Ask Viviane Jasinski if there’s much of a market for fine art in a town known chiefly for its factory outlet mall, and she’ll tell you about the grand opening of A Hint of Asia last September, when nearly everybody she had invited to the unveiling of her Blue River Parkway gallery showed up for a night of fine wine, conversation, and a first look at a collection of contemporary masterworks curated from her travels through Southeast Asia.
“I sent out 75 invitations to people I knew in my neighborhood, and also to people from the town to thank them for their supporting us and getting the gallery open,” says the Mongolia-born Jasinski, seated at a marble framing table in her 6,700-square-foot gallery. “Everybody was looking at art and saying they were happy for us to be here. I had no salespeople on the floor, so all night long, I had people grabbing me, saying ‘I want to buy that painting!’ People who didn’t have a chance to grab me that night came back over the next two weeks and bought a lot of pieces. It was beyond our expectations.”
In 2012, newly wed to a Singapore-based oil industry executive who skied and vacationed in Breckenridge, Jasinski closed the contemporary Asian art gallery she owned there (which had hosted exhibitions around the world) and relocated with her husband to a home they had purchased in Eagles Nest in Silverthorne. There, she was amazed to discover that one neighbor wanted to practice Chinese with her, and another not only had a climbing wall in his home, but also had an entire room dedicated to traditional Japanese hibachi. It was a revelation.
“People came here from all over the world for the same reason: they love nature,” explains Jasinski, who says the landscape here reminds her of her native Mongolia. “Many who choose to settle here and build their dream homes have traveled abroad and have even lived abroad.”
Some had traveled or lived in Asia and, like the Jasinskis, whose home doubles as a gallery of museum-quality contemporary Asian art, wanted to hang artwork on their walls that would remind them of the time they had spent on the Pacific Rim. Sensing an untapped market, she created a business plan for a downtown gallery devoted to Asian art and showed it to town manager Ryan Hyland.
“He was very excited,” recounts Jasinski, who learned of the town’s plans to create an arts district and town center up the road from the outlet mall. “They wanted to put Silverthorne on the map as a place for art and culture. From the beginning, my plan was for this to be more than an art gallery; I wanted it to be a cultural hub.”
The Jasinskis purchased the BigHorn Shopping Center and renovated a former big box store next-door to Murdoch’s into a bright exhibition hall with articulated walls populated with works from the far-flung Asian artists she represents (as well as 20 regional painters and sculptors), plus a collection of rare Liuli Chinese crystal sculpture. One work stands out from the rest, an abstract canvas by Vietnamese painter Tuyen, that hangs alone on an east-facing wall. It’s a Cubist composition of silhouettes, a large man with a little boy on his shoulders against the backdrop of a mountain; it was a gift from the painter, derived from a photo of her husband shouldering their son, Atlas, on a hike on Buffalo Mountain. It’s the only work in the gallery that’s not for sale.
On September 16, Jasinski will host another party, celebrating A Hint of Asia’s first year with a public chamber music concert and gala that will be the finale of the Alpenglow Music Festival’s 20th season. “When I tell people I have a gallery in Silverthorne, they ask, ‘Why there?’” Her incredulous response: “Where else?”
A Hint of Asia Fine Art Gallery
1281 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne