How Gallerist James Fuentes Got His Start (and What He's Bringing to Miami)

Owner of the eponymous Lower East Side gallery, James Fuentes began his gallerist career just months after graduating college. Fuentes got his start in 1998 with a summer job at public art-focused nonprofit Creative Time and, shortly after, a security guard post at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That fall, he rented a 300-square-foot gallery space, which coincidentally, previously served as dealer Gavin Brown’s first gallery. Fuentes says, “it was tiny, I called it the small gallery,” and thus his journey began.

A Lower East Side native, Fuentes has come full circle with his current space at 55 Delancey St., just a stone’s throw from where he grew up. Regarding his distinctive gallery program that organically incorporates very established artists with up-and-coming artists, many of whom are characterized by multidisciplinary practices, Fuentes admits that “this was intentional,” and something that he “appreciate[s] is evident in the program.” He adds that what also makes the gallery different is that “we do not filter what we show by age or what school the artist went to.”

James Fuentes exhibits at NADA Miami Beach this December, with a booth he describes as a “‘best of’ the program” with “artists that are familiar to the gallery and artists that are new to the gallery.”  Included is a work by Daniel Subkoff, which was part of the gallery’s critically acclaimed debut show of the artist, that Fuentes is eager to show to a wide audience “since his show took place during a sleepy time of year.” He also proudly shows artists on the ascent, Lonnie Holley and John McAllister. Holley is included in a highly anticipated 2014 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in March, and McAllister will be in a show at Le Consortium in Paris in February.

Fuentes looks forward to seeing fellow NADA exhibitor Sorry We’re Closed’s presentation, admiring his colleague’s “foresight to re-introduce Peter Schuyff who is in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.” As far as the year ahead at the gallery, Fuentes is keeping his options open. He divulges the one show that’s confirmed thus far: “We will be presenting Andy Warhol’s EMPIRE in January. Jonas Mekas shot the film.”

James Fuentes, NADA Miami Beach 2013, Main, Booth 608, Dec. 5th–8th.

Explore NADA Miami Beach on Artsy and Artsy’s Editorial Highlights from the Miami Art Fairs.

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