Dzine is an extraordinary artist, I’ve been intrigued by his work from the first time I came across it and he’s been on my wish list of artists to show some day. “Some day” being the implied goal because Dzine is an established artist, regarded successful within the international contemporary art world. Fortunately for a newly established Public Functionary, Dzine is an adventurous artist not only in style, but because he was excited about the opportunity to open an unknown new space in Minneapolis with his show. This was not an effortless outcome either. I met Dzine in Chicago, Dallas and New York, and we skyped, texted, emailed and conversed over several months to pull this together.

What made all of the effort worth it is the fact that Dzine is conceptually a perfect first artist for us to present. His work is inviting but extravagant. It begins with cultural heritage and celebrates artistic expression that is personal. He offers a starting point through which we can explore the local Latin American community and learn through art what separates Puerto Rican culture. It is important for Public Functionary to exhibit non-local artists and even more important to connect their relevance locally. Dzine’s work offers a multitude of avenues to speak about art in a way that is open. His work is not difficult to understand. It is universally beautiful and approachable because it draws from inspirations and techniques that are not traditionally featured in museums and galleries. Yet, he is an exceptional sample of what is getting noticed in contemporary art globally, presented in our space with intimacy. There is much to discover, connect to and admire. It invites opinion and critique, both of which Public Functionary fully encourages.

Victory is instagram heaven. It is art for everybody, and it is designed to be fully immersive. It is the ideal start to define the Public Functionary experience and we’re excited to share it.

Tricia Khutoretsky


[THE ARTIST] Dzine / Carlos Rolon


Chicago-based artist Carlos Rolon, better known as Dzine melds ghetto, baroque, bling, and psychedelic influences in a playfully ironic way, creating work that ranks among the most unique in American contemporary art today.

Continuing his investigation into Kustom Kulture and its relationship to art, sub cultures and the institution, Dzine has developed an individual practice creating work that contextualizes these diverse elements to develop his own language. The work addresses these issues through a lens of spirituality, beauty, desire, faith, folklore, and identity. Incorporating the ideals of craft making, appropriation and the baroque, the end result is mixture of sculpture, paintings, and installation. The artist seeks to change the rules concerning the final image by illuminating how the masculine can become delicate, how baroque can be minimal, and how rational can become emotional. The work is at once melancholic, excessive and exuberant, poised somewhere between celebration and regret. The result proves to be universal and painstakingly honest.

Dzine lives and works in Chicago, where he was born in 1970. He has exhibited extensively, both in the United States and internationally. Solo exhibitions include the Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan; the Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Deitch Projects, New York, The Dallas Contemporary, Dallas and the Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands. He is currently represented by Salon 94 in New York, Leeahn Gallery in Seoul, SCAI the Bathhouse in Tokyo, and Galerie Henrik Springmann in Berlin.

Dzine portrait photo credit: Sharolyn Hagen


[VIDEO] Dzine: Victory

We’re pleased to share this short video that provides some context for Dzine: Victory. The artist visited Mpls for a site visit before the opening and we partnered with our friends at Royal Antler and Permanent to document the process.

Dzine : Victory at Public Functionary from Public Functionary on Vimeo.


[DOCUMENTATION] The Exhibition

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To view the full album of images documenting Dzine: Victory, CLICK HERE.
To view further documentation of the opening celebration, CLICK HERE.

In his exhibition, Victory, DZINE celebrates the universal desires for victory and recognition, while paying homage to his rich Puerto Rican heritage. The exhibition invites the viewer to savor the excitement of competition and revel in the enjoyment of success. More specifically, Victory, is an tribute to the artist’s father, playing on nostalgic connection to Dzine’s own childhood experience shaped by his father’s personal passions. There are nods to his father’s penchant for loud jewelry, mixed with representations of boxing and vintage trophies, reappropriated in monumental fashion to honor time spent connecting with his father through sports. Victory is tinged with story, cultural identity and a longing for a more deliberate existence, where craftsmanship, individuality and accomplishment are pursued and celebrated.

Victory travels to Public Functionary from The Dallas Contemporary in Dallas, where it opened on January 19th 2013 as the artist’s largest solo show yet. The exhibition shown here in Minneapolis is a second showing of the work, re-worked for new space as an inaugural show.

Documentation photo credit: Eric Melzer and Sharolyn B. Hagen


[DOCUMENTATION] The Process / Installation

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For full photo documentation of the installation process: CLICK HERE.

