Others echo that sentiment. While the urge is strong to return home and rebuild the creative scene that's been Miami's benefit, Venezuela's prospects are too uncertain for many in the art world to consider it seriously.

Nicolas Ascanio (left), Carlos Cabeza, Frances Alban, and Oscar Ascanio at O. Ascanio Gallery.
Nicolas Ascanio (left), Carlos Cabeza, Frances Alban, and Oscar Ascanio at O. Ascanio Gallery.

"All we can do now is rescue and reconstruct the history of the past 15 years in Venezuela, where the museums were the institutions that elevated art, and our artists were held to the most demanding criteria," Hulian says. "All that tradition was overturned, and it fell upon the private galleries to pick up the pieces." But in the end, he says, their efforts fell short because of the political environment that forced many of these gallerists to leave his homeland. "We now have to find a way to recover this lost history and join efforts to continue evolving."

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