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Jozan Treston, inspiration for Gallery A3 and Amherst Art Walk, dies at age 80; memorial service will be Sunday


Jozan Treston

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Gallery A3, the town’s collectively run exhibit space, and the monthly art walk have been fixtures of the Amherst art scene for more than 10 years — and the creation of both was largely inspired by painter Jozan Treston, who died Oct. 7 at age 80.

Treston, of Amherst, had struggled with medical problems in the last few years, including major heart surgery, a stroke and diminished eyesight. His death was linked to complications from a urinary tract infection, according to Tom Morton, a fellow painter and friend.

In what was likely a reflection of his Buddhist beliefs, Morton said, Treston had remained in good spirits till the end. “He had a good perspective that really took things in stride, that accepted what came in life.”

Friends and family will honor Treston at a memorial service Sunday at 1 p.m. at The Nacul Center, 592 Main St., Amherst, where Treston had a number of exhibits in past years.

Morton met Treston in the 1990s, when both were involved at the Leverett Crafts & Arts Center. He said his friend, a self-taught abstract painter, was “very innovative in his use of different materials” such as plaster and glass to shape the texture of his canvases. “He was very original,” Morton added. “He wasn’t influenced by other painters but rather by his experience with Buddhism.”

Perhaps more importantly, Treston was the main force behind the creation of Gallery A3, the downtown space operated by the Amherst Art Alliance. In a Bulletin interview earlier this year, Treston said he was moved to create the gallery after the 9/11 attacks. At the time, he had been unable to work, and he conceived of a community art space as a place where he and other artists “could come together and respond to this tragedy.”

With friends, including Amherst painter Guru Karam Khalsa, Treston renovated space in the old Amherst Cinema building and set up a gallery in early 2002. In March of that year, he also initiated the Art Walk on the first Thursday of each month, seeing that as another way to link local artists and the community as a whole.

“We all honor Jozan,” Khalsa said in a phone interview last week. “He had a vision of how we could work together, and he put a lot of his own money into [Gallery A3]. He was very generous.”

Sue Katz, an Amherst sculptor, told the Bulletin earlier this year that many artist-driven initiatives like Gallery A3 get proposed but fail to be realized. But in this case, she said, “A3 is still going strong, and Jozan deserves so much credit for really seeing it through and making it happen.”

Contributions in Treston’s honor may be sent to Gallery A3, 28 Amity St., 1D, Amherst, MA 01002.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

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