Christina Juran and Herman Kron are the owners the New Orleans Art Center located in the heart of the St Claude Arts District of New Orleans. The New Orleans Art Center is the largest art gallery in the district with over 6500 square feet of space and focuses on promoting local contemporary artists. Since opening in 2015, Christina and Herman have proudly exhibited the work of over 500 artists. The goal of the gallery is to promote living artists and help them sustain themselves through their work.
Christina and Herman have a tremendous appreciation and love for art and artists. Both are accomplished artists themselves and know how difficult it can be to support oneself in the arts. Theirs is one of a few galleries in the city open to exhibiting at the art of unknown artists.
Christina is the Artistic Director of the gallery. She took us on a tour of both floors of the gallery and explained the process for working with artists.
“We have a lot of artists who come in off the streets. We’re also contacted by artists directly through our website. I’m open to seeing anybody’s work. I like to encourage artists and keep in touch with them. I’ll watch their work and track the direction they’re going in with their ideas. If I like the direction, I’ll ask them to show their pieces here.
Sometimes we combine a group of artists for a show. I’ll get ideas for a theme for a show based on some of the subject matter that several artists are focused on.
I like the fact that well-established artists are comfortable showing their work here. I also like the fact that new artists are showing here for the first time. There are a lot of talented artists who have trouble getting into galleries because they don’t have name recognition.”
The two floors of The New Orleans Art Center contain many different varieties of art. Christina makes an effort to keep in touch with collectors and match artists work with their tastes.
“Sometimes I’ll see a piece that I think would fit into a certain collection. We also realize that not everyone can afford original art on a budget, so we’ll work out payment plans to help collectors finance their purchases.”
“I want people to enjoy their experience looking at art in our gallery. This is a commercial gallery. We have a new show every one to two months. We’re doing at least eight shows a year. Sometimes we have guest-curated shows.”
Christina is an accomplished artist in her own right. Her art tends to focus on floral themes, such as her beautiful series of magnolias. She also finds inspiration painting plein-air landscapes of the natural beauty found in New Orleans. Christina’s art reflects how well she understands the artistic process, and what artists go through to create art.
“I’m always working on my art too because it’s appealing to me. I believe in seizing the moment to create art. Sometimes I will repurpose sheets of newspaper or old shopping bags because I think I can make something interesting out of them. I understand that some people will not buy this because the paper is not archival. So I am not charging as much as I would for something created with more expensive materials. But the price of these pieces are also accessible to collectors who don’t have the funds to buy expensive art. I enables everyone who appreciates art to start their own collection.”
“I also love the idea of using like a newspaper or a shopping bag that is ephemeral, but also an item that we can all identify with. Perhaps it is a newspaper that captures a snapshot of our collective history. Suddenly, something that most people look at as trash, has something special about it. It turns into a little treasure. And that gives me comfort. I understand that these pieces will probably not be here in a thousand years. But hopefully they will bring someone joy in the meantime.”
Christina’s partner, Herman, makes his own metal furniture. He was taught to weld by sculptor Luis Colmenares. Both he & Christina have works on display in the gallery.
Christina and Herman also regularly host a Figure Drawing Group on Monday nights in the gallery to encourage artists and art students to participate and gather inspiration.
At the time of our interview, New Orleans Art Center was exhibiting Gustavo Duque’s one man show Africa in Africa. The Gallery has also recently had a show for Jim Sohr, a painter featured in the Winter 2018 Issue of this magazine.
New Orleans Art Center represents a large group of local artists. We have only managed to take photos of a few in this article. We strongly encourage you to visit the gallery at 3330 St Claude Avenue to see the art in person.