The O-town Scene

March 03, 2011

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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A Room With A View ‘Big Picture’ exhibit to open at Main View Gallery in Oneonta Story and photos by Sam Spokony I sat at a worn, paint-flecked table in an art studio on the corner of Main and Fairview streets in Oneonta. Facing me were Zena Gurbo and Hugh Timoney, the leaders of an innova- tive program that has changed the lives of 17 local adults with developmen- tal disabilities. Theirs is a venture born of the desires of those very adults; so it follows that, within this space, they are referred to only as artists in residence. ABOVE: Main View Gallery Curator Zena Gurbo and Director of Programs Hugh Timoney (far right) advise artists how best to approach artistic challenges After almost 30 years of employment at The Arc Otsego, a not-for-profit organization that provides support to Otsego County residents with devel- opmental disabilities, Timoney became intrigued by a new vision. “The people who were receiving services in our sheltered workshop were telling us that they wanted to do something different,” he said. “After a long series of interviews, we found some very specific answers. They wanted to explore varied, creative artistic mediums, to be active, to be more a part of the community and to earn money for their work.” That idea for a new direction gained a foothold in 2005, and, subsequent- ly, a grant was written. The state-funded Office for People with Develop- mental Disabilities soon approved the necessary funding, and Main Street Gallery, a program of Arc Otsego, opened in June of 2007. Since then, merging the practical and the creative has continually evolved to create an energy and sense of purpose that reverberates throughout downtown Oneonta. The gallery’s goals are twofold: to introduce both per- sonal support and a greater level of community involvement into the lives of its 17 artists, and to be recognized as viable and legitimate within the art world. So far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. “And that’s because it’s not just about visual art,” said Gurbo, Main View’s ABOVE: A painting in ‘The Big Picture’ exhibit hangs on a wall in the kitchen area of Main View Gallery. AT LEFT: Artist Anne Holchan works on a project. artistic coordinator and curator (Timoney is the director of programs). “We’re trying to make whole, happy people.” Following that credo has opened the artists of Main View to a wide range of new experiences that include volunteer work, delivering posters for the Main Street farmers’ market, and tai chi, yoga, tae kwon do and acting classes, as well as others, many of which stress wellness and physical activ- ity. Though they are kept busy, there always remains the expressive presence of art. Along with the help of four ever-present gallery coaches and guest appearances by professional artists from the surrounding region, those who receive services at Main View are free to develop their skills in a passion- ately unencumbered setting. Besides being voted Oneonta’s Best Art Gallery in 2010 by the readers of The Daily Star, high opinion has also been found within the more critical scope of those who judge art on its own merits. 16 O-Town Scene March 3, 2011 Continued on Page 17

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