Deborah Angilletta is living her dream. Every day, she paints landscapes inspired by the rural beauty of New York state. And she has her own studio and gallery that’s only a 10-minute walk from her house.
Discerning Artistry, the only art gallery in Scotia, opened in October 2010 in a small storefront on Mohawk Avenue, next door to O’Leary’s Pub and Grill.
It’s a charming space, with wood floors and a pressed tin ceiling. The front window is dressed for the holidays, and cookies and chocolates tempt visitors from a table covered with a homey blue tablecloth.
More than two dozen of Angilletta’s paintings hang on the walls, acrylic on one side of the little room, oil on the other. And If you peek in the window, chances are you’ll see her working at an easel at the far end of the gallery.
WHERE: 147 Mohawk Ave., Scotia
WHEN: Hours vary; call to arrange a studio visit
MORE INFO: 382-2665, www.deborahangilletta.com
For an artist, the scene is picture-perfect. But what you can’t see is how long it took Angilletta to realize her dream.
When she graduated from high school in 1972, she wanted to go to college and study art. Her parents, who were practical people, refused to help her pay for an art education. She studied medical technology at the State University of New York at Morrisville, got married, had two children and got a job at the phone company.
For 32 years, as the industry underwent a dramatic evolution, she worked at New York Telephone, NYNEX, AT&T, Bell Atlantic and Verizon.
Six years ago, when she was 53, she took an early retirement offer so she could devote her time to art. This year, Angilletta exhibited at the Stockade Villagers Outdoor Art Show, the Vanguard Designers Showcase in Albany; Art by the Lake at the Fenimore Art Museum; The Tailored Tea in Latham; and Starbucks in Niskayuna.
In October, at the Hagaman Art Show, she won two awards, mayor’s choice and best of show.
“Every step I’ve taken has led me to where I am now,” Angilletta says. “Things work out the way they are supposed to.”
This winter, you can see her landscapes in her studio and in three other places around the Capital Region. For the second year in row, one of her paintings was selected for the Arkell Museum Juried Art Show, which runs through Jan. 25 in Canajoharie. She’s also in the Art de Cure exhibit, “Primary Factors,” which runs through March 15 at The Endocrine Group in Albany. And her work is hanging in Schenectady, at Katz Kafe on Jay Street.
Q: Why did you open Discerning Artistry?
A: I always wanted a little studio. It’s hard to work at home. Too many distractions. It was the perfect location because it was so close to home. And I thought the idea of having a storefront would be nice so people could see my artwork.
Q: What was in the space before you came here?
A: There was a little vintage furniture place called Bliss, [Bliss Gifts and Home Decor] which is now on Jay Street.
Q: You were the first artist to exhibit at The Tailored Tea. What was that like?
A: It was very cool. My paintings looked great there. The lighting in there was great. I had the whole room, and all of the hallway. It’s a great venue for art.
Q: How did that show happen?
A: My two friends, Maureen (Maureen Sausa) and Chick (Carol Owens) are there, and Maureen is the gallery manager. I’ve known them forever because I had a studio at Center City in Schenectady. There were 18 people down there. It was a great spot. It had great energy. We tried to do something every month when they had Art Night.
Q: And one of your paintings still hangs at The Tailored Tea?
A: Yes, it’s called “Little Visitor.” It’s a woman with a basket of flowers.
Q: How did you get started in painting?
A: For a while, I was resentful that I didn’t get to go to school for art. But because of the job at the phone company, I was able to retire early. I had started taking some watercolor courses at the high school in Scotia. I was self-taught in acrylic. In 2003, I had joined the Colonie Art League.
Q: And you finally got to study art in college?
A: I had gotten laid off at one point from the phone company, and as part of downsizing, we got a tuition grant. I took creative design courses at Sage. And I got an associate’s in graphic design.
Q: What did you do at the phone companies?
A: I was a central office tech. It’s wiring and tracing down problems and trunk lines. But before that, I had been an operator. And I did relay service for the hearing-impaired. You would voice what the hearing-impaired person typed on my screen. And then I would type back to them whatever the hearing person said.
Q: Did you make art as a child?
A: As a kid, I always wanted to be an artist. I went to a parochial school. We had art in elementary school every Friday afternoon. And then past elementary, there was no art. At the phone company, I would draw posters and other stuff, and they would use it for promotional materials. But I never did painting.
Q: What is your painting process?
A: I’m not a plein air girl. Mainly I am a studio painter. I go out, I take photographs and sketch. Actually, the photos are very disappointing. You look at a scene and take a picture, then when you look at it later, the photos flatten out the image so much. You have to learn to compensate for that. I kind of discard the photo once I get going.
Q: Where is the scene that’s on your easel now?
A: It’s right outside The Tailored Tea parking lot. The sun was going down, and there was all this light on these branches. There are spectacular sunsets out there. I think I took that with my iPhone.
Q: Why do you like painting landscapes?
A: When I was a kid, I was always out playing in the pastures. My grandfather had a farm. We were in the barns, we were in the hayloft. We were chasing the horses out in the field. It was what I grew up with. I think that kind of sticks with you.
Q: Did you grow up around here?
A: No, I grew up in Syracuse. My grandparents’ farm was in Sylvan Beach.
Q: What’s the challenge of becoming a full-time painter?
A: I had this wonderful vision of painting all day. But the reality of marketing and how much there is in the business end of it, I didn’t realize at all. And I do my own framing.
Q: Where do you go to find your landscapes?
A: We go to Duanesburg, Delanson, Sharon Springs. It’s gorgeous countryside out there.
I always take my camera, my husband (John Angilletta) is driving. Sometimes I take pictures out the window.