The Hamptons with Art Curator Yubal Márquez Fleites

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Artists are always pushing the boundaries. Crossing lines, testing the edge, diving in head first with complete and utter disregard. It takes a bold mind to step out into the unknown. For us at KARJAKA we’re always looking into new market places, and our July edition features an art haven that’s quintessential New York, The Hamptons.

Following the foot steps of Southampton’s premier art curator Yubal Márquez Fleites, we feature a day in the life of the man who brings artists’ works to the ultimate stage, and the magnificent artists who explore new ground and play their part with inspirational aplomb.

A Day in the Life and One-on-One with the Visionary

When you are out East every day, it’s a completely different way of life. There might be a new happening or great opportunity to explore. I’m at the Gallery almost every day and a “normal day” is usually 12+ hours.

I’m a US Army Veteran, so waking up early is still embedded in my daily routine. The first thing I do when I wake up is pray and meditate; everyday that we are in this world is a blessing it is very important for me to appreciate and recognize that. 

Jump up and get ready for my morning workout, which recently involves a walk or run around the neighborhood ending up at the beach. I happen to be living quite close to the ocean, so I feel very lucky to experience that, it’s a breath of fresh air to bask in that morning light. 

After a shower, I select my attire for the day. It’s interesting; depending on how I’m feeling is the selection I make, I’m very lucky to have a wonderful image consultant and style guru, Tavia Sharp of Styled Sharp. She has definitely been a very important factor in complimenting my personality to my style and to my business. Looking good is the key to feeling good.  

At the Gallery, my day is filled with visits, client calls, touching base and catching up with my artists, looking into our ongoing programming, planning our upcoming exhibitions and events, curating the artworks, meeting with collaborators and more. 

In the afternoon, I usually go to one of my favorite places in the Southampton Village, Sant Ambroeus which has one of the best espressos in the Hamptons and being Cuban, we like our coffee strong. If I feel like a refreshing drink, their green juice is my go-to beverage. For a snack they have this amazing turkey, tomato and mozzarella sandwiches that I’m obsessed about and the funny thing is they remind me of the ones they used to sell in the streets of Santiago de Cuba, every bite is a memory from the past, I love them. 

In the early evening for dinner or happy hour, there are so many great options in the Southampton Village, but a couple of my favorites would have to be Bamboo Southampton and Dopo Argento. Bamboo has a very cool and casual allure to its environment, paired with a very nice happy hour for both food and drinks. Their menu selection is quite generous and it has excellent food, from the sushi to their spicy shrimp dumplings to their Asian fusion dishes which I have with my usual Reposado Spicy Margarita. 

Dopo Argento has its own unique flair that distinguishes it from its Sag Harbor sister restaurant, Dopo La Spiaggia (also one of my East End favorites), Argento has its own distinctive touch with a fresh mix of Italian and Mediterranean flavors complemented with a very delicious array of carefully crafted cocktails. Some of my favorites here are the Fettuccine with shrimp (can’t say no to that black truffle sauce) paired with their “Little Plains” which is a mix of Mezcal, Reposado Tequila, pineapple, lemon, ginger and honey. 

If I’m lucky enough to catch the sunset (thank you summer for the extended the daylight hours), I love to go to the oceanfront. Seeing the day and the sun dissipate between the colorful skylines, a dance of clouds in synergy with breathtaking colors, that seems more like a work of art than anything else. This is a daily reminder that nature and the universe are the ultimate artists, and makes us realize how fortunate we are to be here enjoying its blessings and creations. †


Tell me a bit about how it all started. How did you get your start as an Art Curator?

Several years ago in New York City, an artist friend of mine asked me to deliver one of his pieces for an upcoming exhibition. When I arrived at the Gallery, the owner, who also happened to be an artist, was rushing to finish everything that needed to get done. The opening was the following day and there was certainly a lot to take care of. I put on my Producer hat and offered to help, not only aiding in multiple aspects in putting the show together, but also ended up curating the entire exhibition.

How long have you been doing this? What was the initial inspiration behind Arte Collective?

