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Gerald Mead

(photo: Rose Mattrey)

Why you should know who he is: Mead left his position as a curator at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center about one year ago to focus on his own artwork and related projects. You see his name everywhere, exhibiting work, leading workshops—giving lectures, judging exhibits, teaching students through Young Audiences programs and showing exhibits of his collection of other artists’ work. After nearly 20 years at the Burchfield-Penney, he had achieved most of his arts professional goals there, including organizing more than 100 exhibits, including a Cindy Sherman retrospective and a survey of Milton Rogovin’s work, as well as exhibits that traveled across the country. He continues to serve as a lecturer in design at Buffalo State College. He also teaches at Chautauqua Institution. Mead is a leader in more ways than one, providing young artists and professionals with guidance and support and connecting people and organizations. He always keeps the big picture in mind: Buffalo’s artistic history and future.

Art form: Photographic-based miniature collage and assemblage, utilizing found objects and a wide range of photographic material.

Education: “Buffalo State, a bachelor’s in psychology and a bachelor’s in design, and art history graduate study at UB. I received a dean’s fellowship to return to UB in the fall to complete my master’s of fine art.”

Current project: Solo exhibit at Insite Gallery in Buffalo, which includes recent work, as well as the Upstate Invitational at Rochester Contemporary with four other artists.

Upcoming projects: “In May I will have a two-person exhibit at the Cedar Arts Center in Corning, New York. I am also going to be a juror for the ‘Made in New York’ exhibition at Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center.”

Most recent project with children: Collage workshops at Houghton College and Buffalo Salvation Army, both after-school programs for ages 8-10.

How did you come to collage/assemblage as your art form? “My design concentration at Buff State was textiles. I started to merge photographs into the textiles, and gradually the photographic collage part of it took over. Also, my fascination with the texture and ambiguity of found objects, and the sculptural possibilities in combining those objects.”

Where do you work? “I have an obsessively organized studio within my apartment.”

Other artistic outlets? “Collecting art in all media by artists associated with Western New York—prints, paintings, sculpture, drawings, photography and craft. Also, mounting exhibits of works from my collection.”

Mentors/influences? “Arts professional: Anthony Bannon, director of the George Eastman House. Educator: Buff State Professor Steve Saracino. As an art collector: Charles Rand Penney. And as an artist: Joseph Cornell and contemporary photographers Mike and Doug Starn.”

You are involved with the arts community in so many ways. To what organizations do you volunteer your time? “Board president of Big Orbit, on the Buffalo Arts Commission, on the boards of Buffalo Arts Studio and Buffalo United Artists, the advisory board for CEPA and El Museo and committees at the Burchfield-Penney and Children’s Hospital.”

How do you find the time? “I think it is prioritizing and making sure that I am fulfilling the commitments I have made. Quite honestly, the more you are involved, the more you bounce back and forth with your time. If you know that you can make a contribution, I think you are duty-bound to do that. I have been fortunate throughout the years in receiving advice and assistance from others. I believe that if you get you have to give.”

Your perfect day? “The news and paper in the morning, a midday visit to a museum, dinner on Elmwood, at least three art opening receptions and then a late evening working in my studio.”

A special place in Buffalo? “The Botanical Gardens.”

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