We continue with our series of interviews with the collectors of the upcoming exhibition at the The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Cosmopolitan Routes, Houston Collects Latin American Art curated by Gilbert Vicario. This time we had the opportunity to talk to Jack Moriniere, a long time art collector and the Co Chairman of the Maecenas group.
RM:Could you explain to Literal´s readers what the Latin Maecenas group is all about and what has been your role during all these years of its existence?
JM: The Latin Maecenas was founded at the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston in the year 2000 and originally chaired by a socially prominent lady from Venezuela. The original purpose was, and is today, to support the Latin American Art Department, at the MFA-H, founded by the very important curator Mari Carmen Ramirez. The funds raised thru this organization are dedicated to the purchase of art for the permanent collection of the MFA-H. I became Chairman of the group in 2002 and am currently Co Chairman. Its activities consist of lectures by and meetings with important Latin American artists, art trips to major cities throughout the world, art fairs, visiting museums and important private collections. Every two years the group conducts a gala and has raised a minimum of $4 million for the purchase of art. Members of the group have also contributed art valued art, for the permanent collection, with a value of well over $5 million. The group will celebrate its tenth year anniversary this year and this is the primary reason for having the upcoming exhibition Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art. This organization currently has about 50 members is open to anyone who has an interest in Latin American Art and desires to further their knowledge of the subject.
Rose Mary Salum: What triggered the desire to collect art?
Jack Mounier: Not actually certain as I did not grow up in a home with original art. Possibly a general interest that finally became specific.
RM: When did you start your collection?
JM:This started while I was in college at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Guess that I have always had an interest in art; however, I met an amazing dealer in Fort Worth by the name of Electra Carlin. She dealt primarily with American artist; however, she represented one from Spain, living in the US, and a few from Mexico.
RM:Do you focus on one specific country, current, etc? Please, elaborate
JM:In the beginning there was not a specific emphasis on country only contemporary artist primarily non figurative. As I became more involved with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and its Latin American Collection I realized that I had previously collected a reasonable amount of art from Latin America. Now this is the primary focus of my collecting.
RM:What is the favorite piece of your collection and why?
JM:It is very difficult to single out one particular work of art; however, one of my favorites is a charcoal drawing from the “La Modelo Series” by Antonio Berni dated 1961. This very captivating partially clothed young woman is one this very important Argentinean artists better known works. It is a very pleasing work and one that I am proud to own.
RM:Tell us a nice story about one of your pieces?
JM:At least thirty years ago I was in Mexico City, on business, and happened to have a few minutes to go to an art gallery near my hotel. While there I discovered a small gouache by Francisco Toledo entitled “Bañista y Animal” dated 1971. The exciting thing about this purchase of work by a very important Mexican artist is that I possibly paid US $500 and it is now worth approximately US $20,000. Even though this is a very good return on my investment I like the work so much that I would never consider selling.
Top Image: Eclipses, 2008 by Pablo Vargas Lugo. Photo by Carolina Salomón
Bottom Image: Francisco Toledo
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