“Passion and Patronage Gifts from the Gerald Mead Collection” opens at the Castellani Art Museum on Friday, July 1, and is on view until Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. This exhibition features noted Buffalo art collector Dr. Gerald C. Mead Jr.’s gifted artworks to the museum since 1997, as well as his promised bequest gift of 54 works by 43 artists. These works in all media, dating from 1905–2017, represent 112 years of artistic achievement by nationally and internationally renowned artists who predominantly are associated with Western New York by birth or residency. This hallmark exhibition aligns with another celebratory moment: Dr. Mead’s 60th birthday.
“Passion and Patronage” also marks the first major gift from Dr. Mead’s collection to a public institution. The works in this magnanimous new gift were selected from Mead’s expansive collection to advance the mission of the museum and expand the CAM collection in two significant ways: It adds works by artists not currently represented in the museum, as well as works by artists in the CAM’s collection, to better illustrate their careers. The artists represented in the exhibition include Laylah Ali, Cory Arcangel, Charles Burchfield, Wendell Castle, Ralston Crawford, Edwin Dickinson, Hollis Frampton, Jenny Holzer, Robert Longo, Elizabeth Murray, Beverly Pepper, Ad Reinhardt, Susan Rothenberg, Paul Sharits, Cindy Sherman, and Eugene Speicher.
"I feel confident that the CAM will be the ideal stewards of this encyclopedic selection of work from my collection due to their strong commitment to education and preserving artistic heritage. As a lifelong art educator, it is important to me that some of my most treasured artworks will now serve a new purpose," said Dr. Mead. A fully illustrated catalog with an essay by John Massier, visual arts curator of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, has been published to accompany the exhibition.
Dr. Mead’s contributions, including both loans and gifts, have been utilized in Niagara University student-based integrated learning projects and museum exhibitions manifesting the primary goal of CAM founders Armand and Eleanor Castellani for the museum to be a center of learning. Dr. Mead has also generously endowed Niagara University with the Gerald C. Mead, Jr. Scholarship in Art History with Museum Studies, the inaugural scholarship for creating arts pathways for new generations.
“I sincerely thank Dr. Mead for his generosity in donating these carefully chosen artworks to the CAM for future generations to study and enjoy," said Ellen Owens, CAM director. “We are grateful for the opportunity to provide public access to Western New York’s vibrant creativity and for Jerry’s incredible tenacity in supporting artists and our museum through the decades.”
The CAM will host public programs focused on the “Passion and Patronage” exhibition, including a lecture led by Dr. Mead on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 11 a.m. as part of the CAM Meets series, and future tours for both the general public and campus. Niagara University students in the communication and media studies and art history museum studies majors will engage with special programs, such as screenings of films directed by Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo, two of the artists featured in the exhibition.
“Passion and Patronage” can be viewed during the museum’s public hours on Thursdays from 1 to 7 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is free.