Exibit Fine Arts Center & Gallery in Morris hosts collection of famous artist's work

MORRIS – Works from Matisse, Dali, Picasso and Chagall hung on the walls of The Exibit Fine Arts Center & Gallery in Morris on Saturday night during its second open house.

The gallery started as a dream for local artists, including Ed Cepiel, Ray and Rose Grossi, Mark and Diana Dagget, and Art Ashcraft, who has since left the board.

New members have joined the board, including Ann Paulson and Caroline Cummings.

The goal for all of them, despite their various genres of art, is to keep art alive and passed down to each generation.

One thing Cepiel mentioned as he opened the evenings event is in all of their ideas and planning they didn't think they'd have the opportunity to share the works of such great artists.

"We have been working on the building for a while and we don't know how to best utilize this space," Ray Grossi said to the crowd gathered for the Saturday night event. "We would like to use this space day and night."

Grossi said he is well aware that selling art work in Morris won't keep the doors open, so they have decided to reach out and explore opportunities to teach classes or have artist workshops, as well as host gallery shows that come about their way.

The Chicago area collector, who asked to remain anonymous due to the size and value of his collection, said he was excited to be able to bring his art down to display for the show.

"I'm an educated man, but I have no background in art," he said. "I inherited my aunt's collection that has everything from Picasso to Matisse and I've decided to share it. It's what art is for."

The collector said when he received word that he had inherited the collection, he had no idea what that meant. As the first few pieces arrived, he showed them to a friend who is a teacher and holds a master's degree in art.

"I asked him 'Is this worth bringing over (from Europe where the aunt lived)?' He stuttered and said 'yes,'" the collector said.

Although he's been made several offers to purchase pieces he inherited, he has only departed with two of the 74, and those he gave away,

"I've never sold a piece but I have given away a Chagall to a young woman with Cystic Fibrosis who didn't stop staring at it," he said. "The other one I gave to a handicapped gal who also couldn't take her eyes off a piece, I gave her a Matisse."

Due to the cold temperatures, the collector was unable to bring the oil paintings but hopes he is invited back to the gallery to share those pieces with art lovers in the area.

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