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European-American Topics - Art - Gina De Gorna Galleries

Interview with Bulgarian gallery owner and artist Gina De Gorna
By Roxana Arama
Posted August 9, 2006

“For me, red is energy, passion and love. I never connect red with anger. Never ever,” Gina De Gorna, 40, said. “Cherry-red is my favorite color,” she continued, pointing to the walls of her recently opened gallery in Kirkland, Wash. Everything around her agrees with her color statement: from the signboard reading “Gina De Gorna Galleries” to the display panels and the handbag by the redwood desk. Her website does too.

Originally from Gorna Oryahovitsa in Bulgaria, De Gorna lived and studied in Europe where she received her education in fine arts. She had her share of hardship, as most people that lived in Eastern Europe during communism and its aftermath did, but after she moved to the United States 10 years ago, she finally launched her career as a fulltime artist. “Here, in the States, nobody stops me. I have no reason not to do it,” she said. She currently lives in Renton, Wash., together with her family.

            De Gorna’s motto is “Heal, Nourish & Indulge with Art” and her strong belief is that “creating and enjoying art can make people happier.” The gallery at 122 Central Way – “by the cow” – opened on May 1, 2006 and displays original artwork by De Gorna and other international artists. It is one of nine galleries in a three-block area, in the heart of Kirkland, the town De Gorna chose for “its European flair and its artistic atmosphere.”

At her gallery, De Gorna greets visitors and people like to stop and chat with her. She is friendly, yet a private person, and averts personal questions by turning the conversation to her art. “I don’t see how it is relevant to this, to the gallery,” she would answer with a polite smile to any questions that she considers too personal. But she is very animated when it comes to her work. “Every painting has a story,” De Gorna said, who started painting her sunset series at the advice of the Bulgarian poet Svetozar Avramov.

De Gorna’s style is as supple as her subjects are diverse. Her landscapes and seascapes remind both of impressionist and abstract painters. Her sunsets are dramatic, so are her flowers: classic, abstract, and breathtaking. Her fish series respects the Chinese tradition of one black fish surrounded by eight goldfish. The childlike simplicity of her Mandala series belies the elaborate color scheme. Her roses are pure eye-delight. Her work also includes cartoons, illustrations, portraits, commissioned pieces, and has been collected in the United States, Canada, China, Korea, India, South Africa, France, Bulgaria and Italy.

De Gorna’s gallery aims for the consummate artistic experience. The electric violin of Drew Tretick ( plays in the background. Even the hostess’s clothing is an art statement. “I use the color therapy to keep myself happy,” De Gorna said, who, on a summer day, was wearing a flowery blouse in orange, purple, red, yellow, and blue hues, red capri pants, sandals decorated with colored stones and amber earrings.

De Gorna feels very fortunate to have her own gallery and wants to pay it forward. She knows how wonderful it is to create art and how hard it is to show, promote, and sell it. Thus, she holds a quarterly competition opened to local artists for display space in her gallery; the guidelines are on her website. On the other hand, De Gorna believes that “not only rich people should afford art.” As such, in her gallery, paintings cost from $100 to $3000. Compared with the other galleries in the area, her prices are as low as De Gorna can afford in order to pay her own bills.

“I give away many, many paintings,” De Gorna said. “People are happy when they get them. [However,] when we have the [public] drawing, only one person gets the painting and the others are disappointed. So, I came up with these collectibles. Each month they have a different theme and I can give them away instead of wine and cheese,” she said holding a small canvas painted in red, purple and white, and stamped with a golden heart. The theme in August is Love; next, she plans on Nourishment or Happiness.

In her conversation, De Gorna always comes back to the therapeutic values of art and color. What is your favorite color and what does it say about your personality? How can you use color and art to heal? What if you don’t have a favorite color? De Gorna says she can answer those questions based on her research for the book she is writing on Self-Color and Self-Art Therapies.

            During the last three years, De Gorna studied Taoism, philosophy, psychology, art and color therapy among others. “I’ve never stopped experimenting, researching and reading,” she underlined. Her goal is "to get all this in a book and give it to people to use it, to be happier.” Also, she plans to offer an art therapy workshop in her gallery.

            De Gorna wouldn’t say much about her book because the subject matter is not trivial and needs extensive clarification. “I cannot explain it in two minutes,” she said. That’s why she is writing the book in the first place: “not to prove, but to explain thoroughly both therapies and how people can use them every day,” she said. The book is a few months away and De Gorna is going to self publish it in order to reach the public faster.

            All of De Gorna’s work is dedicated to teaching people how to draw, how to transcend the taboos of talent and how to have a better life by creating and enjoying art. Everything about her has to do with supporting the arts: the gallery, the paintings, the music, the book. “I learned so many things. I don't want to keep them for myself. I want to give them away,” she reiterated.


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