Works by NYS Assemblywoman Pat Fahy’s late son, who died of cancer at 25, are celebrated
Although his life was cut short by cancer, friends and family are hoping one local young man’s work will live on.
The official book release of "The Photographs of Brendan Fahy Bequette" was held December 1st on the Russell Sage College campus in Albany.
Bequette is the son of 109th district state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy. His interest in pictures began in sixth grade, one he followed through, eventually graduating from Ithaca College, with a degree in cinematography and photography. In his early 20s, Bequette traveled to New York City where he worked on numerous documentary and commercial projects. He died this year at 25, after a long battle against a highly aggressive cancer. Fahy spoke at the the event at Opalka Gallery.
“Brendan really was more into filmmaking his last few years but couldn't work during an incredibly intensive 20 month cancer battle," said Fahy. "So it was only in his last eight months that he really picked up the camera again, a film camera and began to find a creative outlet while being extraordinarily ill. And on continuous chemo, radiation, stem cell transplants, you name it, everything was done to save him. But we were unable to. He died nine months ago. And this book was all put together since then. And for us, it's it keeps his memory alive, and it's something he would have felt so good about.”
Mark Joseph Kelly is one of three curators who sifted through hundreds upon hundreds of Bequette's pictures, ultimately selecting 36.
“The most important thing for an artist is to create moment of creation,' Kelly said. "And after that, it's getting the art into the world so it can live. Brendan's images now, through this book, have an opportunity to be in the world. And there could be no greater honor for him. Sadly, he's not with us, but he actually has his show.”
Musa Kanneh moved to Albany from West Africa in 2005. He met Bequtte at Public School 19 on New Scotland Avneue and they soon became inseperable.
“Brendan was the first friend I've ever made when I moved here to America," Kanneh said. "I didn't I didn't know how to speak English or nothing like that. So I was fresh off the boat, fresh into the country, don't know anything. So I was taking music class, I needed a ride to the winter concert. And, you know, and you know, the music teacher was 'hey, ask Brendan, and see if they could give you a ride.' So, of course, I asked him, he asked his parents and of course yeah they gave me a ride. And then after that Brendan and I became best friends.”
The friendship continued, the boys sharing experiences as they grew into young men.
“I still have his phone number as my favorites," said Kanneh. "And I just, I can't come to terms with deleting it. I don't think I can ever delete it. Because you know in my mind, you know, he's always with me. Every little, if I you know, whenever I'm walking and a funny joke comes to mind, you know, I laugh for the both of us. And I know he's is there with me.”
Kanneh says he was there at Bequette's side when most of the photos in the book were taken. Bequette’s cancer was diagnosed shortly after a run, an activity he continued after graduating from Albany High, where he had been a member of the Cross Country team. At first it seemed to respond to treatment, but remission came with a vengeance. Fahy says during Bequette's final months at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, through major surgery and countless rounds of chemotherapy, he was never alone.
“And he would go in virtually every day for outpatient to get fluids to get testing to get radiation to meet with his various team of doctors," Fahy said. "It was extraordinarily intense, as I said everything was done to try to save him. My husband and I when the cancer came back, we committed that he would never be alone. So one of us was always there at his side if not, his wonderful sister and girlfriend. So he was not a moment alone after the cancer came back and throughout the journey beforehand.”
Fahy says she believes the arts heal, and that Bequette's photographs will keep his memory alive.
“My husband and I, Wayne Bequette have written underwritten all the costs of the printing, shipping, everything: 100% of the proceeds are going right back out into the arts community with scholarships to those pursuing the arts at Albany High, with the Albany Center Art Gallery, with the New York State International Film Festival, the Irish American Heritage Museum for arts there," said Fahy. "And more to come. The Olpaka Gallery, who has donated all this space tonight. We will continue to create scholarships and make sure 100% of these proceeds go right back out into the community. “
Brendan's work can be found at: BrendanBequette.com