This winter Jorge M. Pérez, the CEO of The Related Group, art collector, and major patron (ahem, Pérez Art Museum Miami), launches a new art space: El Espacio 23. Joining the new Rubell Collection location in the Miami neighborhood of Allapattah, El Espacio 23 will showcase Pérez’s personal collection. Whitewaller asked Pérez about the inaugural show, “Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Pérez Collection,” curated by José Roca.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us about your vision for El Espacio 23?
JORGE M. PÉREZ: The project started as we were looking for a storage space for my expanding collection. At first, it was going to be like an extended living room where my family, close friends, and I could get together to enjoy the art that was either too large or complex to be shown elsewhere, but as we began to lay out the plans, we quickly saw the benefits a project like this would bring to the surrounding community. The concept continued to expand, with plans growing to include multiple artist and curator residences and studio spaces, as well as 30-foot ceilings to accommodate some of our more monumental pieces. Thankfully, all the various facets came together to create a unique art center the entire community will be able to access and enjoy.
WW: What about its location, in the neighborhood of Allapattah?
JMP: Allapattah is the area immediately to the west of the popular Wynwood neighborhood. It has a privileged location, less than ten minutes from Downtown and the Miami International Airport, and just a few blocks from one of the country’s largest health districts. While the neighborhood is one of the most historically impoverished and underserved in all of Miami, it is likely to be the next neighborhood in the path of the city’s rapid expansion.
While the changes happening in the neighborhood are a result of what I see as the mostly beneficial capitalist society, it is important for Allapattah to not lose its unique essence. A neighborhood’s authenticity is incredibly important, which is why we’re partnering with numerous local schools, artists, and nonprofit organizations to preserve, celebrate, and further Allapattah’s legacy.
WW: Do you see this area as an up-and-coming arts neighborhood as you have The Rubell Museum opening there as well?
JMP: Absolutely. The close proximity to Wynwood makes it a natural extension of Miami’s cultural heart, while the still-affordable prices make it accessible to artists and gallerists.
Having the Rubells come into Allapattah is incredible. Both of our families are very close, and while this joint move was not planned, we are very excited to grow and evolve alongside them.
WW: What kind of tone did you want to set with the inaugural show, “Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Pérez Collection”?
JMP: As I’m an immigrant, and a son of immigrants, it was important for this show to delve into concepts like societal unrest,
displacement, race, democracy, and acceptance. We are obviously in a hugely turbulent time politically, ethically, and socially and I felt this kind of show would help initiate much-needed dialogue.
I’m a major believer in the connecting power of art and hope this show helps people get some context to see beyond all of the noise they are being bombarded by on a daily basis.