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"[On Las Olas,] they're much more about something that matches the curtains and matches the sofa than anything with kind of real artistic content," says Harrison, 37, who's originally from London.
Harrison moved to South Florida to work for International Fine Art Expositions, which organizes art fairs in Miami and Palm Beach as well as Hong Kong and New York. Together with partner Karla Livingston, he opened NAC Gallery last June. They chose NoBe for financial reasons — the rent was cheap.
Harrison saw opportunity. "There's a lot of money in all the houses and condos on the beach, but the area itself has been a little left behind," he says. Though he admires budding communities like FAT Village and Miami's Wynwood district, "there's not much commerce going on," he says. "Miami only works during Art Basel — the guys that do well are doing the art fairs around the country, and that's keeping them afloat. Our business is a weird one because most people that get into it, it's on a whim. It's a romantic idea to open a gallery or to open a restaurant. There're too many people getting into the business without any idea of it, so it can make it a weird dynamic."
Gallery 2014, 2014 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-505-3291, or visit gallery2014.com.
NAC Gallery,3325 NE 32nd St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 239-321-9240, or visit nacgallery.com.
His knowledge of the art market, coupled with Livingston's art direction and curatorial eye, draws in affluent snowbirds — aged mostly 45 to 65 — looking to fill their second or third homes with quality art. "Most of them don't even realize that there's a gallery in Fort Lauderdale that could cater to them," Harrison says.
NAC's focus is on an eclectic set of emerging artists — mostly vibrant photographers, sculptors, and street artists, like the young Ivan Roque. Last month, NAC featured Roque's "Lost in Cinema" show — 16 bold collage paintings that paid homage to 20th-century cinema greats like Al Pacino's Scarface and the cult classic King Kong. Equal parts playful and menacing, the works were provocative and in-your-face without losing their commercial accessibility. The show even included a site-specific installation made up of a cascade of old VHS tape that unraveled to the floor in a pile of old, pangs-of-nostalgia-inducing tape sleeves.
This month, opening in late July, Argentine artist Flavio Galvan will show his latest works in a new style, oil on wood with a resin glaze. The works depict reimaginings of pieces by well-known artists like Norman Rockwell, saturated in bright colors and outlined in bold black lines, giving them an animated, scruffy pop aesthetic.
Harrison also works behind the scenes brokering deals on big-name works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Indiana. (Originals don't sell from the gallery itself, but prints are available.) He and Livingston plan to open a new gallery under a different name in New York's Lower East Side soon, with pop-up art auctions in warehouse locations in Brooklyn. They'll commute between New York and Florida.
Ultimately, he sees himself shepherding new, worthy artists to success. "Those who do well in North Beach will show at Las Olas, and then the guys that are really doing well will move up to New York," says Harrison. "So, we'll have kind of a tiered career path in place to help build these guys up to nationally known artists."