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From collecting art to collecting artists

https://thecuriousfrenchy.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/kathryn-mikesell.jpg?w=600&h=400            Kathryn Mikesell, director of The Fountainhead artists residency, at here house in Miami, Florida surrounded by her art collection.

Kathryn Mikesell, along with her husband Dan, is the founder of the Fountainhead Residency, which offers artists a place to live and work in Miami. It all started from their mutual passion for collecting art, their wish to get to know artists better and support them beyond collecting. The residency will celebrate its 10th anniversary and it counts over 300 artists from all over the world.

Her passion, knowledge of artists and experience led her to switch careers and create her art advisory service, Your Fountainhead where she helps collectors finding art that they will fall in love with. Just like they have themselves listened to their heart to pursue their passion for art and support as many artists as they can. Thanks Kathryn for your time and support of the art!Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 3.23.28 PMHow did you become involved in the art community?

We’ve been a part of the art community for a long time; we began collecting art 20 years ago. Dan’s family collected art, and he had two artworks that we hung in our home and I thought it was extraordinary to live with them. At that time my husband and I would travel a lot for our jobs and art became our way of staying connected.

How did you come up with the project of creating an artist residency?

We got involved in the Miami community; we bought work of local artists and got involved in local institutions. We also bought works from artists outside of Miami and we would always try to know the artists, at least on the phone. At that time it was not always easy because the galleries would not always want to make that introduction, probably being afraid that we would try to buy around them even if that was not the intent. The intent was to know the artist behind the work, and the more artists we met, the more interesting it was. We had been collecting for 10 years and Miami was really starting to grow in the arts. At the same time institutions and galleries were struggling and we came up with this idea of the residency as a different way to give back to the artists. We wanted to give them a new place to work, new inspiration, bringing them into the art community and at the same time collaborate with institutions to host artists for them, so they can actually stay and meet the public beyond being at an opening. And knowing that art is a solitary practice, we thought it would be valuable to put them together with other artists so they can share ideas, connect and collaborate.

I understand you support diversity in the residency. Can you mention a few resident artists who come from minorities and benefited from your support?

We’ve had so many young talents through the residency that have risen to stardom after doing the residency. I could name Ebony G Patterson who just got a USA Grant,  Derrick Adams who has been in the press for everything from his art to his curation  and Dineo Soshee Bopape who won the Future Generation Prize… and many more!  (Ed. List of the alumni)

With all the art that you’ve collected, do you have any projects of showing it?

We would love to do something, and it would be great to do it in a University for example to reach a different public but we haven’t worked on it yet.

Amy Sherald who painted Michelle Obama portrait will soon be a resident with your foundation. Her portrait generated a lot of comments, which shows the power of art to share a message. What did you think about the different reactions?

I must admit that I don’t follow social media a lot but I can imagine that there was a wide range of comments. The one thing that it shows is that the most incredible thing about art is that it cannot be dismissed. It addresses subjects that people would not necessarily talk about. It starts a conversation and that is extraordinary valuable.

It was women history month in March. Is there a woman that was a source of inspiration for you either an artist or a patron?

Well there are so many! I think it’s so brave to become an artist, and it’s even more for women artists. One of the persons who inspired me the most is a collector Estel Burg who recently passed away. She and her husband Paul have collected art for 50 years. Her passion for artists and the way she lived with art was an inspiration to me but it’s difficult to name only one. I’m lucky to meet so many people … and my daughter also inspires me everyday!

You also are an art advisor, how did it start?

It’s something that just happened! I had a consulting firm but I really wanted to spend more time working with the art. People were telling me that I should help people to buy art but I didn’t want to monetize my passion. Then a person told me that I could support artists and galleries by doing this and this gave me a new perspective. I know that there is a market for art and that some people see it as an investment but it’s not where I play! I want people to fall in love with the art!

What is your biggest challenge as the founder of this residency?

Probably the same challenge that any person involved in business and non-profit: time and money! There are so many opportunities to make a difference in the live of artists but I have to take one step at a time. I have actually sent an email to our alumni’s because we turned 10 years old, and I asked them how we could make the residency more valuable, what can we do more and then what made the experience unique for them. I have ideas but I’d like more responses to make sure we do the right thing to make a difference in their life and their career.

The Fountainhead Residency and Studios
Your Fountainhead
Art and Philanthropic Advisory, Experiential Events and Tours

Cellout.me: What does it mean to own someone else’s DNA data?

