There’s a constant flow of young people coming and going from the gallery all afternoon. Some drop off art. Others chat with Beginner’s Mind founder Jason Cavallo, also known as Noble, about hanging out to make some stuff. There’s a laid-back intensity about the place, partly driven by the music playing on the sound system and partly the result of the visual excitement coming together on its walls.
Cavallo is talking to an artist about how he’d like the pricing to run. A large abstract painting by Genevieve McClendon of Brooklyn, at $1200, is the inaugural show’s most expensive piece. Almost everything else is in the $300 range, trending up or down a hundred or so depending on size.
Cavallo says he’ll take 25 or 30 percent commission. The young artist promises the upper end. He’ll come back with a mess of art.
Cavallo is heavily tattooed and pieced, with a scrappy but receptive air about him. He’s got about 170 works hung in the gallery so far, by 18 artists, including himself.
“Better make that 19 now,” he corrects himself, as the artist he just spoke with makes his way back down the alley toward the hamlet center.
He’s got enough of his own splatter and drip art paintings on the walls to make room for others. He’s got no need to push his own shit, Noble says.
The young man talks about his path to becoming Woodstock’s newest gallerist. Originally from Long Island, he grew up with a single mom, and worked a lot, doing whatever he could to put some money aside. He came to Woodstock five years ago, at first staying with his sister.
“I was engaged, working for the highway department. We broke up and I came here,” he says. “I did some landscaping, moved people. I lived in my truck for a few months and got the opportunity to look after someone’s place for half a year, which allowed me to save enough to cover the rent here.”
He showed off some raw-edged, heavy-stoned jewelry he’s made. He has been riding his bike to rock festivals selling the stuff, saving even more.
“I got this place off that,” he says. “This is the first time I’ve invested in myself. Now I have a place where all my friends, and all the kids I know can come and make a show of what they do.”
He shows off the artists he’s rounded up. The oldest is 38. Several are still in their teens. There’s Tom Heinz and Amy Grossminch. Karl Rasmussen from Catskill Art & Supply. Kyla Delisio, Stephanie Anderson, and Ana Beinhart. Molly Riddle and Julia Fierman. Esse. Will Lytle, ex-of Indie and a stalwart at Sunfrost. There are also Garret Grassi, Trevor Grassi, Chloe Valentine and a piece by Christina Varga and Jim C. plus Keric Keehan and tattoo artist Edward Dempsey. Scott Ackerman, a young artist of the Rosendale gallery Lovebird, seems to have been an inspiration for Cavallo.
“Beginner’s mind, as in this being all kids. We’re the young set,” he says. “Noble Collective Arts, I also call it. Noble is my name.”
He’ll eventually try selling some of his other creations. He makes chain-mail armor and is a member of the Society of Creative Armaments. He does his own style of Celtic-Japanese hybrid sword fighting. “I’ve got this Byzantine thing,” Noble notes.
We stand at the opened back doors looking out towards the flea market field. I ask Cavallo if he had ever thought he’d have his own gallery.
“I just wanted a space in a flea market,” he replies. “I was jealous. My friends were, too, never getting it together to get a spot themselves …. So when I saw this place was available I figured I should just take it.”
He explains how, once the summer comes, he’ll have some live music in the afternoons while the flea market is running. Maybe set up some tables and sell jewelry. Busk the scene. Perhaps present some fire dancers in the parking lot, if its owners are okay with the idea. Sell a pina colada or two …
“Yeah, I got a bunch of stuff I’d like to do,” Noble-Cavallo says, adding that he’s had no problems with the town’s building inspector. “I think everyone’s psyched that there’s a kid in town doing something.”
He pauses and stretches. My five-year-old, Milo, is in awe of this young man’s tattoos, piercings and swords.
“Here’s what this is. We’re an outlet for kids to come to and do something creative,” he says. “I just had the privilege to not have to pay rent for a spell. That helped me a lot, I saved a bundle and can now keep this running into August without selling anything.”
He says he’ll keep going to festivals over the summer, starting with Mountain Jam in May.
He describes the opening party planned for this Saturday, April 2, starting at 6 p.m. There’ll be a fashion show featuring Ronnie Yoked and Ms. McClendon. Willow and Shavatio will be belly dancing, doing some tribal fusion. The Flash Band will start in with some funk sets at around 9 p.m. There’ll be an array of Middle-Eastern food. Some wine.
“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Jason Cavallo, a.k.a. Noble, says. “I’m going to be the cool kid on the block.” ++
For more on Beginner’s Mind, at 32 Mill Hill Road, call 332-2216, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Noble’s Collective Arts at Facebook.