Artist JuanCarlos rLora and gallery owner Luba Kladienko-Ramirez of the Fort Lauderdale gallery ArtToSaveLives are more aligned than most artists and dealers: both are on a mission to support animal rescue.
Born into a family of art collectors, Kladienko-Ramirez met rLora when she was still in college. She was studying art history and he was studying zoology. rLora had been painting since childhood and was trained throughout his young life by Dominican Master artist Candido Bido’s School of Visual Arts and mentored in adulthood by Turkish artist and poet Aquiles Azar.
At school, the two bonded immediately over their shared passions for art and animals. Soon after, Kladienko-Ramirez began managing rLora’s art career and selling his art directly from her home in upstate New York, building a loyal base of supporters for 15 years. But when Kladienko-Ramirez learned of the severity of the animal rescue crisis in Florida, she felt a calling to help. Kladienko-Ramirez and her husband decided to move the gallery south, rebuilding their collector network from scratch.
Five years later, ArtToSaveLives has become an important part of the South Florida arts community and the gallery is celebrating its fifth anniversary with “Flor Del Sol,” an exhibition of rLora’s works devoted to animal rescue in south Florida, where kill shelters are legal. (80 percent of sale profits will go to animal rescue missions). The exhibition is a good fit for the cause—rLora interprets his paintings as a means of expressing his passion for all living creatures, from plants to animals, especially in the face of climate change. His colorful paintings are characterized by flower symbols that colorfully transform from one state to the next, growing not on earth, per se, but in the imagined cosmic realm.
“The flower’s main purpose is that of hope and positivity, inciting humans to change for the better, not only to treat each other with respect, but also our planet and all of its sentient beings. It is a symbol of universal love,” said Kladienko-Ramirez.
As for rLora, he is delighted that his art can help contribute to more animal rescues. “To me, every painting should tell or be part of a story, the way a song is. And sometimes several themes interconnect to deliver a greater message,” he said.
Kladienko-Ramirez, meanwhile, hopes to continue to expand the reach of the gallery mission. “ArtToSaveLives Contemporary is getting closer and closer to realizing our goal of an animal sanctuary entirely funded by art,” she said. “We envision a museum space at the sanctuary, where our collectors will come by and see the art, all while saying hi to the rescues, who will be roaming at the sanctuary, thus combining our two passions.”
“JuanCarlos rLora: Flor Del Sol” is on view at ArtToSaveLives through November 24, 2020.