A child of the 1960s and native New Orleanian, Bernadette grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from University of New Orleans and continued with Masters’ courses in Public Administration. In 1986, while working on her Masters’, Bernadette and her then-husband expanded the family business, La Belle Galerie, to focus more on the African diaspora and art pieces reflective of the African-American experience. The new name of the gallery reflected the expansion – La Belle Galerie and the Black Art Collection.
Now, as the sole owner and proprietor of La Belle Galerie, Ms. Gildspinel has one of the largest galleries in the United States, which features artwork about the African American experience. The gallery has been featured in Essence Magazine (April 1995) and exhibits original paintings, photos, sculpture, monotypes and prints. Some of the artists represented include Ernie Barnes, William Tolliver, Charles Bibbs, Aziz Diagne, Buchi Upjohn Aghaji, WAK, Gus Bennett, Dwayne D. Conrad, and others of national and international renown.
Ms. Gildspinel has curated exhibits in Berlin, Paris and South Africa. She curated an exhibit with Hermann Leonard, William Gottlieb and William Claxton , Jazz era photographers who had never worked together prior to this show in year 1998.
On Artistic Inspiration:
“When viewing an image or piece, when I see ‘everyman’ or ‘everywoman’, not a person of color or label; the beauty is seen first before all else.”
On New Orleans:
“New Orleans is all that I am. Because I led such a sheltered childhood (not leaving the neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward), I discovered the city of New Orleans as an adult. This led to a deeper understanding and love of my city. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, once given the go-ahead, returning home was my main goal. I am a preservationist at heart, and my 160 year-old home is a testament to the history of New Orleans. Where else could that happen? I have travelled all over the world and there’s nowhere else I would rather live than here.”