Meet Your Neighbor: George Zaffle | SierraSun.com

Meet Your Neighbor: George Zaffle

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunGeorge Zaffle
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What kind of art do you do?Everything with decorative paints and plasters murals, cabinet finishes, trompe loeil, wood graining, furniture finishes, faux finishes, venetian and textural plasters, gold leaves and everything else. You can just say etc.Do you have a specific style?We kind of do anything and everything. You can say every city Ive worked in, there is always a local style. Like up here, they like murals with mountains, lakes and bears and stuff. And the finishes we do, just a lot of natural finishes that go with a lot of wood and stone that they work with here. I studied in Europe, I went to art school in Belgium, so I have a lot of that European influence.How did you start painting?I got a degree in journalism and foreign language at Ohio University. When I got my degree, I jumped on my bicycle and pedaled out to California. And I ended up meeting a man named Larry Boyce who had been bicycling for 10 years around the West painting grand ceilings. I ended up bicycling with him for four years. We bicycled from city to city, from door to door and getting work. And thats how I started painting. I just loved to ride my bike and I happened to meet this guy who had been biking and it turned out, I sorta had a knack for the craft.So how did you end up in Truckee?Thats another long story. Through the course of our bicycling, we got kind of famous. Because of our lifestyle and our work, we got a lot of press and we started doing celebrity homes, like Bette Midler, the Vice Presidents office next to the White House. I started teaching at U.C. Berkeley.I moved to Truckee finally 8 years ago because a South African girl took a class from me. She lived in Texas, I lived in San Francisco and we went back and forth. She came out for Thanksgiving in 1998 and we found a house on the Truckee River there for sale. And spontaneously, we thought, lets buy it. And so we bought it. Everything has always been so spontaneous. The spontaneous life. Do you strive to live your life by the principle of spontaneity?Yes. Pretty much. I think actually what it is, the whole thing they talk about follow your bliss. When an opportunity comes before you. Its nice to take it because theres always a million choices. If I have a great choice that comes before me, I choose it. And I wholeheartedly throw myself before it. So thats my kind of philosophy. How does the art scene in Truckee compare to other places youve worked?Obviously, its pretty small. As far as us, theres a lot of work because theres such a wealthy population here. As far as work goes, its fabulous. I have as much work as I had in San Francisco. Do you think youll feel the urge to pick up your bike and pedal away any time soon?We really love Truckee. Were going to be based here for as long as I can imagine because were always going to be established here. Were building a house in Cabo and were going to establish a second business front. The Sierra Suns Julie Brown interviewed George Zaffle for this weeks Meet Your Neighbor. Please send suggestions for Meet Your Neighbor to jbrown@sierrasun.com.