Interview with Nina Torres
Nina Torres is the Director and Chief Curator of Miami River Art Fair. ArtBahrain asked Nina about her beginnings in the art business, the challenges, her inspiration behind the creation of Miami River Art Fair and the Latin-American art market.
I studied Intercultural Education in Mexico and Art History in Europe. The more I studied and immersed myself in the art world, the more I appreciated the living spirit and the profound meanings of art. Over time I became completely engaged in everything related to art, and I knew I was in exactly the right place, doing what I was meant to do. I promptly decided to start building my own collection of art, and I opened my first Gallery in Mexico City. I always wanted to take a fresh and unique approach to art, and I set out to do this in my gallery. To accomplish this, I designed a program in which I dedicated six months of the year to promoting Mexican and Latin American artists in temporary exhibitions and the rest of the time I focused on Mexican masters, such as Tamayo, Diego Rivera, Siqueiros, Toledo, along with various well known artists such as Zúñiga, Remedios Varo and others.
You started your first gallery in Mexico 20 years ago and have been promoting art in international exhibitions. What made you move beyond the art consulting business in New York and start representing artists in a gallery format? Why Miami?
In 2000, I migrated to the United States to study E-Commerce, Fine Art Appraisal, and Arts Administration at NYU (New York University). At that point in my career I became very passionate about corporate collections, and that motivated me to open in New York my consultancy in Latin American Art, with a focus in this area. Miami became my second home, because when I moved to New York, I began to spend every winter down here in South Florida. The more time I spent in Miami, the more I wanted to live here. Also, I have always been keenly aware of what is happening in the art world, and when I realized that there was a huge art movement ready to transform Miami into an “Art Mecca”, I knew that opening a gallery right here in the heart of Miami was a “must”!
What were the challenges you had to overcome in setting up your gallery in Miami? What has been your greatest challenge to date?
In 2009, I came from New York on a business trip in search of a gallery space in Miami and I was stars truck by the Downtown Miami-Brickell area. Soon after, I moved into an apartment in Downtown and I began to take root here. I opened a gallery in the Wynwood Art District area in March of 2010. My challenge has always been to “make a difference” with the strongest possible impact. I always concentrate my efforts on doing things in a different way . . . and attending closely to every single aspect of whatever project I am working on. In November of 2011, I inaugurated my Miami gallery with a curated international art exhibition which included works by 40 cutting-edge artists from 20 countries. This new location, on North Bayshore Drive, is at the center of what promises to be Miami’s most important cultural area. As the only waterfront gallery in this location, we aim to serve the local and international communities as a meeting point where art enthusiasts, collectors, and the general public can gather for interactive events, in a bright welcoming space. Nina Torres Fine Art Gallery will continue to offer special projects that help foster ongoing cultural exchange, while ushering in a new phase of growth for the Miami Arts and Entertainment District from our premium location. As the Executive Director and Chief Curator, I will continue to curate exhibitions with the goal of providing new perspectives on global contemporary art practices and trends.
What kind of art do you show? Do you prefer to discover artists or show established ones?
Variety and balance are elements that make every exhibition solid. The Nina Torres Fine Art Gallery is open to select talented emerging artists, artists at mid-career who have piqued the interest of art connoisseurs, and also established masters. Realizing that we are a different gallery, we strongly and consciously attend to every detail that can help us improve and help insure success for everyone participating. Of course, a wise selection of artists, the creation of special projects and the right promotion to visitors will all be magnets which will help to establish our Gallery as a favorite, and as one of the very best option.
You also organize a World Tour Exhibition of Contemporary Art, for those that don’t know anything about it; could you sum it up in a few words?
The World Tour Exhibition of Contemporary Art, also known as WTECA, is a project which presents curated exhibitions produced at my gallery in Miami. There are many excellent artists I’ve worked with over the last 20 years who need to present their work on an international level. With this aim in mind I have selected the most important works of the contemporary art world and organized locally curated exhibitions in galleries and alternative spaces in England, Spain, Mexico, Berlin, Dubai, Monaco and the United States with artists from different parts of the world. In doing so, I am supporting and promoting these artists internationally. The first exposition of WTECA was held in 2010 in London with great success, and this success drives us to continue spreading the work of artists both from Latin America and around the world.
