The rebirth of secret bars during our recent shut down piqued the curiosity of contemporary artist Gail Morris who set out to discover several of these 90-year-old establishments just before they were raided and closed. In her latest series, “Speakeasy” Morris takes us on a journey to a simpler time when a symbol on a playing card or a password could get you inside these hideaways. Gaining access through a friend, she was inspired by these interiors with their cobalt blue mirrors, dim art deco lighting and brilliantly colored cocktails with names like “Yellow Bird” and “French 75”. Morris says, “I went into my studio each day with a sense of fun and joy as I worked on this series”.
‘Beauty Feeds Beauty’
Creating relationships at Bonner David Gallery New York
OUR TOWN BY Karen Camela Watson
“We love beauty,” gallery owner Christi Bonner Manuelito said about the art displayed at Bonner David Galleries in both their New York and Arizona spaces. It is artwork “we would have in our own home, and love to live around, and love the way it makes us feel.”
It is this personalization of the “art experience” usually prompted by an emotion, that the gallery seeks to nurture in the new collectors who come through their doors, and also continue to encourage in those who already own collections. They do so by carefully selecting the artists they showcase at their galleries.
“Artwork, and art, is about creating relationships with the artists and the collectors,” Manuelito said. And at their gallery, while they understand the importance of variety and offer a range of selections that appeal to individual artistic tastes, she says they tend to have a lot of visually pleasing works.
“That’s the way we feel art should be,” she said. “Beauty feeds beauty.”
Founded with Clark David Olson in Scottsdale 20 years ago, and expanded to the Upper East Side location on East 81st Street two years ago, Bonner David was created “to educate, encourage and expand appreciation for fine art” while set in a unique dual-concept gallery model offering traditional and contemporary art pieces.
“Education in the arts is so important, because it’s such a small percentage of the world that collects,” Manuelito said. “So, to make and build new collectors, we start the collectors collecting, and they evolve from there. They just really need to be empowered and to have the knowledge on how to proceed.”
Rebecca Rosenfield, Bonner David Gallery New York director, says that it is very important for them to make new art buyers feel comfortable on their visit.
“They should feel welcome in the space,” she added. “That they can approach you,” explaining that “you can start collecting at any age, and that if you love a piece of work, then it can be yours.”
“Family of Fine Art”
Similarly, there is a bond with the 45 artists that they currently represent in both galleries.
“We get along with one another and want to know each other,” Manuelito said. “We consider ourselves a whole family of fine art.”
Two of the artists that are part of this family have spring exhibits at the UES gallery that are bound to create a response from art experts and beginners alike.
The colors from Gail Morris “Speakeasy” paintings on view until April 23 command notice, and may even stop you in your tracks.
“Gail Morris, we have been representing a very long time,” Manuelito said. “She loves to capture the essence of a landscape when you walk up to it, or cityscape – just that first essence of that moment.”
“And the same with her most recent show, inspired by speakeasies and different drinks that she tasted, so it was right when you either sip something – that experience you have – that is that emotional response that she’s having,” she said. “It comes across with an abstraction or an interpretation, that is the brilliance of Gail Morris.”
Coming up in May is a fashion-themed exhibit by Melissa Peck, timed with the grand affair of the Met Gala only half a block away on Museum Mile.
“Melissa Peck is a fabulous and unique painter. She started by illustrating different items and quickly evolved to more of a fine art realm,” Manuelito said, adding that Peck is now a well-collected painter.
Her works “are more feminine in nature, she draws inspiration from this show, from 1920s, earlier Vogue, and Vanity Fair magazines [so] it is influenced by vintage fashion,” she said. “It’s absolutely phenomenal.”
Director, Bonner David Galleries New York