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Jonathan Travis

Production / Direction

How did your relationship with art begin? Do you have artists in your family?

My relationship with art began very organically.  I always felt a natural draw to certain types of objects, even as a kid.  This ranged from objects of extreme antiquity (I wanted to be an archaeologist as a child and still find ancient cultures fascinating), sports memorabilia, street art, to eventually fine art. I typically gravitate towards works that are labor intensiveness, detailed, and require a lot of skill and time to create.  I was kind of a strange kid growing up, I would go from football practice directly to an antique fair.
I do not have any artists in my family, nor has my family been interested in collecting art.  I've hung several of my works in my parent's home and recently helped them buy their second work, so I'm changing that!

Is there a particular art form that most interests you?

Yes absolutely.  Figurative painting is definitely the most interesting to me.  I like some abstract art, but it does not speak to me in the same way. I love to study a painting that has a narrative.  I find it very rewarding to understand why the artist created what they did and being able to decipher that myself through the imagery.

"I'm also curating a show opening October 24th in Tribeca which I'm extremely excited about. It's my first attempt at doing any type of curatorial work so I'm stoked about it."

Do you confirm the narrative you interpret with the artist?

I often become friends with the artists I collect, so if we are friends, I will absolutely ask them questions and confirm any uncertainties I have about any unknown symbolism or meaning in the painting.

How did collecting begin for you?

Collecting began with sports memorabilia for me at a very young age.  I actually set up a store of sorts called "Jon's Cards and Cases",  in a large closet in my childhood home.  I would display and sometimes even sell sports cards that I had acquired to my friends that came to the house.  Then after watching Exit Through the Gift Shop, I became interested in street art.  I loved the fact these artists were risking legal issues to make public art -- while not even getting paid for it!  I collected street art for a while as it is a much smaller world and easier to navigate than the contemporary fine art market.

Initially I felt very overwhelmed by the contemporary art world.  As mentioned, I don't have a history in the art world so I was very green.  I did not understand how the mechanics of the art world worked at all.  It can be a very intimidating place for a young person that doesn't have a lot of money. As I started working with galleries for their real estate needs, I befriended many dealers and started gaining a sense of how the art world operated.

Ever since I started getting serious about collecting contemporary art, I've always stuck with the same formula.  The first question is, "do you love the work?". If the answer is no, I immediately move on.  There is so much out there I'd like to buy, but a much smaller number of works my gut and heart make me feel compelled to buy.  The second part is "can I afford this?!".

Who are some of your favorite artists?

All time favorite artists include Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Matisse, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keefe, Tom Wesselman, Peter Saul, Roger Brown, Nicole Eisenmann, and Kerry James Marshall.

Some of my favorite emerging artists include Sasha Gordon, Jordan Kasey,  Didier William, Lenz Geerk, Cynthia Talmadge, Emily Ludwig Shaffer, Anna Weyant, Issy Wood, Arghavan Khosravi, Bendy Eyckermans. Oh man, I could go on for a while.

Who or what you are collecting right now?

I'm always collecting figurative painting, and can't imagine changing that.  It's just what speaks to me.  

In terms of who I'm collecting now, some of the recent additions to my collection include Amoako Boafo, Anthony Cudahy, Issy Wood, Alannah Farrell, and Maria Fragoso.

How does your work in real estate involve art?

Working with galleries is currently about eighty percent of my real estate practice.  The other twenty percent is a mixed bag of creative firms ranging from lighting showrooms to architecture firms.

Over the last few years, there has been a significant change in the gallery landscape in New York, with several prominent galleries leaving Chelsea and opening in Tribeca. I'm proud to have represented most of them in their moves.

When I left the large corporate firm I used to work at, I knew had to find a niche to be successful working on my own.  New York is a hyper competitive city with real estate being one of the most competitive industries.  Without a focus, it can be very difficult to survive and the turnover rate for commercial real estate brokers is incredibly high.

What are you excited about in the art world?

What excites the most in the art world is discovering new artists, and seeing artists I support do great things.  There is a genuine rush of seeing a work by someone new for the first time and saying "wow that's an incredible painting".  When I get that feeling, I know my bank account is in imminent danger.

It's also just as exciting when an artist I've supported since the beginning of their career gets a major review, creates an amazing new body of work, or inclusion in a museum show. All can be very rewarding, especially when I was buying the work before there was any type of market or critical acknowledgement.

I'm also curating a show opening October 24th in Tribeca which I'm extremely excited about.  It's my first attempt at doing any type of curatorial work so I'm stoked about it.

How does this sound?

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