Velvet da Vinci, the art-jewellery gallery in the upcoming Polk Street area of San Francisco's Tenderloin district is not only an essential shopping stop for Silicon Valley CEOs, it's a first choice for international museums and art galleries looking to tour big shows too. And so, this month, La Frontera, arrives.
A joint curatorial project between Velvet da Vinci gallery and the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico, La Frontera (Spanish for 'the border') explores the human implications of the 2000-mile-long wall that runs between six Mexican and four US states through 150 wearable works of art.
'In recent years, drug trafficking and violence have made it the focus of almost daily news. However, there is also a constant exchange of ideas, money, projects, families, and culture,' says Velvet da Vinci co-owner Mike Holmes, who has shared curatorial duties with the Mexican jeweller Lorena Lazard. It is this wider cultural significance that La Frontera seeks to reveal. As is often the way with art jewels, some pieces are far stronger on narrative than they on wearability, but Holmes and his gallery partner Elizabeth Shypertt have a well-earned reputation for getting the balance right.
The quiet nature of US artist Danielle Embry's pale blue and bone-enamelled 'Three Days' brooch is a case in point. Embry's inspiration was the Days maps made by the Humane Borders charity to dissuade immigrants from crossing the border on foot. British artist Thomas Hill's expressive 'California Red Legged Frog' pendant, meanwhile, gives a sense of environment, while The Argentinian Maria Solorzano's 3185cm silk thread- and-ceramic necklace is formed of thousands of tiny knots to represent the dreams of these risking all to cross.
Ultimately, though, it is the scale of works on show at La Frontera that will make it just as compelling for collectors and art-jewellery aficionados as it will be for anyone visiting, for it promises to intrigue, surprise and whip up debate too.