We had the good fortune of connecting with Katherine Chacon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katherine, what makes you happy? Why?
I am going to be very frank. For a long time, external things made me happy: having a partner, professional success, a harmonious family environment, and that kind of things. But from some years ago I have been absolutely happy for no reason. Of course, life is full of contingencies, beautiful moments, others regular and some very bad, but I have managed to build within myself a kind of beautiful interior garden where there is always the greenery of happiness. It is the happiness of being alive and being able to experience the life. I am convinced that happiness is a decision, a training of the mind in which you begin to build that fortress of unassailable joy. It must be defended, of course. To human beings and especially in some intellectual circles–where we have been trained in complaint and criticism–we find it “interesting” to look for the negative aspect of the life. We believe that change can come from there, from an external struggle. Maybe the strongest fight is against ourselves: the tame of our scattered mind, of our habits of negativity, of our inability to know ourselves and our difficult to love. But, fortunately, happiness is simple and does not require disquisitions. Anyway, to answer your question, I will be specific: What makes me happy? It makes me happy to be alive in this place and in this moment.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a curator, critic, and researcher in the visual arts. I am a writer and an art book editor. As a curator, I have worked for both public and private institutions and have organized dozens of exhibitions throughout Latin America and in Miami. I was the Commissar of the Venezuelan exhibition at the 51st edition of the Venice Biennale, Italy in 2005 and the Coordinator of the Venezuelan exhibition at the XII Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil in 1991. I write art criticism for several international magazines and newspapers as well as essays for the art catalogs of galleries, museums and other cultural institutions. I frequently give lectures and talks and participate in panel discussions, conferences and forums. I have served as an art juror on a number of occasions in both Venezuela and across Latin America. I am also involved in several editorial projects. My journey has been far from smooth but I am convinced that a positive outlook is the best way to go. My career has been full of many pleasant and uplifting episodes and constant growth. I have met wonderful people from whom I have learned a lot, and my work has been fairly valued. But, like everyone else, I have also faced tough, even dire, situations. It was very hard to say goodbye to my career in the Venezuelan museums, which I started at the age of 23 in the Museum of Fine Arts in Caracas, due to the gradual consolidation of governmental control and the subsequent erosion of proper managerial, administrative and museological conditions. In 2008, when I resigned as Director of the Alejandro Otero Museum in Caracas, the circumstances were simply unacceptable. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to work in Venezuela’s museums and other institutions linked to art. Sharing ideas with artists, curators, and creative, sensitive people is one of the great privileges that someone can have, and often fun and entertaining! With all this experience, I developed my own company in Miami, Pan Paniscus Art Services and Marketing, which objective is to provide professional services in all the areas related to visual art. It includes curatorships, writing of critical texts, translations, appraisals, collector advising, artists coaching, editing and publishing, teaching, artists’ social network and web pages managing and many more. I have a group of very well-trained professionals working with me. All of us have an extensive experience in museums and proficiency in all these areas. I would like me and my company be known because of out high level of professionalism and experience in the art field. That makes excellence as a guide for all our work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Most of my friends are art-bound and love to go to museums and galleries, so the first thing I’d do is take them to see art and exhibitions in some of the city’s great museums and galleries, which have great programming. But we are in Miami and that means we can’t miss going to the beach and some delicious restaurants. I would invite them to a beach on the outskirts of Miami, perhaps to the Keys or one in the north of the city. We’d go eat at Stanzione 87 in Brickell, the best pizza place in town. Due to the Venezuelan diaspora, most of my friends live all over the world. They sure crave good Venezuelan food. That would be the time to take them to Mondu or Doggi’s, or any of the good Venezuelan restaurants out there. We could also dance salsa at Ball & Chain! I’d love to take them to the Everglades, to the Vizcaya Museum, to walk around Coconut Grove, to see a Miami Beach sunset, and to sit and chat in some of the city’s beautiful parks. I would show them downtown, with its old charm and my beloved Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. In short, Miami is such a beautiful and pleasant city that a week would be too short to fully appreciate it.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I love this question because it recognizes that no one can be really “self-made”. We are all interconnected and, in fact, we are what we are because of the support of the thousands of people we have met during the life and the learning they have given to us. I would like to greeting to the members of my family and my friends.
Trina Oropeza Rafael Montilla Ranivilu Art Gallery