Gerald Mead was recently featured in the March 10, 2023 video "Portrait of the Artists Series", which is part of the Buffalo Society of Artists Video Archive Project (VAP) that is archived at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY. Please click the link to watch.
About the Artist:
Gerald Mead is an independent curator and art writer who teaches in the Design Department at Buffalo State College where he received his BS in Design and BA in Psychology and at the University at Buffalo where he earned his MFA in Visual Studies. His highly detailed, small-scale collages/assemblages constructed from photographic materials and found objects are in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), Burchfield-Penney Art Center (Buffalo, NY), Castellani Art Museum (Lewiston, NY), George Eastman House/International Museum of Film and Photography (Rochester, NY), Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR) and International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction (Fort Worth, TX) among others. His works have been in museum/gallery exhibitions throughout the US and in Australia, England, Poland, Russia and Canada and are published in five collegiate textbooks. Gerald has received grants from the New York Foundation of the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts and major awards include First Place at the Carnegie Art Center National Exhibition and a Fine Arts Award from Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art & Design. Gerald is also an appointed member of the Buffalo Arts Commission, serves on several art boards and committees in the region and frequently juries local and national exhibitions.
I’ve long been intrigued by discarded objects and found images, regarding them as potent and poetic cultural artifacts. Acting in the role of a bricoleur, for years I collected and categorized these materials as resources for my artistic practice. The idea of appropriating objects, detritus and illustrative material and giving them new meaning through a process of recombination has historic precedents in the genres of collage and assemblage, however this strategy takes on new relevance in today’s society – a “remix” culture characterized by recycling, sampling, mixing and recontexualizing.
Constructed with materials ranging from antiquated photographic materials, fabrics, and damaged jewelry to a wide variety of other found objects and ephemera, many of my works contain “enshrined” collages. The objects are combined with images taken from art history or varying eras of print media to create a multi-layered web of metaphors. Appropriating (and subverting) these objects and images represents not only my aesthetic and intuitive choices; it also introduces a dialogue with the viewer about how objects and images are observed and interrelated and how strategies of recombination affect their interpretation. Finally, the intimate scale of my work is intended to encourage inspection of the complexity and obsessive detail and engage viewers in the act of decoding the metaphors and references.
Since 1987 I have assembled a collection of over 1,700 artworks in all media by over 1,400 artists associated with WNY by birth or residency. Historically, they range from a circa 1870 painting by noted portrait artist Thomas LeClear, to a screen print that Cory Arcangel, the youngest artist to have a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, created in 2021. I acquired the work through purchases from galleries, auctions and artists and by exchanges of my own artwork with fellow artists. My intent was to build an encyclopedic collection focusing on significant artists affiliated with art organizations in WNY or educators/alumni of the area’s Colleges or Universities.
As an artist who creates small-scale works, I am frequently drawn to smaller examples of artists’ work that embody the content and concepts expressed in their larger work, a strategy that also enables me to display a greater number of these works in my home. As an artist/educator, my selections have been motivated by both personal taste and scholarly interest.
Primarily, I acquired one work by each artist, sometimes taking years to locate the ideal work to represent that artist in my collection and also fit my other (more practical) collecting criteria. With a few very significant artists, such as watercolorist Charles Burchfield and photographer Cindy Sherman, I acquired multiple works to represent a broader range of their oeuvre.
Over 70 thematic exhibitions from my collection have been presented at Universities, Colleges and cultural organizations throughout WNY and in Pennsylvania since 2002. Individual works have also been lent for major exhibitions at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Arnot Art Museum, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Castellani Art Museum, CEPA Gallery, Mana Contemporary, University at Buffalo Art Galleries and the University of London. I’ve periodically donated works from my collection to museums in the region and am now in the process of making planned gifts of artworks from my collection to numerous institutions in order to enhance their collections.