Artist Elena Zolotnitsky stares at the droopy, deep-red roses that are resting in a milk bottle. Weeks pass and the flower’s health declines. The water in the bottle becomes rusty orange, the roses mummified into their fragile object. As much as the roses withered, Zolotnitsky’s inspiration blossomed.
“I basically painted the last minutes of them,” Zolotnitsky said. “I experienced a sensation of euphoria and that just stayed with me –– that’s why artists paint.”
The Bryant Street Gallery on 532 Bryant Street in downtown Palo Alto is home to various works of art on display. The exhibitions include sculptures, paintings and works by a new artist, Zolotnitsky.
Founder Karen Imperial said she opened the gallery because she was at a point in her life where she was ready to be the boss.
“I knew I was good at my profession, and I had a vision that I wanted to put out there in the world,” she said.
Manager Jeanne Vadeboncoeur works with other artists to decide what art to display in the gallery.
“We show original works by established and mid-career artists,” Vadeboncoeur said. “Occasionally, we work with new artists emerging on the scene. We primarily show paintings, drawings and sculptures.”
Many artists like Zolotnitsky display paintings at the gallery to showcase their talent and spread their passion for art. The gallery opened 20 years ago and offers in-home art consultations, full-service custom framing and installation, and a gallery of rotating exhibitions.
“Including our other locations, we currently have six employees,” Vadeboncoeur said. “Our other locations include our second gallery, K Imperial Fine Art, and our picture frame shop, Bryant Street Picture Framing.”
Despite the gallery’s long longevity, it has faced many challenges over the years including keeping up with technology.
“As important as art is for the soul, it’s also one of the areas that many categorize as a splurge and is one of the first areas we see getting cut back on during lean economic times,” Vadeboncoeur said. “Keeping up with technology and how it has changed the way and the rapidity of how we consume and communicate has also proved a challenge at times. Especially how to intertwine the online with some of the more traditional aspects of the gallery experience.”
Despite the change in technology, the gallery continues to look for consistent and quality works of art.
“We also look for artists that are not too redundant with artists we are already showing,” Vadeboncoeur said. “And we look for work we think will resonate with our collectors.”
The current exhibition includes Zolotnitsky’s work titled “#eatpraylovepaint.”
Zolotnitsky paints portraits of people and objects.
“Elena does traditional work in terms of landscape, still life and portraiture,” Vadeboncoeur said. “Even though it has a very traditional feel, the work is very contemporary. So it’s really interesting because she straddles both worlds as the work works in a modern setting. But her approach, the subject is very traditional.”
Additionally, the gallery is working to incorporate many of Zolotnitsky’s pieces into this exhibition.
“This show we wanted to do a broader range, and focus on the breadth of her work,” Vadeboncoeur said.
Zolotnitsky’s personal favorites include pieces from her extinct and contemporary collections.
“The most recent ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ is a floral piece, ‘Love Shimmers,’ and ‘Moonlight,’” Zolotnitsky said. “‘Red and Redder’, ‘Made to Order Moon’, and ‘Feeling of Being’ are being presented in the gallery right now.”
Zolotnitsky also draws inspiration from nature and is proud of her art career.
“When I can pay for my studio rent, I think it’s pretty successful,” Zolotnitsky said. “As soon as you get into that mode nothing really matters. If you are in line with what you do and understand where you go I think that’s successful. When I’m not bored, it’s also successful. Art has always been that major light for me.”
Zolotnitsky said that she often draws inspiration from herself and emphasized the importance of staying true to oneself.
“I sing my song,” Zolotnitsky said. “You have something inside you that you have to nurture and that you have to defend yourself from all these art trends then because then you will become a trend and find another trend and where are you? You will be lost in all that. You have to be the person that you are.”