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Life As A Work Of Art

Massapequan starts new career as an artist

Massapequa’s Phyllis Coniglio knows it is never too late to start a new career.

After spending the first half of her life embroiled in the business world, specifically in the glass and mirror industry, Coniglio found the fortitude to bring a constant passion to the forefront of her life.

“From childhood I had an interest in art history. Whenever possible I was visiting museums,” she said, adding that she was close to 50-years-old when she started painting. “Not until my youngest was in high school was I encouraged to attend an oil painting class. That began my quest to make up for lost time.”

Coniglio took as many art classes and workshops as she possibly could, surrounding herself with other artists and immersing herself in many different artistic styles. She dabbled in portrait classes while studying at the Art Students League in New York City and also tried oil, watercolor and acrylic paints, as well as clay and stone carving.

But after attending a workshop in South Carolina just after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, she was exposed to contemporary styles of painting and then she started experimenting with abstraction.

“I found my art,” she said, adding that she had three art shows this past summer and won awards in all three. “Sometimes the world pushes you in a certain direction and the laws of attraction take over.”

And now that Coniglio currently has paintings on display at the B.J. Spoke Gallery in Huntington, she reflects on the unexpected brush stroke across her life’s canvas. Her artistic direction is light years away from life in the business world, owning Country Glass & Mirror in Farmingdale and serving on the board of the Glass & Mirror Association.

But she is not eager to make her new venture into a business any time soon. Instead, she prefers to paint at her pace and maybe sell a painting or two if the opportunity presents itself.

“I don’t want to make this into a job,” she said. “Business is in my background and that’s where it should stay.”

That is not to say painting is a free and easy vacation from stress. Coniglio said each painting is a struggle from beginning to end.

“It’s torment. Sometimes I’m up ad midnight staring at an unfinished piece wondering what to do next,” she said. “I think I do more thinking than painting. These paintings, they call to me in the middle of the night saying they need something else. The piece doesn’t reveal itself until I’m close to the end.”

Coniglio grew up in Brooklyn and lived in Forest Hills, Queens for many years before making her way to Massapequa. But even though she is fully embedded in the neighborhood, Coniglio said she will always be a city girl at heart.

But Long Island can be a great place for up-and-coming artists or seasoned pros, according to Coniglio. She said there is an art league in Syosset, a Massapequa Art League on Merrick Road, painting classes at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library and many more.

For any potentially artistic people out there, Coniglio said to pursue the dream and to never use age as an excuse not to try something new.

“I think of my artistic career as my sequel,” she said. “It’s the best time of my life as I am free to create and express any way that I like. Hopefully I can inspire others who say they are too old to following their dreams.”