By Irene Ruddock
Huntington resident Gary Garrett, who is presently exhibiting his sculptures at the Reboli Center for Art and History until the end of October, studied advertising, art and design at SUNY Farmingdale. Having worked in various advertising industries in New York City for five years, he found that he was no longer inspired by that world, so he decided to pursue his family’s used auto parts business. While working in this industry, he recycled automotive parts to remake into the sculptures that he exhibits today. His exhibitions include Huntington Gallery, Long Island University Gallery, Mather Hospital, Reboli Center, the Salmagundi Club, the Long Island Professional Sculpture Shows and the Huntington Art League Gallery.
Your signature piece, Who Let the Dog’s Out? is on exhibit at the Reboli Center for Art and History. What was your inspiration?
After I saw Norman Rockwell’s painting of parents and kids going on vacation called “Coming and Going,” I was inspired to replace that vision with a depiction of a mother dog and her puppies eagerly going on vacation.
What materials did you use for this?
For this sculpture, I used 1948 Dodge doors that I found in the junkyard — the only “found object” in this sculpture. All the rest were sculpted by me with metal, even the eyes, hair and tongue. I tried to make the hair look as though it was bent in the wind and one of dogs eyes making contact with the viewer. I wanted all of it look as though it was moving.
What other materials do you use to create your sculptures?
I find components for my artwork at garage sales, farm auctions and auto salvage yards. I like to give new life to old tools, industrial gears, car parts and farm equipment incorporating them to create welded assemblages that tell a whimsical story.
How does recycling of materials represent your view of society?
I think it is important to save and use items from our “throw-away” society. The “found objects” that I use were made to last and I appreciate that aspect.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
I was thrilled to show at the prestigious Salmagundi Art Club in New York City! They showed my sculptor of President Trump on the cover of a Fifth Avenue billboard. It is a humorous piece that can be interpreted many different ways. That was thrilling!
You choose to represent your art showing the humorous side of life. Why do you think that is?
I have always been a storyteller to my family, friends and children. I try to take ordinary experiences from every day life that we take for granted to find the humorous side of it. We need to take time to laugh.
Are there artists whom you particularly admire?
I admire Norman Rockwell, Al Hirschfield and Shel Silverstein. Each saw the humor in everyday life. For instance, I love Silverstein’s book about a child who befriends a tree. I like Rockwell’s painting of all the ethnic groups working together. That one painting tells the story of how our immigration system made America.
What are your future plans for your sculpture?
I will be exhibiting at Deepwells Mansion in the spring. My plan is to keep doing art whenever I become inspired. I don’t know where an idea will come from next, but I am always open to it. I would also love one of my pieces to be part of a permanent collection at a children’s hospital so it could bring joy to many children. I can always be contacted at [email protected] or at 516-557-6990.