I often praise Barcelona and its contemporary art scene. Not only because it is one of my favorite cities in Europe, for its unique blend of art nouveau architecture, beaches, and cool vibes, but also because I often travel to Barcelona and have the chance to experience different sides of the city.
I am not a true local, though, and all my visits to Barcelona are always somehow work-related. And although I actually work with contemporary art, my knowledge of Barcelona is somewhere in between that of a tourist and a (part-time) local. But in our aid comes the incredible Maria Cordova and her Wilson Creative Hub. I met Maria in October, during my second-last trip to Barcelona for this fall, at a gallery opening and was immediately impressed by her personality and fascinated by her project. So much so that I figured she would be the perfect candidate for a round of Ask a Local in Barcelona.
Not only she is a photographer herself and a passionate art lover, but she also runs a club for fellow art lovers that introduces people to secret and not-so-secret gems in the Barcelona contemporary art scene. With her Wilson Creative Hub, she aims to create a platform where artists and art lovers alike can meet, and she organizes gallery tours, museums and studio visits, events, and so much more, to engage with her community and promote the local art scene.
Thanks to Maria we will access the best locations in Barcelona for contemporary art and she will introduce us to some of the best destinations around the city, where both frequent visitors and occasional tourists alike can get a glimpse of what it is truly like to live in Barcelona like a local. Are you ready to embark on this journey?
Maria Cordova, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has been immersed in the world of photography for the past nine years. Her journey as a photographer has taken her through various realms, from capturing events and portraiture to exploring the vibrant landscapes of street photography.
The diverse experiences gained through these ventures eventually propelled Maria into the realm of independent curation. Over the years, she has had the privilege of being exposed to a multitude of talented artists, including painters, photographers, and designers. This exposure has served as a profound source of inspiration, fostering Maria’s dream of establishing her own contemporary art gallery.
Her vision goes beyond the conventional gallery setting. Maria aspires to create a dynamic space that transcends traditional boundaries—a place that seamlessly integrates a gallery, social club, and artist residency. This innovative approach reflects her commitment to fostering creativity, collaboration, and dialogue within the artistic community.
First of all, how long have you been living in Barcelona?
I’ve had the pleasure of calling Barcelona home for the last two years, fully embracing its lively atmosphere and unique cultural experiences.
You are currently running Wilson Creative Hub. How did you come up with this idea? And what is the goal of your club?
My passion for art, nurtured since childhood in New York while exploring the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, inspired me to establish Wilson Creative Hub. The dream of creating a unique space that goes beyond the conventional gallery led to the formation of this art social club. Named after my late grandfather, an avid art enthusiast, and collector, Wilson Creative Hub aims to foster dialogue and collaboration within the art community. The club, with over 500 members comprising other artists, enthusiasts, and collectors, collaborates with local galleries, museums, and cultural sites to host guided exhibition tours, artist networking events, and more.
Who can join the club? And what can fellow art lovers experience with you?
Membership to Wilson Creative Hub is open to anyone passionate about art—artists, enthusiasts, and collectors alike. As a member, you can immerse yourself in a world of curated experiences, from exclusive gallery tours to dynamic networking events. It’s not just a club; it’s a vibrant community where art comes to life. Our goal is to create a space where individuals from diverse backgrounds can connect, collaborate, and be inspired by the rich tapestry of artistic expression.
Speaking of Barcelona, what are your favorite:
CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM?
My artistic soul truly ignites within the walls of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA). Each visit feels like a journey through a kaleidoscope of creativity, with every exhibit pushing boundaries and challenging perceptions.
CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY?
Galería Senda (Eixample)
Galería Senda is dedicated to showcasing emerging young talent, both Spanish and international. Established in 1991, it actively participates in prestigious international art fairs and promotes contemporary art through exhibitions spanning painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and video.
Marlborough Art Gallery (Eixample)
Founded in London in 1946, Marlborough Gallery expanded globally, including Barcelona in 2006. The gallery presents a solid program of monographic, collective, and permanent exhibitions, representing respected contemporary artists from Europe, the USA, South America, and Asia.
adn galeria (Eixample)
Situated on Enrique Granados Street, adn galeria serves as a hybrid platform, fostering a debate about modern society through politically engaged artists like Jordi Colomer, Núria Güell, and Adrian Melis. The exhibitions reflect on the social context and the evolving role of art in today’s world.
Galería de Arte ProjecteSD (Eixample)
ProjecteSD is known for its innovative program, establishing relationships between emerging and established artists. Through dialogues between different artistic generations, the gallery aims to foster discussions and the creation of innovative new art forms.
Àngels Barcelona (Eixample)
Positioned in the heart of Eixample, close to MACBA, Àngels Barcelona focuses on the most experimental art trends. The gallery showcases works by renowned local and international artists, sparking debates on contemporary culture and emphasizing its educational purpose.
3 Punts Galeria (Eixample)
Featuring a permanent collection and rotating solo exhibitions, 3 Punts Galeria highlights contemporary and urban art. The gallery pays special attention to emerging artists and actively participates in renowned art fairs globally.
Joan Prats Art Gallery (Eixample)
A pioneer since 1976, Joan Prats Art Gallery engages in major contemporary art fairs globally. The gallery hosts exhibitions by artists like Albert Ràfols-Casamada, Carles Congost, and Perejaume, showcasing diverse artistic disciplines.
