Patina Gallery Goes to Europe for Munich Jewelry Week 2019

Interview  /  Gallerism   BehindTheScenes
Published: 28.01.2019
Allison Buchsbaum Barnett and Ivan Barnett. Allison Buchsbaum Barnett and Ivan Barnett.
Patina Gallery
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Exhibition. 2017. Friendship Forged in Gold. Photo courtesy of Patina Gallery..
Exhibition. 2017. Friendship Forged in Gold. Photo courtesy of Patina Gallery.

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Patina Gallery is an international destination for art jewelry and contemporary craft, in the heart of Santa Fe, NM. This year, Patina celebrates 20 Years of Soul Stirring Works. To honor this monumental milestone, Patina curators and co-owners, Allison and Ivan Barnett, journey to Germany’s Munich Jewellery Week 2019. While Patina represents several European artists, this is the first time since 2005 that the Barnetts have returned to visit.
In a conversation with Allison and Ivan, they share their intention in going, what they hope to accomplish in Europe and their enthusiasm for the future.

What was the story behind first deciding to go to Europe in 2019?  
Ivan: We had been talking about going back to Europe for 10 years and we started asking around, at least a decade ago, mostly with our artists, what other fairs could Patina go to, to find new experimental and fresh work. We both kept saying to each other, let’s go to Europe. So Allison and I, all this time, had been discussing when we were to go back and where we would go. We kept asking American makers, we asked Pat Flynn, and we also asked Harold O’Connor, everyone said we should go to Schmuck – Schmuck is where the cool stuff is happening. 

Allison: Our last visit to Europe was in 2005, for Inhorgenta…In recent years, it appears that they Handwerk & Design have made the international jewelry week even better and stronger. As Ivan has said, he and I had been talking about this for the last handful of years. 

It was said that you had not been back to Europe since 2005. Why had it been so long since your last visit? 
Allison: Overall, there were several reasons we didn’t go prior to 2019, a lot was to do with us staying here to oversee our business, especially after the recession of 2008. We’ve planned to be shown around Munich by the maker, Erich Zimmermann, a plan that had originated back in April of 2018. He has been helping Ivan prepare for building better engagement with artists during our visit, helping us to overcome any language barriers… and now it all coincides with our 20th anniversary. 

Ivan: A lot of this was also dependent on having a child that was old enough where we could leave two weeks and know she’d be okay. Ten years ago Grace was four and we would not have necessarily done that then. As for Patina – it’s very easy to develop skills and continue to develop them in your own studio, meaning we keep improving Patina. We have been so preoccupied in growing Patina over the years. In this time, we have been working to establish the gallery. From the fruits of our labor, our reputation has grown and since artists have taken the initiative to reach out to us.

What do you hope to accomplish from your time in Munich? 
Ivan: The time in Munich is to get a closer feel for the European jewelry world because there are a lot of great makers that will be there. It is having the opportunity to meet artists, get exposed to as much interesting, new work as possible, and find new talent. Discovering it to the point of near astonishment, with enthusiasm to show it to our collectors and then further fold this new work into our Patina story. A piece of this trip is also about making new connections to the European opera world. Patina now has a history working with the Santa Fe Opera, having curated exhibitions with Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel in relation to their current season. We’ve worked with great operas such as Don Giovanni, the new (R)EVOLUTION by Mason Bates, Madame Butterfly and now The Pearl Fisher for 2019. We also have great colleagues at the San Francisco Opera. While we’re in Europe, I’m hoping to be introduced to representatives at the London Opera, and in Munich. We keep moving towards international connections in opera. 

Allison: Yes, and on Ivan’s point of discovering new talent, we would love to find 3-5 new and exciting artists to establish in the gallery. It’s always exciting and fun to bring back new and different work that hasn’t been seen and then ideally that will lead to an exhibition in the summer. 

How important is it for you to meet new artists while you’re at Munich’s Jewelry week? 
Allison: I’m looking to be excited by new talent. The great thing about going to jewelry events is that you go in with a completely open mind and a blank slate. I don’t want to go with any preconceived or set ideas because you could possibly block something great that could come your way. It’s like going back to the basics. It’s old school that you get to meet someone face to face. The Internet has opened the whole world to us, but you can’t always meet these people and get to know them intimately. 

Ivan: The discovery part is crucial because we’re now at a juncture, at 20 years, where we can potentially launch a maker’s career. We want to return home, to Santa Fe, with a fresh vision for the gallery and for the future. 

Patina already represents several European artists. Are you looking forward to visiting any of them during your time in Europe? Did you first meet some of the artists during your previous visit to Inhorgenta in 2005? 
Allison: It will be great to have the opportunity to connect with some of our artists that we haven’t seen in a long time. Jane Adam is in England, hopefully, we’ll pay her a studio visit in London. We’ll hopefully go to Daphne Krinos’ studio as well. You learn so much more about them when you’re in their space and get to see where they work.
In 2005, at Inhorgenta, we met the Hochstrassers who we represent. It’s great to have an established relationship. It takes work to maintain those relationships. Other talented artists that we’ve contacted about our trip say they will come to see us, such as Patrick Molotki and Oliver Schmidt, which is terrific.  

