Pistachios and art

Top, "Woman in a Red Dress," is a self-portrait that Seymour painted from a photograph a friend took of her at the beach. It is part of a private collection owned by Madera resident Scott Shropshire, a pistachio grower. Left, Jane Seymour at opening night of her gallery in Santa Monica.

Malibuite Jane Seymour’s gallery gala promotes heart disease awareness.

By Bridget Graham-Gungoren / Special to The Malibu Times

She has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and, this past weekend, Malibu resident Jane Seymour added a celebration and exclusive gallery opening featuring her art to her resume.

Seymour, who has been painting for almost a decade, partnered with the California Pistachio Commission to raise awareness for women’s heart disease prevention through showcasing her artwork.

“Women are nine times more likely to die from heart disease, yet breast cancer is what they fear most,” Seymour said in a recent interview.

California Pistachio Commission President Karen Reinecke confirmed the statistics. “Over 350,000 women die from heart disease each year, compared to 42,000 from breast cancer,” Reinecke said.

Reinecke and Seymour said they want women to understand that heart disease can be prevented. Pistachios were on the recently announced FDA list as a food to improve heart health, and may actually lower the risks for disease.

Seymour said she spends “almost every waking moment” painting and creates in most mediums, including watercolor, oil, pencil and ink, and pastels.

“I am inspired by so many different things,” Seymour said. “…places I’m at, where I’m filming, flowers and my home.”

Her painting of a hyacinth is one of the most popular amongst admirers.

“We grow a lot of flowers; I’ll make floral arrangements and paint them,” Seymour said.

Ballerinas (she was one), mother and child scenarios, and most recently tulips also inspire her work. Seymour also paints by commission; she just received three last week.

There were more than 50 pieces on display at the opening Saturday night, including pieces from her Jane Seymour Home Collection available only via Internet to Californians, at the Saks Group stores (Carson Pirie Scott, Parisians, and others), and note cards of her work where 100 percent of the proceeds benefit heart awareness and her new art-handbags.

“I love this idea,” Seymour said of the handbags. Her work is reproduced on canvas in limited editions, signed and covered to protect the art. Kathleen Henson, who heads the Art for the Heart organization for Seymour, said, “Art has been incorporated into all facets of her life.”

While Seymour exhibits her work in art shows all over the country and pairs with many philanthropic organizations, this gallery will be her headquarters and house her original artwork; work is shown by appointment only. Pieces range from $600 to $50,000.

Some of the pieces displayed in the gallery were originally slated for the Naples Wine Auction next February. She painted women as wine glasses-there is a self-portrait of her, her daughter and other women. The theme for the wine auction has changed to that of a circus, but she said she wants to continue this theme in her own work, because of its uniqueness.

The four originals that were painted and previously exhibited for the Pistachio Commission Awareness Art show were also on display, along with several other works to fill the gallery. One piece in particular that had attendees at both this gallery and the previous exhibit excited was “Woman in a Red Dress.” Seymour had a friend take a picture of her on the beach by her home; she then painted from the photograph. Previously purchased, it is part of a private collection owned by Madera resident Scott Shropshire, a pistachio grower.

Shropshire, an extremely high-spirited, 25-year-old quadriplegic (due to a diving accident), said he loved it when he first saw the painting. “When I saw it, it put a smile on my face … the beautiful beach … it relaxes me to look at it.”

Seymour’s husband, James Keach, shared that Seymour had not seen the gallery since the building was first purchased so this was truly a premier evening.

“This is my surprise for Jane,” he said of the newly remodeled gallery he designed. “She is very versatile in her art … and her work is happy. I don’t mean in a fake sense, I’m talking of the energy-much like Jane.”

Keach is also happy about the pairing of Seymour’s art on this evening to bring awareness to heart health. Both his mother and her father suffered from heart disease; her mother currently does, and Seymour had high blood pressure health problems during her pregnancy with the twins. However, he joked, his favorite was the pistachio candy. “I don’t know if that’s good for your heart,” he joked, “but it sure is good for the soul.”

The gallery opening hosted more than 250 guests, including Jamie Denton (“Desperate Housewives”), Rachel Huntley (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”), actors Bruce Davison and Eddie Kaye Thomas (“American Pie”).

One guest, Julie Kim, who flew in for the show from her home in Birmingham, Ala., met Seymour after she had won a bid to have dinner with the actress at a silent auction to benefit abused women and children in Birmingham.

“Everyone appreciated her endlessly big role in fundraising, and she is just a nice woman,” Kim said.

Another exhibit included hand-painted pistachio bowls by Hollywood moms Seymour, Priscilla Presley, Virginia Madsen, Olivia Newton-John and others, which are for sale on eBay. One hundred percent of the proceeds from sales of the bowls will benefit the Women’s Heart Foundation.

Other artists will be featured at Seymour’s gallery as well, including 18-year-old Jason Critchley, who gave a piece of his ceramic pottery to Seymour and Keach, friends of his family, as a gift. They admired his work, and now offer Critchley’s work at the gallery.

More information about the gallery and the Pistachio Commission can be found at www.janeseymour.com; and www.pistachios.org