Meet the Neighbors
When Auckland, New Zealand native Victoria Munro and her husband Rodrigo Sanchez checked out St. George for the first time, "I assumed it was a posh neighborhood," she told me recently, as we talked in the sunny kitchen of her large pre-Civil War clapboard house not far from the ferry.
St. George sculptor Victoria Munro and her daughter Violeta out for a stroll on St. Marks Place.
"The closeness to Manhattan, the grand old houses, the large properties, the views--all of it seemed to suggest 'posh,' " she said, adding that she and her husband were surprised to discover, after they'd been here a while, that not all Staten Islanders share their perceptions of St. George as beautiful and desirable.
But no matter. The couple is far too busy, getting settled in the house and neighborhood, caring for their no-longer-quite-an-infant daughter Violeta, and pursuing their career interests--she as a sculptor; he as an attorney--to worry about how some people view their home community.
With all the demands on her time and energy, the transplanted New Zealander has nonetheless managed to make her mark locally with "Going Bush," a recent exhibition at St. George's SHOW Gallery of her own sculptures, combined with a small show she curated of the work of an international group of artists with whom she's exhibited before, in her homeland and in Europe. That show was entitled, "We Go Far . . . And Way Back."
VICTORIA MUNRO GOES BUSH
The photo below shows four of Victoria Munro's porcelain sculptures, each representative in its way of the show's theme, "Going Bush," which is explained below in text from the SHOW Gallery's website.
In the New Zealand-English-to-U.S.-English dictionary, ‘going bush’ is translated as “to drop out of society or become reclusive." The expression is widely used not only when referring to a reclusive period but also to a notion that Kiwis and Aussies hold onto, that they, at any time, may be able to drop everything and be successfully self-sufficient in the wilds of their native countries.
Having grown up in New Zealand, this notion is firmly rooted in Victoria Munro’s perception of her own abilities to ‘go bush.' With no real inclination for, or experience in, the art of basic women vs. nature survival, this is a mere romantic ideal. Nonetheless, she holds onto this ideal, joining the long list of New Zealand artists to memorialize the intrinsic connection to their native bush.
More information: Efirstname.lastname@example.org; blog/http://victoriamunro.wordpress.com
THEY BOUGHT THE FIRST HOUSE THEY SAW
Victoria first arrived in the states as a one-semester exchange student at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, where she found winters impossible (by contrast, she finds New York winters 'difficult'). That one semester included a three-week stay in New York, where, despite the weather, Victoria says that "after three weeks living here, I found it hard to imagine living anywhere else."
And eventually she did wind up in New York--in an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which soon was transformed, in places, into a high-priced tourist trap, from what had been a vital artists' community sharing space with a long-established working-class community. But Victoria says she and Rodrigo weren't really house-hunting when they arrived on Staten Island for the first time; they were on their way to a barbecue, invited by friends who'd moved to West Brighton shortly before.
"What we saw amazed us," Victoria recalls, referring to their friends' new home. "No, it wasn't a fancy house; it sat on a small plot of land, but it was a comfortable amount of space for under $300,000. You'd pay that for a studio in Williamsburg."
When Victoria and Rodrigo returned from Staten Island--just to see what was available, mind you--they checked out Craigslist, where they found the house they ended up buying--and never looked at another. The couple were married in the garden of their new house and, even before it was officially theirs, Rodrigo proposed in the garden, where his proposal was accepted. The couple's offer on the house was accepted, too.
Though much of her life is now situated on Staten Island's north shore, Victoria Munro still maintains her connection to the sector of north Brooklyn where art is made and shown. Her sculptures will appear next in a group show at Williamsburg's Minus Space.
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