Chris Mondello

Employee owner name: Christopher Mondello

Department/Job at Work: Woodshop – Hand Finishing and Metalwork

Number of years working at Bark: 26 years!

Hails from: Queens, NY

What did you for work do before you worked at Bark Frameworks?

I’ve been working in picture framing since I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1993. I started out at another frame shop, and they always talked about how things were done at Bark, so when I saw an ad in the Village Voice for a job at Bark, I applied.

What is the biggest challenge in your area of work at Bark?

I would say the most challenging or interesting part of finishing a frame is having to “reverse engineer” a type of finish or old frame so it can be recreated again for a client [in the future].

One of the reasons I went into hand finishing after working in so many other Production roles earlier in my career was to bring all my experience to the end of the line, to maintain the quality of our frames.

Darrick McEachin, Chris (background), and Mary Helen O’Brien apply a patina finish to an aluminum frame (2014).

What do you like best about working at Bark?

For me, I like the sense of collaborating with people to solve problems. I like seeing how other people think and engage in problem solving. Even just watching other people do their regular jobs, you can see how they solve problems and lay it out in their minds. It’s fascinating!

Name a particularly memorable framing job you worked on:

The job was for an interior designer – we were creating a set of large brass mirror frames. Our former Asst. Shop Manager Gary and I worked on how to safely assemble the mullion (or a dividing bar between two panes of glass, providing structure) of the frame. The entire frame had to be assembled in a certain order to provide support for the heavy mirrors going inside. There was a lot of potential for things to go wrong — we also had to estimate the mirror size when laying out the frame to accommodate a tight client deadline. Luckily, we did our jobs well and everything fit correctly (phew)!

(Photo of Chris and Bark welder Griffin Garment with one of the final brass frame mirrors, below).

How has your life in- and outside of work changed as a result of the recent pandemic?

Well, I learned that I am perfectly OK entertaining myself! I never felt trapped. I would draw and practice my martial arts and meditation. My wife and I actually had a great time together.

What does being an employee owner mean to you?

It really clarifies a sense of responsibility. You always owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward in everything you do; but now, you owe it to those around you too. It also incentivizes you to speak up! Before, it might have been someone else’s company, but now, its YOUR company. Everyone doesn’t have to always agree on everything, but there is more transparency in how we do things.

Any outside hobbies/interests you have when you’re not making frames?

I’ve spent more than 25 years studying the Chinese internal martial arts of Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang. I got into Taoist philosophy when I was at the SVA – these martial arts are a physical expression of the philosophy.

I am also a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, it’s a movement practice for healthy function and mobility.

Are you an artist?

Yes, I enjoy the act of painting. The process is what I love; but being an artist or being creative has to permeate your life – you look at things from many angles!

Thank you, Chris!

Interview Text and Photos: Jennifer M. Clark

Published: April 2024.