Carla Almanza-de Quant
Jun 11, 2009 01:12PM
● By Super Admin
Photo by Dante Fontana.
Roseville artist Carla Almanza-de Quant didn’t start out wanting to create hand-made classic Venetian 16th Century masks...it just happened that way. As long as she can remember, all she wanted to do was travel to Florence, Italy and study art.
Even as a little girl growing up in her native Mexico, that was her dream: travel to the beautiful country known for its art. Carla’s parents, both accomplished artists, supported her vision. “My father made me learn all about Florence,” she explains, “before he would allow me to go.” Finally at 20 years old, she left home and headed toward her new life, in Italy.
There is an old saying: “When the pupil is ready to learn, the teacher will appear.” No one believes this more than Carla. She was lost and looking for an address in Florence when she stepped into a shop to ask for directions. The little shop’s shelves were overflowing with classical masks, and Italian opera radiated out of speakers into the room. Nearly overwhelmed, she fell in love with the art form.
The shop owner, internationally recognized artist, Professor Agostino Dessi, known for his exquisite masks, was looking for an apprentice. He asked Carla if she was interested. Although they had just met, they both felt an immediate fondness for each other. “It is like we knew each other in a past life,” she explains. He became her teacher, mentor and lifelong friend. For the next few years she studied the ancient techniques of the centuries-old art genre. She also honed her own style and method.
“Masks have been part of every culture since ancient times,” Carla says. “I love creating and keeping this art form alive.” Although the masks are traditionally made of paper maché, Carla adds her own ecological spin to her artwork by creating a wool blend out of recycled materials. “I love animals and nature,” Carla says, “It is important to me to help out our planet.”
Her shop, de Quant, in Granite Bay’s Quarry Ponds, is filled with her authentic 16th century masks that incorporate the classic characteristics of “Commedia dell’arte.” She also offers her original artwork, one-of-a-kind collectible pieces and lovely Italian glassware. In addition to the retail space, she holds workshops for budding mask-makers and sculptors. “Agostino taught me,” Carla says, “and now I teach others.”
Her work is also available at local wineries, and she is a featured artist with the Gioia Company based in Los Gatos. Gioia co-owner, Kathy Winkleman adores Carla’s art. “I couldn’t be more proud,” Winkleman says, “to represent her and, more joyous, to be her friend.”
Carla’s goal is to live her passion and immerse herself in art and family; husband Johan de Quant, and her son Johannes, support her artistic efforts. “I am truly blessed,” Carla says, “to live in such a wonderful place and have such a beautiful life.”
For more information on Carla’s art, visit carlaalmanza-dequant.com