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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 24, 2011

Going out for art in Medusa
Ward sees a “hyper-real” world, with a million dramas everywhere

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — A merger is forming between convenience and local art, and it’s taken the shape of an art gallery called MGS Projects, at the Medusa General Store.

The store, which re-opened almost a year ago under the ownership of Jason and April Caprio, will open its first exhibit at the new art gallery this Saturday.

“Medusa is in the midst of a renaissance,” April Caprio told The Enterprise. “We are forming a Medusa Council of the Arts. The council has grown substantially since the idea was initiated, so we’re trying to form a non-profit. It’s going to become a larger Medusa initiative.”

MGS Projects was the brainchild of local photographer Angela Cappetta.

“We’ve got a great cast of characters in Rensselaerville,” said Cappetta. “I’ve collaborated over the years with various artists of varying disciplines, and this seemed to be a natural progression for me — to be able to show the work that I love, that’s right for Medusa. You can’t just put anything on the wall. You’ve got to put stuff on the wall that’s right for the vernacular of the area, for the space, for the town, for the people going to see it.”

The process by which the gallery came to be was an organic one, Cappetta went on.

“April and I just knew it had to happen,” she said. “It’s not like we ever sat down and said, ‘We have to do this.’ We both just sort of knew we had to do it; the question was, when?...April’s this acutely fierce and intelligent little woman, and she gets stuff done. She doesn’t put more on her plate than she can handle, and I’m the same way.”

Born in Ithaca, New York, and raised in Connecticut, Cappetta moved to Medusa in 2001. “I fell in love with Medusa since as long ago as I can remember, and I always knew I’d end up there,” she said. She has been interested in photography since she was a child; she studied painting at Yale before studying photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

But she doesn’t paint anymore, she said.

“I was never a very good painter,” said Cappetta. “Photography is basically the only thing I’m interested in as an artist, but as a curator, I’m interested in many things.”

As a photographer, Cappetta said that she draws inspiration from artists in other media.

“Even though my work is photography, my work is very influenced by poets,” she said, crediting T.S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams as two of the driving forces behind her work.

Of photography and poetry, she went on, “They don’t necessarily translate into each other as much as they inform each other, just like how everything informs everything else. There are musicians that work from certain points of influence, or certain things they’ve read. Photography is not that different in that regard.”

This weekend’s opening will feature the photographs of Allison Nowlin Ward.

“Allison’s work is so beautiful and so moving, and I think everyone can relate to it,” said Cappetta, “and I think all the work we show is going to be in that language.”

The coming months will bring the work of Mexican painter Rodolfo de Florencia, whose work has been shown in parts of the United States, Mexico, and Cuba; sculptor Natalie Wetzel; photographer Anna Moller; painter Jessie Mann; and an exhibit of work by Cappetta herself, which she is calling a “love-letter-style photo essay,” written to the hamlet of Medusa.

“Natalie Wetzel, she wants to make — are you sitting down? — Medusa heads,” Cappetta exclaimed, referring to the Gorgon from Greek mythology, often portrayed with snakes for hair. “And she’s making them pretty, so Medusa’s not such a grouch. She made the world’s largest Christmas tree out of marshmallow peeps,” she said of Wetzel.

MGS Projects is also looking for submissions from artists who want to have their art displayed in the gallery, though there is a selective application process. The application can be found online at www.callforentriesmedusa.blogspot.com.

In an attempt to make the displayed work as affordable as possible for local collectors, Cappetta said the plan is to charge less than $1,000 per piece. The gallery will take a small commission, she said, and each exhibit will likely be up for five to six weeks.

Cappetta said that she and the Caprios are trying to find musicians to play at each opening; Mrs. Caprio said that the local Knox Traditional Strings will be playing at the opening of the second exhibit, which will feature Rodolfo de Florencia’s work.

“Rensselaerville is often overshadowed by the other hamlets, which are equally cool, but for different reasons,” said. Mrs. Caprio.

As Cappetta curates the first exhibit, she looks forward to this weekend’s opening.

“They’re helping me bring art to the Hilltowns in a public way, where people can see world-class artists,” Cappetta concluded. “Medusa has absolutely no idea what’s going to hit it.”

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