Leon Alkelay and Gil Yedid are in love with the culture of Latin America. The Israeli-born art gallery owners and artist promoters are passionate about the feeling that Latin American art evokes. At its core, they believe that the art has a soul and touches the very essence of being human. Alkelay and Yedid are enchanted by the way the artists use bright colors and happy themes to celebrate music, dance, love, hope and happiness. “The vivid colors and happy emotions that one derives from the art of Latin America are similar to the feeling here in South Florida,” says Alkelay, who lovingly talks about his appreciation for the culture of Latin America, noting his penchant for Peruvian ceviche.
Alkelay has been a gallery owner for over three decades, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000s when a Colombian art dealer and his girlfriend walked into a gallery Alkelay owned and showed him the work of Peruvian artist Tadeo Zavaleta that his attention turned to the artists of Latin America. For Alkelay the viewing of Zavaleta’s work was one of those seminal moments that swerves your life in a new direction. “I liked his artwork so much that I purchased seven pieces on the spot,” says Alkelay. The art dealer was so confident in the marketability of Zavaleta’s gorgeously evocative and colorful work that he nonchalantly told Alkelay that he need not pay him in advance but to send him the money when the pieces sold.
“We sold them right away,” recalls Alkelay. “I decided to open a new business and merged with my friend Gil Yedid to promote Tadeo’s work.” The pair traveled to California, Colorado and New Mexico to promote Zavaleta’s beautiful body of work. “People loved his art,” says Alkelay. In 2008, they decided to travel to South America to look for more Latin American artists to represent.
While in an art gallery in South America, Alkelay and Yedid were intrigued with a painting they saw, but the owner would not name the artist. “We asked Tadeo Zavaleta if he could help us identify the artist,” recalls Alkelay. “He said he did not know who painted the picture, but maybe his father (iconic Peruvian artist Leonidas Zavaleta) would know because he knows everyone.” Soon Alkelay, Yedid and Tadeo were in a taxi en route to meet Edgar Barrios, who would become the second Latin American artist that they would represent. “It was a pretty scary place. There were about a hundred dogs in the street,” Alkelay says. He immediately connected with Barrios, whose collection of vibrant and romantic paintings from the time period of ancient Venice further solidified Masters Fine Art’s mission and passion to represent Latin American artists.
“I love to meet the artists,” says Alkelay, who works mostly with the trade. Another aspect of the business is producing high-quality prints for artists, companies and the general public. “We use very fine canvases,” he says, noting that the process of giclée printing allows artists to produce gorgeous reproductions in a variety of media. Artists can also do embellishments by hand to the giclées, creating customized artwork that closely resembles the original piece. The gallery also offers custom framing services.
Masters Fine Arts is truly a one-stop shop for artists, particularly Latin American artists, who want to broadcast their work to the world. Along with the tools of the trade to sell original artwork and reproduce high-quality pieces, the team is equipped to market artists through exhibitions, publishing and promotions. “We are always searching for new artists to represent,” says Alkelay, who is also eager to help homeowners add color and joy to their residences.
He invites everyone to stop by the gallery to take a tour of the heart and soul of Latin American culture. Although he can’t promise there will be ceviche, he will guarantee that you feel the color, romance and joy of the art.
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston magazine, Boston Common Magazine, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.