Well, this depends on who you ask. My mother would probably say since I was in the third grade. From a very early stage in life I have always been fascinated with art and creating in all of its aspects. My youthful curiosity led me to pay attention to the works of various artists, bask in their beauty, mystery and emotions. One in particular is my all time favorite Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose work I’ve been intrigued with since I was about 8 years old. 

The art world is a particularly complex universe to navigate in, especially for those who are in the early stages of their careers. For example, for underrepresented and up and coming artists one of the most common and ongoing challenges is how to exhibit their work in established and highly regarded galleries, exhibitions and art shows. This sometimes brings the dilemma that if an artist doesn’t have “enough experience”, development or associations, even if the talent is there, the road can be a very steep one. Arte Collective was initially inspired by this need, of giving great exhibition opportunities to artists whose talent and creations have not been discovered before. 

There is so much amazing talent and inspiration all around us; we just need to keep our eyes and minds open.

Can you share more about the artists you work with? What is the common denominator amongst them?

Certainly! Each artist that I am fortunate enough to be working with has something very special that distinguishes them. As a rule, I won’t curate or represent an artist whose work I would not collect myself or display on my own walls. At first glance it’s the work itself, the energy that transpires from the piece, and is later validated by the artist, their concept and story, this is the key. 

Everything that is part of the artist flows onto their creations, their soul, ideals, emotions, faith, and appreciation for sharing with the world something that is an innate part of what makes them who they are. This common denominator has not only been a guiding light of mine, but a profound standard of passion and desire that has led me to meet and work together with artists in multiple disciplines from all over the world.

What brought you to the Hamptons? What’s your connection to the East End?

Years ago a good friend of mine, who also happens to be a Gallerist and artist, invited me to come visit for a weekend. In that trip we visited multiple areas including Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and Montauk. I grew up surrounded by ocean and nature, so I was immediately taken by all of its scenery, tranquility and beauty. 

Over time I’ve come to make great relationships with friends and clients alike, every day I get to meet and interact with the amazing people that are a part of the community here and its history. 

For some reason I felt an instant synergy with the East End, in a very particular way it reminded me of home and I certainly hope that I will be a part of this community for a very long time, and make it a home away from home. 

You opened up your new gallery in the middle of a global pandemic. What made you trust this was the right move?

When the pandemic hit, I was still in Miami operating our Gallery there, and all of a sudden everything came to a halt. This was a very hard time for everyone and the uncertainty that followed was definitely not easy to deal with. We were talking about an unprecedented event in many of our lifetimes, which literally affected the whole world and our way of life. This brought not only difficult challenges, but also the opportunity to shift, adapt and explore new opportunities. 

We have had great results in the past in the Hamptons through our past activations, partnerships, seasonal exhibitions and art fairs. I noticed that there was an opportunity to find a permanent home for our Gallery programming, and to bring in the fresh and energetic work of our artists and also to fulfill the increasing demand for art as a result in the rise of the real estate market, which drove countless of individuals to move out East. 

Giving back through Art is a very important for you. What are some of the charities and organizations you support? 

I always joke around saying: “Puppies and Kids, that’s how you get me!” 

I’ve been fortunate to work closely with several amazing organizations, one for example is The Maestro Cares Foundation, founded by Entrepreneur Henry Cardenas and music icon Marc Anthony; it is a wonderful organization that, among other goals, helps build orphanages for children across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. I’ve been very honored to support their efforts serving as Curator and Host Committee Member of their “Changing Lives Building Dreams” annual Gala in New York City. 

The puppies! Don’t even get me started on this one. One local Hamptons organization that I’m very happy to support is the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation whose mission is to provide for the welfare of the ever-growing number of homeless animals, and, in turn, to place them in permanent caring homes. Last year, we hosted the “Barks for Art” Fundraiser at our Gallery in Southampton, this year we were happy to donate several works to the Annual Fundraiser hosted by Honorary Board Member Jean Shafiroff and will also be supporting their 12th Annual Unconditional Love Gala. 

Please visit www.maestrocares.org and www.southamptonanimalshelter.com to learn more about their initiatives and how you can support their causes.