Jeroen van Loon, Cellout.me, exhibition view at Aksioma Project Space. Photo: Jure Goršič / Aksioma

Jeroen van Loon, Cellout.me, exhibition view at Aksioma Project Space. Photo: Jure Goršič / Aksioma

At the end of 2015, artist Jeroen van Loon offered his entire DNA data – 380 GB of personal data – for auction. The starting price was an extravagant 0 euro. Anyone could place a bid through www.cellout.me. A year later, the auction closed and the artist’s full genome sold for 1100 euros to the Verbeke Foundation.

The highest bidder had just acquired an installation composed of the server cabinet where the data are stored, framed pictures documenting the DNA extracting and encoding processes, four letters written by experts as well something more difficult to fully grasp: an individual’s entire DNA self-portrait.

Sophie Matisse expands the artistic field of the family

Sophie Matisse

Sophie Matisse

I first saw Sophie Matisse’s work in the excellent exhibition Matisse and American Art in The Montclair Art Museum, NJ. The show included works by Roy Lichtenstein, Rothko and Warhol among many others. Seeing his wide influence on his pairs, it would have been surprising that Sophie could escape it, being her great granddaughter. Or escape the influence of Marcel Duchamp, her step grand father and of sculptor Paul Matisse, her dad.

In 1990, Sophie Matisse relocates to Paris to study at Ecole des Beaux Arts and then marries the French artist Alain Jacquet. The latter will help her gain confidence to show her work and she will gain recognition with the series “back in 5 minutes” where she appropriated famous paintings where the main character is gone. She then worked on other series of paintings and works on paper and her personal growth can be observed in the evolution of her work. She admits herself that with time she put more and more of herself in her art and she’s now going further! She’s currently working on short stop motion films which makes her feel liberated because “with a name like that, I (thought I) was supposed to be a painter and that once you started to be a painter you don’t change.” But then isn’t it also a family tradition to push boundaries?

I’m delighted that Sophie Matisse accepted my invitation to chat and we went from talking about her French roots, her career and her new artistic endeavor. We look forward seeing her new work!

Back in 5 Minutes the series that gave Sophie’s breakthrough

You were raised in the USA and lived in France, how do you combine these two origins?

Oh I never got that question, it’s refreshing! It is kind of a curious relationship because I am American but I did spent about a decade in France… A funny story that happened to me was when I was taking the exam to get into Ecole des Beaux Arts and went to look for my name on the wall. All the students were there and I was looking in the M section and as I saw that my name was there, two other girls saw it too. They started talking together and seemed surprised about it but I didn’t know enough French to understand well…maybe that’s a good thing I don’t know! That story is a good example of the fact that it’s been a challenging and interesting position to be in: your name suggests one thing yet your whole existence is different, kind of two opposite. I guess it’s consistent with my work where I play with the coexistence of these opposites.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 1.46.25 PM

Sophie and Pierre in St Jean Cap Ferrat

Any favorite memory or place in France?I did spend some time in the south of France with my grand father Pierre. It was really magical because the light down there is so extraordinary. I knew that light was great there but I did not in understand in the big way that light is very magical. And I see that again and even more so in Tunisia, where we’ve built a house with my husband now and I noticed that the light there is very similar. Different places in the world have their own magic and if you can experience that it a way, it’s extraordinary. Another place would be the apartment of my grandmother Teenie in Neuilly close to Paris. It’s an old artist studio, facing north and the light that come in there is very very very special. There is something more to it that makes it incredible. As time goes on, my main focus is really looking at the different quality of light and how it affect us.

I was looking at your works on paper where you did include and mix French brands with other symbols like the piece with Carambar and a dollar bill, mixing this French brand and the American symbol. What led you to create these paintings?

It’s very related to my notebooks that I did early on where I included a lot of wine labels. The French are amazing about naughty or funny words that they include in some of the labels like “Domaine de Monluc”. I thought it was so fun and it makes a great funny departure for my paintings! About the Carambar, it’s a more special piece related to my daughter when she was younger. Every summer that we would spend in France, Saturday was her “candy day” and she would have a whole collection of Carambar, it was funny. This brand is so suggestive of the kid/ naïve /sweet world and playfulness … a symbol of childhood.

