Calix Gustav Gallery is that hot new space that might have caught your eye on gallery night located right across the street from the Rubell Family Collection. Director Amanda Fernandez-Leon opened the gallery doors last October of 2009 and has since then implemented an aesthetic for the space that is very much her own.
With a BA in Art History and natural inclination toward the arts, Amanda knows exactly what she wants in her space and is not afraid to say it. Having received an incredibly positive response from Wynwood locals and regulars has Amanda quite optimistic for the future, also taking full advantage of her amazing location that has no doubt benefitted from its incredible neighbor, Rubell. During my visit with her, we speak of the courage to open the space, artists submissions (and rejections), and how in an ideal world, everyone would see art as the most basic of necessities.
At a time in which most of us have seen a number of veteran galleries sadly crumble before our eyes, this young gallery director is anything but intimidated. When I ask her what compelled her to open a new space during this risky economic period, she explains that although doubts concerning the times may have come up, her upbringing stopped her from thinking twice: “If you keep finding reasons not to do things you are never going to do them!” she says. In fact, finding the courage to take the leap into the art industry is not something Amanda considers terribly heroic, instead she seems to have a very matter-of-fact “if not now, then when?” approach toward the whole adventure.
Calix Gustav began with an open call to all artists through its blog in 2009. Since then, the gallery has been flooded with submissions by local and international artists alike.
Though selecting the right artists for the gallery was not especially trying for a director with such a concrete concept and notion of a desired aesthetic, the emotional aspect of rejecting emerging artists is definitely one that has affected Amanda who is always trying to explain that rejection by Calix Gustav, or by any gallery for that matter, is not the end but rather a sign to keep searching for the perfect fit.
Incorporating live musical performances on gallery night openings and continuing exhibits is something Amanda believes essential to the presentation of the space and its mission in Wynwood of making contemporary art accessible to the public all the while stimulating each one of our senses. Considering Calix Gustav more of an art center rather than a traditional gallery, Amanda explains she has big plans for the extraordinary space as she envisions special film screenings in association with O Cinema, continuing a joint venture between art and music, and turning Calix Gustav into a total cultural space that the public can rely on for entertainment through the visual arts and life.