With one foot in real estate development and the other in Michelin-star sushi restaurants, John Marquez has long been a jack of all trades. Now, the Miami resident is entering the art world with the opening of Marquez Arts Projects, a new space that will display his vast collection of contemporary works.
Located in an 8,000-square-foot repurposed warehouse in the Miami neighborhood of Allapattah, the nonprofit Marquez Arts Projects opened its doors to the public on September 23, showcasing 50 works in its inaugural exhibition. “My dream, my passion project, is now a reality,” said Marquez via Instagram. He joins the city’s growing horde of private collectors turning to public museums, galleries and art spaces as a way to give back to the city.
Marquez, who owns Manhattan’s Sushi Noz, first began collecting in the early 2010s to decorate his condo. His collection, which he started with one of Donald Sultan’s Smoke Ring photographs, initially consisted of street art from the likes of Banksy and KAWS. But as the idea of a public art space began to form in the real estate developer’s mind, his collecting transitioned towards emerging artists such as Robert Nava and Jody Kerwick.
The initial design for Marquez Arts Projects was led by the late architect Terry Riley, whose work was adapted by the Miami-based Kean Office for Design and Architecture after he died in 2021. The nonprofit’s opening selection, which displays only a small portion of Marquez’s more than 1,000-piece collection, was curated by the collector alongside curatorial advisors Adam Green (the founder of Adam Green Art Advisory) and Alex Gartenfeld (artistic director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami).
The new art space is split into four separate galleries. The first displays artwork from leading artists like George Condo, Anna Park and Rashid Johnson, while another room focuses on singular canvases from female abstractionists such as Andrea Breiling, Grace Carney, Sarah Cunningham and Li Hei Di. Meanwhile, a Miami room celebrates local artists ranging from Hernan Bas to Bernadette Despujols.
Solo exhibitions will fill the final space, which is currently displaying six commissioned works from the Spanish-born and New York-based artist Cristina de Miguel. Titled Your Body is Pieces, the show is filled with de Miguel’s signature colors and bold brush strokes. Most of the work included in Marquez Art Projects’ entire inaugural showing was created in the last five years, highlighting it as “one of the most dynamic contemporary collections in the country, and a leader in commissioning new art by important emerging and established artists,” according to the nonprofit.
How is Miami’s art scene changing?
The contemporary art space is opening in time for Art Basel Miami Beach, the city’s preeminent arts event, which will take place in early December. Celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, the Miami art fair in 2022 recorded its largest-ever edition, with more than 280 participating galleries.
In addition to establishing Miami as a center for contemporary and emerging artists, the annual art fair has inspired increased desire for art spaces across the city. Many of these newly opened spaces are the result of work of private collectors like Don and Mera Rubell, whose Rubell Family Collection has long been a significant museum in Miami, and Jorge Perez, the real estate mogul behind exhibition space El Espacio 23.
The Rubell Family Collection and El Espacio 23 both call the Allapattah neighborhood home. A grungier alternative to upscale Wynwood, the area has seen increasing gentrification in recent years. In addition to Marquez Art Projects, the neighborhood added experimental arts center Superblue in 2021 and will soon welcome Andrew Reed Gallery, led by the son of Art Basel Miami Beach’s VIP relations representative, Stefanie Block Reed.