The O-town Scene

March 03, 2011

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Casual Chit Chat Each week, we have a casual conversation with a member of the community. This week, Curator Zena Gurbo of Main View Gallery and Cassandra Miller chit chat, casually. You’re an artist as well as Main View Gallery artistic coordinator/curator; how does your individual approach to art affect your curating, in particular, your curating at Main View? The curating aspect of my job is the result of the instructor/coordinator components; the planning of what the theme is, coordinating a variety of projects, finding out which Main View Gallery artists will be working with which arts instructors. All of these elements are discussed between the staff, but I suppose I am trying to see ahead to what the exhibit will look and feel like. It’s important for me to represent a variety of artists with different skills and abilities and styles at user-friendly prices while at the same time creating a cohesive body of work that flows well and however loosely reflects our theme. I guess if I were to compare that to making my own work, sculpture making or creating a series of paintings takes a similar approach. You have all these different elements _ ob- jects, colors, patterns _ and you are making them work together, and hopefully they can also stand up on their own. Who was the first famous artist you remember piquing your interest in art, and what was it about his or her work that you found intriguing? Well, both of my parents are artists, so they were the first artists to have any influence over me, both genetically and environmen- tally. But I suppose Picasso was one of the first to capture my attention. He seemed to have fun and wasn’t afraid to try on different mediums, different styles, and he broke rules, at least what I thought of as rules. Your husband, Simone Mantellassi, is also an artist. How is living with anoth- er artist? Do you create work together or consult each other on your work? Do you have art parties? Are your walls covered with your creations? I have always lived with at least one other artist, so I don’t know what it’s like not to. We haven’t really collaborated on any projects, but we are in each other’s space, so we can’t help but be influenced by one another. Our work is very different _ he works with abstract shapes and forms, my work is more represen- tational of imagined scenarios or people. We both give feedback regardless of being asked, sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes det- rimental (usually to me, I am a less confident artist than he is). Even though our artistic aesthetics are very different, we are essen- tially very supportive of each. Art parties? We have parties that artists come to. Does that count? And yes, our walls are covered (with some breathing room) with our own work, the work of our friends and family and, of course, Main View Gallery art- ists. Plus I have little collections of things. Where did you grow up and live before the One- onta area, and how did living in those places influence you? I grew up mostly in Rock- Beach, Queens, away a block from the ocean, and I always feel the influence of the water. I spent weekends in Brooklyn. I spent a few formative years living in Manhattan. City life as a kid and young adult was great, but when I was old enough to really enjoy it, I couldn’t afford it. As a young mother I moved up here be- cause money and space were issues, the pace was too fast to enjoy life down in the city to enjoy my new baby. Still, I have the city in me, the structures and the ocean, and the people, my friends and family are all still in me swimming around. And now when I visit I can really appreciate and take advantage of what it has to offer. If you could choose to be born in an- other country, which would you choose and why? I suppose I would choose Ita- ly as I really love that country. I haven’t been enough places to know where else I would want to be from. But really I love being a New Yorker. What non-art hobbies do you practice? Non-art hobbies? I’ve recently fallen in love with spinning, with Jenn at the Y and my girls Christina and Christina. A couple of years ago I had the privilege of being in “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream” at the Franklin Stage Com- pany and I loved it, so now I am taking an acting II class at SUNY Oneonta to try to get better at it. But acting is an art, so? I have two daughters, and although motherhood is not a hobby, we do have fun together. I like to read and write. I was singing for a while. I guess most of my hobbies are art- related. You’re quoted on a website endors- ing Reiki; what exactly is it? Well, I couldn’t tell you the definition of what it is, but for me it is a way to refuel. It feels like a direct shot of love pouring into you via a conduit, or yourself if you know how. It is replenishing and comforting. If you could have a vase of flow- ers in your kitchen every day, which type would you want to be a part of your home? The woman who I go to for Reiki, Sarah Root, said I was a camellia, and I think an ever-changing vase of camellias would be a lovely reminder. Who are some of your favorite musi- cal artists right now? I am working on a series of 3-D paintings based on the lyrics of “The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields for an upcoming show at Bright Hill Center in April, so I have spent a lot of time listening to that song. I have been using a lot because one artist I like (Bon Iver, Joanna Newsom, Frazey Ford, Mountain Goats) will lead me to other artists I like (Iron & Wine, Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor, Bob Dylan) and others I haven’t heard before. I think it’s a little scary and very amazing that technology can read us so well. What music were you into in high school? You mean did I like Nirvana or Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam, then later Nirvana? I can’t really relate to loud, angry, yelly music _ give me whiney, moody, poppy, well written music any day and, ironically, I am happy. If you had complete control over what the Bresee’s department store space would be used for, how would you use the space or what business would you put there? I don’t think it should be one business. Nothing big-box store. Small art collectives, artists studios, OWL’s children’s museum (although I think Foothills would be better for that), antiques. If we are going to make this an “art town,” then the focus should be on having a place for art to be displayed and sold, many places in fact. What’s the best part about living in the Oneonta area? My friends, my work, the view. March 3, 2011 O-Town Scene 7

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