In chatting with Kurt Von Voetsch last week, it became obvious that he hadn’t formally named the artwork that earned him first place at the 2013 Niagara Falls Music and Arts Festival. So when asked what he called it, the Castellani Art Museum gallery manager shrugged his shoulders and muttered, “Um, let’s go with ‘Happy Buddy.’”
Von Voetsch is an interesting man, an accomplished artist more concerned with learning, teaching (he’s also an adjunct professor at Niagara University) and the creative process than affixing titles to his works. He’s reserved and hard-working, but always smiling and willing to lend a hand. In fact, a succinct way to describe the 17-year veteran of Monteagle Ridge might just be “Happy Buddy.”
The Niagara Falls Music and Arts Festival, held Jun 28-30, 2013, brought more than 40 musicians and 50 artists to the section of the Old Falls Street between the Seneca Niagara Casino and Niagara Falls State Park. The juried art competition presented awards in three categories: professional, amateur and student.
Von Voetsch took the top prize in the professional visual arts classification. He was congratulated by New York State Senator George M. Maziarz ’76, and received the first place ribbon by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
“It was a lovely event and we were proud as can be,” said Von Voetsch, who displayed with his wife, Lillian Mendez-Marzinek, also a Niagara University professor.
Von Voetsch received his BFA from Carnegie Melon University. He also holds master’s degrees from Buffalo State College and Ohio University. He has exhibited extensively in Western New York, including recent participation in shows at the Castellani Art Museum, the University at Buffalo Art Gallery and Anderson Gallery, the Rochester Contemporary Art Center, the Carnegie Art Center, and as part of the 2007 and 2010 editions of the collaborative regional exhibition, Beyond/In Western New York.
The Buffalo resident came to NU from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery because the university offered him the opportunity to work with students.
“I absolutely love my teaching,” he said. “One of the reasons I participated in this festival was because it would be something that I can tell my students about. They’re always asking about what goes into showing at a festival, so getting involved in these events provides me even more answers to their questions. I’ve already talked to them about this festival in my summer class.”