PATINA TO FEATURE EXCLUSIVE WORKS OF MASTER JEWELERS,
ALEXANDRA SOLOWIJ WATKINS AND NANCY MICHEL IN A VIRTUAL
EXHIBITION, MASTERING A FRIENDSHIP
(Santa Fe, NM) – Patina Gallery is preparing a new virtual exhibition, Mastering a
Friendship, which will feature gems by master jewelers, Alexandra Solowij Watkins and
Nancy Michel, owners of Atelier Janiyé in Boston, MA. After they closed the Atelier in
2014, their jewelry transferred exclusively to Patina, now the only place where their work
can be viewed and purchased.
Mastering a Friendship honors the unique collaboration and innovation pioneered by
Watkins and Michel throughout their career working together at Atelier Janiyé, and each
piece is one of a kind. The virtual exhibition will open for public viewing on Patina’s
website, Friday, October 12th and will run until Friday, November 2nd 2018.
The artists built a prosperous legacy as recognized jewelers, revered in their work as
distinguished creatives in their field.
Watkins and Michel met in 1975, when Michel was hired as an associate of Atelier
Janiyé under Miye Matsukata (mid- century modern master jewelry maker, owner of
Atelier Janiyé 1922-1981). Watkins had been working with Matsukata since 1968. After
Matsukata’s passing in 1981, her workshop closed. Watkins and Michel opened their own
studio under the same name, Atelier Janiyé.
Pieces by Watkins often resemble artifacts. She utilizes high-karat yellow gold and
uncommon, sometimes uncut, stones, antique beads and fossils. Michel places stones,
fossils and beads in generous settings to inspire narrative in her work, which stems from
her fascination with nature (landscapes, petroglyphs, ruins and architecture).
Watkins recounts that she was more attracted to warmer tones in her work while Michel
was often drawn to cooler hues. She adds, “I like that in life – I like yellow, orange and
greens. I don’t usually work with blue but once I came across an Opal and I had to have
it. Nancy loved blues and greens and used a lot of Opal.”
Watkins and Michel collectively ensured they could create the kind of life they wanted to
lead while in partnership at Atelier Janiyé. Symbiotically, they built an environment
where they felt free to be creative and were able to support one another and their own
lives from making one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.
“There are things that I feel I wouldn’t have had the guts to do myself or maybe couldn’t
have managed myself.” Says Watkins, “We would do craft shows together, manage it
together, have dinner in the evenings. When at the Atelier, sometimes I would look to her
[Michel] for advise about a piece I was working on – ‘is it too high? Should it be longer?
How do you like the arrangement?’ It was very valuable to have her there.”
Not long after they retired, the co-curators of Patina Gallery, Allison and Ivan Barnett,
paid them a visit in Boston to discuss the possibility of exclusivity. Watkins says a big
part of their decision was trust in the gallery.
“I thought Patina was good to work with, it felt natural to take the partnership on.”
• Bio and work by Alexandra Solowij Watkins:
• Bio and work by Nancy Michel:
• More about the legacy of master jeweler, Miye Matsukata: