Interview with Curator Lara Pan and John Jaenisch from Artworks Advisory

Celestial Mechanics curated by Lara Pan at Artworks Advisory, installation view. Images courtesy of the artist and Artworks Advisory.

Jamie Martinez: Thanks for showing me around your latest curatorial project “Celestial Mechanics” on view at Artworks Advisory. Can you talk about your background in the arts and your journey to NYC?

Lara Pan: I’ve been involved in the art world from a very young age. In my teens, I learned a lot and had access to good artists, curators and art historians. During that time I was able to see a lot of inspirational art while meeting important artists. Also, I was working at gallery SKC in Belgrade which was an important part of my art education. A mother of a close friend from school was a very respected curator in former Yugoslavia, her name was Dunja Balzevic, who I learned a lot from in my teens. At that time we had a conceptual art group (Moschophoros) which was very “ambitious (laughs).” This was before I went to college to try to become an artist.

After that, I left to study art in Paris & kept communication with some friends from college who are now renowned gallerists and curators.

At one point, I was not happy in Paris so I decided to leave the art world for a while and concentrate my time to another passion of mine which is film and acting. Those were some fun times and I still have the first short film I acted in, it was the first school film with film director Partho Sen Gupta, who just enchanted Tribeca Film Festival with his movie Sunrise. So there are a lot of funny coincidences that are part of my path in the art world.

How did I end up in NYC? A lot of factors aligned. I did some significant exhibitions such as Pandora’s Sound Box for PERFORMA 09 which was a survey of conceptual artist Braco Dimitrijevic. All those projects happened after my collaboration with The Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice “ Torre” by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye.

Then a funny offer came to me via some colleagues in Basel. They proposed me to present a to a corporate brand, The Ford Modeling Agency, which was investing in art at the time. I got a lot of press from this exhibition “When the Fairy Tale Never Ends”. There were many people that visited this exhibition, who I now work with regularly, but it’s funny because at that point I was still in Europe and did not actually meet most of them until I moved to New York. Even today I keep meeting collectors and curators and they tell me: “ahhh, it’s you Lara Pan,” – yes we saw this exhibition but we never met the curator…that’s how my NYC story starts.

The Wizard Chamber at Kunsthalle Winterthur Switzerland curated by Lara Pan, 2013. Drawing by Oswaldo Macia.
The Wizard Chamber at Kunsthalle Winterthur Switzerland curated by Lara Pan, 2013. (Back-Front)Photographs by Trevor Paglen and sculpture by Alessandro Brighetti.

JM: Can you tell me more about “Celestial Mechanics”? What is the main idea behind this show?

LP: The Celestial Mechanics idea came while I was discussing the trajectory of celestial bodies with artist Rafael Vargas Suarez, whose work focuses primarily on spatial architecture. I had an idea and decided to show some artists whose work I knew well. I started selecting works that explore ideas about geometry, cosmic architecture, soundscape, time systems of logic or illogic in the unbounded universe. Also, the idea behind it was to highlight and rediscover those artists and bring them to a larger public. All of them have or had  (referring to Paulina Peavy and Leo Valledor who have passed away) interesting paths and unique approaches to their art. Also, it was an opportunity to work for first time with artists including Karla Knight, Nola Zirin and Ana Knezevic.

My big passion is art that explores scientific methods and phenomen that can appear through scientific or spiritual -experimentation.

(L-R) John Jaenisch and Lara Pan at Artworks Advisory.

JM: How long have you  been collaborating with Artworks Advisory and what other projects are you working on?

LP: I recently started collaborating with Artworks Advisory after meeting John several years ago via artists that he was collecting. We remained friends and that’s how the idea of collaborating together started. I love Harlem and I hope that we will make a place that artists can meet, exchange ideas and connect with prominent curators, collectors and diverse art professionals. I think everyone that I met involved in the Harlem art scene is doing a great job and we are happy to interact and contribute with the community. The next project is about American popular culture which will focus is more on figurative  painting…that will be a very fun project…especially since figurative painting is not a medium that I often work with.

My other upcoming projects are in Europe in museums but it’s too early to announce…I am very superstitious. Also, there is the 20th anniversary of WhiteBox  this year and we are all working very hard to put a great program. Do not miss JIZI: Journey of the Spirit curated by Thomas Rose and DR Wang Chunchen with director Lyndel King from Weisman Museum  of art (WAM). The show is opening on January 23rd. We are very excited about this years program at Whitebox and Artworks Advisory.

Celestial Mechanics curated by Lara Pan at Artworks Advisory, installation view. Images courtesy of the artist and Artworks Advisory.

Interview with John Jaenisch.

JM: It was a pleasure meeting you, John. How did you get involved in the arts and what made you launch Artworks Advisory?

