If you’re hoping your artwork will garner respect at an auction, it doesn’t hurt to share wall space with Pablo Picasso.
Glenna Gilbert-Jones’ art has hung in the presence of this master’s work, as well as in other prestigious spots in America. It has shown up in national art shows and is now on display, in great quantities, at Toscana Studio and Gallery.
The exhibit “A Glorious Journey: Glenna Gilbert-Jones” covers the walls in just about every room of the cozy gallery and some floor space, as well. It spans more than a half-century of the Northwest resident’s art.
Gilbert-Jones, who tells people she’s in her 80s but prefers not to elaborate, started creating art in childhood. Her early efforts in Long Island, N.Y., were inspired by photography in a newspaper — a dramatically lit photo of an actor in a fedora, an action-packed picture of football players entwined.
When the budding artist got a cold in her pre-adolescent years, she made the most of it by setting up still lifes with Noxzema and nose drops.
In her late teens, Gilbert-Jones moved to New York City to attend school at Hunter College. Times were tough economically, and though she showed a gift for art, her parents asked her to choose a field more likely to generate money.
The young artist chose dietetics, which led her to an internship at California Lutheran Hospital, which led her into the arms of a winning physician, which eventually ended her need to work for a living.
In California, Gilbert-Jones studied under a variety of gifted artists. She took lessons from Robert Bizinsky, who had worked in Paris with the famed artists Emile-Othon Friesz and Yves Brayer, and she took classes — and later taught — at the Rustic Canyon Arts and Crafts Center in Santa Monica.
Hungry for information, she studied impressionism, abstract expressionism and much in between. In fact, she studied so many art styles that her Toscana exhibit looks like a showcase of many artists’ work or, as she says, a smorgasbord.
“It’s hard for me to show you one thing and say that’s my style,” she said.
Over the years, Gilbert-Jones experienced a variety of personal highs.
There was the time Hughes Aircraft invited her to jury a show put on by the company’s art club, and the time she attended the Westwood Art Association’s 15th anniversary celebration and met the actor Joseph Cotton, an attendee.
In the mansion housing the event, he stepped toward her dashingly to make her acquaintance.
“I never was so thrilled as when he said to me, ‘How do you do, Mrs. Jones?’” she said.
Then there was the time she gained entry into the National Watercolor Society as a signature member. Her ticket in was a series of paper weavings — paintings on woven strips, that were novel at the time but now show up regularly in the design world. (Two of the weavings are on permanent display in the Northwest at the Ventana Medical Systems headquarters.)
And, of course, there was the brush with Pablo Picasso.
When Gilbert-Jones’ mother was nearing death, a nurse told the artist about a gallery in Marina Del Ray that might hold possibilities for her.
Gilbert-Jones followed up on the contact, and before she knew it, she was providing art for the auction world.
“They came to my house and picked up a lot of drawings,” she said.
Among her treasures, she still has a copy of her most prized auction list. In addition to her work and Picasso’s is work by big names including Chigal, Delacroix and Miro.
These days, Gilbert-Jones still paints, but she’s moved away from heavily immersing herself in new styles. Now, as she says, whatever comes out, comes out.
“I do it my way at this point,” she said, “like Sinatra.”
What: “A Glorious Journey — Glenna Gilbert-Jones”
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, through Jan. 8
Where: Toscana Studio and Gallery, 9040 N. Oracle Road
Cost: Free admission