Situated about half-way between New York City and Montreal is the small, picturesque city of Glens Falls, otherwise known as ‘Hometown U.S.A.’ In it’s downtown section of the city, a former textile mill called ‘The Shirt Factory’ is now home to Glens Falls’ thriving art community. Amongst the 50 working artists studios and galleries, including printmakers, potters, textile artists, photographers, woodworkers, and even a violin maker, is Galleria Transylvania, a shop and studio run by Transylvanian born Adela Tavares.
The gallery’s website proudly proclaims that its purpose since its inception has been ‘to make available to the American public the extraordinary arts and crafts of this east-central European nation… from traditional handicrafts made in remote villages to avant-garde works from internationally reknown artists.’ I was intrigued to find out more about the woman behind this project, her story and background and how Transylvanian crafts are received in this idyllic American city.
Adela Tavares (or Adela Teodora Langa as she was then known) grew up in Timişoara and early on expressed a passion for drawing. Encouraged by her parents’ good friend Romul Nutiu, the great artist and professor, she participated in private art classes and later enrolled in the Art High School in Timişoara.
It was just after finishing her studies at the Fine Arts College that she left for upstate New York with her American boyfriend (now husband) Jason Tavares. ‘I never planned on leaving Romania, I was content there but Jason was studying for his Ph.D so that was the only way to be together. I was 24, just finished college and had lived at home until then. It was very hard, I missed everything and everybody even though I was fascinated by America. Everything was bigger, the stores, the appliances, the trees.’
Despite her homesickness, Adela found life in America very liberating, especially in terms of her artistic output. She began painting a series of large-scale portraits of people she encountered in her life and travels . ‘People seemed to me very friendly, going to almost any public institution was a much more enjoyable experience than in Romania. Living in a different country or travelling to some extent opens you to a “different you”, a different way for you to be. So it was a combination of good and bad, so much so that the next year that we spent in Romania I missed a lot of my American life.’