Michael Radziewicz opened Michael Jon Gallery earlier this month. The gallery is located at 20 NE 41st St., across from the de la Cruz Collection.
You’re from Chicago, right? How does that place feel now that you’ve spent a few months down here? I feel like the two cities represent very different Americas, but I can’t back that up in any way. Am I right?
Oh Jeez! I don’t know how you begin to compare the two, they are just so different. Maybe the best way is to hang out at a Starbuck’s in each city? haha! With concern to the art world, Chicago’s scene is heavily supplemented by artist ran spaces, which are often housed in apartments, garages, and other domestic areas. There are more art schools up there, and the rent is cheaper, so their prevalence makes sense. One thing that doesn’t exist are collections like the De La Cruz’s / Rubell’s / Margolis’. I’m continually blown away that these places exist! They offer a great opportunity to see plenty of emerging / mid-career artists who larger institutions don’t usually show.
What’d you study in school? How did you switch from making art to selling it?
My undergraduate degree is in art education, I taught high school for a few years, and then got an MFA in studio arts. Grad school felt like a reality show in its pace and I became quite uninterested in “making” the way I had been previously. During that time I was buying and selling a lot of furniture as a way to make money on the side, and then one day was presented with the opportunity to buy a shoe store’s entire inventory of Vans. Without much hesitation I purchased all of the shoes, shipped them to Chicago, and started making sculptures from/for them. From there I bought and sold whatever lot of commodities I could get. Several thousand used belts, tubes of toothpaste, fruit (which was later turned into fabric dye, after it rotted) web domains, pocket knives, etc…The prospect of these seemingly insane business ventures refocused my interest in art, but operating as a dealer or middleman. I don’t think of the gallery as an art piece, but I needed my practice to get here.
Why did you decide to open a gallery in Miami, as opposed to NYC, LA, Peoria?
In addition to being a great place to live, Miami feels as if a lot of opportunity still exists. I moved here six months ago, and have had the gallery for about a week now, and there has been a lot of positive reception from the community about trying to present a different position. If I were to do the same thing in those other cities, my effort would go largely unnoticed or feel redundant.
Can you tell me about your program? What do you want to show? What do you want to avoid?
I’m focusing on emerging artists from outside the region. The first several shows were arranged to vary in speeds, textures, and conceptual concerns. I want the programming to feel coherent, but not predictable.
What’s up right now?
A solo show by Paul Cowan. It consists of four paintings on canvas that were executed by sign painters, a stamped pattern on the front window that was appropriated from a zoo’s window display, and a balloon in a state of deflation. These works are drawn from his larger oeuvre, which through a discursive, yet generative place addresses the structures of painting and breaks in communication through a comedic and speculative angle. The work can feel obtuse at first glance, but quickly reveals a wonderfully amusing side…Kind of like an awkward first date.
What do you want to give Miami?
A venue that presents challenging work, invites dialogue with the artists, and is concerned with the livelihood of the Miami art scene for the other 51 weeks a year. I want the gallery to contribute in continuing to build Miami’s presence in the international art world.
What do you need from Miami in return?
We need the city to engage with art at times other than Second Saturdays and the first week in December. There is a solid core of people who are doing this, but when you see the energy that exists during these small windows, you can’t help but want that to continue the rest of the year.