'A Capital for Visual Art'

Jacksonville collector Mike Cavendish acquires 'Unauthorized' installation, hopes to see city grow as a destination for art


An art project that traveled from China, via Australia, to the West Coast of the U.S., has arrived in Jacksonville.

Collector Mike Cavendish acquired "The Unauthorized Collection of John Kaldor," which centers on a room-sized installation. The project was then transported to Jacksonville by artist David De Boer along with filmmaker Aaron Giesel, who chronicled the journey.

“It allowed them to have all these happenings with different Americans everyday,” Cavendish said. “They had a pop-up exhibition in Chicago. It was about a process of allowing a special work of art to pass through for all to see.”

Cavendish is a downtown attorney at Gunster Jacksonville and was thrilled to have these two artists, De Boer and Giesel, both of Southern California, spend 3 days in the city and meet with the art community.

The work was commissioned by FELT Space, a gallery in Australia, and created in China. De Boer wanted Kaldor’s collection to be made piece for piece in the same place Kaldor made his fortune.

The art project is considered to consist of three essential parts that made the process special — the installation, the journey and the film — Cavendish said.

“It’s the first time this has been done anywhere in the world,” Cavendish said. “Kaldor had a collection of world-class contemporary art he paid for by doing trade between China and Australia. It is provocative, highly original and was met with a great reception in Australia.”

Cavendish says that the installation confronts the way that the art market is aligning itself with the billionaires or the one-tenth of the 1 percent, taking art away from the masses.

De Boer’s work challenges that ideal by taking a highly renowned collector’s pieces and duplicating them.

Cavendish hopes to have the installation put up around Jacksonville to help promote Jacksonville as the next art hub, similar to Brooklyn or Portland.

“It could be a capital for visual art,” Cavendish said. “There is a huge population of young people with an entrepreneur spirit, and I think Jacksonville is ready for this type of big artist.”

The collection was brought to Cavendish’s attention by De Boer, and the two of them struck up a friendship as art colleagues in 2011 after the artist contacted the Jacksonville collector.

“He went through the process of looking for a home," Cavendish said. “He contacted me one day and floated the idea of bringing it to Jacksonville and making it the home base of the project.”

Cavendish already has some of De Boer’s work, which he collected around the time the two became colleagues, including paintings from "Treasures of a Collection."

“I’m working with a committee of people to try and display it around Jacksonville,” Cavendish said. “It’s so large that it will have to be displayed in multiple locations including Downtown ... CoRK Arts District in Riverside, and I would love to have it displayed at the beach.”

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