Prominent Los Angeles Art Patron and Publishing Legend Elyse Grinstein Dies at 87

Grinstein and her husband have been called the godparents of the LA art scene.

Stanley Grinstein, Elyse Grinstein, and Sidney B. Felsen in the 1960s. Courtesy of Stanley and Elyse Grinstein, via the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Elyse Grinstein, an architect, prominent arts collector, and mainstay of the Los Angeles art scene of the 1960s and ’70s, died on July 2 at age 87, reports the Los Angeles Times. She was predeceased by her husband, fellow arts patron Stanley Grinstein, with whom she helped co-found art lithography print publishing house Gemini G.E.L., who passed in 2014.

In 2011, the Jewish Journal noted that the Grinsteins “have often been hailed as ‘the godparents of the LA art scene.'” Together, the Grinsteins hosted legendary art parties, with guests including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg, Mick Jagger, and Philip Glass.

Josef Albers, <em>White Line Square I</em> (1966), from the series "White Line Squares," was one of the first prints released by Gemini G.E.L. Courtesy of Gemini G.E.L.

Josef Albers, White Line Square I (1966), from the series “White Line Squares,” was one of the first prints released by Gemini G.E.L. Courtesy of Gemini G.E.L.

The couple’s involvement in the art world grew out their desire as newlyweds to find a hobby there could share. “They were looking for something they could do together, some kind of common ground,” their daughter, Ayn Grinstein told the LA Times at the time of Stanley’s death. “It turned out to be art.”

As their relationships with artists grew, the Grinsteins at one point even considered opening an auction house. “One day, we said to each other: ‘Maybe prints? Maybe we could do prints out here,’” recalled Stanley to the Journal. In 1966, they launched Gemini with Sidney and Rosamund Felsen.

Robert Rauschenberg working on limestone in 1977. Courtesy of Gemini G.E.L.

Robert Rauschenberg working on limestone in 1977. Courtesy of Gemini G.E.L.

Among the artists who produced prints with Gemini were Rauschenberg, Josef Albers, Man Ray, Sam Francis, Ed Ruscha, Larry Bell, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, and David Hockney.

“They were not bystanders,” said Glass of the couple in an unreleased documentary about their lives. “Their activities were aligned with development, preservation of art, and the encouragement of artists to come and work here… They weren’t just hosts to the community; they were actively involved in it.”

Grinstein was born in New York, and her family moved to California when she was three. She met her husband of 62 years at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the couple had three daughters.

Grinstein was also a first-grade teacher before getting a masters in architecture once her children were in college. She interned with Frank Gehry and, as part of her own firm, Grinstein/Daniels Inc., took on such projects are remodeling Hockney’s LA home and designing what the LA Times called “first architecturally avant-garde Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in the United States” in 1990.

“Her work as an architect was well-crafted and responsible,” wrote Gehry in an email to the LA Times. “Her generosity and love permeated through the art world and made us all better people for knowing her.”

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