Michael Jon Gallery – Miami/Detroit, USA
Since Art Basel brought its successful brand to Miami Beach twelve years ago, the local art scene has been buzzing. One of the newest additions to the artistic landscape is Michael Jon Gallery, which will participate in the fair for the first time this year.
Founder Michael Jon, an artist and self-made art dealer, moved from Chicago to Miami in search for a dynamic city with a vibrant art scene - that was not New York or Los Angeles. For him, Miami was and still is the perfect location for his gallery that he opened up in January 2012. Already as an art student, Jon's practice focused on purchasing, manipulating, and selling commodities as a performance. "I felt comfortable in that role," Jon explains, "but didn't need to qualify it as 'art,' so I just stopped. I haven't made art since my final critique. However, I was and still am energized by the work of my contemporaries." His partner and co-director Alan Gutierrez, who joined in 2013, is an artist as well. He was born and raised in Miami and has been involved in the local art scene since a very young age. "As an artist I cast myself in the romantic role I want to see myself in, responding to contemporary demands to perform and produce", Gutierrez says about his double role in the art world. "I have become increasingly comfortable being a painter in solitude and a dealer in public”.
Last summer the gallery further expanded to another unusual and peripheral location: Detroit. The city has become very attractive for artists, who purchase properties, realize interesting projects, experiment and create a special energy in the former motor town. As Gutierrez puts it: on one end of the spectrum there is Miami with its tropical Latin American transitory paradise, full of luxury and surface value, on the other end there is Detroit, with its shady but energetic environment of American Gothicism.
The artists on the gallery's roster are still only five: Kelly Akashi, Math Bass, Sayre Gomez, JPW3 and latest addition Egan Frantz. They are all young Americans born in the 1980s who work with various media from painting to sculpture to performance. In order for the gallery to grow in a meaningful way, a personal relationship with the artists has always been very important to Michael Jon and Alan Gutierrez. Besides promoting their artists, the gallerists also organize group exhibitions in which they present new artists and encourage experimentation. For example, the next show in Miami will be a three person show with Laddie John Dill, Cayetano Ferrer and Michael Hunter, opening January 31, 2015, followed by Kelly Akashi's solo show in May. The next show in Detroit will be a large-scale video installation by Jack Ruby and Leigh Ruby titled Car Wash Incident in April.
After participating in Art Basel Miami Beach, Michael Jon Gallery will be at ARCO Madrid and, for the second time, at Material Art Fair in Mexico City. "We are interested in endeavors in interesting cities that are engaged in exciting and weird discourses," Gutierrez explains, "which I guess also goes for the artists we work with."
The freelance journalist Silvia Anna Barrilà is specialized in the art market. Since 2008 she has been writing for the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and for international media covering art, including Damn, Auction Central News, Artinvestor, and Monopol.
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