Palm Springs artist reflects on Westfield

Gerald Patrick GalleryWESTFIELD – During the summer of 1950 at the Prospect Hill Playground, Gerald J. Patrick made a connection with art that set him on a path of worldwide renown.
Born and raised on Pine Street, Patrick attended the Prospect Hill School, the Westfield Trade School and Westfield High School. He is the youngest of seven siblings and his brother Richie Patrick and sister Dianne Kalesnik still live in the city.
Patrick noted during a phone interview from California that being dyslexic made school difficult.
“The teachers always concentrated on reading, writing and arithmetic,” he said.
One of Patrick’s greatest joys growing up in the city was summertime.
“I lived at the playground,” he said. “I loved the summer art classes, too, which is when I made a connection with the arts using my hands.”
Patrick said in his teen years he also picked tobacco at the Hathaway Farm in Southwick.
“We loved to go downtown with the money we made to buy our school clothes,” he said. “Riverside Park was also something we looked forward to at the end of the tobacco season.”
After a stint in the Army, he returned to Westfield and met up with a friend who convinced him to leave the New England seasons and move to California.
“My mother and father threw me a party and with $500 in my pocket, we left,” he said.
He learned drafting at the UCLA Medical Center, and later found himself at the Cleveland Institute of Art where he majored in ceramics.
“I missed California,” he said, adding he returned and opened a pottery business which would lead to his first big break in the design world. A Mikasa representative saw his work, and signed him for an exclusive contract. Over the years, Patrick would also find himself designing traditional and contemporary dinnerware and flatware for luxury brands including Lenox, Yamazaki, Reed and Barton and Cambridge Silversmith. Today, he also has 75 patterns of dinnerware that can be found at Sears, Walmart and Target, and in shops across Europe.
“I feel I am where I am today because of a lot of wonderful people who have not only guided me but they also encouraged me tremendously and made me feel I was worth something,” he said.
After a globe-trotting career, Patrick, now 73, relishes his retirement in his 2,000-square-foot studio in Palm Springs, Calif., where his days are spent creating large abstract canvases in mostly acrylics and oils.
“It is so rewarding to have my own studio,” he said. “I lose myself with what I am creating.”
Patrick explains that his works are divided into three categories – modern, abstract and solids. The canvases range from $900 to $6,000 and are brash in their use of color and form.
“I’m happy when I’m working on big canvases,” he said, noting that he currently has more than 100 works of art displayed in his studio.
Several of Patrick’s works are also currently on display at the Palm Springs Public Library, and he is hosting a Painting, Photography and Glass & Metal Art Furniture exhibition Oct. 9 and 10 at his studio.
“I’ve had a full life,” he said. “Life offered me this artistic opportunity to be whom and what I am.”
For more information on the Gerald Patrick Art Studio, visit www.geraldpatrick.net or call (702) 232-0821.
“I really would like people to know that wherever you are going, if you have people who support you and think you are worth something, it is a wonderful thing,” he said.

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