Remembering Yvar: Photographs by Keith Gemerek
On View Friday, November 8–Sunday, December 1, 2013
For nearly a decade, Keith Gemerek captured the intimate relationship between composers of contemporary classical music and pianist Yvar Mikashoff. These photographs in this modest exhibition are a sampling of Gemerek's documentation of Yvar's career in Buffalo and around the world.
Born in Buffalo, Gemerek came of age artistically during the 1970s while teaching at the CAUSE School when he met artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers who were the parents of his students. One of those parents, Buffalo filmmaker Bill Jungels, gave him his first 35mm camera.
While working at The Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Arts (CEPA), his first photographic exhibition was on a city Metrobus in 1979, with dramatic portraits of his students at CAUSE School. Later, but also at CEPA, he worked on Buffalo’s Photographic Past researching historic photos in personal collections of ordinary citizens.
During Buffalo’s remarkable era with Gerald O’Grady and Media Study/Buffalo, Gemerek came on board with Anthony Bannon’s project as a researcher. The Roots of Modern Photography - The Photo -Pictorialists of Buffalo exhibition and book reclaimed Buffalo’s status as a place recognized internationally as a leading center for photography as a new art form even prior to 1900. This research was pivotal in inspiring Gemerek to dedicate himself to creating photographic images.
A life-long friendship with Buffalo film artist Lawrence Brose brought him in touch with pianist and composer Yvar Mikhashoff. It was an open door to Mikhashoff’s rarefied world of master composers and their new music that he performed internationally. From 1988 - 1992 Gemerek often travelled with Mikhashoff as photographer and travelling companion. Mikhashoff was determined to work and play hard the last years of his life, and Gemerek’s photographs are a testament to that legacy.
With support through CEPA from the Mid-Atlantic Foundation Gemerek collaborated with Buffalo GLBT archivist and historian Madeline Davis on Elders of the Gay Community of Buffalo. This project involved photographing and recording oral histories from Buffalo’s pioneering political and cultural leaders in Gay Liberation.
In 2004 Gemerek had a major exhibition at CEPA Gallery as part of a group show entitled Deviant Bodies which focused on queer subcultures not represented in mainstream media.
Worth mentioning are his contributions to independent projects such as Lawrence Brose’s acclaimed film DE PROFUNDIS, and Kevin Mulhern’s award winning film A Wave of Passion: the Life of Aleksandra Kollontai.
Now living in Brooklyn, he continues to work photographically with gay activists and performance artists in New York. Among them are Radical Faeries, the legendary Cockettes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. He recently exhibited at the Leslie Lohman Gay Art Foundation in New York.