I paid the Gilded Lily Gallery a visit and had the chance to speak with the owner and resident artist Rosemary Celon-Gordon. I had a wonderful time sitting among the beautiful works in her gallery and talking about her work.
If you find yourself in southern Connecticut, I absolutely recommend dropping her shop for a visit.
MT: HOW'D YOU GET YOUR START AS AN ARTIST?
RCG: I've always been into the arts, even as a little kid. I would always dream about being an artist. Professionally, I went to school for architecture. Then, I did shows for like 15 years after I graduated. Then I opened up here...I guess that was when I first realized I was an artist, because I started making money. I mean, before that I did, but you know, it wasn't steady. You know the term starving artist? We were all starving artists, believe me. When I was doing shows, I needed a job, so I worked a steady job for like fifteen years, then I opened the gallery and that was when I realized I was an artist.
MT: How did you make the transition for architecture to fine art?
RCG: I went to Paier [College of Art and Design] and got my degree and got a job after graduation with Ethan Allen. I didn't like it. There wasn't any creativity to it. It was basically sales. Architecture wasn't really what I wanted to go to school for. They didn't offer fashion design, which is what I really wanted to do. So I went for architectural design. But then I decided that wasn't what I wanted to do. I really wanted to draw and do fabric art and paint. My work has evolved. I started working with fabrics...I would make soft sculptures out of fabrics- almost like doll making. That was how I started doing shows. I've always liked textile designs and I think when you look at my work there's so much detail in design in it.
Rosemary describes her style
MT: You have a really unique style, in that, it toes the line between sculpture and painting. How did you develop that?
My work has evolved a lot. I got my start with soft sculptures and fabrics. When we first opened the gallery I was working in polymer clay. With the clay, the designs are all done in the clay, because it's pigmented. I went back to painting with acrylics on canvas. Then I discovered glass paints and that was my ah-ha moment, when I discovered you could paint on glass and it could look like enamel. A lot of my paintings hanging in here are done on glass. And then I went from totally glass painting to some with mosaic work and now I'm doing mosaics. I also do jewelry with resins and silver and bronze. I don't get bored because I keep changing my mediums. I keep incorporating what I use in my glass painting in my jewelry. You look at my work and you can tell it's mine. There's a vein that runs through it.
MT: How did you decide to open the gallery?
I worked for a company for 16 years that closed their stores in CT and I needed something to do. I wanted to go back to my art because I kind gave it up for those years when I was working full time. I got my severance pay and I said to my husband I couldn't see myself working for someone again. I hated working for someone else and I really missed doing my art. With the severance pay and a loan, we did it. We opened the gallery. And that was fifteen years ago.
MT: You've managed to operate this gallery through one of the worst economic downturns in recent history. How?
Determination. I have a pretty good following with my work. We're honest. We don't pressure people. When someone comes in, we let them look around and enjoy. We have things nobody else has. When you're looking for something different, unique, and special we have it. In this economy, you have to have that. You can't be run of the mill. It's gotta be something out of the ordinary. A niche thing. That's what we are.
MT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Just keep working. Keep doing it. Pay your dues. Just work hard. You can't expect to graduate from school and just get the perfect job. You gotta work for it. And keep working for what you want. It's not easy to be an artist and make a living. Most of the people I have in here have other jobs. I myself did too for many years. If you think you're gonna be rich and famous forget about it.