“It is with great sadness that the gallery announces the passing of our beloved founder,” said Sikkema Jenkins & Co. The art gallery said in a statement. Report. “The gallery mourns this tremendous loss and will carry on in his spirit.”
Scott Briscoe, the gallery's manager, declined to comment beyond the official statement.
Shikema's lawyer, Simon Nunes, told the Brazil-based O Globo newspaper that he tried to contact Shikema over the weekend, but was unable to reach him. She said she found him dead when she entered his home with a key she kept to monitor his whereabouts when he was away in Rio, the newspaper reported.
According to local reports, firefighters in Rio de Janeiro removed the body from the apartment and brought it to the Forensic Institute in Rio. The Washington Post could not independently verify these details.
“We can confirm the death of a US citizen in Rio de Janeiro,” a State Department spokesman said when asked about Sikkema's death. “Our deepest condolences to the family. We are providing all necessary help to the family. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.
Sikkema, born in 1948 and raised in Illinois, graduated from the now-shuttered San Francisco Art Institute, according to a biography on the gallery's website. He began working in art galleries as director of exhibitions at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY in 1971, then served as director of Vision Gallery in Boston from 1976 to 1980, and then as owner of that gallery from 1980 to 1989.
In 1991, Sikkima moved to New York City and opened his own contemporary-art gallery called Wooster Gardens, named for the location on Wooster Street. In 1999, the gallery moved to the Chelsea Arts District, where it eventually became Sikkima Jenkins & Co. became, it is still named.
The gallery is now widely known for representing contemporary black artists reflects 32 artists including Kara Walker, Louise Fratino and Sheila Hicks.
The program also includes Geoffrey Gibson, the artist representing the United States at the 60th annual Venice Biennale. Gibson, who is of Cherokee descent and a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, is the first tribal artist to represent the United States at the event.
Rachel Tashjian contributed to this report.