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Viewpoint: Soo Gilvarry, MOCA Board Member shares her thoughts on art, culture, and how MOCA, UNF’s cultural institute Downtown, can serve as a catalyst for creativity

Viewpoint: Soo Gilvarry, MOCA Board Member shares her thoughts on art, culture, and how MOCA, UNF’s cultural institute Downtown, can serve as a catalyst for creativity

June 10, 2021 // by MOCA Staff

thumbnail_Soo Gilvarry Photo

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you lived in Jacksonville, and what do you enjoy the most about living here?

 A: I am from Seoul, South Korea, and I have lived in Jacksonville for 20 years. As a downtown property owner, I am very excited to be part of the revitalization of downtown, working with extraordinary people in DVI (Downtown Vision Inc), DIA (Downtown Investment Authority), Ground Work, Jax Chamber and City of Jacksonville. We are all working together to make Jacksonville downtown a vibrant community.

 Q: Do you have a favorite contemporary artist?

A: Yes! Edward Ruscha is one of my favorite artists. There is so much of emotion in his simplicity. I love his simplistic artistic style, art sensitivity and ability to communicate through surrealism and lettering.

 Q: As a board member of MOCA Jacksonville, you must feel a connection to the art, artists, and ideas of our time. What made you decide to become a board member and what do you love about MOCA?

 A: Art represents a strong part of my life as a personal interest in that I grew up with and surround myself with all types of artistic expression in my family. My aunt is a painter, and she had an exhibition in NY and my uncle is a tenor who studied at The Mozarteum in Salzburg. As a supporter of the arts community, I have always paid attention to exhibitions and events in town, like MOCA, Cummer Museum & Gardens, The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach and The Beaches Museum. Actually, once upon a time I had aspirations of becoming a painter, although I ended up studying Biology and Business.

The Art Book has served as a long-standing fixture in my personal library. Like a good friend, it remains of a cherished part of my prized collection. As an art aficionado, I have owned this book since it was published by Phaidon more than 20 years ago. Because of my enduring interest and appreciation for this resource, I have endeavored to keep current with all of the new editions.

After I saw the powerful and sensational performance of Abramov at MOMA, March 2010, my vision of art world was broadened. I was very excited to see Amanda Coogan' Project Atrium at MOCA in 2018. Before I joined the Board as a member, I was already a long-standing member of MOCA having participated in several programs including, “Coffee with a Curator” in additional other events throughout the year. My dear friends, Willie Gonzalez (former UNF Board of Trustees) and his wife Rocelia Gonzalez recommended me to join the Board. I have lot to more to learn as a board member but love the energy and leadership of MOCA leadership of Chad Labenz (Chair of Board of Trustees) and Caitlin Doherty (Executive Director).

Q: MOCA Jacksonville is located in the heart of our city, across from City Hall and historic James Weldon Johnson Park. In your opinion, what makes MOCA an important presence in Downtown Jacksonville?

A: MOCA provides the perfect space and platform positioned in the heart of the city center. There, thought leaders of every strata can coalesce together as MOCA hosts critical programming that addresses cross-cultural, philosophical inquiry and curiosity-driven conversations through a art-centric lens in addressing the salient issues of our time. In doing so, MOCA has the opportunity build and solidify strategic partnerships with surrounding businesses, agencies, non-profit organizations, and government entities to expand its network as an integrated and invested community partner.

Q: As a UNF Alumni, what can you tell us about MOCA's connection with UNF? In your opinion, how does MOCA help the university to be able to create the next generation of thinkers, leaders, and problem solvers with the knowledge and experience to uniquely change the world?

A: Goal based framework is part of UNF Strategic plan-students succeed when they are provided with the tools and opportunities to make the most of their experience, enabling them to reach and exceed their goals. As a proud UNF Alumni, I believe MOCA's connection with UNF is unique and presents a great number of opportunities for people from all walks of life to engage and feel a part of the wonderful arts community emerging in the downtown area. I cannot think of better location for the UNF to engage the Jacksonville community as a whole. UNF needs to strengthen and promote a greater presence in the downtown area with open door access to the community at large as well as to the burgeoning tourist population to show all that UNF has to offer in the arts community and beyond. Through MOCA, UNF has the capacity to leverage its visibility as a great university coupled with exciting programming and new vision.





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