The Accidental Curator – Jamaican-born Ludlow Bailey Named as a Consulting Curator for Artserve, South Florida’s Leading Arts Incubator

Ludlow Bailey

To help mark the 30th anniversary of its existence, ArtServe, South Florida’s leading arts incubator, has appointed Jamaican-born Ludlow Bailey, Founder and Managing Director of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (CADA), as Consulting Curator for the upcoming 30th season.

In this role Bailey plans to enhance the level of diversity at the art institution by bringing in more African Diaspora artists, multidisciplinary and multimedia projects, and experimental works. With a mission to increase diversity, access, and fostering a creative laboratory for artists, ArtServe’s new Executive Director, Craig Johnson, took the lead in tapping Bailey for the curatorial position.

Ludlow Bailey

Ludlow Bailey

“The new Director really wants to engage the community in the biggest issues of our time. And, in the United States, race relations definitely is a huge one. What I’m known for, to a degree, is that although I deal with black culture and black art generally, I try to develop programmes for all. I’m not just interested in getting black people to come to see my exhibitions. I consider what I do to be relevant and global. So, he heard about me through a piece of my brand — Art is Culture. As a Guest Curator I get a chance to take the lead on about six of the shows for the next season”, Bailey explained.

A respected curator and art historian, Bailey serves as art advisor to museums, galleries, and private collections across the United States, London, Africa, and the Caribbean curating more than 50-plus exhibitions over the past decade. But, this artistic path came later in life after long stints in the corporate world.


“I used to be TWA’s General Manager in Miami and I used the opportunity to do shows for my friends. When I was with TWA from the 80s to 99, I was doing shows all over the world… I did a show in Italy and we actually sold. So, people started coming to me to curate shows. In many ways, art has always been my voice, even though I didn’t plan it that way. I became an accidental curator”.

“I love the humanities: literature, politics, music, history, anthropology. What the art allows me to do is to engage those subjects because when I curate shows I am always digging into the humanities for source material”, he added.

Bailey explained that as visiting curator at ArtServe he will focus on African aesthetics and spirituality as he seeks to showcase diaspora culture in a broadway. His programming will not just highlight visual art, but will also include music, fashion, literature, film. Later in the season, his artistic vision will incorporate artistic expression from Cuba and Haiti. In fact, ArtServe visitors can expect shows involving Miami-based Haitian artist Asser Saint-Val.

Indeed, The curator’s passion for art and culture has led him deeper into the world of art. Besides creating and curating exhibitions, Bailey has developed a promising art advisory business advising buyers on how and when to invest in art. In fact, Bailey noted that African diaspora and African American art has become a dominating presence in the art world, stimulating interest from investors globally. He referenced Kerry James Marshall’s painting “Past Times” that sold at Sotheby’s for $21.1 million in 2018 as well as Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Flesh and Spirit”, which also sold at Sotheby’s in 2018 for $30.7 million as perfect examples of the trend.

The Caribbean-American curator is also focusing on developing his Art Talk Theatre concept. In fact, over the past several years Bailey has brought together the art industry’s top voices in Black Diaspora art. He outlined that for this year’s Art Basel Miami he is working on bringing in the Director for Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s London and Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, the new Curator of African art at MOMA New York, among others.

“It’s about bringing all the cultural voices and creativity together. The art space is really one of the best places for us to learn about each other”.

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Dawn A.Davis