Jewelry as art theme for exhibit at ZFolio Gallery in Solvang
Each year, the American Jewelry Design Council chooses a design theme for which members create one-of-a-kind pieces, which are for exhibition only and not for sale.
The projects are meant to stimulate both the artist and the viewer to think beyond common limits and elevate jewelry expression to the realm of art.
The results are spectacular, with members employing the finest craftsmanship in precious and non-precious materials as painters would work from their palettes or pigments.
This year’s theme is “Together,” and an exhibition of 21 leading American jewelry designers, all members of the AJDC, is on view through Jan. 3 at the ZFolio Gallery on Copenhagen Drive in Solvang.
The gallery itself is a work of art. Walking through the door is like stepping into a wonderland of colors and shapes. More than 75 leading American and international jewelry designers and artists working in glass, textiles and photography are represented.
“Essential to every culture, art is the vehicle for expressing emotions and ideas in a personal and creative manner. The AJDC is a nonprofit educational corporation, which recognizes and promotes the appreciation of original jewelry design as art,” said Zdena Jiroutova, owner of ZFolio Gallery with her husband Michael Mendizza.
“The ‘Together’ theme was chosen because the exhibit is bringing people back together as the pandemic slows down,” said Ms. Jiroutova. “Past themes have been ‘Secret Garden,’ ‘Polka Dot,’ ‘Stripes,’ ‘Fire,’ ‘Transformation’ and ‘Peekaboo.’ ”
Among the jewelry designers in the current show are Gregore Morin and Jennifer Rabe-Morin of Santa Barbara. The other artists are located throughout California and the United States.
“Gregore and Jennifer use precious materials and gemstones for their artful and one-of-a-kind works — platinum, gold, diamonds, sapphires and many other types of rare and valuable gemstones. Their work in jewelry is the highest possible quality, in terms of both technical execution and artistic vision,” said Ms. Jiroutova, who was raised in a small farming village behind the Iron Curtain that divided east and west, communism from capitalism.
“I was born in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, and left in my early 20s to explore the world. I went to Africa, the Caribbean and many other places, and in 2001, I came to Santa Barbara as an international student at Santa Barbara City College,” she told the News-Press.
Z Folio began in 2003 with a suitcase stuffed with optical crystals destined for the Victorian Christmas Street Fair held annually in Nevada City, CA. “The crystals were displayed in the frosty winter evening lit by flashlights dangling from poles. This was so popular that within a year I invested my life savings in a small inventory of art glass representing the most contemporary designs from my native Czech Republic’s 700-year glassmaking tradition,” said Ms. Jiroutova. “In the process, I established credibility and solid international business relationships with leading designers and museum quality artists.”
In 2006, she and her husband opened their first retail location in Solvang, and in 2009 they launched their second location on Cannery Row in Monterey. Mr. Mendizza’s photographs are sold in the galleries.
Remarkably, in 2013, ZFolio was voted Top Retailer of Designer Jewelry in the United States by the JCK Design Center community. Also celebrating their success are awards from the local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Pacific Coast Business Times and Women’s Economic Ventures.
When asked if she had a favorite piece of jewelry among those in the exhibit, Ms. Jiroutova said, “Each piece is unique in its own way. I appreciate every single one of them, and I study every single one of them. I have no favorites.”