Castellani Art Museum Exhibition Celebrates Legacy of Major Works of Art | Local News
Layla Ali. Cory Archangel. Edwin Dickinson. Harvey Brevermann.
Works by these artists with ties to Western New York can be found at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and other major collections.
Now, thanks to Gerald C. Mead Jr., a patron, collector and local artist, they are also part of the permanent collection of the Castellani Art Museum.
Mead bequeaths 54 works of art by 43 artists primarily from western New York by birth or residence, to the Niagara University Museum. A dozen will be transferred to his death, but still available for exhibitions.
“This is one of the greatest gifts the museum has received in recent history,” said Michael Beam, curator of exhibits and special projects. “It has broadened our representation of women and minority artists, as well as our collecting footprint, as it brings us almost to contemporary times.”
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The works, which span from 1905 to 2017, are on display in the museum until December 18, along with past works donated in “Passion & Patronage: Gifts from the Gerald Mead Collection”.
Mead suggested now was the perfect time to visit the museum, as the Albright-Knox Art Galley is closed until its reconstruction and expansion is complete, expected in the first half of next year.
“With the Albright closed, it’s a place where you can go see a Susan Rothenberg, a Jenny Holzer, a Laylah Ali, an Andy Warhol right now,” Mead said. “It’s the perfect time to discover or rediscover a museum that certainly deserves greater attention and greater exposure.”
A number of donated Mead works were featured in a Castellani exhibition from Mead’s collection in 2011. He has now amassed 1,600 works of art.
Mead’s other gifts include three paintings by Charles Burchfield, five works by Robert Longo, photographs by Milton Rogovin, and a painting by Elizabeth Murray.
“It really demonstrates that many artists from Western New York have become nationally or internationally known and that Jerry had the foresight to collect their works as they developed,” said Ellen Owens. , director of Castellani. “We are fortunate to have their work represented among other widely recognized and prestigious artists.”
The artwork on offer also features a number of major artists from outside the region, including Hollis Frampton and Jenny Holzer.
Mead also endowed Niagara University with the Gerald C. Mead Jr. Fellowship in Art History with Museum Studies.
Mead will discuss his donation to the museum at 11 a.m. on September 13, “CAM Meets: Lecture with Gerald Mead.”
In 2020, the university awarded Mead an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. He holds an MFA in Visual Studies from the University at Buffalo.
Art was an important part of the life of Mead, who was born in Hamburg and raised in Boston, NY He worked as a curator and educator at the Burchfield Penney Art Museum, taught in the Art & Design department at SUNY Buffalo State College and UB’s Department of Visual Studies. He is currently an independent curator.
Mead’s own works – small-scale, detailed collages and assemblages – are in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox, Burchfield, Castellani and George Eastman House in Rochester.
Mead, 60, was influenced by prominent art museum collectors and patrons Armand Castellani, the late co-founder and chairman of Tops Markets, Seymour Knox and Charles Rand Penney.
He said his donated works aimed to fill in the gaps since Castellani stopped collecting in the 1990s.
It was at the Castellani that Mead was first introduced, as an art student, to artists such as Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman and Charles Clough.
The Castellani is an essential art museum in Western New York, Mead said, allowing Niagara County residents to see major works of art closer to home.
“It’s an under-recognized collection that has the same stature and cultural relevance as the Albright and the Burchfield,” Mead said. “Because they are a university and have a strong educational mission, my donation enriches and advances that.”
Mead said he sees himself as a steward of the artwork he owns with an obligation to ensure it will be accessible to the public long into the future.
“I never thought of my collection as something that was going to be kept private,” he said.
Five of Mead’s pieces are in the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, four will be used in a Daemen University exhibit next week, and more will soon be on display at Niagara County Community College.
Mead has 20 Cindy Shermans that he plans to make available to museums across New York State.
He has other bequests being finalized for the Kenan Center in Lockport, the UB Anderson Gallery, and the New York State Museum in Albany.
“I’m proud that he gave his inaugural gift to the Castellanis,” Beam said.
Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, waterfront, culture and more. He is also a former arts editor for The News.