Who is John Mable?

Arts & Culture

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY OCT 30, 2020

Who is John Mable? A whisper, rumor or symbol? A man of distinction with a taste for fine art? But the question of who, though delightfully abstract, yields a less fruitful conversation than what.

John Mable exists on the internet as a series of zeroes and ones, a portal and a platform for local artists to take their work from their studios and show it to a receptive audience. John Mable is a facilitator, the personification of a consortium of art dealers, handlers and curators, a collective of artists and art buyers with a massive network that extends from Tampa to Naples. And if on the surface John Mable merely sells fine art on an e-commerce website, the manner in which it’s sold might disrupt a business model that has gone unchanged for decades.

That disruption comes in the form of Mable’s delivery and payment methods. By partnering with local handlers, the platform offers free, professional delivery of its one-of-a-kind pieces. If a buyer in Tampa wants art from an artist represented in Naples, a handler in Naples packs and delivers the piece to Tampa, ensuring the piece gets the respect and care it deserves. In terms of payment, the money is held in an escrow account until the buyer gets eyes on the piece and gives final approval. This mitigates any issues arising from minor discrepancies between the actual piece and its digital rendering.

Those stipulations give the platform the ability to achieve its artist-first mission by increasing the reach of not only established artists like Tim Jaeger, but to champion artists on the cusp that might not be found in any local gallery. Savannah Magnolia is one such artist. A recent Ringling College graduate, Magnolia quickly built up steam with her work, winning first place in the VSA Emerging Artist Program from the Kennedy Center in D.C. and exhibiting her work in 2019’s Art Basel Miami. “I was really gaining momentum,” she says, “but Covid halted my progress.” Though she kept her brush wet during the pandemic, commissions dried up. By the time John Mable reached out during this dry spell, Magnolia had amassed a collection of work that further developed her colorful preoccupation with anatomical imagery and her hard-edged, meticulous line work.

“I’m just happy that galleries are continuing to expand their platforms during this time,” she says, “and John Mable has created a really polished site that highlights local artists.” John Mable has opened up the art world for Magnolia and other artists unable to leverage in-person gallery exhibitions. What the platform lacks in the assuredness of an in-person gallery, it hopes to make up for with a heightened sense of community and an artist-centric, digital grassroots mission.

So, who or what is John Mable? A mask behind which a collective of art dealers hide in an effort to highlight the art itself? A website where Southwest Florida art lovers can get their hands on Southwest Florida artists from the comfort of their own home?

The real question is: what difference does it make?

John Mable, johnmable.com. Photo courtesy of artist and John Mable, titled: 'Better Living Through Chemistry,' acrylic and house paint on canvas.

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