DEL MAR — Although art resonated with Del Mar resident Adriana Zagorsky from a young age, it was always something she did on the side.
It wasn’t until she came across a vacant former clothing store in Solana Beach’s Cedros Avenue Design District in 2017 that she saw her opening.
“I just had this opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and I opened up this gallery,” Zagorsky said, gesturing to the approximately 1,200-square-foot space, outfitted with large, bold-colored paintings. Now Zagö Gallery, it currently showcases about 20 of Zagorsky’s pieces, in an exhibit called Renaissance POP.
Zagorsky, 51, spent much of her childhood in Vienna, Austria, the child of Bulgarian immigrants. She was fascinated by the city’s vast array of architecture, its famous museums and parks. Her proclivity for the visual followed her to the U.S., where she eventually began taking painting classes at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
Her work was well-received — two of her paintings were selected for jury shows at the Athenaeum, and she was able to sell most of the pieces she created over the years. Yet prior to 2018, Zagorsky spent most her adult life working in sales, real estate or teaching roles.
So when she first opened the gallery in late 2017, Zagorsky was on her own — not only running the business, curating the space and selling its pieces, but creating said pieces as well.
“It was a little overwhelming,” she said. “As a new business, I felt like I was in first gear.”
Now, about a year later, she has hired a gallery director so she can spend more time behind the scenes, painting — “what I want to do,” she said. Zagorsky spends much of the day behind a partitioned wall in the gallery, in a small studio full of her pieces: a portrait of Brigitte Bardot, various still lifes and a black and white painting of Zagorsky’s family cast on a Viennese cobblestone street.
In addition to her own work — which dominates the gallery — she started displaying contemporary works by an artist from Montreal, Isabelle Beaubien. She envisions being able to showcase about five different artists in the space, in order to diversify what the gallery offers and support a few full-time, exclusive artists.
But for now, the gallery embraces Zagorsky’s style, which intertwines a flair for mixed media with an appreciation for tradition and the bourgeoisie. Walk into her gallery, and you’ll find Versailles style reigns supreme: a pair of corsets painted on an aluminum backdrop, a Marie Antoinette-esque figure rendered partly with wood stain.
Zagorsky said she recognizes her art is unique, and doesn’t resonate with everyone. However, she has garnered clientele from across the country, selling her pieces to dealers and art-lovers in New York, Texas, Arizona and coastal California. She also commissions pieces, many of which happen to be large dog portraits.
Although she said she has a hard time letting go of many of her paintings, she enjoys being able to create something that other people can enjoy every day in their homes.
“For me it’s so rewarding when someone comes in and they love something I created from nothing,” she said.
As Zagorsky looks at new ways of expanding the gallery in tandem with the rising arts scene on South Cedros Avenue, she hopes to cultivate the image of a go-to, family-friendly “boutique” gallery.
“I want people to think of this gallery as the first place they would want to come back to, not just somewhere they purchased a piece of work,” she said. “ … I want it to be an experience.”
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.