The Golden Gypsy is a distinctly imaginative shop in downtown St. Augustine that showcases various forms of international art. Beautiful paintings, colorful jewelry, and intricate carvings are just a few examples of the amazing and alluring global art on display. At the core of this unique shop is Jason Relph, the man who lends an integral part of himself to the shop’s ambiance. From the dense jungles of Thailand to the small villages of Zimbabwe, Jason travels the world in search of unique and culturally diverse art pieces. “The Golden Gypsy,” he explains, “is really an extension of myself. It’s my mind and my passion on display.
Jason is an artist who sees myriad examples of beauty and creativity during his tours around the world. He easily expresses very warm and endearing words to describe both the artists and their work, which is on display at his shop. With that same charm, he eloquently describes his own artistic style. “I wouldn’t describe myself as a painter, a potter, or a sculptor,” he says. “Though I do all of those things, I would describe myself as an experiential artist. I want my art to be an experience for the person who is involved and viewing it.” Using art as a way to involve people in an experience is Jason’s goal for The Golden Gypsy. “From the art, the music, and even the aromas in the shop,” he shares, “I want to take people on a journey that begins when they enter. I want to give them a real experience.”
For four years, Jason traveled the world as a gypsy and the experience was very empowering to him. As he immersed himself in the rich cultures of the world, his trek broadened his sense of humanity and emboldened him to share those enlightening experiences with others. Jason’s adventures opened his eyes to many revelations that have remained with him and have since become a part of his personal and business visions. “I found such amazing art everywhere I went! The imagery and messages that are portrayed in art are similar, although the artists may be worlds apart. I find that interesting. I think far too often, we focus on our differences and are completely blind to our plethora of similarities.”
When searching for art to add to The Golden Gypsy’s collection, Jason’s desire to embody an atmosphere of global community and understanding are as crucial as the startling beauty of the art he encounters, studies, and selects. An inner sense of caring and responsibility to the world and the earth itself, compels him to seek items that benefit both people and the planet. About ninety-five percent of the interesting art pieces found in his shop are hand-made, including carvings made from giraffe bones and sculptures made from recycled items. Both are forms of art that utilize what the earth gives rather than what is taken from valued natural resources.
Jason’s goal is to display art that leaves a positive impact on the land and on the people who view it. Whether that art comes from remote villages of Bali or the floating markets of Istanbul, the artists visually convey the needs, fears, and the dreams of the cultures around them. “When I’m looking to curate the space,” says Jason, “I’m looking for more than just beauty. I want the art to challenge something or say something about what’s happening in life.”