In-Sync with… Mi-yeon Kwon, AXIS Int’l Art Festival (interview)


This post continues my series “In-Sync with…” aimed to get a closer look at contemporary artists and art professionals from Chicago and abroad. Read it, enjoy it, share it, and get in-sync with AXIS International Art Festival’s Executive Director Mi-yeon Kwon.

I admire people who dream big. But I admire even more those who work hard at making the big dreams come into a reality. Such is the case of Mi-yeon Kwon who has taken upon herself the monumental task of starting AXIS 2013 International Art Fair in Chicago this May 3 to 5. Why another art fair and what makes this one different from others are among the questions I asked Mi-yeon. It might be a few years before we understand the real impact of this effort but I believe that the art community should attend and support this fair because, internationally speaking, when one Chicago artist wins, we all win.  Enjoy the interview and see you at AXIS….

Sergio: How did you get started in the gallery business?

Mi-yeon:  As an MFA in ceramics, I quickly realized that developing an artist’s career is a difficult but worthwhile endeavor. I chose the path of leading a not-for-profit arts organization. Some artists work throughout their careers under the sponsorship of organizations. Some artists also believe that directorships are more more for business managers and that artists ideally should create as well as curate art shows. In my role as a gallery director, I have curated many shows. Because of time constraints, I have only had a few solo shows of my own art work.

Sergio: Please tell us why did you decided to start Axis International Art Festival and why is it important for Chicago?

Mi-yeon:  I consider myself a busy artist and I have experimented with many different types of progressive art in Chicago. I sometimes wonder how much the viewing public really comprehend the stories being told via the creations of artists. Some artists may even be viewed as not hard working, especially if a viewer misunderstands a particular piece of art. However, professional artists must survive based on their craft. Indeed the scope and breath of the art market of both collectors and appreciators is a serious matter. Ultimately, pieces of art must be sold. I believe that the Axis festival will focus on how artists and galleries achieve motivation. Personally, I appreciate art based both on my education but also because of my professional experience. I also believe that there is a significant gap between master art and marketable art. We hope to examine this very issue at our festival. We will strive to create vibrant art for the community that can be appreciated while at the same time directly supporting our artists.


Sergio: What have been the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get Axis off the ground?

Mi-yeon:  My biggest challenge was building the financial infrastructure for our festival. This meant having to convince our artists to work cohesively instead of independently. We discoverd that the whole was more than the sum of the individual pieces, in our case, the arts organizations and the artists themselves. I sense that competition can lead to a healthy market but collaboration must exist between us for our festival to be a success. Finally, for our project, the community must also be actively involved.

Sergio: How will you measure success for Axis?

Mi-yeon:  The movement of our art pieces through their sale at our festival is important. In addition, a significant community turn-out is key regardless of the level of art education, or race or creed. Bottom line is that we wish to motivate our participants by cultivating the need for art.

Sergio: How can the Chicago art community support your effort?

Mi-yeon:  We are having a fundraising Silent Auction on April 20th at the Arts Club of Chicago. We will also have a lecture series at the festival itself on May 4th and 5th. Also, the attendance of gallerists at our Festival will help motivate artists for future editions of AXIS. It can literally become like a domino effect. Art collector participation is valuable as well since they can bring legitamacy to our show. Lastly, we wish and hope to enhance artists marketing skills at our Festival thereby improving the art market place, in general.

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Sergio: What does make Axis different from other Art Fairs?

Mi-yeon:  In our festival, we are emphasizing artist support mechanisms. We are explicitly reaching out to various artist groups as well as many commercial galleries. Our modern high tech media has helped artists and galleries self-promote enormously thereby relying on curation less. At the same time, we believe that gallery representation is here to stay and remains important for the success of artists. Our festival will help artists who are in need of direct gallery communication as well as those who mainly self-promote. Also, wall and booth costs are priced at a not-for-profit level thereby making our Festival affordable. As a not-for-profit organization, our mission has always been to support professional artists first and foremost.


AXIS 2013 International Art Festival Participants

Rodney Wade, Chicago
Spencer Hutchinson, Chicago
Jason Watts, Chicago
Inyoung Ju, S Korea
Gallery Dos, S Korea
Juyeon Kim, New York/S Korea
Ignite Studio Glass, Chicago
Michael Manning, New York/Chicago
Sixhand Painting, Germany
Reiner Gramlich
Eckhard Zylla
Tom Burton Wood, Chicago
Erica Jane Huntzinger, Chicago/Wisconsin,
CJ Hungerman, Chicago
Allen Vandever, Chicago
Estrella Luna, Mexico
Black Art Global
Phanthom Gallery Net Work, Chicago,
International Art Group
Digital Print Exhibition
Three Best Artists
Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, Chicago

Time and New Media Base

Rosemary Barria, Chicago
Josephine Lipuma
Diane Ponder
Mikel Avery
Dan Godston


Jon Cates, Chicago
Nick Briz, Chicago
Paul Lempke, Chicago
Paul Hertz, Chicago
Tom Estes, London
Lyla Rye, Toronto
Alex Lee, Potsdam, New York
Spencer Hutchinson, Chicago


Raymond Salvatore Harmon, London
Kai-Duc Luong, France/ US
Galina Shevchenko, Chicago
Andy Ortmann, Chicago
Heejoo Kim, Missoula, Montana
Karlie Kahl, Missoula, Montana
Alfred Gaither, Missoula, Montana
Eric Czekner, Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Brian Holsey, Baltimore
Adam Lam, Chicago
Chai Won Ni. Thailand
Charles Lim, Singapore
Sangbum Heo, S Korea
Hey J Min, S Korea


First View
May 3rd Fri 5 pm – 8 pm
https://www.chicagoaxis-preview.eventbrite.comFor VIP and Press 
(or $100 donation at door)
Proceeds benefit Prak-Sis Contemporary Art
General Admission
May 3rd Fri 8pm – 11:30 pm
May 4th Sat 8am – 8pm
8pm – 11:30 pm Performances
May 5th Sun 8am – 6pm




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