An important aspect of Public Functionary is allowing the audience into our process… especially considering our exhibitions are fully immersive and often require an entire gallery transformation. We believe that the live art experience must be one that is memorable and sensory. Therefore, our installation process is as relevant to share as is the final exhibit. Dzine Studio was incredibly inspiring to work with and they made an install of this scale a valuable learning experience for us.


[Recap] Sleeping Better at Night: Dzine + Saltz + Public Functionary

“Public Functionary is a fantastic gift to a great art city; a beautiful addition that I really hope will grow into something that all can behold and benefit from.” – Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic, New York Magazine

Having such a renowned figure say this of our newborn gallery is at once exhilarating, humbling, terrifying… and as it turns out, pretty hilarious. In a bold move for a new gallery, we at Public Functionary seized a rare opportunity to host a discussion featuring New York Magazine’s senior art critic Jerry Saltz and our debut artist Dzine (Carlos Rolon). Set during Northeast’s Art-a-Whirl weekend amongst Dzine’s glittering body of work, the discussion was both philosophical and entertaining. Topics ranged from Dzine’s work and the role of heritage, to stereotypes and ‘pulling your card’, to the soulless state of the art market, to advice for own Twin Cities arts scene. Amongst the mashup of subjects, the theme of authenticity was at the forefront.

It was also the unembellished thread tying the three parties (Saltz, Dzine, gallery Director Tricia Khutoretsky) together, making perfect sense of the whole event. Saltz is a notable presence in the art world for many reasons, not the least of which is his eccentric personality. In our short time with Jerry, it became clear very quickly that his ‘neurotic’ (Dzine’s word) persona is every bit as genuine as it appears in his candid, humorous writing style. Example: five minutes before the talk, Saltz was at the edge of Public Functionary’s neighboring train tracks flattening pennies with a few young Art-a-Whirl-goers.

To further emphasize my point, some Saltz quotes of the night: “Jeff Koons is a bazillionaire Mitt Romney,” and “I’m so white, so old, and so Jewish that I have no idea what that is,” (said of an LL Cool J song, “Around the Way Girl,” the namesake for Dzine’s chandelier). Jerry’s presence was real, endearing, and absolutely invigorating.

Amusing in itself was the ‘yin and yang’ contrast between the critic and artist. Before Saltz launched into his critique of the surrounding work, Dzine cautioned: “There are a lot of Puerto Ricans in New York, my friend.” However, Saltz’s authentic spirit is undoubtedly kindred with the artist’s. From our time working with Dzine, it’s clear that he embodies openness. Although at first his work may come off as over-the-top, it in fact reflects humble, deep-rooted ties to his family, heritage, and a blue-collar childhood. Closer inspection of any one of his monolith pieces reveals a thoughtfulness and attention to detail that could only come from a loving need to pay tribute.

Of his audience, Dzine wisely stated: “The public is smarter than you think. If the story is honest, it will come through; not to mention you sleep better at night.” In line with our two guests’ transparent philosophies, Public Functionary is a space that strives to hold authenticity at its core. As a nonprofit organization, we are accountable for serving our audience in the ways we say we will.

Beyond that, our concept states: “We share visual art in a way that is informed, inviting, and responsive to transcend art elitism.” We are based upon the principle of fluid responsiveness to our community; we literally thrive upon your input. We know that our mission is ambitious and evolving, but it stems from a belief that there is a movement forming around a more honest and fluid type of attitude. As we found, Saltz and Dzine back this idea wholeheartedly.

So what were we trying to do with this discussion? Take a risk. The talk was a springboard for a type of dialogue we are trying to spark here in the Twin Cities; one that will help push us forth into a new phase as an arts scene. Our discussion with Jerry felt like a passing of the torch from one generation to the next. It was packed with advice from a wise father figure to us: us as the future creators and keepers of art. Jerry’s words and ideas have inspired us. They have given form to our brewing desires. “You poor bastards… I’m proud of you.” We’ll be keeping that one in our pocket.

And what’s next for Public Functionary? How do we live up to Jerry Saltz’s hype? As we’ve learned, only with your help. “In New York I wake up every morning to a ready-made arts scene… but you have to create your own!” Saltz proclaimed. In response, our Director Tricia Khutoretsky stated, “In order for us all to get better and bigger, we’re going to have to push each other.” There is evidence of a turning of tides in our community; a new kind of energy we believe must stay rooted in honesty, inclusiveness, and mutual support to thrive.

You are our public. Public Functionary eagerly awaits feedback, criticism, and/or ideas for collaboration – please feel free to email jenna@publicfunctionary.org with your thoughts.

Jenna Westrick
Arts Management Resident