Robert D'Alimonte was following in his grandfather's footsteps when he quit his job in the computer industry seven years ago to become an artist.
His grandfather, Stan Hall, quit a lucrative job in construction to become an native artist at age 55 and crafted a whole new career as an antler and bone carver who traveled all over the United States and Canada showcasing his work.
D'Alimonte's career change efforts will be on display today at the grand opening of his new art store, Tuscarora WoodWorks on the Tuscarora Nation.
His partner in the business and in life, Murisa Printup, also has a respected artist in her bloodlines. Her uncle, Irwin Printup Jr., was an illustrator of note, whose work was featured in a book called "Giving Thanks" that was featured on the TV show "Reading Rainbow."
The pair are both Tuscarora people, he of the Beaver clan and she of the Turtle clan. They live on the Tuscarora Nation and their store is located on their property at 5532 Walmore Road in Lewiston.
Printup is excited about finally having a store of their own to showcase her paintings, his carvings, and many other different styles of their artwork, from furniture to lacrosse trophies.
"The store is in our front yard and it's always been my dream to have a store where I don't have to leave home," she said.
She has been teaching art classes in the shop, and the pair have been holding free art camps for children during the summer.
The pair is hoping to do more within their community, D'Alimonte said that they plan to grow their store to be a gathering place.
"We would love the business to grow to employ more people in the various disciplines," he said. "We want to build out furniture-making aspects of the business and like to bring a couple of apprentices. We'd like to hire more graphic artists and people to work in the store."
Plans also call for a coffee shop on the site, with locally made pies and cookies, to be opened by fall.
Most importantly, the shop will be a place where healing can occur for the Tuscaroran community.
"Being an indigenous person in the modern world is very difficult," he said. "Right now, the Canadian government is uncovering graves from native schools. The U.S. is just getting started with their investigations," he said. "Everyone who is indigenous is either a grandchild or a child of someone in those boarding schools."
In order to heal as a people and community, we feel it's important to learn to love each other again and trust each other again. We also have to improve our relationships with the nonnative people. I feel they need to come to the table to help us address those issues. We are appreciative, however, to all those allies we do have out there."
Tuscarora WoodWorks is located at 5532 Walmore Road in Lewiston. The grand opening today will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. For more information visit Tuscarora WoodWorks on Facebook or at www.tuscarorawoodworks.com.
WHO: Tuscarora WoodWorks
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today
WHERE: 5532 Walmore Road, Lewiston
MORE INFORMATION: Visit Tuscarora WoodWorks on Facebook or at www.tuscarorawoodworks.com