Silverthorne woman to open new gallery featuring Southeast Asian art
Viviane Jasinski began collecting art since her first paycheck.
“I love art, and my grandfather was a big collector,” she recalled.
Born in Mongolia and raised in the Shangdong Province of China, she has several years of experience in the art business. After launching her law career, her love for art continued, leading to her opening her own gallery in Singapore.
Now, Jasinski has plans to open a new gallery, “A Hint of Asia,” in Silverthorne this summer. While she could just supply galleries in Vail or Aspen, she explained, “This is the town that needed a gallery, a town where I am living and a town where my children will grow up.”
The Jasinskis acquired the former location of the BigHorn Home Improvement Center, which closed in 2012. The 6,700 square-foot space will feature paintings, textiles and sculptures from several Chinese and Southeast Asian artists. Jasinski said she hoped to feature work from more than 20 master artists, as well as younger contemporaries and a handful of newly-signed artists.
As she recounts the story, it all started with a lacquer painting of a lotus flower.
She attended an art exhibit at the Alliance Francaise in Singapore, where “the godmother of Indochina art,” 88-year-old Madame Xuan Phuong, regularly hosted exhibitions. A former Vietminh revolutionary, translator and published author, Phuong also had an eye for art.
At first, Jaskinski had collected western art — a Warhol, a sketch by Dali — but, at that exhibit, the shining lacquer painting caught her eye.
“When I saw this artist’s work, I was truly moved,” she said. “I worked hard for it.”
She liquidated her collection and purchased the painting, which she still treasures today. After meeting the artist, a man in his forties, she “realized why he could be the best lacquer artist.”
“He is a man with great patience, who is very meticulous about what he does,” she explained.
As Jasinski discovered, Phuong’s main motivation was to discover young artists and bringing their work to light. Since Southeast Asia had a smaller collector base, her focus was to elevate local artists’ work to the global level.
The two met for lunch and delved into a conversation about the value of art.
Starting a partnership with Phuong, Jasinski’s interest in Southeast Asian art continued to grow. She features pieces, for example, by Le Vo Tuan, a contemporary Vietnamese artist born in Quang Binh who went on to attend Columbia University.
“His work is very playful,” Jasinski explained.
“I’m amazed—these artists have had hardship in their life,” she added. “If you look at the art, it’s not angry, it’s not dark. They still want to give back good things to the world.”
Jasinski visited Summit County for the first time with her husband, Paul Jasinski, on a ski trip. The two met in Singapore, both neighbors in the same apartment complex.
“We both never had the time to date because we traveled so much,” she said.
At the time, he worked as a finance manager for Royal Dutch Shell. Then one day, they met each other at the gym.
“He said, ‘I never met any of the other neighbors, let’s get a drink,’” she recalled.
The two first moved to Silverthorne in 2012 and are now full-time residents. In the future, she hopes to establish an art foundation in Silverthorne, to further Phuong’s efforts.
“This will be the headquarters, basically,” Jasinski laughed.
Both women have worked to send budding artists’ work to galleries across the globe, from Florence to Dubai. Some come from larger cities, others are young talent from smaller towns they encounter along the way.
“We wanted to pick up artists from small villages who were truly talented and wanted to access a bigger market,” Jasinksi said. “A lot of artists are unknown, even though they are the most talented artists in the world.”
In each sale, she said they donate a portion of the proceeds to the artists’ hometown — in some cases donating bicycles or textbooks to local schoolchildren. They also support artists’ travel costs to be able to attend their exhibits around the world.
“This is what keeps us going,” she said. “This is why we do what we do.”
In the future, Jasinski hopes to establish a foundation in Phuong’s name.
But for now, she is hard at work renovating the gallery space, which she hopes to open by the end of July. A space in the back is also reserved for a new framing business with local Tim Cron.
“A lot of collectors ask me, ‘How do you define the value of art?’” Jasinski said. “The art that will give you a smile every day when you look at it, that’s the true value.”
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