Caracas' Unofficial Art SceneAugust 18, 2014
CARACAS - In recent years, the art scene in Caracas has needed to adapt to the complex and constantly changing political and socioeconomic situation, which is currently going through a critical moment. The government’s cultural politics, directed towards the construction of a collective “revolutionary” imagery, have caused the transformation and development of private initiatives with diverse profiles. This is the case with independent spaces like Organización Nelson Garrido (ONG), El Anexo, Centro de Arte Los Galpones (Oficina #1, Espacio Monitor), and Los Secaderos de la Trinidad (Carmen Araujo Arte); spaces with institutional support like Colección Banco Mercantil, and Sala Mendoza; or the Centro Cultural Chacao (La Caja), which has the support of the regional government of Chacao.
Nelson Garrido (National Award for the Arts, 1991) is a photographer whose vocation for education inspired him to open a photography school in a house he owned. Here, hundreds of Venezuelan photographers and artists have trained and exhibited work, while several collectives (such as the El Libertario fanzine), various dance and theatre groups, choirs and sexual health groups use the space for meetings. Currently, Gala Garrido, Nelson’s daughter, directs the project and also has a small design and comic book store. As Nelson says, “the ONG is a space for those without space.”
2. Espacio Mercantil
Mercantil Arte y Cultura dedicates itself to promoting art through their exhibition space Espacio Mercantil and the Colección Mercantil, participating in Venezuelan and international exhibitions, directing research, and advertising conferences to support local Venezuelan talent. The Espacio Mercantil organizes exhibitions that draw upon their important art collection, dating from the Pre-Colombian era to contemporary times.
3. El Anexo
El Anexo / Arte Contemporáneo is an exhibition space that was founded in 2007, aimed toward the dissemination of contemporary projects in all their diverse modalities, mediums and creative interests. “It’s not an alternative space, but it proposes alternatives; it’s not experimental, but it fosters experimentation; it’s not autonomous, but it stimulates autonomy.” It defines itself as a place for establishing bonds, connections and attachments, a space for meetings and exchanges that looks to tune into and promote the diverse and heterogeneous character of contemporary art.
The Centro de Arte Los Galpones is a kind of oasis in the city, occupying a half hectare of land with almost 2,000 square meters of buildings, including not only several art galleries, but also design shops, a bookstore, a children’s art studio and restaurants. The most popular activities are the free outdoor movies for adults and children on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as the different talks and multidisciplinary meetings that are organized, always with art as their central focus.
5. Oficina #1
Oficina #1 is the first contemporary art space run and self-managed by artists in Venezuela. Founded in 2005 by Suwon Lee and Luis Romero, and directed together with Aixa Sánchez, Oficina #1 researches, stimulates and promotes the emerging art scene in Venezuela, which has permitted many young artists to show their first individual exhibitions in its gallery spaces. In February 2014, Oficina #1 opened a second gallery space of 100 square meters, a small distance away from their original headquarters of 50 square meters, with the hope of diversifying their programming and incorporating artists of other generations, thereby creating a new reading of contemporary art in tandem with the proposals of emerging artists.
6. Espacio Monitor (previously Galería La Cuadra)
Starting in February 2014, Galería La Cuadra changed its name and location. Now called Espacio Monitor, it’s located in the Centro de Arte Los Galpones, in a space of more than 350 square meters, especially designed to exhibit contemporary art. The gallery started its activities in the Venezuelan capital in 2006, with the resolved purpose of supporting, exhibiting and promoting national and international contemporary visual works, particularly Venezuelan and Latin American art.
Commonly known as Los Secaderos, Hacienda la Trinidad is a piece of land of 15000 square meters, with seven buildings that originally served for drying tobacco leaves. They currently house galleries for art and craft works, a bookstore, a photography studio, a café, a cacao laboratory, as well as the Casa de Hacienda where various events, workshops and exhibitions take place.
Located in one the Secaderos of the Hacienda La Trinidad, Carmen Araujo Arte is an art gallery which focuses on studying, divulging and promoting emerging Venezuelan and Latin American art. Its most recent exhibitions have included artists Dulce Gómez, Luis Poleo, Daniel Medina, Ricardo Peña and Alexandra Kuhn.
9. Sala Mendoza
Focused on being the center of reference for artistic production as well as for contemporary critical debate in Venezuela, the Sala Mendoza reconciles its non-profit civic association with its dynamic commercial self-management. This double profile permits it to operate solely with four programs or areas of action, which include an ample and diverse exhibition schedule dedicated to emerging and established contemporary artists, a documentation center, a bookstore, and a collecting and auctioning program.
El Centro Cultural Chacao is a foundation with 10 years of successful work in cultural dissemination and the creation of spaces for civic cohabitation. This center brings together manifestations of different artistic disciplines: theater, music, dance, literature, visual art and film, as well as varied programming reflecting upon and discussing culture and civic responsibility.