It is with deep sadness that Montclair Kimberley Academy announces the loss of Tony Cuneo, beloved Fine & Performing Arts faculty member. Tony died on Monday, August 5, of complications associated with his battle with cancer. His children, Sarah '11 and Paul '05 and other family members were with him at the end.

Tony Cuneo was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up there and in the New York metropolitan area. He received his M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named a Benjamin Franklin Scholar. He taught at Westtown School for seven years before coming to MKA in the fall of 1988. Among other roles, Tony was a member of MKA's admissions committee, a department chair, the Arts Liaison to the CCO, and an advisor and teacher to generations of MKA students. At the Upper School, he taught all levels of studio classes, including A.P. Studio Art. He had an extensive exhibition record as a painter and photographer, and taught at both MKA and the Yard School of Art of the Montclair Art Museum. He was represented by The Painting Center in New York City, and served on the Executive Committee for the Gallery.

Tony followed his heart into teaching art, a passion from when he was a young child. Tony recently updated his artist statement, providing us a view of his approach to his work and his life's passion:

I don't put a lot of faith in artist statements.

Describing what I do as "work" has a slightly bitter, puritanical aftertaste to me; I like slopping paint around. It's the reason I wanted to be an artist as a kid, and I think it's still a fine reason to paint. I'm very comfortable with a perpetually unfinished process. I go (after much reflection) in whatever direction the painting takes me. Having too clearly defined a concept for a body of work (and this is just me) gives me claustrophobia.

I pray I never get to the point where I'm making product and not art.

Beyond that, I'm a fan of uncertainty. Not knowing you're doing it right is a good thing. It makes you stop and think. When I paint, I'm playing as much as I'm working. I'm asking questions.

However having said that, the complex, charged tension between apparent opposites --- chaos and order, emotion and intellect, creation and decay, high and low, representational and non-objective --- is the text of my current painting; also, how the impulse to beauty wrestles with the desire for truth.

Art is one of the most natural things in the world, fundamentally useless, but hugely pleasurable, very important, and deeply satisfying.

Tony Cuneo took his passion for art and shared it with his students every day. MKA Headmaster Tom Nammack described Tony as "an extraordinary father, artist, teacher, mentor, and colleague, whose impact on the Upper School and the entire MKA community over the past 30 years has been profound."

Tony's services will be held on Saturday, August 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Prout Funeral Home in Verona, NJ. Any and all members of the MKA community are welcome. A memorial retrospective art show is being planned sometime in the fall for those who can not attend.

Details for the service can be found here: