James Yarosh got his start as a student working at a gallery as a part of a gifted and talented art program where he learned about the technical aspects of framing. He was then able to work at various other galleries - some in New York - while studying painting at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and at the Bridgewater School of Fine Arts, New York, and drawing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. By the time he was twenty-nine, he opened his own gallery.
Over the years, Yarosh polished his tastes with travel abroad and visits to the unparalleled art museums of Europe - such as the Prado Museum in Madrid - which served as his muses for later endeavors. Two of his favorite paintings from the Prado Museum are Goya’s Family of Carlos IV, and Francisco de Zurbarán’s Lamb of God.
Yarosh’s take-away from the museum visits - in addition to experiencing the captivating art - was the museum design itself. Where art may be the star, he aptly observed that the spaces - beautiful décor and architecture, damask-upholstered walls, marble or parquet floors, and the lighting - all serve to complement and support the collections on view. Yarosh’s thoughtful approach to showcasing art allows the viewer or occupant to take in the beautiful complexity of the art, to connect to the subject matter or the characters depicted, and to grasp the full range of emotion they may evoke - from joy to grief. With Yarosh’s curator techniques, it is no surprise that his career as a gallerist and artist led him to create interiors for art collectors. His participation at an interior designers show house at the historic Blairsden Mansion in Peapack, New Jersey sealed the deal.
L’art pour l’art.
Yarosh’s home is off the Atlantic coast in Highlands, New Jersey, and is about a forty-minute ferryboat ride to Wall Street in New York City. I’m greeted by Yarosh, dapperly dressed in slacks, and exhibiting his panache for French cuffs and Gucci loafers. His space is a three-floor townhouse, where the ten-foot-high walls are painted a deep taupe and covered from floor to ceiling in art staged in elaborately gilded frames - some carved by Marcello Bavaro. Silver gilt frames cover one wall and opposite is a wall of art in gold frames. Within the frame above an English fireplace made of statuary marble and a surround of antique Portuguese tiles is art work by a non-conformist artist from the former Soviet Union, Vachagan Narazyan. Yarosh added silk patterned curtains to flank the fireplace, recalling the elegance of the gilded age, yet with the freshness of today. Contemporary decorative laser-cut floors direct one’s eyes throughout the interior; no surface is forgotten and everything is beautiful. The ceiling of the living room is illuminated by two antique Lalique Chandeliers titled Perles circa 1931 that are suspended from carved sunburst medallions. In the dining room, the table is always set with a place setting inspired by Mozart’s Magic Flute. Yarosh loves to entertain and when he does he takes out his dazzling collection of Saint Louis, William Yeoward, and Lalique stemware and candleholders. His art collection also includes: Russian Realist artists, Yuri Kugach, Vjachaslac Zabelin, and Nikita Fedosov; American painter Sheba Sharrow; and Russian-American artist, Iliya Mirochnik.
I was particularly drawn to the work of one artist in Yarosh’s collection - Vachagan Narazyan - whose work was described earlier above the mantel. His paintings are expertly and exquisitely painted, some referencing Narazyan’s childhood memories of traveling circus performers. One can see references to Turner in his work with disappearing landscapes, and in his characters I can see references to Jacapo da Pontormo.
Salon: Luigi Bevilacqua and Mariano Fortuny
On another visit with Yarosh, I joined him at one of his salons in his Fine Art Gallery, located in a renovated former firehouse in Holmdel, New Jersey. It was a well-attended event where some of the guests had even flown from across the country to be present, and where all were warmly received. Drinks flowed and a delicious lavish buffet was served. The focus of the salon was on the celebrated Venetian fabric manufacturers and their founders, Luigi Bevilacqua and Mariano Fortuny. The velvets, brocades, and satins of Bevilacqua are still made with time-honored techniques on eighteenth-century looms. This evening, Yarosh sported loafers made with Bevilacqua fabric. Fortuny is renowned for its cotton prints and its well-guarded secret printing techniques. Its timeless patterns were inspired by the Italian Renaissance with Islamic and Persian influences, amongst others. These fabrics have a timeless appeal and are favorites with interior designers and socialites alike.
Less is more only when more is too much.
(Frank Lloyd Wright)
Yarosh like many great interior designers is part illusionist and part alchemist. The maximalists Tony Duquette and Juan Pablo Moyneux come to mind. I consider Yarosh a curated maximalist. His trained eye knows which stylish periods marry well together - such as Directoire and Art Moderne - and that they do not compete with the art being exhibited. Art as his focus of choice is an elegant way to approach the interior design process. With art as Yarosh’s siren, the work of Édouard Vuillard is calling him to Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, England, to view its exhibition of his work. I look forward to seeing where art next takes Yarosh in his travels and in his career.
Beautiful is beautiful is beautiful.