Besides being a Gallery owner and Curator, you are also an Artist. Any particular story about your work that you would like to share? 

” C u b a  S i e m p r e “

There is one particular photograph that I took in my home country of Cuba, which is very dear to me; I usually exhibit it in the Gallery or exhibitions that I’ve done as a reminder of who I am and where I come from. 

“Cuba Siempre” was captured in the place that saw my mother enter this world; the neighborhood she grew up in, Palma Soriano is a humble province in Cuba, about 40 minutes away from the more popular Santiago de Cuba located southeast of the island.

Coming out of the house my Mother grew up in, and after having a simple breakfast and the usual morning Cuban coffee, I headed to visit my cousin at her home across the way. My family has been part of this community for a very long time, and in that street alone there is a multitude of lineage that still endures.

In the very instant I was crossing the street my eyes looked up and gazed at the long horizon, a storm was coming.

Dressing the infinite distance, it was a view that was hard to ignore. The sky was in shades of black, grey, white and blue, and at the very center of it all among the sea of clouds announcing the imminent squall, a ray of sunlight gazed through the gloom and illuminated the busy neighborhood street.

It was in that very instant when this moment was captured, a single shot. It was not planned, it was not thought of, it came with no preparation, it was just meant to be.

And there it stood in time and after a while it was rediscovered, causally gazing upon the images of this particular journey, I remembered this occasion and it was then when I started noticing for the first time everything that had transpired.

It all made sense, in a split second, the multiple elements that conform part of the essence of our roots and values where forever held.

In the midst of everything that has transpired during the last year as a result of the pandemic, many aspects of our lives have come forth and into question. But one thing is for sure; we will weather the storm, we will endure, we will maintain all that is true and makes us who we are, no matter where we come from. Your roots and values live within; they are a part of your nature, of your innate essence. 

This is but a humble reminder of keeping all that we have lived present, to remember all of those who forged the way and paved the path to our existence. To honor our families and their lineage as they have fought with blood, sweat and tears to make our today a reality.

This is not one; this is each and every one of us! Together, being united in community and rising above any challenge.

Remember your past, live your present and create your future! – Yubal Márquez Fleites

The Curator’s Corner

Bob Clyatt: The 21st Century Artist

My sculptures always include some sort of classical, visual/aesthetic references blended together with something conceptual and contemporary. You’ll find lots of different ways this happens in my work, but if you look you will always be able to figure out how I’ve woven these two sculptural and artistic streams together in each piece. For me it’s an essential way to grapple with what it means to be alive now in the early 21st century: We are some kind of long-evolving physical beings with ancient roots and motivations, yet we are also heirs to a century of rapid technological progress, with products and information flying at us from all sides. My figures and heads hold these various influences in dynamic tension- they straddle the known and unknown, the safe and the confusing.

The Covid year was a fruitful time for me initially – suddenly all the exhibitions and obligations ended and I had months of unstructured time to go into the studio and work. My studio is a glass refuge surrounded by plants and trees right behind my house so it was safe place amid the storms. The world still found its way in, of course, and each month I sculpted a self-portrait-bust with the emotional state I was experiencing. April was a kind of dazed confusion which by May had turned to something grimmer. June brought anger as we all experienced the horrors of George Floyd’s tragic death and by July my bust has its eyes closed in despair. Yet the final piece, in August, saw me coming through into some sort of guarded confidence about the future, some shift inside that knew we were going to come through this thing together and whole again. This series Five Self Portraits, Covid Series, April –
August 2020,
will be on display at Arte Collective in Southampton starting in August after it finishes a run at Arts Westchester in White Plains.

Woman with Mask also came quickly, in April, 2020.  It was perhaps aspirational as the wind is blowing in her hair and the mask is half-off.  The distinctive look of a head with mask on became an instant interest for a sculptor who studies faces all the time

In 2018 and 2019 I was feeling the tensions in the country and conceived the Shared Spaces Project working with non-profits in ten diverse communities around the US.  A small city along the Georgia/Alabama border, a farm community in Indiana, southside Chicago-, from Berkeley to El Paso to Greenwich and Mount Vernon I invited people to bring objects meaningful to them and we imprinted them into soft clay I had prepared in the form of our US flag.  Working with volunteers and others in these communities over the course of a week or more, we made a plaster and ground Carrara marble cast of the flag suitable for wall mounting, and the piece was then gifted to the community in which it was created. The Shared Spaces Project brought thousands of Americans together to collectively create these works, populate them with their objects, define and celebrate a pluralistic America where all kinds of different values and priorities and histories have a chance to live alongside each other and yet still cohere somehow into something whole and beautiful.  Though the individual works are not for sale, I created several studies in preparation for the project, some of which are still available and can be seen at Arte Collective in Southampton this summer.

Going forward I anticipate focusing on more heads and busts sculptures, in particular bringing classically sculpted realistic busts together with a changing array of cast dayglo resin objects which can whimsically reflect on contemporary lives and concerns.  Man with Tools and Funnel will be available in the gallery this summer, a somewhat puzzled expression on his face, perhaps the expression we inwardly have as we experience all the machinations marketers, governments, the press, educators and others undertake to influence us, feed ideas into us that will get us thinking in new and possibly improved ways.

I occasionally do Portrait busts on a commission-basis. An example Saul, of one of my collectors, Hamptons/New York City art world figure Saul Unter, is viewable in the gallery and indicative of the blend of emotional nuance and physical presence possible in a commissioned sculpted portrait bust.

Upcoming exhibitions:This December I will have works viewable in Paris at the Louvre during the Societe National des Beaux Arts exhibition, where ten artists have been selected from 40 different countries to represent diverse artistic practice all in one iconic art world location.  I will be exhibiting with the photographic dance works of Mikael Barishnokov and eight other American artists.  After seeing my work in Venice during the Biennale in 2019, the curator of the Seychelles biennale chose one of my wall reliefs, Cscape #53, to be the centerpiece of the Seychelles Biennale, Lost and Found, now being held in 2022 after two years of delays.

We look forward to getting the art world back on its feet together this year and next – please stay in touch with the gallery to learn more about upcoming exhibitions and new works.  – Bob Clyatt 

Body Expression with Yenny Carruyo

My story as an artist began about six years ago. While walking through the metal shop in the place where I currently work, I noticed that there were pieces remaining from the production work that at first glance were just pieces of metal. Still, for me, they were unique and beautiful elements, I saw beyond the amount of metal, and imagined the things I could create.

I’ve always wanted to do something for myself. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and dreamers. I began collecting the many pieces that caught my attention, among them metal spools. I knew that one day I would create something with them, and that moment came during a brainstorm with a friend, the vintage bicycle was born. 

However, the ideas did not stop flowing in my mind. Inspired by art, I created Alex and Bea, two cyclists connected to each other through fibers and cables; they are static metal pieces that simulate the movement and interconnection of individuals with themselves and others. The strings also show the movement invisible to the naked eye and the interconnection of the masculine and feminine aspects of self; becoming one with the things we enjoy doing. In a sense, I like to soften the coldness of the metal with the fiber of the strings. 

For me, art represents the language of the heart, which is what I cannot say with words, and what my soul wants to express. This feeling became even more truthful during the pandemic; as this period showed us intense and challenging things to accept, human fragility and vulnerability. I realized that, in general, we tend to hide our most intrinsic or painful emotions, and often we show ourselves through a mask, using a smile even when within we are collapsed or at war; these experiences inspired me to create new sculptures. 

The “Butterfly Woman” shows human sensitivity as well as the multiple emotions and feelings we have, through the process of accepting and honoring those emotions. Reflecting through the degradation of colors, where the darkest one symbolizes reaching our core, beginning to ascend and transform from within, showing ourselves to the world with more coherence. I use butterflies as a symbol of metamorphosis through the understanding of being; I also explore the bodily dispositions; in this sculpture the “stability” represents, among other things, the need to build what is intimately owned.

With these bodily dispositions, I intend to show the language of movement and the body as a whole, I also explored “Resolution” and “Flexibility”. The first supports personal power, our capacity for taking action, and our relationship with the world and others, this is represented in my “Runners” sculptures. The second disposition shows the relationship with dreaming, loving, playing, and changing direction at any time, this is represented in my work “Balancing out.”

