The joy of working with Juan Fernandez

  • Tags: Newsletter | Staff Profile
Published 02/24/2020
ECC Gallery Curator Juan Fernandez

ECC Gallery Curator Juan Fernandez

It may be the obvious choice, but Gallery Curator Juan Fernandez would love to live inside “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” Luckily, his job entails living inside the art world at ECC, where he manages ECC’s art collection as well as coordinates shows in the three campus galleries.

His path to curator began with teaching art appreciation for high school students enrolled in Upward Bound/TRIO. “It’s great to see many of my first students in the hallways of ECC now, working on their associate degree or transfer credits,” says Fernandez.

It won’t surprise you, either, to discover most of Fernandez’s activities revolve around making things: art, photos, beer. You might be surprised to read about his first job, though, which was definitely NOT in the art realm.

Read on to learn more about Fernandez:

In your words, what do you do at ECC? What do you want others to know about your job? Or what would help others understand your job?

I program the various art galleries and art spaces on campus. Along with many spaces where we hang artwork, we have the E. Max von Isser Gallery, the Renner Library Gallery, and the Safety-Kleen Gallery. I also manage the college’s 300+ piece art collection. A broad description of the job would be if it is anything related to design, art, or creativity, I probably have an opinion about it, or I want to collaborate with you on it.   

What is your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been here?

Curating my first show in the Safety-Kleen Gallery. It was “Fresh Pain,” a solo exhibition by Allen Moore that established the experience I hope to provide for every exhibition. We really designed a nice space and provided thought-provoking work about stereotypes and expectations of being a young African-American male. 

Name a job or role at ECC that you would like to try for one day and explain why.

There are so many! I love meeting all of my colleagues and listening to their expertise and experiences. My favorite role would be taste-tester in the culinary department, especially on the days when they make the desserts. 

If you could instantly be an expert in one thing, what would you choose?

Woodworking. I like to make stuff, and it would give me an excuse to use really cool tools. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work (i.e., hobbies/interests)?

Woodworking. Art making. Beer making. I am sensing a theme...

If you could live in a TV show, which show would it be, and why?

Either “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross” or “This Old House.” I mean, do I even have to explain that? 

Where is the best place you’ve traveled?

Bar Harbor, Maine. I went there on a photography class trip when I was a student at Grand Rapids Community College. It was an amazing trip with beautiful scenery and great friends. My best friendships were made on that trip. 

You have to wear a t-shirt with just one word on it for an entire year. What word would that word be, and why?

 Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I mean, I wear XXL, so I’ve got the space.

Share a fact about you that might surprise people to learn.

I was born on February 29. I will be 10 birthdays old in 2020.

What job have you held (besides ECC) that was the most fun, interesting, or difficult? Explain why.

Definitely my very first job, when I was 13 was the most interesting. My dad told a family friend that I was looking for work. They owned a cemetery. I started out picking weeds, and it was soon clear that they were extremely short-staffed. I dug two graves the two weeks I worked there—by hand, without heavy machinery. I reported for work the next week, and the whole place was shut down for not paying taxes. I have visited that cemetery many times since and occasionally stop by the graves I dug to pay my respects.

Name someone you admire and explain why.

My dad, John Fernandez. He’s hardworking, creative, supportive, strict, relentless, driven, and caring. He’s getting pretty good at playing the Cuatro (Puerto Rican 12 string guitar), so he’s talented as well. 

What was your most valuable life lesson?

“Be nice.” - Dalton (Played by Patrick Swayze in the movie “Road House”) 

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

It is like working with friends and family. Everyone that I have encountered cares about more than their career—they care about our community.