Professor of Art and Architecture A.E. Ted Aub hopes to immortalize Geneva-raised jazz legend Scott LaFaro in the downtown area of the city through a lifelike sculpture. A fundraising event for the sculpture and site work dedicated to LaFaro was held on April 7 during a special edition of Geneva Night Out in the musician’s honor, while a concert by the internationally known Eddie Gomez Trio took place at the Smith Opera House in Geneva.
Although he was born in New Jersey, LaFaro is most closely associated with Geneva and upstate New York, where he grew up attending Geneva City schools. He was a student at Ithaca College and began playing professionally at an early age, developing an unusual counter-melodic style that endeared him to jazz greats such as Chet Baker, Benny Goodman and Bill Evans, who invited LaFaro to join the trio in 1959. Tragically, LaFaro was killed in an automobile accident in 1961, at the age of 25.
Geneva honors LaFaro with a celebration for Scott LaFaro Day, held each year in April. Aub’s sculpture of LaFaro is proposed to be located in a small landscaped plaza and performance space located at the corner of Seneca Street and Scott LaFaro Drive. The original proposal for the site design was a collaboration between Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture Jeffrey Blankenship and Audrey English ’17, an architectural studies major, who developed the initial site design concepts, built a model of the concept and completed the presentation drawings. The final terraced and landscaped space will be designed by Blankenship.
Aub is an internationally recognized sculptor who has taught at HWS since 1981. He holds a BFA in painting from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in sculpture from Brooklyn College. He has exhibited his work widely, and been awarded numerous public sculpture commissions in the United States, Korea, and China. Examples of his work, including a study for the LaFaro sculpture, can be found on Aub’s website.
Blankenship joined the HWS faculty in 2011. He holds a master of landscape architecture, a master of regional planning and a Ph.D. in cultural geography from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He earned his B.S. from the University of Kentucky Lexington.
According to an article in the April 6th issue of the Finger Lakes Times, plans for the plaza will be submitted to city review agencies within the next month or two. Aub is currently working on a small model of the LaFaro sculpture in anticipation of the approval of the site and design.
Both Aub and Blankenship have waived their fees for the design work. In addition, Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn serves as a member of the LaFaro Tribute Committee and is the coordinator of fundraising for the project.
“I hope this statue honors the memory of a fine musician that had so much accomplishment and promise before his life was tragically cut short,” Aub says.
Those wishing to donate to the fund may check out a website created for that purpose which features schematic drawing and more information about the proposed plaza. Donations to the project are being accepted through Three Stories, a non-profit committed to supporting the arts in Geneva and the Finger Lakes.