One of my most recent sculptures is “A little bird told me”, is how I explore my relationship with nature and the memories of childhood, thus honoring the memory of my paternal grandfather.

Iron is my favorite medium. It’s solid and robust, nature hides the nobility and handiness of this material, it represents a world of infinite possibilities. The fire in the welding process represents the internal spark, which once ignited, can fuse in a perfect amalgam creating something new in a place where the mind is lost and inspiration guides each step; the colors give life and a higher level of expression in each sculpture that I make.

My artistic path will continue to explore the expression of the body and its true nature through dancing and outdoor activities; creating sculptures that will imply movement and connections.

In short, through my work, I like to inspire the connection with oneself and with others; leaving aside for a moment the world of thought and concepts to delve deeper into the realm of the heart, soul and body language that in the end never lies and it shouts what we dare not express with words. – YC


The Journey with David Rodriquez Francis

I am a comprehensive artist who performs artistic works and projects, using essential elements of design, in order to reinterpret and decontextualize them, considering the cultural environment in which I find myself.

My creative process invites me to have the opportunity to be in contact and harmony with myself. It allows me to have the opportunity to talk to God, talk to myself and to experience a great sense of satisfaction and contact with who I am. It allows me to take a look at my inner being, my shadows, my virtues, my aspirations. And most of all, to be in contact with the love an empathy that I have for myself. It’s a combination of intriguing complexity and beautiful vibrancy. His organic forms, vivid expression, fluid lines and delicate textures bring together magnetism and mystery.

I find creativity through working. The harder I work the more creative and challenging I become. That is what inspires me….work. Work and more work.

When I “talk” to the painting, sculpture or installation, it opens up a space in which a dialog between the work and I myself fuse into a special kind of relationship full of love, hate or compassion. 

I never know when that process ends. I have no control of it. It has life of its own, but I do know when to let go, so that both the work and I evolve and mutually enhance our lives and of those that will live with what is been created after we separate.

The pieces that I have produced during the last couple of years vary from the mathematical precision that they contain, to the exploration of the individual parts of the context and its basic design elements expressed in a more organic and human way. It is the color pallet and the presence of design that functions as a conductive thread throughout the evolution of my work including the one produced during my academic years. 

Right now, I am immersed in a process of examination about how our humanity, origins and our intimacy can be represented in the most pure and minimal ways. The design elements, shapes and color fuse with each other in a subtle and somewhat dramatic way. I want to awake the expectation of the viewer’s desires and an intimate experience with the artwork. 

I end up excluding myself from the work, allowing the observer to own it and experience a moment in which the can put themselves into contact with their own essence and sensuality.

I love and cherish all my work. I am so attached to it that it hurts when I let it go, but Iike everything that exists, it has to find its own way into the world and in life. – DRF

Traveling Light with Bob Schwarz

I never thought I would be writing about myself and my sculptures when I was 90 years old. In my youth I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to become 90, I changed my mind when I became 89.

My journey into the world of art began some time ago. Nearly 60 years ago in fact. When I was visiting MOMA the sculptural work of the Russian Constructivist Naum Gabo stopped me in my tracks. I was fascinated by the way he weaved wire around vertical patterns to form parabolic shapes. Then and there I decided to try it myself and took it up as a hobby. Over the years I’ve become pretty good at it.

One day I accidently discovered that the nylon monofilament I was using reflected the light from a bulb in the ceiling. By running a flashlight behind a strand of monofilament, the idea came to me that if I could find a way to attach a light inside the work; the refracted light would seem to move as the viewer moved around the object. To my delight, I discovered that as I circumnavigated the sculpture the light shining up through the many strands of monofilament created unexpected designs. As I moved around it, I was able to watch as the designs forming magically – seemingly out of nothing. Then, of course, it was only a short leap to the thought that if I could somehow rotate the sculpture, the viewer would be able to view the emerging arcs and sliding light patterns from a comfortable chair. It took a while to assemble the proper turntable and cabinetry, but finally, the design of my Traveling Light assemblages came into being.

