Sculpture Park; Mary's death in 2013 and Shirley's subsequent remarriage to Kim Richter; and endeavoring to restore Calder's only posthumously made work, "Mountain and Clouds," in the Hart Senate Office Building. Shirley also recalls working with Robert Mnuchin, Anthony Grant, Sandy Rower, Tobias Meyer, Robert Storr, Patterson Sims, Arne Glimcher, Jinny Wright, Barney Ebsworth and the Pace Gallery; acquiring works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jesús Moroles, Marino Marini, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg, David Smith, Joan Mitchell, Korean Dansaekhwa artists, Constantin Brancusi ("Bird in Space") and Alberto Giacometti ("Dog"); and building a collection of 350+ works of sculpture and post-WWI paintings.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Jon Shirley (1938- ) is a retired president, chief operating officer, and director of the Microsoft corporation, and a collector of Modern art, in Medina, Washington. Mija Riedel (1958- ) is a writer and editor in San Francisco, California.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Author
Sponsor
Funding for this interview was provided by Barbara Fleischman.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The transcript and recording are open for research. Contact Reference Services for more information.
System Details
Recorded on Tascam DR-100MKII R000329.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Close, Chuck, 1940- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Microsoft Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seattle Art Museum Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pilchuck Glass Center (Stanwood, Wash.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Collectors: A Project in Partnership with the Center for the History of Collecting in America at The Frick Collection Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/