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Meet Silvia Gallini of Studio Pico in Mid-City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Silvia Gallini.

Silvia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to LA as a young adult to study film, and while I was doing my MFA in film directing, I stumbled by total chance upon a great art mentor, Joe Blaustein. It’s Joe who first told me I was an artist, and that I had to pursue drawing and painting.

He also said I was the greatest pain in the ass he’d ever seen! That was because I was so hard on myself and hated everything that appeared on the page (I pretty much still do, btw). In Italy, where I am from, making art as a way of life seemed completely impossible. I come from a materialist family where money is the guiding principle of life choices. Neither one of my parents realized I was an artist and treated me as a very odd non-dentist.

Flash forward 14 years, Joe is now 97 years old and he is still my mentor. I have made a feature documentary about him, about his story, his students, and the power of making mistakes in life and in art. It is called “The Dog and the Duck” and I am sending it out to festivals this summer of 2020.

I also have a beautiful art studio in Mid-City LA that is also a gallery and a shop. As I kept painting and bitchin’ over the years, I realized that my encounter with paints was a life-long love affair and that I’d better find a way to pay my bills with this passion. Yes – paying my bills with this passion sounded like a brilliant idea! But how? What happened in the last decade is nothing short of a miraculous journey to me… The main characters are: a magic chef, a tame zebra-finch, a number of talking chickens, my elder wizard mentor Joe of course, a Finnish art fairy, a couple of witches, an army of students of Italian and a black pug.

All of these combined with a magical weekly market called The Melrose Trading Post and the appearance of Studio Pico (in stages: first a wall, then two walls, then the whole thing) brought me to where I am today. Which is still in the middle of the journey.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The truth is that the hardest part for me is and has been believing in myself, especially at the very beginning when there was little evidence that I could accomplish anything at all: I have struggled many years with creative blocks and with being a “blocked artist”.

I cannot say that from when I decided to become a professional artist things went super smooth: of course it was and it is hard (in no way I consider myself accomplished yet!). For some years, I participated to all the art fairs in Los Angeles, setting up my booth and tables at dawn amongst complete strangers in the circus-like setting of art fairs and waiting for clients. For years, every time someone stopped to ask me about my work my voice would tremble and I would sell myself short out of fear. Often, very often I made very few sales or just enough to pay for the booth. I accumulated credit card debt to buy display equipment and pay for the art fairs. My boyfriend loaned me the money to buy my first two foldable tables! I remember how abundant I felt when I had my own tables to display my work on! Looking back (and it as only a few years ago) now I can see how those were times of hardship, but all along I had my students of Italian who supported me and my dreams, and I kept following the little leads I found on the way.
I ran on faith alone for some years!

I have also been blessed with true Fairy Godmothers and Wizard Godfathers along the way, and they were and are always there to give me the little push I need to go forward in the journey.

Please tell us more about your art.
I love painting and my art clients buy my love: it is right there on the canvas for everyone to see. I also love animals, the natural world and human faces. I suppose this evokes the same love and appreciation in those who like my work. I believe that a painting is not just an aesthetic object: it encapsulates a whole life philosophy, right there on that little colorful surface.

Therefore, painting is a little bit of magic that one can buy and bask into every day. The power of the message, of colors, of this love, keeps glowing out of the painting. Many of my clients become friends and we establish a relationship with regular visits: the artwork in itself is only the beginning of this relationship. They become supporters, mentors, mentees… We travel together.

Thanks to this day and age, I am able to create art products from many of my paintings. The first and most luxurious product I have made has been the silk scarves made on Lake Como by my Godfather’s silk printing company. I called that the “Make Mistakes” scarf and I first produced it to support my documentary “The Dog and the Duck”. Many more silk scarves and draperies came after, with giant cats, my zebra finch, magic toads, and more are on their way. I have a beautiful project of making kaftans with a friend of mine who is a fashion expert.

Along the way, I have experimented with many more products: today I sell greeting cards, art prints and posters, leggings, tote bags, ceramic tiles, and also some jewelry that I make, and more. It was always my dream to have an emporium of art products!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Good luck has always played a huge role in my life and business. Messages literally drop on my lap, appear on billboards, in books, in the sky. Whenever I am searching for an answer, it eventually comes and so generously. Whenever I need a specific amount to pay my bills by a certain date, that amount comes in, always!

People are the greatest blessing in my life: I have had a tremendous amount of support from fellow artists and my students. I love to teach and for many years, I have taught Italian, and I still do. My Italian students became friends and then come to my art shows and support my art too. Now I love to teach art as well, and I believe that anyone can have fun painting and can learn to express herself with art.

Every time I step into my studio/gallery, I remember how amazingly lucky I am to not only have found this place but to have been able to keep it for over two years. I was initially just renting one wall, and that was a big step into the unknown for me because it was already over my budget. Then how I came to rent the whole place is entirely a story of luck combined with magic!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

The photo of me with the bird is by Angie Smith Photography.

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