Galeria Estrany de la Mota (Eixample)
Estrany de la Mota, established in 1996, features both established and emerging artists, promoting dialogue between different artistic generations. The gallery aims to contribute to the development of contemporary art through its exhibitions.
Ana Mas Projects (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat)
Ana Mas Projects is an exhibition space promoting various artistic trends and formats. The gallery aims to help artists develop individual styles and engage in long-term relationships with core artists.
L21 Gallery (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat)
L21 Gallery, with a notable presence in Mallorca and now extending its influence to Barcelona, is a contemporary art space dedicated to fostering innovative artistic expressions. The gallery showcases a dynamic range of exhibitions featuring both established and emerging artists. Known for its commitment to pushing artistic boundaries, L21 Gallery in Barcelona continues to be a vibrant hub for contemporary art, contributing to the city’s diverse and evolving art scene
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) is more than a cultural hub—it’s a dynamic intersection where diverse forms of expression converge. The energy within its walls resonates with the pulse of contemporary creativity.
ALL-AROUND CONTEMPORARY ART DESTINATION?
The all-encompassing contemporary art destination in Barcelona is undeniably the Eixample district. Renowned for its avant-garde spirit, Eixample hosts a myriad of contemporary art galleries and creative spaces that push the boundaries of artistic expression. Eixample serves as a vibrant intersection where art seamlessly integrates into the urban fabric, offering a comprehensive and immersive experience for enthusiasts seeking the pulse of Barcelona’s contemporary art scene.
In your experience, where can travelers find local artists?
In Barcelona, the art scene beckons exploration in diverse neighborhoods. In Eixample, where contemporary art takes center stage, numerous galleries and creative spaces dot the streets, unveiling hidden gems like boutique galleries, co-working spaces, and pop-up exhibitions. Wander through this district, and you may stumble upon local cafes or community centers, providing the perfect backdrop for chance encounters with artists or information about ongoing art events.
Meanwhile, in Poblenou, a former industrial district now transformed into an artistic hub, travelers can fully immerse themselves in a burgeoning community of local artists. Known for its vibrant street art, Poblenou boasts independent art studios, galleries, and collaborative spaces. The area frequently comes alive with art walks, open studio events, and creative festivals, offering abundant opportunities for visitors to engage with the dynamic local art scene.
Venturing into the charming El Born district further enriches the experience, with its galleries, artisan workshops, and boutique studios showcasing the work of local artists. Cultural events, such as neighborhood art markets, guided street art tours in El Raval, and participation in art-related meetups or networking events, present unique insights into Barcelona’s thriving and diverse artistic landscape. Embracing the city’s dynamic street life becomes a gateway to authentic encounters with talented local artists in unexpected settings.
Is there any residency program, art school, or academy in Barcelona that you would suggest checking out? And do they have exhibitions or activities to present their students to the general public?
I recommend checking out Hangar, an independent center for art production. Many local art schools, including EINA and Escola Massana, regularly showcase their students’ work through exhibitions and public activities.
In your opinion, what is the best time to visit Barcelona?
Spring and early fall offer pleasant weather, and Barcelona hosts numerous art events.
Is there any art festival, art fair, or art-related event you would particularly like to suggest?
The Barcelona Gallery Weekend is a must-attend, offering a diverse array of exhibitions and activities throughout the city. Additionally, consider exploring the SWAB Barcelona Art Fair. Held annually, this international contemporary art fair has become a significant platform for both emerging and established artists. SWAB showcases a broad spectrum of contemporary art, spanning paintings, sculptures, installations, and multimedia works. It presents a unique opportunity to delve into cutting-edge artistic expressions, engage with the global art community, and discover the latest trends in the contemporary art scene.
If visiting Barcelona, where could we find you? What are your favorite non-artsy spots?
Why would an art lover put Barcelona on their travel bucket list?
Barcelona’s diverse cultural landscape, vibrant art scene, and the seamless blend of historic and contemporary influences make it a captivating destination for art enthusiasts.
And lastly, what is the most artsy anecdote, story, or curiosity you can tell us about Barcelona?
An artsy anecdote that encapsulates Barcelona’s creative spirit is found in the heart of El Poblenou. Nestled within this eclectic neighborhood is the iconic Can Framis Museum, a contemporary art space housed in a former textile factory. What makes this story uniquely captivating is that the museum itself is a work of art, seamlessly blending the industrial past with the contemporary present.
As you wander through the museum’s corridors, you’re not merely a spectator; you’re immersed in a narrative that transcends time. The juxtaposition of avant-garde installations against the backdrop of historic factory architecture creates an ambiance where past and present, tradition and innovation coalesce in a harmonious dance.
This artsy tale reflects Barcelona’s commitment to preserving its heritage while fostering a dynamic and ever-evolving art scene. The city becomes a canvas where history and modernity converge, inviting visitors to experience the beauty of artistic transformation at every turn.
Get Featured: Become an Artsy Travels Expert
Are you an art professional living in a city with a thriving contemporary art scene? We want to hear from you!
Artsy Travels is on the hunt for experts in the field to feature in our upcoming series of interviews Ask a Local.
So, if you’re passionate about contemporary art and want to share your knowledge with the world, or if you know anyone that would be interested in sharing their experience, we want to hear from you!