EK Interview: Overture Arts!

We here at Empty Kingdom really believe that art can make the world better, and we intend to show that.  Because of this, we are naturally inclined to appreciate and want to work with those who have a similar mission.  Enter Overture Art Fair, a special gathering of artists from around the world with a mission.  We interviewed  Rod Kukurudz, the co-president about what they are all about.

At ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD, your goal is ‘to promote Corporate Social Responsibility by using the arts as a vehicle for positive change’ what artists are you currently featuring that address such social issues in a positive manner? What specific issues does their work address? What are they saying? Why has ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD chosen these specific artists to be the standard bearers?

We are fortunate to not only have artists exhibiting who address these social issues, but we are proud to say that all our exhibitors, many of whom are major art dealers and galleries, have decided to engage in our Social Responsibility Program and sign the Pledge to Sponsor an Art Program in a school of underprivileged kids. When you have an art dealer from New York such as Dom Taglialatella who was the original inspiration for our ambitious model with his KM Taglialatella Foundation, who is now joined by a gallery in the UAE, an artist in Caracas or Mr. Brainwash, or when you know that Julian Lennon gives 10% of all his gains to his beautiful White Feather Foundation, you know that we are starting a trend which is the way of the future. In these troubled times, us, who are sometimes a little more fortunate than most, owe it to the world to be generous, and serve as models.

What galleries have you partnered with and what projects are you currently working on with them? Which galleries are you currently working with? How does the art that they showcase differ? What is a constant among those galleries? What about those galleries appeals to ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD?

We have always wanted to be a small art fair, with a real flavor, a difference, and a long term ambition of taking our concept to other horizons, both in the US and other Continents.

When we decided to take a portion of the Scope Pavillion, where we have our own entrance and separate branding and layout, even if there is a direct free passage from the Scope Pavilion into overture, we knew we could host no more than 20 to 25 galleries.That was perfect, since Sandrine my wife and myself, encouraged in this by Angeliki Georgiou, who is now directing the fair, strongly believe in quality vs. quantity. The truth is, we had NO interest in just doing “another” art fair like many are doing these days.As much as we now know that we can make a difference by inspiring the art world on the Socially Responsible approach, we also consider each of our exhibitors, be it an international gallery or an emerging artist, as our partners. The constant among those galleries: the high quality of art they will be presenting, and most often the desire to get involved in our Socially Responsible approach. And the decision to honor us with their presence, believe in us, a young (but audacious and tenacious) art fair.

Art Basel is a great experience, it is a world renowned and international art festival that provides an incredible outlet for artists to both express themselves and create new opportunities. But what about the average citizen? How are you at ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD reaching out to those who are not dialed into the world of art? How are you brining art to those who need art the most because of the degree it enriches life and engenders new and critical thought?

Art Basel Miami Beach Week is not A great experience: It is THE ULTIMATE experience in the USA. We approach the “average citizen” (our peers, our family, our friends, we are not an elite and never will be) with an open house. We have very affordable entrance prices, always free for children and seniors. I might add we have never turned down anyone at the door, have welcomed over 1,000 children from the Broward and Miami Dade Schools.My only regret on the topic of schools and children is that the Miami Dade Schools central Art coordinators have never shown much interest in our offer to welcome, free of charge, the kids from our local schools. So every year, we have to reach out to each school individually if we want to see our kids visit a great fair.Is an unprecedented exhibition of 100 Warhols, taking place in Miami, for which we are already receiving requests from media as close as Mexico and as far as Japan, not of interest to our kids? Hopefully, the Superintendant’s Office will one day recognize what we bring to this community, which, by the way, happens to be ours, contrary to most other fairs during ABMB Week.

You sounded particularly excited about the 100 Warhols Expo, which Warhol pieces are you showing? How is the work of Warhol relevant to the message and ideology of ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD? Can you describe, in your own words, how the work of Warhol changed the world of art? How do you at ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD want to change the world of art? How are you going about creating that change?