Ivan: We met a few artists during our visit in 2005. We really look forward to reconnecting with artists that we haven’t seen for a while. There will be a side trip made to Konstanz to visit our dear friend Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel, who we consider to be one of the most talented makers in the world.

If you have the opportunity to bring back new talent to Patina Gallery, what would you say now, is the value Patina can offer your new artists? 
Allison: We are a 20-year-old institution known by thousands of people around the globe for what we do. We’ve been earnest and steadfast about who we are and our approach to the work we do. We pay artists twice a month… I think there is lots of good that can come out of this relationship. There are so many galleries that have come and gone. It’s not easy running a gallery these days. The fact that we’re still here says a lot about our credibility and who we are. We are hyper-professional and have an amazing team. We put our heart and soul into it every day and we’re present. 

Ivan: Both of us have always approached the mechanics of the gallery as being artist-friendly. Patina is a place that respects the artist’s work, cares for it well, sympathetic to what they’re doing, understands the nature of their lifestyle and promotes them… We’re the place that creates, not only a beautiful experience but also creates and presents work at levels that matter to the makers. Some of our artists have been deeply woven into the fabric of Patina’s story, for instance, Claire Kahn. Claire has become a huge part of the gallery, who’s given us the privilege to show her work exclusively. We care about Claire and know her on a personal level. I’d like to get closer to more of our artists. 

What do you think sets Patina apart from other galleries of its caliber
Allison: We create a soul-stirring experience and effective collaboration in a unique city where people come to find art. Most people that come here [Santa Fe] are in search for art and culture and they know they can come to Patina to find both, where they can expect to find something avant-garde and unusual. Many clients expect it, as they should. So they’re holding us to a high standard. You know, 20 years of working hard for our patrons, I always think, I have to find new things for these clients; they keep coming back for more.  

Ivan: Patina works to bring in the story and experience to the forefront. It was always a part of Patina’s history but we’re using it more and in new ways. It’s about taking someone on that visual journey and visiting with him or her about the work they’re interested in. It all comes back to the story, it’s the story that makes the work stand out. What is new and how is it different than the last story?  

After 20 years, who is Patina? What value does the gallery provide to its clients? 
Allison: First and foremost, the gallery was founded by two artists who had a dream. One is more extroverted and has a heightened sensibility for people and to show, share and present. The other is more of a business mind but with a deep empathy of what it means to be an artist because he is an artist. I keep thinking of the tagline Ivan created, Soul-Stirring Works. For me, it’s about mattering to clients – when they come in, they feel like they matter to us and that we matter to them. It’s us connecting over these personal pieces of adornment. So really, it’s personal and deep for me.  
Ivan: We’re an artist owned and operated gallery. The director is an artist and Allison studied jewelry making. We intimately understand first-hand what it means to be an artist at various levels. Our Patina team has invested a lot of effort to help make our work better. Just recounting all the tools we’ve acquired and learned to benefit the artists and our output... It keeps improving. Our e-commerce continues to grow, we engaged in a long-term commitment to building a sophisticated online platform for Patina – for our collectors and for our artists. For the last 10 years, we perfected how to efficiently handle work from all over the world. In the gallery, I call it the Patina Experience. Patina is a place where the palpable and tactile interact within the visual tension of juxtaposed works in the space. We curate Patina with artistic sensibility to the gallery’s aesthetic in form, design, and color… Most people can’t articulate what exactly it is that makes them come back but they can feel it and I believe it resonates with our visitors and patrons. 

After all this time, how deeply does Patina’s mission resonate with you? 
Allison: It means a lot; we’ve found homes for thousands of pieces of jewelry with amazing clients all over the world. Do people really need to collect jewelry and other works of art? They do because it matters to them. It’s personal and they get to acquire these items with the thought and the craftsmanship that goes into every piece. The stone, the story, the experience and then who we are. How Patina presents itself… It all matters.

Ivan: With Patina – with age, time, and maturity – things improve in value because they develop more character. I’d like to think that current and future generations continue to see the value in beauty over time. After 20 years we are now an established gallery. That’s great, but I want to keep adding different and exciting material. I believe that people will not get tired of the quality we deliver. When you think of our standard at Patina, how we choose pieces to represent and why we choose them, maybe for color, design, form... We strive to live in a timeless place. We do so that when a collector decides to purchase a piece of Patina jewelry that they will take ownership of, they can depend on our standard of design, which allows them to find something that they will never get tired of and cherish forever.
(From Left to Right): Ivan Barnett, Ivy Ross, Mason Bates, Allison Barnett, Doug Menuez. Exhibition. 2017. Fearless Genius..
(From Left to Right): Ivan Barnett, Ivy Ross, Mason Bates, Allison Barnett, Doug Menuez. Exhibition. 2017. Fearless Genius.

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Allison & Ivan Barnett with models. Exhibition. 2017. Crafted Visions Fashion Show. Photo courtesy of Patina Gallery..
Allison & Ivan Barnett with models. Exhibition. 2017. Crafted Visions Fashion Show. Photo courtesy of Patina Gallery.

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