"During the past couple of years, I’ve managed to complete the course requirements in SUNY Buffalo State’s art education program, fabricate the skills needed to master the medium of metal, and learn to manipulate ceramic clay. Little did I know that all of this work would lead me to a life-changing lesson in art and commerce in New York City.
Recently, along with eight other students, I was chosen to receive the James Lombardo Sr. Award for Excellence. This is not your typical plaque-on the-wall award; this award requires its recipients to take action and fulfill certain responsibilities in order to gain the full benefit of the award.
Our group’s first responsibility was to prepare and set up our own work in the Czurles-Nelson Gallery in Upton Hall as part of the Across the Visual Arts IV show. During this experience, we learned about the flow of the gallery and the relationship of the elements of lighting and space when displaying our work. At this time, we also attended lectures that informed us on the business of art, covering topics from pricing to marketing to copyright.
The show was a great success, but the most beneficial part of the Lombardo Award, in my opinion, was our trip in the fall to New York City to see firsthand what happens to art after it is created and brought to the market.
Our adventure started with a 4:00 a.m. departure from the college, and off we went to the Big Apple. We arrived later that morning in Manhattan—at 6th Avenue and 31st Street—and walked to the Macy’s headquarters to meet John Murphy, ’87, the company’s vice president of creative.
Mr. Murphy explained to us the process that his department goes through to produce advertisements and coordinate special events. It was fascinating to learn how many people are involved in creating weekly advertisements and to find out about his staff’s wide-ranging background in the arts. This was significant considering that most art students assume that their careers will be limited to their specific media; in actuality, artists can tap into their creativity to pursue a lot of different career opportunities.
The next morning, we were up early to meet with James Lombardo Jr. and four active artists in New York City. Mr. Lombardo, who named the scholarship he funded after his father, is an investment adviser and art collector. He arranged to have these active artists provide us with a current perspective on the marriage of business and art.
The panel discussion that followed truly opened my eyes to how I want to utilize my art and how I should approach the business part of it. From this discussion, I took parts of the artists’ different perspectives and created my own plan. I realized that my business choices will have a great effect on determining my success as a young artist.
It’s been a few months since the trip, and looking back, the experience of the award was incredible. I am now using all of these experiences as building blocks as I coordinate my senior show in ceramics. As for my future, this award has given me an extra boost of confidence as I pursue my goal of becoming a proactive art educator and comprehensive young artist."
Predolino Zelasko, ’13, is a recipient of the James Lombardo Sr. Award for Excellence.