Entrepreneur and curator, Dana Jazayeri, grew up in Hawaii and transplanted to California when he was in his teens. He spent a majority of his time in Orange County, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Francisco working in the arts. In 2011, he founded Subject Matter, a hybrid creative space holding a gallery, bookstore and clothing boutique in Costa Mesa, California, which closed in 2007. In 2011, he opened up As Issued, an art and design bookstore also in Costa Mesa. And in 2014, he co-founded Marcas Contemporary Gallery, based in the burgeoning downtown area of Santa Ana, California.

We were curious: What is Marcas Contemporary about? And why downtown Santa Ana? Luckily, he provided those answers and more.

Marcas Contemporary Gallery in downtown Santa Ana, California
Photo by: Hong Le
Marcas Contemporary Gallery in downtown Santa Ana, California
Marcas Gallery is located at 305 E 4th St in downtown Santa Ana, CA. Photo by: Hong Le

How did Marcas Contemporary come about?

Steven Daily (an established painter) and I both worked together as artist and broker since 2004. We talked about what was missing in the market place and the issue was just the market place. A lot of galleries are trying to sell a lot of things and not looking at the art agenda side. We wanted a gallery that not only operated as a for profit business but a space where artists and collectors could find refuge and nurture an understanding of the art environment.

What makes Marcas Contemporary different from the other galleries in Orange County?

Each gallery has their own vibe. We bring a new contemporary vibe with individuals of quality and standards. We know the artists displayed here, and we take artists from other areas and bring them here so the community can have access to them. We aren’t the largest gallery on the west coast but we have tenure with our time frame.

A lot of galleries are trying to sell a lot of things and not looking at the art agenda side.

So there’s an educational purpose behind the gallery, with a variety of workshops, classes, and tutorials. When are the workshops? How do people sign up? What is the cost?

We are working effortlessly to establish a better reoccurring program but with the artists we work with they have varying schedules. Our workshops, tutorials, seminars are moments where artists, the public, patrons and just interested parties can interact and educate themselves introspect to methods, understanding or inspiration. Sign ups can occur via our website or via email when they are available. Cost varies per type of function. An educational class that is hands on has nominal fees. Seminars and demonstrations have no fees and are free to the public. Seminars do have limited capacities.

Are you looking primarily for local artists when you have an exhibit?

We work with a broad range of artists. Some local but many that are not. Many that come from other states, other countries like Canada and South America and other art communities. The knowledge of these artists is shared with local artists, audiences, and collectors which adds much more value than just displaying only local artists. We support them but at the same time I can bring a range of artists here to interact with other local artists.

we curated a selection of artists that have a darker subject matter

Descent is a new contemporary group show opening this Saturday. What is it about?

Descent is a show that will focus on the darker regions of the artist mind. Keeping with a theme to October we curated a selection of artists that have a darker subject matter, darker palette or requested that they be inspired by dark surrealism. The title Descent, expresses the request to descend into ones psyche and evaluate concepts that may be taboo.

Why did you decide to open Marcas Contemporary in downtown Santa Ana?

Since I founded Subject Matter in 2011 in Costa Mesa, a lot of people wanted me to go to Santa Ana. I liked Costa Mesa but things have been changing there and we are more at a point in the career of the gallery where as much as we are for commodity we also have social interest and wanted to get more involved in that. In Santa Ana, there is some ability to work with surrounding community and city and groups and individuals more than I’ve encountered in other places in Orange County. I like downtown vibes and downtown Santa Ana isn’t always pretty but it has much more character.

downtown Santa Ana isn’t always pretty but it has much more character

When we first came here, a lot of people said that we didn’t belong here. They said the community isn’t going to buy this, but I am not here because I want them to buy. The doors are open, they are free to come. We have painting demonstrations, workshops, and more value that we can give away. I want to work on a mural project here, and create better direction for Chicano art. I see people but I don’t see that foundation.

Marcas Contemporary Gallery in downtown Santa Ana, California
Photo by: Hong Le
Marcas Contemporary Gallery in downtown Santa Ana, California
Photo by: Hong Le

Descent, a new contemporary group show inspired by Dark Surrealism will be on display this October 3rd to November 1st at Marcas Contemporary Gallery with an opening reception Saturday, October 3rd from 8pm-11pm at downtown Santa Ana’s Art Walk.

Marcas Contemporary Gallery
305 E 4th St #103
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Contact the writer: hong.le@dtsa.com

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