Mary Nomecos


Mary Nomecos

How I met Jeff and Terry. Everyone was away from my building for a weekend and I had been asked to take care of Suess’ dog. But they left no food and it was a Sunday night and I thought where am I going to get some dog food. Stanford Hughes came in and he said , “Just go over to Jeff and Terry’s.” And I said,” who are they ?:” and he said, “You don’t know Jeff and Terry?” And that was my beginning of knowing Jeff and Terry, who did give me some dog food…


I moved into Old City in 1974 while I was still a student at the PAFA. I had a Cresson travel scholarship And while I was gone my roommate Kathy Vanozzi and her boyfriend found another place for us to live. When I came back I had a floor at 230 Arch St, though they hadn’t fixed it up as promised. Anyway I went back to finish school. And it was very very important to me that that was there. There was a group of people, of artists already together. I knew Keith Ragone and Terry Kreuzer who were moved into the neighborhood after graduating the PAFA in 1976. I got a job at Marion Locks Gallery, uptown, around 1975. David Deakin and David DeBruin were framing for her in the one side of our building’s first floor and the other was her gallery Marion Locks East. John and Jude Suess left and Steve Estock, painter moved into their place.


I have been thinking that in addition to there being lots of artists in the neighborhood, there was also the Painted Bride, which came later around 1982 but at that time Charles Grumbling had a gallery and there was ETAGE. So there were public artistic spaces which lent to an environment that things were possible for artists there.


I participated in “Wear White at Night.” Inspired by Christo I wanted to wrap my building. But then I thought how do you wrap a building? I was talking to Terry Kreuzer and Keith Ragone about it and somehow they got a hold of some bolts of wide blue banner fabric. We went up on the roof and put in dowels to weigh the fabric down and then threw them over the roof to the ground. We covered the windows and it was great! I was very proud of it, though they did all the work of course. I also helped taking a group of audience through. There was supposed to be 10 people per group. At one point I came back to take another group and Harriet Knopman was there saying there were 25 people in my group! “We have so many people ! We have to take bigger groups through.” . Yet it was a wonderful experience.


Another part was that Nessa Forman, – art critic for the Evening Bulletin daily paper – called me to ask about it. I must have been on of the co-chair. And she printed that in the paper, but she didn’t mention Harriet Knopman the other co-chair. And Harriet was mad at me. What a big event to put together! I was recently talking to Heidi Becker about it. She was telling me that last year the Fringe Festival artist had a similar idea and tried to do something like that. We were sort of did it first.


When I think about Old City Arts, you two were the beginning of it all. You had your place you did performances and dances and you were always organizing things. Most of the things that happened there was started by the energy that you two had.


I also participated in the “Walk in Public.” I found it very exciting. I was surprised that people showed up to watch it. They even brought folding chairs to the curb. Kathy Vanozzi rode a police horse. Kathy was very reticent to participate in OCA. She didn’t come to meetings. But she was in the parade. She knew a lot about horses and the policeman was very impressed. She made a whole headdress for herself, weaving feathers into her long hair. Terry Kreuzer and I walked side by side behind the horse we just made crazy costumes to wear. And then there was the band. It was sort of like The Music Man, Stanford Hughes and others just joined in.


[JC: Living Room… was at ETAGE in late fall 1977 but OCA was going to chip in to extend the run] I got to be the “mysterious lady in black” one night [Diane Keller played that role other nights] That was an amazing piece. Eileen Mulgrew kept rehearsing with more and more onions because she wanted more tears to come out of her eyes. Barbara Blair did make up one night but then she didn’t come the next night.


Then there was Umbrella, a publication organized by Harry Saffern. The instruction was to make 1000 copies of one page. I had the idea to make a print from the old floor boards in my studio. Each was unique print, made of banner material. I really knew what a 1000 was by the time I finished. Then the people involved met some place and with the stacks of their works. We walked around a table collating the books. It was not a performance, but it was another interesting thing. I remembered when we got near the end of OCA. To the survey question, I would ask “what happened to OCA and why ?” I think part of it was that everyone was moving on. But part of it was because we could get this building as clubhouse. Some of us thought that it was not a good idea. Eddie Bernstein of Quaker Storage said, “Don’t get a building. You should be free. You’ll waste your energy.” People divied up into, yes or no. It moved ahead and it needed tons of work. We had a meeting. Some us were going to get up and leave, we prepared a song to sing, and walked out.


[Demographics] I had an uncle who had a degree but no one else in my family. I left my job as a medical secretary in small town to go to art school and then it became my life to be an artist here.


[Favorite hangouts] Other artists’ studios. Bill Scott had an artist studio on Chestnut St near 2 nd ] The Continental diner. Jack’s lunch. Paddy’s bar.

The research for the OCA History Project is ongoing...

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