Mystery and Manners 

Ghostprint Gallery owner Geraldine Duskin explains the feng shui of dreams.

click to enlarge Ghostprint Gallery owner Geraldine Duskin has had a three-decade long career as a fine arts dealer and costume designer. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Ghostprint Gallery owner Geraldine Duskin has had a three-decade long career as a fine arts dealer and costume designer.

When discussing her gallery's new exhibition, Ghostprint owner Geraldine Duskin quotes the surrealist painter René Magritte: "The surreal is but reality that has not been disconnected from its mystery."

"Dreamscapes: Art and Design," displays decorative and fine art gathered around ideas such as free association, the surreal, dreams and the subconscious. In addition to the paintings and photography of locally and nationally known artists such as Nancy Witt, Juan Perdiguero and Sean Yu, there's antique Parisian furniture and art nouveau jewelry on display, coinciding with the addition of Geraldine's interior design work to Ghostprint.

If at first the variety seems unrelated, it isn't. Duskin, an experienced costume and interior designer who worked for years with a legendary French designer and renowned art supporter, Madeleine Castaing, delights in the connecting of dots required to curate such an exhibition. She spoke with Style Weekly about the show and the gallery.

Style: How did the gallery begin and how did a tattoo studio become a part of it?

Duskin: I lived in Buffalo, N.Y., where I owned a gallery and did costume design for 14 years. It helped develop my idea of perfection. The theater where I designed costumes and sets performed in-the-round and the costumes had to be just perfect. Then I lived in France in my 20s and developed my love of design and art deco and art nouveau there, as well as working with Madeleine Castaing. But costume and set design is very tiring and it was time for a change. [My daughter] Thea was in Richmond at the time and we wanted to start our own business, and I was ready to get back to the gallery world I had left behind for a while. First Fridays was always so lively and wonderful, and we eventually decided on our Broad Street location, renovating the building to include space for tattooing.

What's the response been?

Most people think it's pretty cool. Tattooing is art on skin rather than on canvas. They are seemingly disparate elements but art is the common thread.

Would you say your goals or your audience has changed over time?

We have been here five and a half years now, and the general sensibility has evolved. Our mission is the same, and our audience has only increased. But not everyone desires art the way we do. It's not useful, but it is essential. It's a lot easier to sell furniture and objects for this reason. I am very focused on putting the two together because to me the art is the essential element. They really are so intertwined in my mind.

Are there pieces that embody the show for you?

I am very drawn to the sense of mystery in Nancy Witt's work. She uses images of sky and water which of course are allegorical and universal. She would burn her paintings when dissatisfied with them and fire became a visual element. Jeremy Witt's work, too. He works primarily in a darkroom and focuses on light. It's very beautiful and mysterious. It's like going to the place where conscious and unconsciousness meet, like when you're falling asleep. I'm trying to juxtapose furniture and decorative elements in a way that is not stretching it too far but you know, makes the dream image corporeal. What I like about the work of the surrealists is the sensuality, importance of desire, repression, poetic secrets. I have a romantic streak, too.

How does your background and knowledge of interior design affect the way you curate an exhibition such as this one?

Over time, it becomes instinctual. You place things in proximity a number of times enough that it just flows together. It's hard to express. I put certain shapes or colors or subject matters together, and it takes a while. I put all the work on the floor, put it around the gallery and spend hours rearranging until it creates this aesthetically pleasing moment. It's the same with a room in a house. It's a personal feng shui. S

Dreamscapes: Art and Design opens at Ghostprint Gallery on June 6 with an invitational reception from 6-9 p.m. The show will remain on display until July 27. For information, visit ghostprintgallery.com or call 344-1557.

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