Who would not be excited of having this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present such a monumental exhibition, unprecedented in the history of art fairs ? First of all, I must thank our cultural partner Dom Taglialatella, who is the art dealer making this happen. Dom and his team have been working for months contacting collectors, colleagues, friends, to allow us to present to the public an Overview of the greatest American artist of the 20th Century. Among the Highlights you will be able to see the rarely exhibited Flash November 22, 1963 portfolio in its entirety, which Warhol created in 1968 in response to the Kennedy assassination and to the then unprecedented international media coverage of the event. Additional features include a rare, large scale portrait of 1980s icon Debby Harry and a very intimate portrait of Warhol’s beloved Dachshund, Archie.

We don’t have the arrogance of saying we want to change the world of art. We simply want to change the way collectors look at art, and want to take advantage of having thousands of the most important and influential art collectors in the world present in Miami to help the causes we support reach out to them within this high powered ABMB Week environment. There is a reason why Robert Lynch, President of Americans for the Arts, has decided, 2 years in a row, to host his annual ABMB breakfast at our fair. Because we are not simply an art fair.

Tell us about Overture, how did it come about, what was the thinking behind it? What events are occurring at Overture? What was the thinking behind them, what was the social goal? This is the 3rd time ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD has been to Art Basel, what was the first time like? What was the greatest challenge you faced the first time? How have you addressed that in this 3rd iteration?  What is the difference between Overture and ARTS FOR A BETTER WORLD?

As we entered our 3rd year, we knew that we needed to enhance our art fair, to develop it and bring it to where it is today. Especially since we were going ot present an unprecedented exhibition of Andy Warhol. This is how Angeliki Georgiou got involved with us at the beginning of the summer. In a few months, we have re-branded, enhanced and developed the fair to a totally different level:Overture Miami by Arts For A Better World.Among the events occurring, the first one is a most spectacular Vernissage: “An evening at Rao’s in Miami, benefitting the Mt Carmel School of harlem NY. We are bringing to Miami, for the first time ever, one of the most sought out restaurants in the whole world. It is simply impossible to get a tableat Rao’s … Even the New York Times has written articles about it. And we are honored to have Rao’s on board. Why ? because we are benefitting the incredible Mt Carmel School of Harlem, dear to their heart, which has the most spectacular art program for underprivileged children I have ever heard of anywhere in the world. So powerful that our goal is to be inspired and duplicate part of it in other schools all over the US and around the World.We will also be hosting our very special exclusive Pirvate Collectors Dinner on Thursday December 6, which we are offering to some of the most powerful and influential collectors present in Miami during that week.

To launch Arts For A Better World in 2010, we invited, AT NO COST, 47 artists, from all 6 Continents, to exhibit. Our goal was to make a sensational first impression in the art world, and demonstrate that we firmly believed 9and still do) that art, the only universal language, contributes to a Better World. Our greatest challenge was undoubtedly the fact that we were not from the art world, since we are event producers, passionate about producing events with a meaning. But today, 3 years later, when we look back and see where we stand, it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, that Bobby Kennedy used, citing GB Shaw: “… I dream of things that never were, and I say, why not …”

Who are the beneficiaries of Overture? Why were these causes been chosen? Why are they particularly worth of focus at the current time? What other causes would you like to champion in the future that you are not championing currently?

Since we have re-organized our fair, and extended the reach and mission of Arts For A Better World, we are now in a position to support, promote and get involved with many different organizations.I have already described the KMTaglialatella Foundation for Mt Carmel School of Harlem, but we are also supporting Americans For the Arts, MusicLink Foundation, and will be helping in every which way we can, Julian Lennon’s beautiful White Feather Foundation.The choice is so tough. Especially for people like Sandrine and myself, who met through non profit work over 20 years ago, and are always wanting to help and get involved. We atarted in 2010 with the major players; American Cancer Society, American and International Red Cross to cite the 2 most significant ones. But the truth is, those mega organizations don’t really need us, the way so many other beautiful, dynamic and active causes do.

Are you capable of choosing who is most worthy of your help and support, between sick children, battered mothers, or aspiring artists to whom we provide a dream and therefore hopes for the future ? Because we are not. The beauty being, we will be working for years to come, and hopefully we will inspire many others to follow this track.