Profile: Leonard Tachmes

Few people can say they’ve allowed groups of artists to run rampant in their homes but in 2005, art enthusiast Dr. Leonard Tachmes did just that. The former gallery owner and practicing plastic surgeon opened the doors to his two-story bungalow that year and used the Design District home not only as living quarters, but as a showroom where packs of artists displayed collections of works and hosted countless events.

The surgeon began his affair with the arts in high school and the passion grew as he began pursuing his education in the various art capitals of the country. Just before settling down in New York, Tachmes was struck with unfortunate news regarding his father’s health and rushed back to Miami. After reacquainting himself with the sunny city, he was able to find work in group practices and began quenching his thirst for the arts by volunteering at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

When the surgeon came across extra spending money, he gravitated toward galleries and vendors, placing down payments on pieces that seemed to call out for him. Soon building a strong assemblage of artworks, Tachmes began inadvertently preparing for days to come, selling off pieces he felt he could let go. He and his cousin-in-law discussed sharing a space where Tachmes could run a gallery while his cousin-in-law set up shop selling his handmade frames.

Years of consideration and contemplation paid off in 2001 when Tachmes took over an old eyeglass store in North Miami, just across from MOCA. Renovated and remodeled, it transformed into the Leonard Tachmes Gallery. Soon after, the frame shop moved and Tachmes was left with a 1,000-square-foot space where he was free to do as he wished. “There were no limits to what we did there,” he stated with a smile. “We did painting, photography, video, sculpture. We did installations, we did performance pieces. Just a lot of crazy artists doing whatever they wanted. It was cutting edge.” On Sept. 15, 2001 the Leonard Tachmes Gallery held its first art show, featuring painters Matt Rush and Carlos De Villasante.

As time passed, slowly all the galleries in the area Tachmes framed as the “NoMi District” began shutting down. In 2005 when the showrooms went from eight to two, the art dealer moved to the Design District, resulting in the second reincarnation of the Leonard Tachmes Gallery. After eight years in the art business, Tachmes closed the doors for good and decided it was time to focus on starting a medical practice of his own. After three months of searching, he found a headquarters for his practice on Miami Beach — ironically, inside the building where his father once performed surgery.

Although Tachmes claims his gallery days are over, and he is solely focused on growing his medical practice, he can’t help but dabble a little in the art world. And, just in case he misses the creativity, he has covered his office walls with art, allowing him to look back fondly on his days as an art entrepeneur.  –  Thomas Quick

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