Gerald Mead is a noted collector, curator, and educator in Buffalo, New York. His collection consists of over 900 works, amassed over the course of 28 years, representing the best and brightest in the Western New York art scene. To celebrate the continuation of his show Diversity Works, on view through August 7, we asked Gerald a few questions about his collection, the show, and the arts community here in WNY, and this is what he had to say:
El Museo: Tell us a little bit about how you have assembled such an extensive and eclectic collection of pieces.
Gerald Mead: My encyclopedic collection consists of over 900 works, dating from 1880 to present, by significant artists who are connected to WNY either by birth or residency. Since 1987, I’ve acquired the primarily modest sized works through purchases from galleries, auctions and artists and by exchanges of my own artwork with fellow artists. In most cases, each artist is represented by a single, carefully selected example of their work.
EM: Intriguingly, you have titled the exhibition Diversity Works…
GM: The title mostly refers to the ethnic diversity of the artists included since this exhibition was intended to align with El Museo’s mission of exhibiting artwork by artists of color. However, I was also thinking of the diversity of approaches to artmaking represented in the exhibition – from realism to abstraction – as well as the fact that there are works in all media.
EM: Collage and assemblage are central to your own art practice. Are there any parallels between that and your work as a collector?
GM: For my artistic practice, I am constantly acquiring and organizing all sorts of materials to use in my work and I do think that the “collecting instinct” is echoed in my art collecting activity. It was pointed out to me once that the salon style display of artworks throughout my home is, in effect, my largest collage. I think they were right. Furthermore, curating and installing a balanced and cohesive exhibition from my collection is not unlike creating an artwork that is visually successful.
EM: You’ve been a longtime figure in our arts community. What’s changed, or not? What changes might be coming?
GM: I’ve witnessed the birth and maturation of smaller arts organizations such as Big Orbit Gallery, Buffalo Arts Studio and Western New York Artists Group, all creative endeavors by individual artists that have flourished. Along with the larger and older arts organizations, they form an art community that has opportunities for artists of all levels. The newest venues such as 464 Gallery, Dreamland and Sugar City are diligently continuing that mission with a creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit that is welcome and admirable.
Thanks and congradulations to Gerald Mead! If you have not seen it yet, Diversity Works is on view through August 7th, and we will be open until 9pm on Friday, July 10 in conjunction with Allentown First Friday Gallery Walk and Ice Cream Social.