Velvet da Vinci is a gallery of contemporary craft opened in San Francisco in 1991 by Mike Holmes and a couple of friends showing their our own work and a few other local jewelry artists. It did not take long for the gallery to be a success and now features jewelers / jewelry artists from all over the world. Half of the work comes from the US which includes many local jeweler / artists and the other half comes from around the world. The gallery is a combination jewelry store and museum store featuring the work of many talented artists.
Mike, the present owner, studied Jewelry and Metal Arts at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA) in Oakland, California. He suggests when purchasing art jewelry one should consider wearability and look for integrity in the piece. Is the piece well thought? Does it have anything to say (about me? about jewelry? about the world we live in?). Does the piece engage my sense of humor? Most people know pretty much right away if a piece speaks to them. It is a gut reaction.
Art Jewelry normally does not require additional decoration and might get watered down if combined with other pieces of jewelry. One statement piece is usually enough in every outfit.
Besides the artists represented by Velvet da Vinci many talented jewelry artists working around the world are included in large themed group shows. Over the years the gallery has had shows of jewelry work from the UK, Spain, Sweden, Korea, Vienna, the Netherlands and Joyas/Jóias in 2004, an important survey of contemporary jewelry from Latin America. The gallery has also had shows around specific jewelry forms such as 200 Rings, The Necklace Show, 100 Brooches and most recently The Earring Show 2 that was a big success. Velvet da Vinci has had themed exhibitions by material also. The Plastic Show, WOOD, The Enamel Show, Ferrous and Virtual Tangible (computer generated work) were attempts to highlight how the jewelry field is embracing new ways of working.
The Velvet da Vinci La Frontera exhibition examining the issues surrounding the US/Mexico border is finishing a year-long tour at The Houston Center of Contemporary Craft. This very political exhibition showcases what Velvet da Vinci does best understanding the importance of nontraditional jewelry materials used by studio jewelry artists today.
The next jewelry show (July 9 – August 10, 2014) at the Velvet da Vinci is “Delirio y Cordura” (Delirium and Sanity): Contemporary Chilean Jewelry. Followed in September by new work from Joanna Gollberg and in October the 80th birthday exhibition of Bay Area legend Garry Knox Bennett.
After running the gallery for 23 years Mike says “the field of Art Jewelry (or Contemporary Jewelry or what ever you want to call it) has never been better. There are more jewelers making wonderful work than ever before. The challenge continues to be how to support them by building the audience for them. Mike says that the people of San Francisco appreciate the work that Velvet da Vinci shows but there are lots of people out there that could wear more interesting jewelry.”
Velvet da Vinci
2015 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tuesday through Saturday, 11am – 6pm, Sunday, 11am – 4pm.