Zebra painting by Sophie Matisse

Zebra painting by Sophie Matisse

I read in a previous interview that you were interested into the relation between art and healing. Could you tell us more about it?Yes, it’s something that I feel is deeply important. I do think that part of the attraction that people feel for the work of Matisse without being conscious of it, is that those colors do have a healing quality to them. And they’re not “Matisse colors”, some of them are just right out of the tube, but he put them together in a way where we could respond to it. There is a lot of art, which does not have that quality. When he talked about art being “like a good armchair”, I believe his message was that art should be healing and relieving you of the stress of the day. I’m sure that one day I’ll get involved in some way to push this further but I’m not sure how yet.

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue. Henri Matisse

What are you currently working on?

I started making very short stop-motion films. My objective is to capture the magic of light and how I do love to see the light coming and change the feeling of the room or playing with the shadows and how it makes you feel. These little films, based on simple human stories, are illustrated through chess pieces that I use as little characters. The quality of light is very transporting for me, like music, so I wanted to capture it. And it’s so fun because for once I don’t feel trapped! I love painting but right now, film is my medium and it’s very liberating. I was feeling that with a name like that, I was supposed to be a painter and that once you started to be a painter you don’t change.

Hand painted chess game Sophie Matisse

Hand painted chess game by Sophie Matisse

Warhol once said that artists should be free to explore and change style or medium… Yes and for some artists, in their artistic or spiritual development it can be sometime a very slow motion process and it will take decades before seeing a movement of some kind. For others it’s different. It’s a luxury to be able to express yourself in different ways and not being stuck to a certain role or style. Matisse did different kinds of things, Duchamp did also and my first husband was a painter but not only. Of course, the message throughout was consistent. It’s certainly important to be articulate in these different languages of art, and get different perspectives, look at things from more than one angle.

You come from a family of artists and art dealer, are you also collector? My cousin started to collect art more than I do. I should trade pieces with friends because it’s a great way to start a collection but I haven’t really done it yet…

It's time Series by Sophie Matisse

It’s time series by Sophie Matisse

About the art scene, there is a lot written about the representation of minorities. How do you relate to that debate?

It’s interesting because I was looking at a collection of Cuban art of a friend and I had never heard of some of these artists but the art is so fantastic! I think it’s a shame to not pay more attention about what’s happening all around and keep it as open as possible. Of course it’s overwhelming but it’s crucial. I feel sorry that sometimes people will spend millions on pieces of art that have no soul and then suddenly you see something from Ethiopia that moves you to the core. People get intimidated because they think they should know more about art and I feel there is a lot said about what we’re supposed to like or not, and it takes away the instinct.

What would be your favorite place to go see art in New York?

I always enjoy going to James Cohan Gallery, it’s one of my favorite. There is also Francis Naumann, which is a gallery where I show, but his shows are always beautifully thought and I always learn a great deal. I also just like going around, taking a look in museums, you never know what surprises you can come across. You always have people who will say that it’s has been already done and I was one of them when I was younger, thinking “what am I supposed to do after Matisse?”. Well, I have plenty of things to say that are very different and as long as there are humans on this earth, we’ll have always something to share and if it’s been said before then what’s wrong in saying it again if it talks to our souls, and to be reminded that we are all coexisting and all equals? 

Guernica Sophie Matisse

Guernica 2003 by Sophie Matisse inspired by 9-11

To come back to your work, do you plan on showing these films?

I thought about that because when I’m ready to show, it will be really very different from the Matisse family and the paintings I’ve done before, even if some of them like the gouache were very personal. I feel in a way it will be more me than the rest and that I’m taking it further.

You’re finally totally becoming Sophie? Exactement! And it’s so nice because nothing feels better than feeling you’re free to express yourself as you wish. I’m really looking forward showing them when I’m ready. And at this point of my life, I don’t care so much if people will like them or not. I’m happy when it works but if I like them when they leave my studio, they will be part of me.


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Zoeschlin Publishing Community posted  ·  März 26th, 9:55 am

New article about Sophie Matisse by Laurence de Valmy on our blog. Enjoy!

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Zoeschlin Publishing Community posted  ·  Februar 22nd, 2:25 pm

New article by Jyoti Vats online!

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Zoeschlin Publishing Community posted  ·  Februar 15th, 3:46 pm

New article by Jyoti Vats about the famous impressionist painter Edmund Charles Tarbell online!
Read on: www.zoeschlin.com/edmund-charles-tarbell-1862-1938/
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