Nick Hissom and Kameron Ramirez are two young entrepreneurs who have leveraged their professional experience in film production and music into a thriving full-service art agency, gallery, advisory, and artist management team that is propelling talented artists into the forefront of the art world.
As the new players in the art world managing Wynn Fine Art Gallery in Palm Beach, while also growing their roster of contemporary artists, they are applying innovative approaches that are shaking up the traditional art world with their style.
What is the background story of Aktion?
Kameron: About three years ago, a close friend of mine with a background in fashion photography, Kevin HEES (pronounced Hayes), living in Palm Springs, asked me to take a look at some fine art paintings he was working on. I brought them to Nick, and we formed the idea to present them to a few young collectors in Palm Beach – the response was great! Within a short while, HEES was a full-time working artist, and Nick and I formed AKTION ART to manage and nurture his career. From there, we signed artist, ThankYouX (named Ryan Wilson) and were successfully able to introduce him to our network of collectors and art influencers. Given the success of HEES and ThankYouX, and our personal love of art, we founded AKTION ART, which represents and manages emerging artists, advises collectors, and also deals in secondary and established Master Works. We’ve since built a roster of stellar talent, and been fortunate enough to work and collaborate with some of the art world’s greatest talents, established artists, galleries, collectors, and influencers.
How are you different from other galleries and service art agencies?
Nick: We didn’t want Aktion Art to be a normal gallery. We wanted to curate a group of like-minded collectors who were individually dynamic, successful, passionate about art, and from many walks of life and industries. It is a wonderful experience bringing people who normally wouldn’t meet one another together through art, and allows for a passionate community to gather around a particular artist.
It’s really exciting sharing in our friends lives through their art collecting. It’s about creating a great vibe and energy that is appropriate to the artist that you’re showing. And having the artist in the room is also fantastic, letting them meet the people that are seeing and being inspired by their work. It’s a great motivating factor for an artist to feel appreciated. We have been successful in sourcing great venues and working with great people to get the message out there and make an impact.
Interesting, so your exhibits are (intellectually) unique?
Nick: Yes, what is unique about what we do is the curation of the artists we are managing under the umbrella of Aktion Art. We always try to tell a story with what we’re showing. We curate blue chip and emerging artists alongside famous works from larger collections, often from our personal network of dealers or collectors from around the world that we work with. Collectors especially enjoy adding emerging artists to their rosters, it shows their individuality and prowess for discovery. We also work with institutions to position newer artists alongside more recognizable names.
At Wynn Fine Art, we curate just special shows per Palm Beach season. Featuring master piece works from the private collection of Steve Wynn, Wynn Fine Art exhibits works that are seen in public very rarely, and guarded in highly secure hands.
How did Covid impact your business?
Kameron: COVID did impact our business. At the time, Nick’s stepfather asked us if we’d like to come to Palm Beach to manage his collection and reopen Wynn Fine Art, the gallery, at the Esplanade on Worth Ave. Steve wanted to lend his art to the gallery and felt it would bring an uplifting energy to the otherwise Covid-stricken Holiday Season (of 2020-2021).
Our first exhibit was “Master Works” by Roy Lichtenstein. Featuring 7 unique works on canvas from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Following that, Steve, Nick and I curated “Warhol x Basquiat” a collaborative show between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. We always try to narrate our exhibits at Wynn Fine Art from a cohesive art-historical perspective. Being of two different generations, yet painting at the same time, the exhibit reflected on how Basquiat was inspired by Andy Warhol, while also celebrating their unique styles. It was an exhibit that lead the viewer through the journey of pop art.
Nick: Being in Palm Beach last season, especially during COVID when everyone came down to Florida, was a great opportunity to meet and network with everyone. Having a gallery space was good too. From our shows at Wynn Fine Art, to our advisory placements in the Secondary market, to our emerging artists, we were able to carve out our own small niche in the Palm Beach market.
Sounds like both of your innovative style, lifelong experience, and passion for art have benefited artists under your management and the art collectors?
Kameron: I think so, Aktion Art prides itself in working with our artists to establish meteoric rises in their careers and valuations. Taking artists from a relatively unknown status, to now featured in high profile magazines, public events and museum exhibits, backed by a slew of world-renown collectors.
We are also establishing a strong presence outside of Palm Beach as well, visiting and partaking in activations surrounding art fairs around the world such as; Art Basel, Switzerland, Art Paris, Paris, Art Monte Carlo, Monaco, AmfAR Cannes, AmfAR Palm Beach, The Hamptons Art Ranch, Art Crush Aspen, auction integrations with Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips, and more. It is all really exciting for us, the artists, and the collectors!