John Jaenisch: It’s a pleasure meeting you Jamie and thanks for having me. I began collecting contemporary art in the mid-1980’s which is when I moved to New York from school. In the mid-1990’s I started displaying some of my collection at work, in and around our communal work area and immediately noticed my colleagues and other people from the company hanging out near the artwork. There was a connection to the art. Our jobs were mainly focused on looking at computer screens, speaking on the phones and looking up and seeing artwork was 100% better than looking at white walls. This led to a fascination with the connection between contemporary art and the viewer’s well-being. Through extensive research over the past couple of years, my colleagues and I have learned the connection between contemporary art and emotion and the many valuable benefits to its viewers. These benefits and emotional impacts upon viewers of art include inspiration, inducing energy and calming stress, creativity, feelings of trust and community, and more. We’ve asked the question ‘why’ at every step which brought us to the basic process of understanding the human visual system and the cognitive process of trying to understand what we are looking at and why. This discovery prompted the concept for Artworks Advisory, we founded a company with its core mission to explain and educate how and why contemporary art can benefit viewers. At Artworks Advisory we work with organizations and individuals on the use of curated contemporary art in any setting to benefit employees, clients, and guests.

Paulina Peavy, Untitled. 1980, mixed media on paper, 10 x 14 inches.

JM: It seems like many galleries are migrating to Harlem and opening up new spaces. What drew you to open up an art space in Harlem?

John Jaenisch: Our decision was based on multiple reasons. We like the energy in Harlem and its historical importance in New York’s history. Harlem is also a changing place like all of New York with neighborhoods that are economically and racially diverse that allows us to engage in a community outside the art world for ideas and impressions.

We’re a hybrid art space and primarily meet clients by appointment either at our space or their space because of our business model and are not reliant on revenue coming solely from shows.

Leo Valledor, Zevenful. 1982, Acrylic-oil on Wood, 15 x 11 inches.

JM: That’s great. Are there any studies of how art can help business or workers perform better in a commercial environment?

John Jaenisch: There are studies from different disciplines of science, Universities and industry organizations, by themselves explain part of the story but when they’re applied together, they explain a powerful message. We started with studies that explain how art produces a happy and creative environment for workers in the workplace. This lead us to; art produces emotions in people which lead us to; color and shape theory which lead us to; how the human visual system operates and art produces brain waves which lead us to; representative or contemporary art. What we know and can support with studies is that curated contemporary art increases creativity, well being, productivity and more when displayed in the work environment and one of our challenges is educating clients on this process.

JM: Do you have any examples of how art improved the work environment from one of your clients?

John Jaenisch: We are a fairly young company and have clients that are in an experimental period by using a smaller work area to test the product and gauge staff impressions, and they’ve noticed this area becomes more of a focal point for discussions.

Another good example is when one of our clients moves staff intra-floor, or to a different floor, they will ask if they can take the art with them to there new location.

Celestial Mechanics curated by Lara Pan at Artworks Advisory, installation view. Images courtesy of the artist and Artworks Advisory.

JM: What is next for Art Advisory?

John Jaenisch: That’s a great question. We’re in the process of refining our marketing message and value proposition. At times clients will say to us “do you have to spend a ton of money to support an art program.” The answer to this is, no you don’t have to spend a ton of money, we mostly work with artists directly which lowers the cost and we source artists nearest to the city where the client resides which reduces transportation costs. We also offer a flex-term leasing program and in most cases for profit clients can deduct the cost of the lease payments for tax purposes. Also, when clients decide to invest more in their employee’s well being by starting an art program, we remind them they’re also supporting local artists at the same time. We’re also creating a digital and event platform centered around Art in the workplace with a mission to exchange ideas and conversations with industry leaders in neuroscience, psychology, artists, gallerists and corporate curators.

Exhibition artists for Celestial Mechanics : Ana Knezevic, Judith Braun, Karla Knight, Leo Valledor, Nola Zirin, Paul Laster, Paulina Peavy, Predrag Dimitrijevic and Vargas Suarez Universal.


Celestial Mechanics curated by Lara Pan at Artworks Advisory

From November 30, 2017 – April 20, 2018

by appointment only

Padrag Dimitrijevic, Untilted, 2014, acrylic on paper, 24 x 30 inches.
Leo Valledor, Injunuit, 1988 Acrylic-Oil On Wood, 28 x11 inches.
Celestial Mechanics curated by Lara Pan at Artworks Advisory, installation view. Images courtesy of the artist and Artworks Advisory.
Nola Zirin, Astral Armada. 2009, oil and enamel, 30 x 60 inches.
Karla Knight, Spaceship Drawing 1, 2015-16, color pencil & graphite on paper, 29 x 29 inches.
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Jamie Martinez

Jamie Martinez is an artist, the founder/publisher of ArteFuse Magazine, and the Founder/Director of The Border Project Gallery. His artwork strives to disrupt the prevailing colonial paradigm in which we exist. His intentions are to ignite contemplation regarding the eroded indigenous beliefs, investigate the potential of art as a shield for the journey beyond life, and orchestrate meaningful rituals and communal assemblies that underscore the significance of cultural interchange in society, encompassing labor as well. Instagram: @jamiemartinezstudio

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