June 29, 1927 – April 26, 2014
Paul Anthony Tarantino, of Buffalo, a professor emeritus of design and metalsmithing at SUNY Buffalo State, died April 26 in Erie County Medical Center after a short illness. He was 87.
Born in Duquesne, Pa., to Italian immigrants, the youngest of 11 children, he showed his artistic talent early with hand-drawn cartoon books and, mentored by a teacher, began taking Saturday art lessons at age 10.
Mr. Tarantino enlisted in the Army in 1945 and, in recognition of his mechanical abilities, was assigned as a drill instructor on heavy artillery and as sergeant of colors.
Returning from service, he worked in the cooler pit at a steel mill and studied at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). As a junior, he attended a silversmithing workshop, which inspired a lifelong interest in the craft.
After earning his degree, he continued for a while as a steelworker, making jewelry and painting murals on the side. Then he enrolled in Cranbrook Academy of Art near Detroit, where he earned a master’s degree in metalwork.
Mr. Tarantino worked in a Detroit factory, did contract work making signs and spent three years in Korea with the U.S. government’s Intercountry Adoption program, teaching welding, weaving and other handicrafts.
Returning to the U.S., he was invited to teach metalsmithing at Syracuse University in 1962 and helped develop it into a master’s degree program.
Mr. Tarantino joined the art department at Buffalo State in 1964, teaching basic design and metalsmithing. He also taught part time for several years at Rochester Institute of Technology. He retired in 1995.
He made large sculptured metal wall plaques for interior design and created silver service and jewelry designs for the Danish jewelry company Georg Jensen.
Mr. Tarantino’s best-known work locally is the sculpture “Angel With Gas-Lit Torches,” the doorway and the gates at Gabriel’s Gate Restaurant on Allen Street.
He collected vintage automobiles and motorcycles. He was a member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association and the BMW Riders Club of Western New York.
Survivors include nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be at noon Saturday in Lombardo Funeral Home, 102 Linwood Ave.