Danielle Steel to open gallery

Author averse to dark, depressing pieces for collection

— An art collector for most of her life, best-selling author Danielle Steel is opening a gallery of her own, full of the kind of art she loves best.

For paintings and sculpture to be displayed in steel gallery, the author says they "must speak" to her. Artists who create dark and depressing works need not apply.

"I established the gallery to present bright, exciting, well thought-out pieces that will bring the viewer joy and happiness and which are fun to live with," Steel said.

The love theme is evident inside steel gallery. Steel's favorite color, red, screams from almost every angle. Some of the artwork for sale even contain hearts.

Steel said the pieces were "selling like crazy" even before the official opening Tuesday. Others in the city's art scene seem impressed as well.

"I loved the feeling of the gallery, fun and casual," said Ariane Maclean, who directs Gen Art, an organization that promotes young artists, audiences and collectors in San Francisco.

That's the goal, said Steel, who said all the pieces reflected her personal preferences.

"I've been working with the mentally ill and the homeless, and those are very heavy, very saddening pursuits," said Steel, whose son, Nick, suffered from manic depression and committed suicide at 19. She now runs foundations involved with mental illness, and counsels families.

San Francisco already has more than 60 galleries, but Steel said she was not trying to compete with them. The gallery, occupying a space just blocks away from her Pacific Heights mansion, is about promoting little-known artists, mostly from the Bay Area.

Steel has tried her own hand at visual art, making collages that "tell a story about how I'm feeling."

"My books give people hope, and gives them context in their daily life," she said. "My paintings, my happy art, does the same," she adds, referring not to her own collages, which she doesn't plan to display, but to the work of the 16 artists she's signed up so far.

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