Meddick retires from Milford Fine Arts Council
An era has ended for the Milford Fine Arts Council: Longtime director William Meddick retired last week after more than 30 years with the council.
Meddick, who worked for the council for 32 years and served as director for 28, wasn’t necessarily ready to retire. A man as complicated as he is artistically talented, Meddick said he and the board had different ideas about the direction the local arts center should be taking. He had more regional goals in mind, while the board wanted to concentrate more on local offerings.
So he decided it was time to step aside and focus on his own art. His goal, he said, half serious and half in jest, is to become a famous painter.
“I will miss him terribly,” said Marti Reed, a former board member. “He did so much for the council, and I believe our council does more than any other in the state.”
Meddick started at the local arts center as an artist paid by the government funded Comprehensive Employment and Training Act program 32 years ago. He was paid $100 a week to go to Milford’s schools and paint scenes of the classrooms: Students studying and working together.
After school he would work with youngsters developing their art. “It was actually pretty cool,” Meddick said.
Some of the artwork he created can be seen hanging in the Parsons Government Complex downtown.
Later he was tapped to become the center’s director, the third in its 40-year history, while continuing to create works of art — murals and paintings — here and in the region. The center grew in size and scope during his tenure, from a small center to one offering a variety of programs and opening a theater at the railroad station and then a fine arts gallery at Walnut Beach.
Dolores Hannon, board co-president with Sandy Morgan, agreed that Meddick and the board had different ideas about the center’s future direction, but she said that doesn’t lessen Meddick’s value or accomplishments in the least.
“Bill did a wonderful job, and he will be hard to replace,” Hannon said.
The board honored Meddick at its recent 40th anniversary celebration, and renamed the council’s permanent art collection after Meddick.
She said the board and Meddick had different aspirations. While he pursued regional art connections, the board wanted to focus more on Milford’s schools, local businesses and local artists.
The board has been sifting through applications for a new director, which is a part-time position, but hasn’t made a choice yet.
As for Meddick, he’s likely sitting somewhere painting. That is his life. An Ohio native, he studied art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and has been an artist ever since, creating large and small-scale paintings, and even working for a time doing theater paintings.
“I guess I paint about four or five hours a day,” he said last Friday, his last day sitting in the director’s chair at the Milford Fine Arts Council. “I’ll be doing more than that now.”
He said he was looking forward to answering to himself, and painting more. He has a market already, drawing on people who have purchased his art in the past.
“Nothing makes me happier than when someone — a regular person — likes your work and can afford it,” he said.