Tucked between Fat Dragon restaurant and Mincz Tire shop on North Boulevard, the newly relocated Ghostprint Gallery sits mere miles from the glistening asphalt of I-95. Horizontal blinds hang like heavy eyelids against the tall windowpanes that punctuate the building’s taupe-painted brick façade. A black swath of cloth emblazoned with the word “Ghostprint” scrawled in an ethereal white font flutters in the breeze affixed above the entryway like the flag of a foreign explorer. For nearly eight years, Ghostprint Gallery has been a pillar of the Broad Street Arts District. Now, the gallery has migrated northwest, making its home on this new post-industrial frontier amidst breweries, art spaces, and repurposed buildings in the burgeoning neighborhood of Scott’s Addition.
With a grand opening slated for September 10, owner Geraldine Duskin hopes to contribute to the blossoming arts community and creative buzz surrounding the enlivening district, “There is a lot of new activity and a lot of energy in the neighborhood, so we thought we’d be the pioneers (again),” she jokes, referencing Ghostprint’s early role in the revitalization of Richmond’s downtown arts district. “In Scott’s Addition we’re trying to establish something in a small way with the restaurants and other businesses here. I think people will act together, supporting one another in trying to create a lively scene.”
Geraldine’s original partner, in the true sense of that pioneering spirit, is her daughter, Thea Duskin, who persuaded her mother to move to Richmond in 2007. Geraldine recounts the story simply: “Thea said, ‘Mom why don’t you come to Richmond and we’ll open a business together.’ She was already here, so I came down and we did it.” The two shared curatorial responsibilities at Ghostprint until Thea’s recent move north to New York, which spurred Geraldine on in her decision to leave Broad Street and venture into new territory.
While the relocation to Scott’s Addition is no doubt rejuvenating, when I ask Geraldine what most excites her about moving to Boulevard, she replies without hesitation, “The gallery space itself.” It’s easy to see why. The place is equal parts trendy industrial and Richmond-deco, boasting fabulous natural light, stained concrete floors, impossibly high ceilings, and intricate crown molding. The white brick walls of the expansive room lay forth a blank canvas that vibrates with potential energy.
Gesturing ardently towards these white walls, Geraldine explains that the grand re-opening will feature new work by mixed media artist Juan Perdiguero. Juan, who will be creating a new series of birds, is a poignant choice as the first artist to be represented in this new space. He is intimately tied to the beginnings of Ghostprint Gallery. “We opened Ghostprint on Broad in 2007 with Juan’s work. It’s really a lovely circle to come back to him,” Geraldine explains, “There are going be a lot of eagles flying around the whole gallery, high and low. It’s an elevating symbol, a wonderful kind of inspiration.”
Inspiration, integrity, and personal depth are essential to Geraldine’s curatorial philosophy, a set of values she has carried with her into the new gallery space. In the work she selects, she strives to strike a chord of ineffable “oomph” that tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings. “The art we show has to have some emotional content,” she tells me, “It has to be competent. It also has to have something beyond that: it has to have an integrity.”
Unlike paint-and-canvas purists, Geraldine’s conception of artistic and emotional veracity stretches off the picture plane and into the realm of decorative arts. In the new Ghostprint space, she has highlighted this emphasis on functional and decorative objects by introducing high fashion art jewelry as an extension of the gallery, as well as her own curated interior design elements. The integration of decorative art into the gallery space is seamless: plush, sloping chairs, mid-century modern tables, a subtly multi-color-polka-dotted L-shaped couch, and gilded mirrors are artfully arranged across the concrete floor as if plucked from the pages of a magazine editorial.
To me, art is the most personal thing you can own.
For Geraldine, the intersection of art and design is vitally personal. “To me,” she intimates, “the most important feature of a room or a house is the artwork.” Through her company, Geraldine Duskin Designs, and now with the Ghostprint space as visual aid, she is able to assist homeowners in making the imaginative leap between seeing a piece of art in a gallery, and hanging that same work in their own home. Geraldine continues, “I’ll be combining furniture and decorative elements with art so that people can see possibilities that they might not see otherwise.” In this way, the mission of the gallery has expanded. “It’s presenting art and design together as an integral part of interior design so that the different elements gel because that’s what interests me. I like creating a beautiful picture.”
Throughout our interview, Geraldine speaks softly in a slow, thoughtful cadence. She is not afraid to pause, to let silence hang in the air until the precise word arrives to fit snugly against the dangling edge of her unfinished sentence. She is someone who doesn’t mind (and actually prefers) to wait for all the right elements to come together to paint the perfect picture, whether expressing herself through her words or her work. Her fervor for beauty is ardent and authentic. “It’s this really strong desire to try to elevate the perception and desire people have for quality and beautiful things,” she pauses for a moment to consider her words then continues, “There’s a lot of art out there that’s very commercial that doesn’t say anything to your heart, to your soul. It’s just on the wall. And to me, art is the most personal thing you can own.” That patience and reverence for perfectly articulated personal sentiment is made flesh in the space Geraldine has carved out for Ghostprint Gallery in this budding neighborhood off the Boulevard.
Ghostprint Gallery will host their grand opening on the evening of Thursday, September 10. They also host warehouse sales on the last Saturday of every month. For more details, visit ghostprintgallery.com.
Photography by Nicki Stein