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Fresh faced Mussotto comes bursting into the art world

Natalie Mussotto gets curating job fresh out of college

STAFF PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Because of her drive and talent, Natalie Mussotto of Lake Oswego is well on her way to a successful career in the art world.

Natalie Mussotto does not believe in being a struggling artist. She much prefers achieving success right away.

And she has done this. With her freshly minted degree from Portland State University, she has already obtained her first curating job and is displaying her own work in Portland.

The young woman from Lake Oswego is thrilled about getting her career off to a fast start.

“I’m bursting my way into the art world,” Mussotto said. “It is very intimidating, but empowering, when people twice your age give you recognition. It feels like a dream.”

Mussotto’s big opportunity came when she was hired to be the curator for the Geezer Gallery: Celebrating Portland. The 22-year-old Mussotto is definitely no “geezer,” a word with an unfavorable connotation about old age. With the vigor of youth, she is seeking to turn “geezer” into a positive word.

“We’re embracing the term,” Mussotto said. “We definitely want to take it away from the usual meaning and make it something really cool.”

The Geezer Gallery features elder artists to be sure, but it has much more.

“This gallery has artists of all ages and variety of visions,” Mussotto said. “It reaches out to really important artists.

“I’m hanging some of my stuff with them. It’s a huge privilege.”

The description “really cool” applies to Mussotto’s work. One of her paintings takes an art gazer on a fresh trip into “The Twilight Zone,” a reaction that she loves. Then there are her magnificently colored skis and snowboards, which are sure to attract people who wouldn’t normally step inside an art gallery. Mussotto is a local girl who has made good.

She showed much promise of doing this in her years at Lakeridge High School, where she won two regional gold medals and a silver national medal for her artwork. Of course, she proceeded to prepare for a career in art, but she soon made a key academic change.

“I changed my minor to business administration,” Mussotto said. “I think anybody majoring in art should do that. I’m an entrepreneur as well as an artist.”

Despite their youth, Mussotto and her partner Acacia Steinberg greatly impressed Amy Henderson, executive director of the Geezer Gallery, with their art background, knowledge and zeal. The job was theirs.

Still, the first-time curator encountered a few bumps along the way. Sometimes, she and Steinberg would be hanging paintings, and the magnitude of the situation would get to her.

“Here we were, two little girls high up on ladders,” Mussotto said.

But there were no obstacles she couldn’t handle.

“Working with other artists was a challenge,” Mussotto said. “Artists are notoriously spacy. But everything came together. It was quite a trip, but really fun.”

Mussotto intends to keep right on painting and curating. For the immediate future, she hopes to remain with the Geezer Gallery and promote galleries with a community aspect and vision.

She has already scheduled two upcoming shows. One will have the fascinating concept of featuring artists who are not formally trained, but who still have done outstanding work.

After that, her future looks big and bright.

“Eventually, I want to open my own studio,” Mussotto said. “I’ve always had a passion to teach art. I really want to get people involved in art.”

The Geezer Gallery: Celebrating Portland will be held through the end of August at the Artists Repertory Theatre at 1515 S.W. Morrison St. in Portland. Gallery viewing times are from noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. In addition to the gallery, patrons are invited to watch two dramas, “Dracula’s Father” by Cynthia Whitcomb and “A New Play” by Amy Freed. The Geezer Gallery is being held in conjunction with the Portland Shakespeare Project: Proscenium Live.

Natalie Mussotto will soon have her own website at nataliemussotto.com.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SUBMITTED PHOTO - At the Geezer Gallery, Natalie Mussotto poses in front of one of her specialties - painting snowboards. Here they give the appearance of being a stained-glass window.