For Immediate Release — Friday, September 23, 2005
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
SUNY Geneseo's Lockhart Gallery to Display Work of Gerard Alonzo
GENESEO, N.Y. — The Lockhart Gallery at the State University of New York at Geneseo will display the artwork of Gerard "Jerry" Alonzo, who is stepping down from his seat as a Livingston County Court Judge so he can pursue his love of woodworking.
"Gerard Alonzo Sculpture Exhibition" will run from Sept. 25-Oct. 14 in the gallery, located at 26 Main St. in the village of Geneseo. The exhibit blends Alonzo's passion for the law with his zeal for woodworking and sculpture.
Longtime friends and neighbors of Alonzo say they not only admire his work but also his ability to blend the natural beauty of the Genesee Valley into his art.
"He certainly has his own style," says Liz Porter, chair of the Geneseo Foundation Friends of Art Committee, the not-for-profit organization that raises funds for the gallery, and who was Alonzo's neighbor for years.
"He hung up his shingle years ago, and I almost wanted to take it off the curb as a collector's item," Porter laughs.
"I would say that his community—the Genesee Valley—has deeply affected him. I have seen aspects of that in his work," she says. "He's giving that back to the community as a legacy in creating art objects that live on."
Nickie Cox, a visiting lecturer of art and director of the gallery, agrees.
"It's a reflection of all the media around," says Cox. "His visualization takes something that is natural right here from the Valley—either the wood that he uses or the subject matter."
Indeed, Alonzo states that his pieces "Bridge Table" and "Valley Screen" are his responses to his daily opportunity to experience the beautiful Genesee Valley. In addition, trips abroad have inspired him. A family visit to Sweden influenced "Coat Trees," in which he reflects the fact that thoughtful design is so integral to all aspects of life in Sweden that even the most commonplace objects or places can be a joyful experience.
Alonzo was raised in New Jersey and graduated from Boston College and the University of Denver Law School. He moved to Geneseo with his wife, Kate, in 1974 and opened a law office on Main Street. In 1977, he was elected a village justice, and for the past decade he has served as a Livingston County Court Judge.
In the late 1980s, Alonzo began taking art classes at SUNY Geneseo, with studio classes as the first formal art studies of his life.
"I would leave my law office, remove my tie, throw a pot in the studio, and race to a real estate closing," Alonzo recalls in his artist's statement.
With his family's support, he closed his law practice and continued his art education at Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Crafts, graduating with his MFA in woodworking and furniture design in 1990. Among those who have influenced him are George Nakashima, James Krenov and Wendell Castle.
In the early 1990s, Alonzo planned to split his work time between woodworking and law.
"These parallel paths proved difficult to negotiate. I set up barriers between two important parts of my life, in an attempt to protect time and energy for each," Alonzo writes. "The barriers gradually came down as law clients discovered they could find me in the shop, and vice versa, and the paths began to converge rather comfortably. Law was finding its way into my woodwork. When I started using terms like dovetailing and rough-cut in my court opinions I could only smile."
A number of the pieces on display, such as "Gideon's Goal" and "Judge's Bench" are the products of that convergence, says Alonzo.
"He uses cases to inspire him. People who never had access to lawyers before would have been convicted," says Cox. "To see it on this level is kind of rare.
"It's not a hobby. He's not a dilettante," she said. "He's a working artist."
The exhibit is free and open to the public. The gallery's hours are 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, with extended hours of 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays. For more information, call (585) 245-5814 or e-mail email@example.com.