The Mount Maker
Dante Rodriguez (BA ‘03) would find it a compliment if you never saw his work. In fact, that’s the way he thinks it’s supposed to be.
He’s a mount maker at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), and it’s likely millions of visitors have paid him the pleasure of ignoring his craftsmanship.
Dante describes his job as “a metal fabricator but for art”, and it’s an important one. He’s the reason those masterpieces – sculptures, objects and paintings on view remain in place. Upright. Suspended in space, even.
To him, he’s a facilitator of the art-viewing experience. Just the works themselves deserve to have a spotlight, not the pieces holding them.
But when he visits other museums, his focus is always on the work of fellow mount makers. He can’t help It, much to the dismay of his friends and family.
“When you become a museum employee, you become a steward,” he said.
“All we do is preserve the work for future generations.”
If he notices something amiss, like an object precariously dangling at risk of potential damage, you can be sure he’ll point it out.
This was not his intended path though. At CSU, he focused on drawing, but his experiences as a student worker in the campus art gallery exposed him to a world beyond the art itself.
Dante started at the CMA in security, but when the museum embarked on its massive expansion nearly two decades ago, his student experience aligned with an opportunity as an art handler.
“And it just rolled into where I am today,” he said.
Word is, he’s at the top of his craft.
Kathy Curnow, an associate professor in CSU’s art department, noted that friends of hers at the Smithsonian said he’s one of the best in the country.
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