While it is often said that one lived their life on their own terms, it is less often a fact. In the case of Patrick Curran, the late son of John and Margaret Curran, it is indeed true – but it was not without a little help from his friends. To some of those friends he was Patrick. Others called him Pat, or PJ, or Doctor, or even P–Hey (after a dear friend’s pronunciation of PJ).
Patrick John Curran, 69, passed away at his home in Florence, MA in May, 2020. He attended Northampton schools, graduating from Northampton High School in 1968. He attended Holyoke Community College before transferring to the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico, where he earned a BA in business. He took a job after college as a junior executive for a paper company in Waltham, MA and soon realized his passion was for creating glass art, a form he had discovered while a student at Santa Fe. After one year he left the paper company and devoted the rest of his life to making art with glass. Within the Pioneer Valley arts community, Patrick was a recognized master glass artist with a national reputation. His work ranged from restoration to creation of his own designs in stained glass windows and lamps, as well as etched and beveled mirrors, and architectural stacked glass sculpture. Throughout his career Patrick’s artistic curiosity drove him to improve his technique, constantly exploring new materials and technologies as he drew inspiration from sources both classical and contemporary.
Before setting up his own shop in Florence, PJ apprenticed with an old school gentleman glass artist in rural Vermont. By doing the “grunt work” he learned how to set up a proper working glass shop. During the 1970s, Patrick apprenticed with Tom Patti, a world renowned artist. Patti’s organic blown sculpture of stacked glass elements inspired Patrick to develop his own immaculately polished architectural forms. In 1986, these pieces comprised a major exhibition at Tiffany & Company on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Patrick’s etched glass work was installed in the former Beardsley’s Restaurant, an early force in the dining renaissance on Main Street in Northampton. Patrick’s stained glass work is permanently on display at the Smith College Neilson Library, where the massive college seal that he restored is installed. Patrick worked on commercial and residential projects throughout the Pioneer Valley, including many with Bob McGovern of Hatfield. Early in his career Patrick competed for, and was awarded, a contract to restore glass windows in the United States Treasury building in Washington D.C., a commission he was particularly proud of. More recently Patrick collaborated with internationally acclaimed painter Stephen Hannock, completing a stained glass project to be installed in the St. Andrew’s Dune Church in Southampton, New York this summer. The window will be featured in the upcoming compendium from Alice Conney Frelinghuysen, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Patrick’s work is represented in the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and in many private collections.
PJ was a product of the 1960s, and he embraced the “far out” energy of the times. Although he was prolific, he could never be accused of being a workaholic. On August 16 – 17, 1969, he found time to attend the Woodstock Music and Art Fair with lifelong friends OB (Mike O’Brien), Bernie Laflam and Bob LaPalme. He enjoyed the modified stock car races at Lime Rock, CT and Formula 1 Grand Prix events at Watkins Glen, NY. There was partying at the gravel banks and floating on the river, road tours in his TR4 and TR6 sports cars, and finally his trusty Honda 350 SL, the motorcycle he enjoyed during every riding season since buying it new 40 years ago.
PJ visited friends in Florida, perusing luxury yachts with his friend Juan Serralles, and enjoying salt water fishing. He cherished fireworks displays and floating (his boat) on the river with sunbathing lady friends. He played “fool” (pool) in the basement at home on his father’s antique billiard table (where he was tough to beat). And he enjoyed telling stories of encounters with the rich and famous, some of whom commissioned work from him. A sampling: “Closing the door in the face of John Travolta” and “Finding beer kegs for Graham Nash.”
Lifelong friend Mike O’Brien writes, “Patrick was a unique and special personality. He quickly made friends wherever he went. Oh, the stories he could tell!”
Patrick, Pat, PJ, Doctor, P-Hey . . . under any name, he left this wide world too soon. Between boating excursions on his beloved Connecticut River, and winters spent working and relaxing in “the warm zones” of Florida, Patrick created marvelous and enduring friendships and glass art. He is gone. His one-of-a-kind memories are never forgotten.
The accompanying photograph shows Patrick with one of his inventions: a commercial beer tap handle that self-illuminates when pulled.
Patrick is survived by several cousins, among them Robert Curran Dixon and his wife, Jean, of Holyoke. Per Patrick’s wishes, his remains will be interred next to those of his parents, at St. Jerome’s Cemetery in Holyoke.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home in Holyoke. A memorial gathering will be held at a later date.
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