Last June, I shared my chance-encounter with Parisian abstract painter extraordinaire, Monseuir Jamin. Although Jamin's work was my first introduction to Paris' eclectic art scene, it was certainly not my last. Meet Thea Muck, owner and curator of Thea’s Art Gallery, an “en plein air” gallery located in Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. Walking into Thea's gallery was like walking into an art collector's living room. My first inclination was to pull up a chair, contemplate and enjoy the quiet dynamic of people and art in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Paris' largest outdoor flea market. My conversation with Thea started and ended with a common thread, our love for art and admiration for the artists who spark dialogue and bridge traditional and modern ideas through their works. Thea's artsenal of global talents includes Syrian artist, Kazem, who creates beautiful drawings from coffee and homemade paper. Kazem’s work has an ageless appeal and effortlessly quiets any restless spirit through the use of his muted tones and organic forms.
Thea's well-curated collection of art speaks to her desire to engage with fellow art-lovers. Her vision for creating a space that allows her to share her passion for art, while providing exposure for emerging artists is an example of how art professionals tear down institutional barriers every day. I recently had the pleasure of learning more about Thea's vision and how her mobile gallery transports art to the people and people to the art. Noted below are a few highlights from our inspiring journey. Enjoy!
Art Is Luv: Where do you call home?
Thea: Born in Belgium, living in France...I’m what we call an “International Mix”. My home is everywhere.
Art is Luv: Are you an artist? If so, which medium do you primarily use?
Thea: I’m not what we call an “artist”, but I learned the different techniques, such as oil, gouache, and watercolor on different mediums like canvas, paper, plastics and a lot of other during 15 years at art schools. This experience allows me to understand exactly how my artists work and support them in describing their process.
Art is Luv: What draws you to art?
Thea: I grew up surrounded by paintings, sculptures, drawings and other collections but it really started when I was 7 years old at my first art drawing school. I already knew that art would be an important part of my life. Even with classical education including international trade and laws I finished my studies with a Master in History of Art at la “Sorbonne” in Paris. All these experiences gave me the solid foundation needed take on “Thea’s Art Gallery”.
Art is Luv: Do you work with international artists? From which regions primarily?
Thea: I am truly international: I work with artists from Syria, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and of course France. I showcase the work of a different artist every month in my showroom.
Art is Luv: Where do you see yourself in the next five years as an art professional?
Thea: I will surely still have my gallery and do everything possible to develop Art and Artists.
I will also continue organizing large-scale art events on a national and international level.
Art is Luv: How do you make the experience for gallery visitors and new collectors less intimidating?
Thea: First of all, I think interacting with a visitor in the gallery is very enriching. I like it! I take the time to share information about art and the artists. Secondly, the open space format gives the feeling of a welcoming gallery space.
Art is Luv: How has the demographic of your artists and collectors changed in the last five years (e.g. age range and/or nationality of buyers, contemporary vs. classic artists, etc.)?
Thea: Let’s be clear, the economic crises in Europe has impacted the art market. Art is still not the priority for average investors. Young art collectors, are very modern in their choices, while the art collectors around 60 years-old are more classical. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of space for emerging modern artists in France.
Art is Luv: Where are some of your favorite places to buy art (e.g. flea markets, galleries, art festivals, etc.)?
Thea: There are three different places I like to visit to find art:
First, in the art galleries. In Paris we have, “le Marais” or “Saint-Germain des Près”, where many galleries are concentrated.
Second, the internet. Some of my favorites can be found on my website (www.theasartgallery.com).I have also my own gallery website.
And last but not least, my favorite art market event takes place twice a year, in June and November, on “la Place de la Bastille” and is called GMAC (Grand Marché d’Art Contemporain).
Art is Luv: What are some of your favorite places to eat and shop in Paris? Do you find that most Parisian merchants instinctively etch artistic sensibility into the aesthetic of their shops?
Thea: I like the popular places like, “les Batignolles” where you can find the real Parisian spirit in old bistros and little conventional shops with cheese, wine, food for daily life. I also enjoy the department stores with little places to eat on every level. Each floor has his own style, like in Printemps where on the first floor you can find La Durée with pastries and on the seventh floor where you can find good quality dishes for lunch under a beautiful colored dome.
Art is Luv: If you could choose one unexpected place to hang art in Paris, where would it be?
Thea: I would like also to see art in the Catacombs of Paris. I think it could be surprising to have modern art there.