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Artist Profile: Barbara Bonardi

‘Authentic in all my diversities…’ Barbara Bonardi considers her artistic journey

“A person’s life purpose is anything they want it to be. Your choice should make you happy, fulfilled, and satisfied, and if it doesn’t then you get to try again. You could have one life purpose — or you could have many!”

Aptly written by Barbara Bonardi, an artist of many talents whose vibrant mediums include watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel, pen & ink, stained glass art, mixed media images, abstract, collage and jewelry making!

Each morning, Bonardi heads to a favorite coffee shop to record her ideas, dreams and day-to-day musings. Believe it or not, she’s working through her one hundred and forty-fourth journal! These ruminations often show up in her blog and have inspired three published books. “My writing and my art are ideas taken to paper, inevitably a struggle on the journey and then a surprising outcome, and usually a better than expected piece of work in the end.”

Bonardi is a San Francisco Bay area native and a long-distance local of Fort Bragg. Since age five she’s combed the north coast beaches, scavenging for treasures in the sand—a pastime she still enjoys. Little did she know sand would play such an important role in her life as an artist since glass is liquid sand.

Her knowledge of glass art came unexpectedly. “I spent hours in Venice, Italy looking at the Murano glass collections, but it seemed out-of-reach to learn something like that. It wasn’t until one of my daughters moved to Seattle, and I discovered Dale Chihuly’s glass artistry there, that I decided to add glass to my pallet. I was mesmerized by his vibrant colors, textures, and complexities in simple forms. His unique designs are the inspiration for my glass works.”

After that, she was hooked. She explored various forms of glass art design—including stained glass windows, sea glass, multimedia glass, glass-on-glass, and finally fusible glass jewelry. Her colorful jewelry now includes one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.

“I guess my first interests in the medium were the stained glass windows of churches I visited in Europe. The Chartes cathedral outside of Paris, and the Sainte-Chappelle are like stepping inside of a jewelry box.” Other inspiring places include the Italian lake glass around Como, the coastal colors of Cinque Terre and Florence, where she’s taken classes in jewelry arts.

Bonardi loves the richness of the Mayan and Aztec art culture. Twice a year she travels to Merida, Yucatan and works with a Master Jeweler who teaches old world techniques for stringing pearls, precious stones, and beads.

She appreciates the friendly people who tip their hat and say, Buenos Dias. “Can you imagine if we adopted that here? Smiling at everyone we pass in the street?”

A lifelong learner, she returned to school late in life, studying at Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco. She holds degrees from Dominican University in Art, Strategic Management and an MBA in Sustainability. A glass and fine silver jewelry Certified Instructor, she also enjoys teaching art. She has developed several art literacy curriculums for the San Francisco school system, YMCA youth arts programs and also founded Green Art for Kids in Marin practicing sustainability in art. But lately she’s opted to focus on her own art full time, only teaching private lessons in her studio.

Bonardi is inspired by continued education and seeks out other artists on a similar journey. “My personal work contains nuggets of learned techniques by some amazing teachers and fellow artists.” She continues to learn from others, far and wide, and especially loves the art community at her own local Art Center of Mendocino.

“The most important thing in my artistic journey is to be authentic in all my diversities. Authentic art makes you take in a breath, is a feast for your eyes, and emotes overall wellbeing. It is art that transports the viewer from these troubled times to a place of peace, if even for a moment.”

Barbara Bonardi’s works of art can be viewed at Edgewater Gallery, located at 356 North Main Street in Fort Bragg. Read her blog and learn more at: www.bbinthesky.com