Paul Hemming is a nightclub owner, DJ, record producer and restaurateur who most recently has been working on a new venture—an art gallery, Mirus, recently opened in the SoMA that features the work of emerging and established artists and aims to foster a spirit of collaboration.

Photo Credit: Kevin Tyler Muncy

When did you first get the idea to open up the art gallery?

I got the idea three years ago and it’s taken three years of planning. We’ve remodeled the entire building.

When did you start collecting art? What made you want to collect contemporary art?

I’ve been collecting art for 10 years. These artists, I’ve had personal relationships with for 10 years, some longer than others. Damon actually did a commission for my record store—I have a record store over on Valencia called Zen City Records—and he did a piece for me in 2001. Through him I met a lot of these other guys.

I like art that speaks to me instantaneously. With this art [that I've chosen for the first exhibition Crucible] there are so many levels and dimensions that it truly is contemplative and contains elements of many past art forms—realism, surrealism, abstractionism.

Damon Soule, David Choong Lee, Mars-1, NoMe Edonna, Oliver Vernon, Crucible, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 80″ x 180″

Tell me a little about the artist-in-residency program set to launch in 2013.

Beginning in 2013, we are going to fly them in and put them up and clothe them and feed them while they work on a body of work and then promote them. Finding upcoming artists is something I’m really passionate about.

How did you come up with the name Minus Gallery?

I was searching endlessly for a name that could embody the work. I wasn’t interested in putting my own name, but I didn’t need that. I wanted something that reflected the art so I thought, how could I describe the work? I came across Mirus which is Latin for astonishing and strange—it had a nice ring to it, and it just kinda struck me.

You are know for your sustainable business practices—how will these be applied to the new art gallery?

I’m going to be curating certain shows that are going to be built around reclaimed items. I love when you have those artists that basically just go around gathering trash—one man’s trash is another man’s treasure—putting that together and composing it into art.

Do you have any future shows planned?

Escape Velocity—the speed which you need to reach to escape the gravitational pull of the planet. That’s just a metaphor for the work. The work to me from these artists is really that next level, almost other worldly, powerful kind of style–there’s 15 to 20 different artists but what ties them together…there is a cohesive thread through the style of work.

And how does the opening of Minus fit in with your overall creative vision?

This is the jewel on top of all of these things because I love to inspire people and I love to be inspired and to be able to share that passion with people. You can tell people are really moved. Some people will walk by and not really register it and others will walk by and ask what is this.

I truly believe in these guys–maybe in five years or 10 years or 20 years–people will look back and recognize what these guys are doing.

Crucible runs through December 1, 2012. For more information see the Mirus Gallery site.