User:WBGerard/William J. Gerard
William J. Gerard (1930-1995) was an American artist, sculptor, and craftsman who worked in plaster, stained glass, pewter, and wood. Most widely known for metal sculptures sold primarily at art shows under the name of Pewter Treasures from 1978 to 1995.
Born on West 44th Street in Manhattan in 1930, Gerard grew up in Astoria, Queens, and attended Bryant High School. He received his bachelors degree in 1952 from Iona College while working as a hotel night clerk. Pursuing a career in sales in the 1960s, he was a frequent visitor to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Inspired by Arp, Gaudi, and Brancusi as well as the natural world Gerard began designing modernistic plaster forms inlaid with stained glass intended for wall or window hanging. These one-of-a-kind pieces were created by pouring plaster of Paris, and later Hydrostone, into a soft clay mold in his Jackson Heights studio.
The clean, sweeping style evident in the plaster sculptures would translate in the late 1960s and early 1970s into free-standing leaded stained glass figures, combining Old World materials with graceful, minimalist designs, often representing birds. Gerard sold these figures, which stand between four and ten inches in height, at art shows (and initially flea markets) and gift shops throughout the northeastern United States under the banner of Contemporary Innovations.
By the mid 1970s, Gerard starting designing sculptures entirely from metal, often echoing the graceful designs of the plasters and stained glass pieces. His pewter pieces perhaps most notably included a stylized mouse (sometimes grasping straw flowers, a walnut or a twig of holly), a crown-wearing frog, and a hanging bird. The medium permitted more fully detailed three-dimensional representation, and other pieces such as bells, angels,and elaborate hanging plaques, many of them stamped with Gerard's unique sense of humor.
The success of the metal sculptures--called Pewter Treasures--at art and shows enabled Gerard to devote himself to this work full time by the late 1970s. The number of pieces in the line grew (as many as 40 different pieces would be on display at a time) as did the number of regular juried art annual shows (as many as 22, primarily in the Northeast.) In this period of under twenty years an estimated five thousand sculptures were sold and he received over a dozen awards of recognition.
After his death in 1995, Pewter Treasures was continued by his two sons as an installation in Sawgrass Mall in south Florida as well as occasional art shows. Production of Pewter Treasures tapered off and ceased entirely in 2003.
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