By Diana Cavagnaro
Sparks Gallery is located in the heart of the Gaslamp between Island and Market on Sixth Avenue. This historic space was originally called the Sterling Hardware Building and was built in 1924. This 1920s period design has original maple floorboards and brick walls that were restored by hand, creating an amazing 4,500-square-foot space. There is also a mezzanine level, exterior patio, and a fully equipped kitchen. This gallery was designed for contemporary artwork. All of the artists live in San Diego or Southern California.
Sonya Sparks is the owner and chief curator of this luxurious gallery, which opened in 2013. Sparks collects talent with high impact and gives the public high-quality pieces of art with reasonable prices. In 2015, the gallery was awarded the People’s in Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse by Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO). This month, the Gaslamp Quarter Association presented them with an award for the Best Gallery at the San Diego Union-Tribune’s 25th Anniversary Gaslamp Gala presented by the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.
The Sparks Gallery hosts eight unique jewelers, who create amazing wearable art. I had the opportunity to interview Alexandra Hart about her couture jewelry featured there. Hart is inspired by natural symbiotic relationships with inanimate objects. In fact, she named the recent solo show she had at Sparks Gallery “Symbiosis.” The concept behind her art is a combination of abstract ideas with traditional jewelry. Influenced by biology and plants, you will see some jewelry with petals and others have feathers. The exhibition had walls with sketches of human form renderings and then the jewelry was placed so that it looked like a necklace was around the neck or a bracelet around the wrist of the figure. There also were live mannequins walking around and interacting with the guests creating a nontraditional event.
Hart began her business in 1995 and earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Art and Metalsmithing. She has fashion experience designing for Karl Lagerfeld and Givenchy fashion jewelry. Working as a metalsmith, she uses gold silver, platinum and copper. Her goal is to promote responsible sources of materials using ethical metalsmithing and fair trade gems.
A sampling of the names she uses for her pieces inspired by nature are the feather wrap cuff bracelet, petal earring and necklace, quill earrings and rings, the Venus flytrap earrings and sea anemone. I especially like the filoblume feather as part of the Pure Flight collection and the ginkgo leaf necklace and earrings. I asked Hart what was next for her. She said that she would be teaching a class at the Anneville Studio in Liberty Station and Cogent Studio on Morena Boulevard.
Sparks Gallery also brings different layers to the consumer with hands-on activities such as metal workshops, painting sessions, and a gold leaf workshop. The gallery is located at 530 Sixth Ave. For more information, visit sparksgallery.com.
March 7, 2020
Luncheon and fashion show to benefit Soroptimist International of San Diego. “Striving for the Stars” will be presented by Gretchen Productions at the Sheraton Harbor Island Marina Tower. For info: 619-670-9880.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Globe Guilder’s Luncheon and Fashion Show at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine. All proceeds benefit The Old Globe. For information call 858-382-1672.
— Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at DianaCavagnaro.com.