Photography by Bryan Banducci
La Pera Projects is the first mobile art collecting platform that uses WhatsApp as its main sales and presentation channel. Every two weeks they showcase a specially curated collaboration with both emerging and established artists.
La Pera Projects has recently partnered with NeueHouse Madison Square to launch its first Arts Program called Transitions with the aim to support and showcase international emerging talent from NYC. The one-month artists’ residency will culminate with a three-week exhibition of the works created at the studios provided by NeueHouse. Framed under the idea of transition, the curatorial theme is an attempt to materialize and reflect the current times we live in from the angle of the infinite possibilities brought by creativity.
We sat down with Founders Clara Andrade Pereira & Blanca Pascual Baztan to discuss their art world upbringing and the inception and creation of La Pera Projects.
What are your creative philosophies?
Our creative philosophy is pretty much that variety is the spice of life. For us, the artistic object needs to be the result of an original idea, always. We don’t have a program that focuses on a particular style or discipline, but rather we try to include artists working in a wide variety of styles and mediums. We have showcased abstract, figurative, conceptual, and hyperrealist art, among others. We present everything from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media formats. We have introduced very young and emerging artists, but also creators in their 70s, with art trajectories spanning more than 50 years.
How did you get into the work that you do, and where did your journeys begin?
Clara: My mother is an art historian so art definitely played an important role during my childhood and adolescence, but always more historically or academically oriented. I didn’t get acquainted with the art market until years later. I guess I always enjoy the action more! I moved to London after finishing my bachelor’s in Madrid and that was the beginning of my career in the contemporary art market. Both the city and my first gallery opportunity—which ended up lasting for three and a half years— ratified that interest and passion for the Arts.
Blanca: My professional journey in the art world started when I moved to Toronto right after graduating from university in my native Spain. Despite the fact that I graduated with a law degree, I was always deeply interested in art. I was even a graffiti artist for a while! After a year in Canada working for an art gallery, I came to NYC to study my master’s, and ever since, I have worked for galleries, as a private dealer, and also in the world of art-tech.
Tell us about La Pera Projects. What is the origin story and the mission?
Having worked in the art world for years, we were both constantly asked by family and friends about affordable and accessible options to buy contemporary art. The reality is that we couldn’t come up with anything to recommend. In a commercial gallery, the starting point to purchase a unique piece of art is, on average, 1,500-2,000 dollars. That is a lot of money to spend for someone that has never bought art before and that doesn’t necessarily understand the nuances of the art market. It is for this reason that we decided to found La Pera Projects, a mobile art collecting platform that offers highly curated art priced below $600. Every two weeks, we showcase a special collaboration with both emerging and established artists, introducing their practice and offering new works for sale. For artists, La Pera Projects is an alternative sales platform, and for our Collectors Circle, it is a place where they can learn about and purchase unique works at affordable prices. Something that sets us apart is the fact that we use WhatsApp as our main sales and presentation channel, establishing a more direct and personal dialogue with our audience and engaging in one-to-one conversations with them.
“Our core mission is to inculcate a passion for collecting contemporary art among the young generations. We truly believe that contemporary art should be accessible and we want to bring it closer to all of you.”
Inherent to your mission is this desire to make art more accessible, what gaps did you see in the “traditional” art world?
Although we both come from that “traditional” art world, we shared this common interest of creating a bridge between contemporary art collecting and the younger generations. We feel that sometimes contemporary art is not only financially inaccessible but also intellectually so. La Pera Projects was created as an alternative model that connects with the general public, as opposed to traditional channels, such as galleries and auction houses— which tend to be inaccessible for first-time collectors. We observed a growing disinterest of the new generations in collecting contemporary art, due to those outrageous prices and the feeling of not belonging to a world that seems elitist and distant. Additionally, a few years ago, it seemed unorthodox to talk about virtual art exhibitions and buying art online. We thought this would never happen in an industry where physical immediacy and the need to experience the aura of artwork in person are so important. However, little by little and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have attended to an inevitable adaptation of the art world to new technological dynamics, but above all, to the new generations of digital natives.
You work with many different artists across disciplines – both up and coming & established – tell us about your curation process and how you go about finding fresh and relevant artists?
Our curatorial approach is first and foremost an organic one. We just need a few seconds to decide whether we like something or not. Then, of course, we have to perform our due-diligence: does the artist have a solid exhibition and publication history? Do they have a strong academic formation or are they self-thought? How many years have they been doing art? Some of these questions help us to contextualize the artist’s practice which is an essential part of the curatorial process.
The way we go about finding them it’s pretty similar to what other colleagues are doing in the industry; we attend the MFA’s shows, look deep into graduate programs, when we travel we always keep our eyes wide open, and lately, the artists that we work with have been an excellent referral source for other talented artists.
What initiatives are you working on at La Pera Projects to bring the art experience to life while continuing to nurture community?
Ultimately, at La Pera Projects we want to speak the language of the industry: to educate people about the contemporary art market. For this reason, we have not just showcased individual artists but also organized solo and group presentations, following industry’s common practices. We also paid homage to the canceled Miami Art Week 2020. Additionally, every presentation comes with a curatorial text, introducing the practice of each creator. On the other hand, we thought that it was also important to showcase the work of fellow young curators, so we implemented a program called “Friend Curators”. We have been delighted to introduce the work of international art professionals such as María Gracia de Pedro (Spain), Pepe Baena (Barbados), Izam Zahwara (Puerto Rico) and Halime Özdemir (UK), among others.
Most recently, we have launched in collaboration with NeueHouse Madison Square, the first Arts Program which aims to support and showcase international emergent talent from NYC. This is the first Arts Program we have organized and we are grateful to the House for giving the artists and us this opportunity. The program has a duration of 4 weeks and will culminate with a three-week exhibition of the works created specifically at the House. Alongside the work of guest curator Edoardo Cozzani (Italy), we are presenting Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan), Jean Oh (South Korea), and Johanna Strobel (Germany). The curatorial chosen theme, Transitions, is an attempt to materialize and reflect the current times we are living in from the angle of the infinite possibilities brought by creativity.