Published: Wednesday, November 13, 1996
Section: Getting Ahead
- Sherri Eng
(box) AGE: 35
(box) RESIDENCE: San Jose
(box) TITLE: Owner of M Gallery and M Landscape in San Jose
(box) EDUCATION: Fine arts degree in painting from University of California, Santa Cruz and a master's degree in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University
(box) CAREER TURNING POINT: Painting and nature have always been Mattison FitzGerald's two loves. While an art student at UC-Santa Cruz, she worked summers as a park ranger. That experience led to a job designing nature trails for the Santa Barbara County Parks Department. She also airbrushed a 36-foot-long model of a whale for Santa Barbara's Museum of Natural History. FitzGerald ultimately combined her two interests by going into the landscape design business. But after being laid off twice during the recession, she decided she would have more stability working for herself.
(box) WHAT SHE DID: In July 1994, FitzGerald started her own landscaping company with $600 worth of photocopied advertising fliers. She named her company M Landscape (408-947-7878) to represent the upcoming millennium, not her first name. Some of her outdoor creations have included botanical landscapes, mosaics, stepping stones, sculptures and walkways. And she once built a mosaic garden detailing the constellation for a client who is a physicist.
In 1995, FitzGerald began concentrating on her artwork. Two physically debilitating auto accidents inspired her to create her ''Healing'' series. Much of her work continues to be abstract, spiritual expressionism. Her second series, ''Spaces Between,'' was influenced by a trip to New York, which she found a rather harsh place.
When business was down and money low, she went to Santa Clara County's hazardous-materials site to collect recycled paints. She still uses recycled materials, including tire black, motor oil, canvas and glass, to create her art.
Her landscaping business and art exhibits are located in an old brick warehouse on 31 Union Street in the trendy South of First Street area of downtown San Jose. FitzGerald expects about $250,000 in revenue this year.
(box) AMBITION: To build her business into a top art and design firm and to get more public art projects.
(box) IN HER OWN WORDS: ''If you go into what you love, you don't even realize it when you end up working a 90-hour week,'' FitzGerald said. ''You can do anything you want on next to nothing if you believe in what you do.''
Copyright 1996, The San Jose Mercury News. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.