By Brecken Branstrator
This is “Mauricette,” a brooch made with enamel on copper, fine silver, sterling silver, 24-karat gold, powder coat, stainless steel and micro glass beads.
Living in New York is not always the easiest: the sheer amount of people, the crowded subways, the sky-high rents.

But what (mostly) makes up for all that for me is the amazing opportunities you have while you’re living here. You not only have all of these big, famous museums and plays that people come from around the world to see, but layers and layers of places and events beyond that, leaving so many new things to be discovered.

Last week, such an opportunity popped up when I paid a visit to the Gallery at Reinstein/Ross in the city’s Meatpacking district.

My contact with the gallery (which is attached to Reinstein/Ross’s store) started early this year when Gallery Director Bella Neyman reached out via email to tell me she liked my story about art jewelry.

20170308 Paul Paillette“Paul Paillette” is Aurelie Guillaume’s first animated character ($4,300)

She also invited to me to visit their space. Though it took a while to get there with all deadlines and travel that took over January and February, I finally paid her a visit, and I’m so glad I did.

Right now, the gallery, which is the only space in the city dedicated solely to contemporary jewelry, is featuring the work of French-Canadian artist Aurélie Guillaume, who creates enamel personages inspired by her own personal stories, experiences and emotions as well as French cartoons, graffiti and street art.

“Mauricette, The Giants, And Other Frivolous Tales: The Jewelry of Mlle. Guillaume is the first U.S. solo exhibition for the jeweler.

Though enamel has been used in jewelry for ages, Guillaume is applying it in a contemporary way, mixing it with pop art, comics and counterculture to create her whimsical characters, which I immediately fell in love with.

20170308 Pouet Pouet“Pouet Pouet” is a brooch made with enamel on copper, fine silver, sterling silver, 24-karat gold, powder coat and stainless steel.

All of her pieces begin with an illustration central to her work and through the use of enamel paired with the whimsical nature of these characters, “confronts the high art form of jewelry with lowbrow humor,” her bio states.

Just as each character has a larger-than-life personality, so too does the jewelry, which is mostly large and elaborate brooches. Applying the cloisonné enamel technique, she uses small, precious metal filaments together with the enamels, bending the metal wires into shapes to create her artwork and provide extensive detail to each piece, both front and back.

Due to their size, colors and detailing, it appears to me that her pieces not only can be worn as jewelry but also could be used as art/sculptures should the buyer choose to do so.

20170308 Pink necklaceAccording to the gallery, people liked the designs on the backs of her pieces so much that Guillaume started making pieces with those illustrations front and center. This necklace, made of enamel on copper, copper and a powder coat, costs $1,400, and features the designs from the reverse side of “Mauricette.”

The characters are fun, playful and very fresh, and the gallery itself is a wonderful place where fine jewelry and art jewelry live side-by-side in a time when both are trying to find ways to appeal to a new consumer.

If you’re in New York right now, try to make it over to the Gallery at Reinstein/Ross before Guillaume’s exhibition closes March 12. You won’t be disappointed.

If you can’t make it there, it’s worth checking out Guillaume’s Artsy page to see more of her work.

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