Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Celebrating serendipity

Friendships led to gallery’s move, timing enhanced by spotlight on artists

Express Staff Writer

Gallery owner Frederic Boloix hopes a resurgence in interest in Françoise Gilot—Picasso's muse and the mother of two of his children—will create a similar flurry during the upcoming gallery walk, giving him the chance to show off her work as well as his new gallery space in Ketchum.

Boloix will debut his new digs just a few blocks east of his old space during the Sun Valley Gallery Association's monthly art walk on Friday, Nov. 25, from 5-8 p.m.

The high ceilings and high traffic in the Galleria building on Leadville Avenue appealed to Boloix because it gives him more display room as well as a bird's-eye view from people knoshing nearby at Penelope's cafe, which is in the center of the courtyard.

"Before I knew there was space available I was already meeting all of my clients there," Boloix said. "Then Mike Murphy and I were mountain biking and he mentioned there was something available. His wife owns Bellissimo there. It was one of those serendipitous things."

Meanwhile, Gilot's work, which Boloix collected for years before representing her in the valley, is in the news because of a soon-to-be-open exhibition in New York chronicling the years when Gilot and Picasso were together in the south of France between 1943 and 1952. The show will open at the newly renovated Gagosian Gallery with Gilot's work alongside Picasso's.

Gilot is nearly 90 years old and still paints every day. Though she doesn't give Picasso credit for her career, she was unequivocally his muse in those years.

John Richardson, Picasso's biographer, told The New York Times that the dual showing will be an eye-opener because "nobody realizes the tremendous importance of Françoise to Picasso during that whole period."

Gilot was raised in Paris by her father, a businessman, and her mother, a watercolorist. While training as a lawyer, Gilot was known to skip morning law classes to pursue art. At 21, Gilot met Picasso (then 61) and raised both their children, Claude and Paloma. The children's antics were often captured on the canvases of their parents. Eleven years after their separation Gilot wrote "Life With Picasso," a book that sold over a million copies in dozens of languages.

Gilot was introduced to Jonas Salk, the polio vaccine pioneer, whose shared appreciation of architecture led to a marriage that lasted until his death in 1995. She continued painting in New York, California and Paris, producing vibrant, colorful pieces that continue to reflect her thoughts on nature, time, symbols and signs.

Boloix has two lithographs from her time with Picasso, and a number of more recent paintings. He said he's looking forward to the new collateral materials—one being a lavish catalog with scholarly essays—that will come with the Gagosian Gallery show. Gilot will also have shows in Europe throughout next year.

And another of Boloix's artists is getting extra attention lately too. Salustiano, an artist from Seville, Spain, is designing a wine label for a new red wine from a winery in Washington, in part the result of Boloix's networking.

Red is definitely Salustiano's color. He paints using a special pigment from the cochinilla or cochineal beetle. This pigment was used by the native peoples of Central America and was brought to Europe by the Spaniards. After gold, the exquisite red derived from this insect was the second most prized commodity imported by the Spanish.

Boloix's gallery specializes in 20th-century masters as well as contemporary art. He said he's excited to share all of the activity with the public, feeling quite fortuitous that it's all happening at once.

"It's just all like some sort of magic."

Frederic Boloix Fine Arts

351 Leadville in The Galleria, one block east of Main Street between Third and Fourth streets. or 726-8810.

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