Ivan Barnett in conversation with Peter Schmid

Interview  /  Artists   Galleries
Published: 24.03.2017
Ivan Barnett & Allison Buchsbaum Barnett Ivan Barnett & Allison Buchsbaum Barnett
Patina Gallery
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Mezzo soprano Susan Graham models some of her favorite jewelry pieces for Peter Schmid, Photo by Dianne Stromberg..
Mezzo soprano Susan Graham models some of her favorite jewelry pieces for Peter Schmid, Photo by Dianne Stromberg.

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For the second consecutive year, Allison and Ivan Barnett of Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, staged an invitation-only theatrical reveal to introduce a special jewelry collection inspired by one of Santa Fe’s own jewels - The Santa Fe Opera.
The exhibition by Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel is 60 Shades of Black, featuring black stones in honor of The Opera’s 60th Anniversary and interpreting the seduction, mystery and danger of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. David Zimmerman, the director of wigs and makeup for The Santa Fe Opera, conceived and produced a dramatic introduction during which performers in costume displayed the contemporary jewels designed by Schmid. What follows is a conversation in which Ivan Barnett of Patina and Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel discuss their collaboration with The Santa Fe Opera.

How did 60 Shades of Black begin?
Barnett: The emphasis on black is as much a metaphor as it is literal. Peter has always used oxidized surfaces in his pieces and black diamonds have been part of the gemstone vocabulary over many years, so it was a natural. When I picked “60 Shades of Black” for this year’s opera event, I was thinking of the light and dark aspects of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni. The character Don Giovanni isn’t exactly a sweetheart of a guy; he’s the ultimate narcissist in many ways. Sixty shades seemed to fit. My intention was to give Peter a jumping off point in terms of color and theme. 

Soloman Howard, Santa Fe Opera performer, announces 60 Shades of Black, Photo by Dianne Stromberg

What were your references for 60 Shades of Black, in particular your interpretation of the opera – Don Giovanni itself or The Santa FE Opera’s 60th anniversary?
Schmid: I always like collaboration and getting inspiration from something like the opera. The opera is where the interpretation is an important part. It’s very impressive getting the feeling across. It’s always about having an emotional reaction, and I’m always impressed when they can create that. The tension of Don Giovanni is very real between the characters. I like emotion in any direction. The worst is when people say, “I don’t care,” and there is an absence of emotion. You have to bring your personality and that is what connects. My jewelry is big and bold, but it has a human touch to it.

What is distinctive about this collection this year at Patina?
Schmid: I like working with black stones – black onyx, black diamonds, black jade. There are all kinds of interesting, cool black stuff. The 60 Shades of Black theme is very erotic, showing the passion of jewelry.

How is this event distinctive from other gallery openings?
Barnett: Peter has been working on the project for eight months. The show includes well over 200 works. While most operas are full of sexual tension, Don Giovanni carries the theme to extremes. David Zimmerman also loved the tie-in with Don Giovanni, being the most elaborate opera The Santa Fe Opera had ever produced. On the evening of the gallery event, an actual 10-minute operatic reveal directed by David featured opera performers who were in the gallery in period costumes, dripping with Zobel jewels.

How does Patina blend the artistic and social aspects of an event like the theatrical reveal?
Barnett: Theater has always been a huge part of what we do at Patina. We are in a form of show business. And I must say Peter is brilliant with his patrons. He is a master of engagement. The artist’s presence in the gallery affects or enhances the experience.

For you, Peter, what did it mean to be at Patina in person for the theatrical reveal?
Schmid: The theatrical reveal of 60 Shades of Black was a very fun event. All the clients were thrilled. I was thrilled. It looked beautiful. What I make is very personal, and it always ends up that people have to try it on. It’s very personal. A woman wearing a piece completes the process. The piece is nice in a showcase, but the moment a person puts it on, they become complete. That is a great moment. Sometimes I can tell the right piece for the client. Sometimes I pick out the right piece. Sometimes I can only guide them to the right piece. At those times, I have to be patient. The clients have to find the pieces themselves.

Live models from The Santa Fe Opera, Photo by Dianne Stromberg

How has the 15-year history between Patina and your studio had an impact on you?
Schmid: I love to work with Allison. She is so passionate about jewelry. She can focus on the clients, and the clients appreciate that she cares what they like. Patina is one of my favorite galleries. I am excited that Allison and Ivan understand my jewelry.