What inspired you to start Miami River Art Fair?
While living in New York, I traveled south each winter for Miami’s art fair season. I came to the realization that the arts did not have a prominent voice in the Downtown Miami- Brickell area – all of the art fairs were located either in Wynwood Art District or Miami Beach. I identified with the area so deeply that I wanted to create an event that will put this area on the map in the art world. After many site visits around Downtown Miami, it became clear that the Miami Convention Center at the James L. Knight International Center was the ideal location to host an international art fair. It is a large exhibition space worthy of a museum-level showcase, in addition to being at the cusp of both the Downtown Miami and Brickell neighborhoods. It took three years for me to have all the tools, elements and expertise necessary to design this large art fair. Now that we are up and running in this world-class location, we are well on our way to becoming one of the greatest International Art Fairs. Marketing studies, viability of services, and a very professional business plan were combined to make this come together, and the MIAMI RIVER ART FAIR (MRAF) is now on the map! At this moment, MRAF is fully endorsed by the City of Miami and the Miami River Commission, and we are collaborating with our neighbors to further this project in a way which provides maximum benefit to the
Apart from being the only waterfront art fair and the first landmark fine art event in the area, how did you stand out?
What is your edge?
The Miami River Art Fair will act as a catalyst to attract the elite art collectors, art professionals and art enthusiasts that have traveled to Miami from all corners of the globe to the Downtown Miami-Brickell area. It is our mission to aid in the revitalization of the Lower Miami River area and its public greenways by creating a landmark cultural event during a time when Miami is at the center of the global art scene. Miami River Art Fair’s unique privilege is the fact that there is no other art fair with a river walk where one can enjoy colossal art pieces, and where VIP guests can arrive in luxurious yachts! The first edition of Miami River Art Fair started off with over 200 artists from 35 countries, have you rejected any artists or galleries? What shows stood out? The selection process is very intense. We receive applications from many parts of the world and our commitment is to show the diversity of art that is generated in every corner of the planet. The Miami River Art Fair has tried to show all art forms such as painting, photography, installation, video, performance and monumental sculpture on the banks of the historic Miami River, in addition to expanding the installation of sculptures in alternative spaces along the river. This year the fair will inaugurate an art display in all common areas of the James L. Knight International Center, approximately 50,000 square feet, with works by artists from the gallery, an important area for mural works to be undertaken, and guided tours to be offered through this collection of art.
The biggest art investors tend to be from the USA, Russia, Germany and China. But in last year’s Miami Beach art fairs, Latin American millionaires and billionaires made quite a splash; did you have any big collectors behind you?
Yes, one of the largest investments of my gallery in the last 20 years has been to cultivate collectors by helping them achieve their goals, supporting them with information and strategic contacts, and helping them enrich their collections. New collectors will always appear, and new artists are always growing, evolving and becoming worthy of being included in collections, so there are various possible ways of connecting collectors with excellent art.
It is one thing to support artists, but the most important support is helping them get their art out into the world. My gallery is partnering with a very well-known gallery in China to collaborate with artists and collectors in a long term relationship. In Germany we are doing the same thing – we have a curator and advisor who is collaborating with us in this venture. We are also starting a dialogue with Russia, with the same goal – starting a new Miami-Russia art collaboration project in 2014.
Finally, Art has become dramatically more expensive and works by artists from Latin America are increasingly being collected by major museums. In your opinion, what do you believe is happening in the art market right now?
It seems like art is dramatically more expensive, but more than this, Latin American art is being more recognized by the rest of the world. Many museums and private collections in the world have started putting Latin American curators on their board of advisors, providing input regarding the acquisition of Latin American art, conducting visits to countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Cuba, and also visiting art fairs and biennales specializing in Latin America. An artist might be famous in their own city or country, but how can they bring their work out beyond that? The answers are the art fairs, (such as the Miami River Art Fair) – whose main purpose is to help distribute artworks worldwide.
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