Jerry Leon Burrell was a brilliant artist and sculptor who had a significant impact on Schenectady during his lifetime. Margaret Cunningham, the deceased founder of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center, hired Burrell as Community Arts Coordinator. He sought out and gained exposure for a number of African-American artists through his "Artist of the Month Program." He was also responsible for introducing many African-American artists to the community. He organized shows and exhibitions, and arranged arts festivals and demonstrations. As an arts representative, he was active with various organizations in Schenectady.
In December 1977, he introduced the celebration of Kwanzaa to the Hamilton Hill Arts Center and Kwanzaa is now celebrated throughout the Capital Region.
In 1978, at the young age of 36, Jerry Burrell succumbed to a ruptured appendix. Prior to his death, Burrell went to the hospital emergency room several days in a row complaining of stomach pain. Each time he was sent home with the assumption that he was a drug addict. Finally, Dr. Cunningham, the husband of Margaret Cunningham, insisted that the hospital admit Burrell. His appendix ruptured that night causing lethal damage.
Burrell left behind a rich legacy of commitment to and love of children through art. In his honor, the community joined in remembering him by naming The Jerry Burrell Park, the Jerry Burrell Art Gallery of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center and the Jerry Burrell Summer Classic sports program after him.
The Jerry Burrell Gallery of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center presents the multifaceted dimensions of African, African-American art. It does so to sustain the treasure and rich legacy of the African Diaspora. Group and solo exhibitions are held throughout the year. The gallery is named after Jerry Burrell, a local artist who left this world before his time. The Jerry Burrell Gallery is located inside the Hamilton Hill Arts Center at 409 Schenectady Street in Schenectady, New York.
Exhibits are posted online the day after the reception. Please enjoy the exhibit below