Marta Gualda brings Old World accents to modern spaces at her Eastover gallery and boutique.
by Michael J. Solender
Upon crossing the threshold of Marta Gualda Artifacts, visitors are immediately transported from a bustling stretch of Providence Rd. in Eastover to a quiet, calming oasis of style with a chic Mediterranean-meets-Manhattan vibe.
White-washed pine floors line the open, sunny gallery adorned with Renaissance and Baroque-style paintings, Spanish and Italian ceramics, bronze busts and statuary — all creating a sense of place that draws from classic European history and culture.
It’s all part of Marta Gualda’s plan to seduce her guests with possibilities. Gualda, 34, the shop’s namesake owner who recently moved to Charlotte from Granada, Spain, combines her passion for craft and eye for beauty with savvy treasure-hunting in curating her newly opened gallery.
Gualda’s love of historic art stems from her experience working at and subsequently operating a similar gallery once owned by her grandparents in her native Spain.
It was there in Granada in 2015 that an American gentleman from Charlotte happened upon her boutique. They struck up a conversation, sparking a budding romance.
The American was Zack Zitsos, an executive with Charlotte-based Showmars restaurants and founder of Mamu Market, a healthy meal-prep and delivery service. The couple began dating in 2016 and married a year later, and in early 2018 Gualda moved to Charlotte after only two brief visits.
“My goal is to introduce people to the beauty of this style of collectible pieces,” says Gualda of her shop’s museum-quality artwork, furnishings, maps, documents and books. “Museums are wonderful places to get inspired by art, but you can’t touch the work, feel its weight, smell it and fully relate to its origins. I want to bring people the experience of getting intimate with these artifacts.”
Visitors get up close to paintings from the 16th century to the 20th century by artists whose work is featured in the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums in Madrid; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; the Met in New York City; and even here in Charlotte at The Mint Museum.
One such work is an enormous Matador painting, Pedrucho y su Cuadrilla by Armando Miravalls Bove (pictured above). More than 6 feet tall and nearly twice as long, the original oil on canvas features a group of Barcelona matadors, most notably Pedro Basauri Paguaga, a favorite bullfighter of Ernest Hemingway.
Another treasure is a fascinating Swiss music box created in 1838 for the French market. The patinaed mahogany box hosts an ornate mechanism displayed through a glass top. When activated, tiny bells ring when struck by silver bees, small wooden drums thump, and the small, keyed movement plays melodies composed by the likes of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Lecocq.
“Timelessness is a quality I cultivate with my collection,” Gualda says. “To make something new, you must know the past. Bringing old things into a new context by combining past and present creates a new meaning, a new perspective and a vibrant new sense of place.” SP
813 Providence Rd., martagualda.com