People of UOVO: Matt Tusciuk and the Light Rigging Crew
This is the second installment in our ongoing “People of UOVO” series. We’ll introduce our team and discuss some of the ins and outs behind the scenes of the art storage and services business.
I sat down with one of our crew chiefs, Matt Tusciuk, to talk about his role at UOVO, his personal interest in art, and the hardest rigging job he’s ever been on.
H: Tell me about yourself and how you got into the art storage and services industry.
MT: I’m a crew chief at UOVO. After I graduated from art school, I worked as a carpenter, so between having an art background and being a carpenter, I started out building crates and got into doing some installation off-site, so that was the beginning of my art handling career.
H: Who inspires you? What are you currently loving?
MT: I’ve always liked some of the early American Modernists like Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell. I grew to have a great affinity for Marcel Duchamp; I lived in Philadelphia for a while and they have a great Duchamp collection in the museum there. They all had a craft and were very process-driven.
H: So that’s probably what draws you to carpentry…and maybe even to being a crew chief at UOVO! What does your role here entail?
MT: Crew chiefs are tasked with direct supervision of the art handlers. There are two of us, myself and Mike Schonebaum, who handle off-site work. Aaron Gerth and Steve Bindernagel handle the internal work. For the off-site crew chiefs, it’s a lot of prep for the jobs: figuring out what the labor and material needs are, looking through the work to see if anything stands out as particularly difficult, and prepping the crews for the different jobs. We’ll be on-site for the larger jobs as well.
H: Can you tell me a little bit about a job that presented some unique challenges?
MT: They all have their own challenges, but there was one Mike and I worked on recently where we switched out artwork for an office, so the work was all done during off-hours. I was overseeing a rigging crew and Mike was overseeing a team hanging flatworks. There were a lot of moving parts – I find those to be the most fun. The part of the job I really like is the problem-solving and having to think about things creatively when there are challenges, which is especially true with rigging.
H: Is light rigging something we’ve always done? How did it come to be at UOVO?
MT: I’ve done a lot of light-rigging before I joined the UOVO team. While initially we hired third parties to do the rigging, after a handful of experiences we realized that our team, with our high attention to detail and good communication protocols, would have an advantage with proper training. The handful of us who had past experience focused our energy on setting up a rigging team.
H: How do the handlers get trained for the light rigging team?
MT: Mike went to a methods and materials training at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservationand together we created a program for 11 of the handlers we thought would be well-suited for the team, including guys who had past experience or were really interested in the technical challenge and had the skills that would translate well to this kind of work.
We developed a 12-session, 22-hour training program where we met once a week for a couple of months and did theory-based things, such as discussing the physics and methodology behind the work, as well as hands-on activities, where we put together the gantry and used the equipment to lift things around the building. Everyone was forklift-certified.
I think it turned out really well; a lot of it is communication and getting people to work together effectively, and knowing who’s doing what role. Rigging teams are very role-oriented and everyone has their own area of responsibility.
H: Can you tell me about one of the most challenging rigging drops you’ve ever done, either at UOVO or in your previous experience?
MT: The most challenging was some years ago when I had to install a Jeff Koons sculpture in Christie’s. The crate wouldn’t fit upright through any of their doorways. It was a 1500lb crate we had to lean to get through the doorways – we ended up doing all of this at 4am! We had to set the piece up to hang off the end of the gantry and counterweight the other side. It ended up being almost a 24-hour job.
Interestingly, Caroline Page-Katz [UOVO’s COO] was there too as she was working on the Christie’s side.
H: That’s too funny; what a small world. Thanks for your time, Matt!