This fall, the gallery formerly known as Calderón Ruiz opened its doors in Manhattan’s Seaport district to the enthusiasm of many in the arts community — especially Latinx artists and cultural workers who have long felt a glaring gap in their representation in the wider art world.
Now, just a few months since its inauguration, the gallery has announced that it will be known as simply Calderón, led by just one of its two founders, Nicole Calderón. The name change comes amid allegations against co-founder Michael Ruiz related to a separate project, Future Gallery in Berlin, which he founded in 2018. In recent weeks, several artists who showed with Future have taken to social media to accuse Ruiz of withholding payments, concealing sale information, and failing to return artworks. Artnet subsequently published a report featuring testimonies from artists including Estrid Lutz, who said she discovered Ruiz had sold a work of hers only when the collector, Bjorn Stern, posted about it on his Instagram a year later.
In an email, Lutz said that Ruiz sold 13 works without her knowledge, but has only paid her €8,390 (~$9,436) for two works so far and refuses to share the buyers’ identities. She added that Ruiz still has 25 works in his possession, which he has only recently agreed to ship back to her European gallery but not to Mexico, where she has been based for the last three years.
Lutz says she decided to speak out about her experience with Future to help other artists affected.
“I think everyone should have their right to their silence and secrecy, but it is of course worth considering who a culture of silence around the art market really benefits,” Lutz told Hyperallergic. “To me it seems like it just makes various financial crimes easier to commit and get away with.”
Ruiz has not responded to Hyperallergic’s repeated requests for comment regarding the accusations made by artists against Future Gallery. In a statement from Calderón Gallery announcing the name change, a quote attributed to Ruiz says he is “extremely proud of what has been accomplished to date in launching this incredible new venture championing Latinx artists.”
The newly-announced changes will not affect the gallery’s planned programming. In addition to its current exhibition, Siempre en la Calle, featuring works by Shellyne Rodriguez and Danielle De Jesus, Calderón Gallery will soon present booths at two fairs in Miami this December: Untitled Art and NADA, where it will be showing in the “Spotlight” section curated by Ebony Haynes.
“I’m just happy that [Calderón] is making the right decision to move on by herself,” De Jesus told Hyperallergic. “After all, she was the one doing most if not all of the leg work as far as reaching out to artists and taking the time for lengthy and thorough studio visits.”
“I wish her the best of luck moving forward and hope that she will always do right by the artist no matter what,” De Jesus added. “Everything is a learning experience.”
In a statement, Calderón pledged to “continue the gallery’s mission to diligently foster the careers of Latinx artists.”
“I am extremely dedicated to supporting these artists today and always,” she continued.