MOCA curator showcases contemporary art, lives in historic neighborhood

MOCA curator showcases contemporary art, lives in historic neighborhood
Ylva Rouse

As the new senior curator at MOCA Jacksonville, Ylva Rouse seeks to bring contemporary art from local and international artists to the museum. But at the end of the workday, she transitions from the contemporary to the historical as she makes her way to her Avondale home. 

Rouse moved to Jacksonville from New Orleans, where she was part of the founding team of Prospect New Orleans, a citywide contemporary art triennial. Prior to joining Prospect, which launched in 2008, she worked as a director at Javier Lopez Gallery Artspace in Madrid and as an exhibition curator at the city’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

Her first order of business when she arrived in Jacksonville was to find a place to live, and it didn’t take Rouse long to land in Avondale. “What I decided to do was get a temporary place for a couple of months, to get a feeling for the place and to get the lay of the land. That place happened to be in Avondale, and of course I fell in love with it,” she said. “I love the mix of people – young and old and diverse. 

“It’s a beautiful neighborhood, with all the live oaks and avenues. It’s tranquil, it’s walkable and bikeable, and it’s neighborly. It makes me feel less homesick because it feels like New Orleans,” Rouse continued. “I like to look at the different houses. I’m interested in architecture and urban development, and I’m also very interested in the initiatives – the way people are getting together to defend what is left of the historical imprint.” 

Though she has been busy settling in, Rouse explores the neighborhood when she can – taking her dog for walks in Boone Bark, dining at The Brick and having coffee at Le Macaron on Saturday mornings. She has also explored San Marco, where she discovered Southern Grounds, her favorite coffee shop so far – but she said she is still investigating. She ventured into 5 Points and enjoyed shopping at Grassroots Natural Market, and walked through Murray Hill, which she found to be a fun area, and one, she said with a laugh, that she would live in if she were 30 years younger.  

“Jacksonville has such a great sense of synergy and it seems poised for a regeneration of some sort – one really gets that feeling. There is this great feeling and everybody I talk to is really enthusiastic, so that invited me in, as did MOCA itself. It’s a great moment for the museum,” said Rouse.

Rouse enjoys spending time outdoors – she loves nature, swimming, the beach and just about anything related to the water. She also enjoys great coffee and good food, and she is looking forward to getting to know her neighbors as she continues to explore the community. 

“Everybody has been so incredibly welcoming,” she said. “This is a very special place.” 

By Kandace Lankford
Resident Community News

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