Nick: I grew up very much immersed in art. Since I was maybe 15 years old, I watched and learned from many of the top dealers, auction houses, and collectors, studying how these great works of art, that I was lucky enough to grow up around, were moving in and out of our homes and in and out of the collection. Over time, you get a feel for the business behind it. You get to know how everything operates.
What was also vital in building my network was my upbringing in London and Switzerland. I went to school with many great collecting families and have long-term trusted relationships with them. I made many connections through the art and social scene and going out in London. It’s all about experience, relationships, and developing trust with collectors. By doing you learn so much. It’s a lifelong immersion.
What are some of the recent shows you curated outside of Wynn Fine Art?
Nick/ Kameron: We recently put on a show for Barcelona-based discovery Connor Addison, during Miami Basel at the Aston Martin Residences Tower. The show sold out that day, and was attended by over 300 of Basel’s most high profile young collectors and art influencers. Rarely do we see an artist so ravenously accepted as Connor has been.
Also in December, Aktion Art put on a public exhibit with the City of Beverly Hills for LA artist Kevin HEES as part of their “Visions of the Future” art initiative, – which rallies retail businesses stricken by Covid closures around art. The show was an immense success impacting Beverly Hills and the wider community with HEES’ messages of Hope and positivity. We also pioneered a recent sale of a ‘Phigital’ (a merger of physical and digital art) by Aktion Art discovery ThankYouX to a prominent collector from the technology sector. Originally introduced to us via the Museum of Art and Design in New York, on Columbus Circle, in which Aktion Art are members of the Junior Board. Following and expanding on the story of ThankYouX over the past 2 years, to now major museum prominence and six-figure auctions at Phillips and Sotheby’s has been an exciting ride!
Tell us about the exciting March 2022 exhibit at Wynn Fine Art. I think the exhibit reflects how well you work with talented emerging artists and pair them alongside master works.
Nick: The March through June exhibit this Season at Wynn Fine Art is titled “Still and Still Moving” by artist Nick Hornby. We are hugely excited to be introducing such a prominent artist from the United Kingdom to Palm Beach for the first time! Kameron and I brought Nick Hornby to the attention of Steve, who simply fell in love with the work. One of the most accomplished sculptors in the UK with a fantastic resumé of institutional accreditations. Nick has exhibited in the Tate Britain, belongs to the Royal Society of Sculptors, and at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. As one views his amazing works in sculpture from varying perspectives, one discovers new faces, lines, and forms from each point of view. His multifaceted and optically illusive sculptures appear change drastically, shrouded in shadow and silhouette. “Still and Still Moving” by Nick Hornby will also feature master works by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, and Henri Matisse (all from the 1950s), that showcase Hornby’s portrayal of the artistic dialogue between these artists, and the movement of cubism, abstraction, and figuratism.
How does philanthropy and active Board participation play into your business and life philosophy?
Nick: We are very active philanthropically. We are donors to the Norton Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, Unicef, Children’s Relief, Share the Meal, AmfAR, and many more humanitarian causes. Kameron is on the Committee for Hope For Depression spearheaded by Audrey Gruss. And for me personally, I have a lot of friends that donate to charity as part of their day-to-day life or, also as part of their faith. Many of these friends have inspired me to do the same. I donate a percentage of my income to a number of charitable causes that are inspiring where I feel I can help. We look to do things that enrich people’s lives like, for example, we support the children of the Dreyfus School of the Arts – we just purchased an artwork where all proceeds benefit the school. Another charity I support is called Share the Meal, which provides meals to hungry underprivileged people throughout the world. I wanted to donate a meal to someone in need every time I personally ate a meal, so I donate three meals a day, every single day. Whatever you would do for yourself, you should also do for others if you can. Another charity I’m very passionate about is Make A Wish Foundation. The work they do for terminally ill children, and following their stories and getting involved in a support network for their families and the kids themselves – it’s so much more to me than a donation, it really hits home on a very emotional personal level.
Kameron: Also, our artist Kevin HEES recently donated a work for auction at AmfAR Palm Beach in benefit of research for HIV and AIDS. The piece raised over $80,000.00 for the cause, and was covered in Vogue, and the New York Times. Kevin HEES’ donated the work in memory of his Brother, and many friends, who lost their lives to HIV and AIDS.
What is your commitment to the artists you work with?
Kameron: Well, we promise the artist that we will put together a great show, a beautiful catalog, and presentation, and we’ll put their work out there for the collectors to see. We give the artists the absolute best platform, and then it’s really up to the market to decide if they like it, and how much they like it. We can’t force anyone to buy anything. It is for us to build together with the artists and continue working collectively to grow their careers. So far, we have picked artists that have been well received. You just have to put your best foot forward, hope for the best, and that’s kind of what we’ve done.