IRIS WOMAN: MARIANA VALDES DEBES
Interview and Photography by Dustin Mansyur | Styling by Marc Sifuentes | Art Direction by Louis Liu | Hair and Makeup by MakeupByDiego
Mariana Valdes Debes photographed with her dog at her home in Houston, TX. Dress by Helmut Lang, Shoes by Marni, Earrings by Cartier. Behind her, Painting by Rodolfo Morales and Sculpture by Javier Marín
The vivacious art dealer, collector, consultant, and philanthropist knows how to wear many hats with an effortless and sensual bravado. We sat down with her to talk about her creative process and who’s on her radar.
Who are your favorite up-and-coming artists on your radar at the moment?
I would say the Mexican multidisciplinary artist, Nacho Rodriguez Bach, and the international critically-acclaimed Danish artist, Olafur Eliasson. Rodriguez Bach is an artist I have been promoting and representing for several years. He is always reinventing himself.
What kind of art are you drawn to?
I am most drawn to art that is congruent within a historical context. The art that shows me other possibilities of reality, of feeling, of thinking, or being.
For you, is it an emotional / intuitive process or is it a more objective approach when you are deciding artists to collect?
Both. I am first attracted and seduced by an art piece or a body of work, then possessed by it. Before I make a final decision, I get to know the artist and establish a relationship with him or her. I believe this is the most important. By doing this, I get to understand the artists’ body of work from another perspective, and allow myself to make a connection with it.
Do you have a favorite piece that you have collected?
Yes, I acquired a painting 10 years ago called La Romeria by the Mexican artist Alfredo Gisholt. Like every painting, it has a beautiful story behind it. I love it because of it’s amazing power, but also because it was included in the first exhibition I curated for the opening of my gallery in Mexico City. It tells a story from my country through the eyes of an artist who lives and works in Boston. At the same time it is a remarkable painting for the artist itself. It’s just one of those paintings that takes your breath away!
Can you describe what your curatorial process is like when doing an exhibition? What helps you collaborate with the artist?
I always take into consideration that it needs to be eloquent within the context that we are living. Most of the time I don’t follow an established process or a rule since each project is different and is curated for a different audience. I am very spontaneous in the way that I bring up an exhibition, and at the same time I am a perfectionist in every single detail. I prepare with as much information I can obtain and then I allow myself to create a bridge between the artwork and the public for which it is being created, like an alchemist.
Are you working on any upcoming projects to look out for?
The contemporary art world has been transforming rapidly over the past decade. It has expanded its boundaries, making it almost indescribable, yet understandable. There are more collectors and art fairs, but at the same time there is a gap between the art and the its audience. This is the reason that for the last few years, I have been providing art knowledge to a select group of collectors and art enthusiasts called Sensei: “Art Promotion Through Experience”. Through thematic and curated experiences that involve all of the senses, Sensei has as its mission to establish a connection between art and the person, that promotes the development and understanding of artistic values and self awareness.
Are you involved in any upcoming charity events or galas?
Yes, my husband and I have been involved with the gala for St Jude’s Children’s Hospital for the past several years. It is a fantastic organization with a beautiful mission.
What advice would you give to young women who are seeking a career in the arts?
To explore, investigate and renovate constantly looking for their own artistic proposal.
Would you say that it’s important to invest in the arts?
Art enriches your life. It has the unique ability to evoke so many different emotions. A painting can make you happy or sad. It can make you introspective or thoughtful. For this reason alone, I believe that it is very important for our cities and our communities to invest in art. On an individual level, one needs to know that not every artist nor every piece of art will appreciate in value. But if it brings you joy, isn’t that the best investment of all?