During my years of creating my technique as an artist, I earned my living as a television director. It was daunting. In the 1960’s everything was live, and every show was a tense adventure. Later on, when most shows were recorded in tape, one was always up against the clock; the work had to be accurate and completed on time – the clock never stops. But I was good at it, and I spent 40 years grinding out soap operas, and musical variety shows like Search for Tomorrow, As the WorldTurns, Another World, The Electric Company and The Ed Sullivan Show. It goes without saying (I’ll say it anyway) that this work created a good deal of stress, and being only human (I have to admit it), I fell into a deep depression. So, in order to find my way out of the emotional hole I was digging for myself, I sought help. Through a set of curious chances was directed to a Jungian psychologist. Funny how the unconscious operates.

One could call it lucky, but I have come to believe that here are no coincidences. The Buddha is supposed to have said, “When the pupil is ready the teacher appears.” I certainly needed wise council – if that translates as ready, I was ready. It was not hard for me to fit into Jungian thought, especially the life-long quest for wholeness. I soaked it up, and slowly, with my teacher’s help, I got back on my feet. Importantly, I had learned that the rigorous discipline of taking hundreds of strands of monofilament and weaving them into strictly formalized shape were in fact meditations – attempts by my unconscious to organize my conscious life. They were my personal mandalas – designs used by Tibetan monks to aid them in their meditations.

Of course, all the objects I create have their genesis in the unconscious – as, I guess, all art does. You think you are controlling things, but when you look at what “You” have made you see that it doesn’t really turn out exactly as “You” imagined.  You wonder “Who” or “What” had a hand in it. Frankly I never know exactly what the piece I‘m working on will look like until I’m finished and I turn on the LED light. Wow!

I often add an acrylic disk with a hole in the center to my sculptureto act as an accent piece.  No special reason, it just seemed right. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that it was akin to an ancient Chinese symbol: a “Bi” disk; a thin disk with a hole in the center that most likely symbolizes infinity or eternity. Funny how the unconscious operates.

I’m fascinated by my work. Sometimes at night I’ll sit up smoking a pipe with a couple of fingers of Woodford Reserve by my side gazing at the intricate movement of the light across the monofilament as the sculpture slowly turns…wondering who the hell made it. – Bob Schwarz

Own Who You Are. Be UNAPOLOGETICALLY You with Style.

By Tavia Sharp, CEO of Styled Sharp

My approach to style is simple. The goal is to stand out, not blend in. Style should be an extension of who you are and part of the image that you want to portray out into the world.

By definition, the word “style” means the manner of doing something. So regardless of your age, where you live or what you do for a living, your style defines who you are. Your unique sense of style is a part of your personality and your appearance is the outer interpretation of your self expression. 

When styling the men for this edition of Karjaka magazine, I thought about each of them as individuals. Each one of them is a successful creative, artist, and innovator in their own right and their style should reflect that. Regardless if I’m styling a 40 year old or a 90 year old, I’m only ever thinking about one thing–  how their style is going to represent who they are in the world. 

Your style is like a book cover, you’re giving the reader a snapshot of what’s inside. So it’s important to know what they stand for, what they are known for, and what impression they want to leave people with. Then I help them craft a style that communicates exactly that.

And after working for over 20 years as a NYC based designer and stylist for some of the top fashion brands like Calvin Klein and Nautica and dressing celebs like Drake and Ne-Yo, it’s fair to say, I know a thing or two about dressing men. The key to men standing out is all in the details. It’s the cut of your jacket, that bolder color choice, or the unique accessory that adds a bit of personality and finishes off your look.

You might feel a bit intimidated by the idea of this and think you have to become this uber stylish guy or dress like someone you are not. I hear this from a lot of men, by the way. The truth is, style is not about being the most fashionable man in the room nor is it about changing who you are. It’s about bringing out your most confident, authentic self and learning how to dress better so you can look sharp & feel sharp

Are you ready to stop settling with your style? Set up a Complimentary Image Accelerator Call with me to learn how I can help you step into your 2.0 version so you can magnetically attract more of what you desire both personally and professionally!