The butterfly, which must undergo a complex metamorphosis before it’s capable of flight, has long been used by artists as a symbol of transformation. This tradition will continue at the end of May when the sculpture studio opens its doors at 20445 Mack in the Woods.
Spanish for “Butterfly Gallery,” Galeria Mariposa will be the studio and classroom of Estela Boudreau, an Argentinean who has lived in Grosse Pointe for more than 40 years. The space, which was most recently occupied by Sweet Dreams pastry shop, will be the first commercial space Boudreau has operated in the area. Until now, she has created and displayed her work exclusively at her home and at Windrise Retreat Center, a 140-acre farm in Metamora, Mich., which she owns with her husband, Greg Boudreau.
Boudreau, who has been sculpting for 20 years, creates pieces in clay, casts them in bronze, hyrdocal, or resins, and finishes them with custom patinas. Her forte is the classical rendering of the human form — particularly celebrations of the evolution of feminine power and of mother-child relationships — and while her work is frequently contemporary in style it is not abstract. She accepts commissions, often to celebrate weddings and other special events.
Boudreau said the walls of her gallery will be decorated with works by her daughter, Maria Rodriguez, a children’s illustrator. Boudreau will initially open the store only in the afternoons, Monday through Saturday. She plans to teach classes to students of all ages and all levels of experience. She anticipates her classes will comprise series of six to eight sessions, each lasting two hours.
“Clay has been the medium through which I have expressed my longings and desires all through the years,” said Boudreau. She teaches sculpture “to open the soul’s creativity through clay. I like my students to feel at ease; I want them to play with the clay like they played with mud when they were children. Once that playfulness is there, they can get acquainted with the skills and use them to coach that clay into the forms they want to create. There’s this idea that in the world there are artists and then there are regular people, and I want to break down that barrier. If through my classes you then went on to knitting or textiles or painting, I would be satisfied.”
Boudreau says she travels frequently to countries where the average person engages in art “to inspire my heart and soul.” Her favorite destinations are New Mexico and in particular Bali, “where everyone is an artist because they believe that creative expression is a prayer, a communication with the divine self. In Bali, even if you’re a truck driver, you come home from work and you sculpt with wood or make jewelry or do something else.”
“If people everywhere could develop their right brain,” Boudreau added, referring to the cerebral area credited with governing creativity, “people would be more balanced and there would be greater peace."
Because Boudreau will continue to fire her work at her Windrise studio and will not need a kiln, she said converting the former pastry shop into her studio has been fairly easy. “I like the space because it has big windows and it’s great for displaying art.”
Boudreau said she decided to open a store in Grosse Pointe to be closer to her daughters. Dr. Paula Ottaway is a dentist on Mack in the Woods and Dr. Daniela Rodriguez is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon on Greater Mack in St. Clair Shores. Her other children live farther away: Dr. Natalia Rodriguez, is an ophthalmologist in New Jersey and Boudreau’s son, Francis Rodriguez, is an attorney in Birmingham.
CORRECTION: This article was altered April 27, 2011 at 9:37 a.m. to reflect the correct information about classes, the artists favorite places of inspiration and the correct location for her daughter's business.