In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers in and around New York and finds out more about their lives and careers.
This week, Clara speaks with founder of MvVO ART, co-founder and director of Accessible Art Fair New York, and mother of one, Maria van Vlodrop.
Maria has a background as a global business development executive, who jet-setted around the world founding new companies, developing their business and client base.
In 2015, long-time art devotee Maria founded her company MvVO ART with the aim of launching the first New York edition of the Accessible Art Fair (originally of Brussels), together with Accessible Art Fair founder Stephanie Manasseh. Even when Maria is not working, she loves to surround herself with art, visit museums, and discover new artists – when she is not busy keeping up with her 11-year old, that is.
Maria holds a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics in European Studies. She resides in the Hamptons with her family, and when she has the time, she loves to travel – especially to the French Riviera and Monte Carlo, where she and her husband got married in 2001. Her husband, an engineer originally from Amsterdam, shares Maria’s interest in art, and the pair likes to pick up interesting design pieces for their home.
Read more about Maria’s favorite artists and designers in this week’s Q&A.
Photo Courtesy of Patrick McMullan and Photographer Owen Hoffmann
1. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to venture into the arts industry? What is the best part about running your own business?
With a long-time personal love of art and creativity, I launched MvVO ART a year ago to create opportunities for emerging artists, collectors, and corporate sponsors to discover each other and ultimately develop powerful partnerships. The inspiration for MvVO ART’s very first project is one of Europe’s most interesting events, the Brussels Accessible Art Fair – which is a completely artist led art fair. It provides unknown artists, some without gallery representation, a high-end platform to launch their careers. The artists are vetted by a panel of art experts and showcase their art directly to the public in an intimate, inviting, and friendly environment.
I have a background as a global business development executive, a role in which I traveled all over the world, while having the opportunity to visit different types of art fairs and exhibitions. I visited the Brussels Accessible Art Fair every year for 5 years. When I returned to live in New York, I was astonished to find that nothing like this event existed here – despite the wealth of talent from here and abroad. So, I contacted Stephanie Manasseh, founder and director of Brussels Accessible Art Fair, proposed the idea of a New York launch, and she loved the idea.
I love running my own business because I have the freedom choose who I want to work with! It also means more flexible hours so I can spend more time with my husband and my son.
2. What has been the most memorable moment in your career, and why?
I have many memorable moments in my career. In general, the most memorable moments were moments spent celebrating new business wins with my team. The thrill of signing up a new sponsor, a new client, or forging a new partnership. These are very exciting moments because everyone is happy and looking forward to more successes together.
A particularly funny moment was back when I worked as a marketing consultant for one of the world’s largest cereal brands, and being sent to Russia to try and find out why their cereals weren’t selling in Russia. After having done some research, it turned out that the cereal box looked so similar to the Russian bird food brands that the stores had it stocked in their animal foods section! This ended up being the shortest business presentation I ever did to wrap up my findings!
3. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome professionally? How has that impacted the way you work today?
I would say my biggest challenge professionally has always been to transition from one industry to another. I started in advertising in NYC, then moved to Europe to run a start-up in the technology sector, and now I am launching and directing an art fair in the world’s most important art metropolis. I have learned that change is a good thing! And that you can apply the skills you have to different situations. All you need is to feel passionate about what you do and motivate others with your enthusiasm. The rest just happens!
4. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?
A typical day for me is dropping off my son to school, going to spin class, having breakfast, and then I get to work. We are launching a fair so there is a lot to do and organize. I live in the Hamptons so my team will come up to work out here and we are often tempted to jump in the pool! However, the day goes by so fast that we hardly have time to take a break!! I am a big surfer during my free time…meaning I surf the internet in search of new talent, new art, new partners and what’s happening in NYC, a city I love with a passion.
On a day off I like to go watch my son play soccer.
5. What is the next big thing on the New York arts scene? What are people doing differently today when it comes to art fairs, compared to ten years ago?
I think what is different today versus ten years ago is that art can be made more accessible to the public and one does not have to be a collector to buy art and appreciate it. There are more opportunities for first time collectors to buy quality art. Social media also provides artists more opportunities to connect with more art lovers.
6. What are your favorite restaurants to visit in New York?
Cipriani on 5th [and] Caravaggio… I think Majorelle is going to be my favorite when it opens because I know the chef, Charles Mason, and like his food.
Photo Courtesy of Patrick McMullan and Photographer Sylvain Gaboury
7. Any tips for locations to visit for people wanting to explore the New York art scene?
The new Whitney Museum and the Lower East Side small and independent galleries, as well as the High Line, which has outdoor art.
8. What was your best New York moment? Your worst?
My best New York moment was being invited to Bon Jovi’s private residence in Soho. My worst was when he opened the door and I fell and made an unintentionally dramatic entrance!! We all laughed, including Bon Jovi, whom I was meeting for the first time. I think this was one of my best and worst New York moments.
9. As fall is approaching, can you tell us about something you like to do in the Hamptons in the off-season?
We like to go ice skating on the canals in the Hamptons during winter. It is beautiful, and a great family activity.
10. How would you describe your style?
In genera,l I am contemporary classic but I am inspired by various styles. I love to mix global culture with modern aesthetics.
11. Name your favorite… and tell us why:,
a. Fashion designer
Young and original designer, my nephew Alec Ohanian, because of his ability to remind a woman that she is beautiful. His mantra is primarily focused on the beauty of a woman and how a garment is just an extension of her abilities.
Mies Van Der Rohe (love his famous Barcelona Chair and the Seagram Building in NYC).
Empire dresses, chic tops, tailored pants, and high heels.
Joe Malone Mandarin basil
e. TV show
The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall by my mother, Armineh Helen Ohanian. It is a story of a strong woman in a very interesting setting.
12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?
My mother is my style icon. She is petite, elegant, stylish, and always put together.
Photo Courtesy of Teresa Pyskaty
13. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?
Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris – I love their precision for taste and service. Love their classic dishes: Provence garden vegetables cooked with black truffle and their Baba au Rhum, lightly whipped cream.
14. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?
My favorite vacation spot is the French Riviera. I fly into Nice, then take a 7-minute helicopter ride to Monte Carlo, where I got married, and visit some wonderful friends in one of the most beautiful villages I know: Gorbio. If I were to stay in a hotel, I would stay at the Vista (because of the beautiful view) and I always make sure to stop by in St Paul de Vence, a stunning village where artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Miro, and Léger lived and frequented it.
15. Which three items can you not live without?
My iPhone, my lipstick, and my car!
16. What song, meditation, or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?
I love to listen to guided meditations depending on my moods. I especially enjoy those that help clear your mind and be more creative. My favorite song: “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed.
17. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?
I would love to meet the next Picasso and buy his work now!
18. Anything else you wish to promote or discuss?
Don’t miss the Accessible Art Fair New York at the National Arts Club this November! It will be a great event, showcasing the works of 60 emerging and mid-career painters, sculptors and photographers, picked by an expert jury from Sotheby’s, Gagosian, artnet and others, from the rich and varied talent pool of New York City, the U.S., and around the world.
For more information about the Accessible Art Fair New York, please visit www.mvvoart.com
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Teresa Pyskaty