Amherst Magazine

Michael B. Mazur '57

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Bob Keiter called recently with the sad news that Michael Mazur had passed away on August 18, 2009.  The cause of death was reported

to be congestive heart failure.  He is survived by his wife, Gail Beckwith Mazur, their children Daniel of Cambridge and Kathe of Los Angeles and two grandchildren.  Michael Mazur was a gifted artist and teacher who enjoyed working with young artists.  Our sympathy goes out to his family and all those who were touched by him. 

Much has been written about Michael’s life and accomplishments so they are by now well known to you.  However, Michael, in his own words, had interesting things to say about Michael Mazur, which he shared with us in our 50th Reunion book.  His comments, edited due to space constraints, are as follows.

“I’m not sentimental about high school or college.  They both provided wonderful educations.  Amherst provided several opportunities that would have a lasting effect on my life; I was introduced to living in New England, a place I turned to as an ex-patriot New Yorker.  Because of a shared credit system with area colleges, I was able to study at Smith, where the art department was stronger than Amherst’s at that time, and do my honors thesis there with the thoroughly sophisticated, Leonard Baskin. My interest in printmaking was born in those years and has lasted ever since.

It was, however, our college’s recommendation to a summer workshop in Connecticut that led eventually to my graduate studies at Yale, then the most prestigious graduate program in studio art in the country, and to a one person show in New York before I even graduated with my Masters.

I also learned to sing at Amherst and, for two years, had my first and only “gang” as a member of the Zumbyes. Years later, I began to sing again in a chorale in Boston that gave me a lot of pleasure and provided balance to my somewhat solipsistic life in the studio.

Most important of all Amherst’s gifts, was the opportunity to meet my future wife, the poet Gail Mazur, at Smith. Besides her remarkable sensibility in the written work, she has provided me, all these years, with a companionship that has been rich in love, friends and fun and with two wonderful and talented children who are living the lives they want as much as we have done.  I‘ve learned more from her about how to live and act in the world than anyone could provide. 

I‘ve spent the fifty years since graduation as an artist, teaching and working mostly in two towns, Cambridge and Provincetown. Art has given me another opportunity to realize who I am and to challenge my ability to grow and develop throughout my life, testing the freedom of expression that the arts are, so uniquely, able to do.  I continue in my work to learn how inexhaustible and surprising is the imagination as I try to keep myself open to possibility, hoping, as I do, to circumvent the closing down, that one can so easily give in to, as time takes us on.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those in my class who financially helped the Mead mount a show of my work in 1998.  My visit then and since as the library’s Robert Frost Fellow were happy re-introductions to a college that has also grown and developed in substantial ways.”

The Mead holds more than 100 paintings and works on paper by Michael, making the museum one of the largest repositories of his work.  To view the museum’s holdings, enter the College’s web site, click on museums, Mead, collection, search the collection and search.  Enter “ac” at Object Number and “mazur” at Maker.

Bill Donohue, ‘57

 

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