In the no-man's land between Potrero Hill and Bayshore, there is a dusty warehouse filled with treasure. Philippine burial jars from the fifth century sit next to weathered carvings spirited from Thai palaces and ancient relics sit next to the works of modern craftsmen.
This is the warehouse of the Richard Gervais Collection, one of the largest dealers of Southeast Asian antiquities in the country.
Gervais started his trade in the Sixties, while traveling with a close friend in the Philippines. A chance visit to an open-air market in Mindanao made him realize that there were objects in Asia that could fetch a good price in the U.S., and so, with a small loan, he began a business that would become his life's passion for the next half century.
Scholars and collectors alike will be surprised by the breadth of the collection; the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco has two Philippine secondary burial jars in their permanent collection, both originally procured by Gervais; Gervais has six jars in his possession. The hope is to eventually get more museums and collectors to take a serious interest in Southeast Asian artifacts and antiquities, especially in Filipiniana (Philippine artifacts) which is woefully underrepresented in most major exhibitions.
The warehouse is worth a casual visit even by the uninformed observer. Gervais is a friendly expert, and is always willing to share his insights with visitors. Each of the objects in his collection has a story, and it is his wish to make sure that those stories are heard.