The O-town Scene

March 03, 2011

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Page 16 of 32

FROM LEFT: Artwork is seen at Main View Gallery; artists Jon Hartman and Anne Holahan work on projects. Continued from Page 16 “They say there’s something fresh about it,” Gurbo said. “There’s not this heavy weight of the overly educated or excesses of technique. It’s all transfor- mative; the relationships we’ve built and the art we create.” The best way to understand it is simply to enter Main View Gallery without any preconceived no- tions, without thinking about the art in terms of the developmental disabilities of its creators. As I first surveyed the room, I was struck by the way in which both the artistic and practical elements These adults are finding at each paint-flecked table a sense of self-expression that gives them a sense of purpose — something too significant to be neglected. of the program are so thoroughly meshed. Beyond the gallery, the room opens into a dining space, complete with tables and a small kitchen. Another section leads to a wall lined with lockers; connected to the studio area is a computer and printer-filled space in which employees work both with Main View artists and each other to prepare for new exhibits. Surrounding everything are the brightly colored paintings (some by Tim Sullivan, who is currently Main View’s featured artist) that exemplify what the gallery and program were meant to give back to both the artists who receive services here and the Oneonta community. The paintings don’t look like anything less than honest, passionate art. Sullivan’s exhibit, by the time of this publica- tion, will have been replaced by one titled “The Big Picture,” which will open with a reception Friday, March 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. The new exhibit, an “exploration of space, compo- sition, texture, detail and color all on large surfaces,” will feature the work of Main View artist Jeffery Peterson, as well as regional professionals Terry Fox, Christina Toro and Walter Gurbo. But, though it is enough to simply enjoy the gallery in its own right, Timoney told me something more essential to why Main View is so uniquely important, not only in this community, but also on a much more personal level. “These 17 people we see and help every day are telling us that they’re a hell of a lot happier now that they’re here,” he said. So I came back the next morning to see for myself. And it’s true. Gurbo and Timoney, along with their staff, do not just spend time leading the Main View artists through artistic exercises that allow them to tap into a vital source of creative energy; the artists are given the tools and emotional support to make the journey themselves, to work and learn indepen- dently. For them, that is the truly transformative power of this medium. Whether working on crafts, paintings or spending time with a gallery coach, these adults are finding at each paint-flecked table a sense of self-expres- sion that gives them a sense of purpose _ some- thing too significant to be neglected. I spoke to Sullivan about his featured exhibit. He gladly showed me his work, eight portrait paintings in which he, as Timoney mentioned, explored the theme of beauty by studying magazine advertise- ments and photographs of different female models. It is beautiful that he turned what many of us consider to be shallow, false representations of American culture into something genuine and truly personal. Sullivan proudly showed off the red buttons stuck beside several of his pieces; they showed that the work had been sold. Most of the sales were made to Sullivan’s family and friends, but it seems that what matters to him more than popular demand is the simple fact that he is recognized as a member of this community, a worthwhile contributor. “I feel lucky,” he said. “Making the art reminds me that I’m good.” As I left Main View Gallery and its artists to con- tinue their work uninterrupted, I heard the voices of whole, happy people ring out behind me. “Thank you for coming!” “Thank you for being here,” I replied. “You’re welcome!” _ Sam Spokony March 3, 2011 O-Town Scene 17

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