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 Harold Garde  (1923 - )

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Lived/Active: Florida/Maine      Known for: abstract expressionist painting, printmaking

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
I was born in New York City in 1923.  I attended public schools with three years as a science major at the College of the City of New York.  In Wyoming, on the GI Bill of Rights after three years in the military (Army Air Forces, with time spent in the Philippines) I worked for the art department as a student assistant and received my BA in Fine Arts.  The faculty included the surrealist Leon Kelly, the abstract expressionist George McNeil and the geometric abstractionist Ilya Bolotowsky.

Back to New York, I attended Columbia University and received my MA in Fine Arts and Art Education.  I taught secondary school art for two years in Roselle, New Jersey before returning to New York City where I worked at commercial interior design.

In 1968, I became a professor, adjunct faculty Art Department at the Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY.  I continued painting and exhibiting, and in 1971 in addition to the college teaching, I began full-time art teaching in the secondary school system of Port Washington, N.Y.

In 1970 I had my first solo showing in Huntington, N.Y. , and I continue to exhibit regularly. In 1984 I retired from teaching and I moved to Belfast, Maine, with my second wife, the late writer, Barbara Kramer.  Ten years later we bought our winter home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  I continue to divide my time between my homes and my studios in Maine and Florida. I exhibit regularly in both states.

Artist Statement:
I have an abstract expressionist background.  It was the most excitingly new development in art when I was a young painter.  Much of that training remains.  I am interested in what paint can do, making marks that expressively respond to my thoughts and actions.  Now, although I rarely choose to allow the non-figurative (the ‘abstract’ of “abstract expressionism”) to remain as the final work.  From this first non-figurative stage I will continue working until I find an image that becomes an identifiable subject.  When I have decided on this image, then comes the careful exploring and developing needed to finalize each work, each with its own unique integrity.

Although I enjoyed my experiences with sophisticated techniques and equipment, I now want the simplest, the most direct, the most basic. I choose to work in acrylics because of the easy application when painting on paper or canvas. For more recent print-making I have developed and taught my dry image transfer “strappo” technique. I relish the effects I can create with the use of simple tools, acrylic paints and glass plates.

There are themes that recur in my work and often re-emerge as current challenges. Although an individual work must be a unique statement, I welcome a subject that invites a multitude of solutions.  When that occurs, and I am concerned with a series, there is a helpful direction as I reach for a solution.  A new and separate version can be an answer to the puzzle that is every painting. Looking for a new solution challenges and keeps me energized. The accumulation that results from these explorations can present me or viewers with a rewarding overview.

Over the years I have used as subjects the images of chairs, single and in groups. I have a pinnacle series, a series with still life references.  There are some series have figures and faces, puppeteers and puppets.  A group of recent work related to the “T” shape of the kimono. Such subjects, suitable for a series, attract me when they are generic, ones that are familiar, readily recognized, capable of being rendered with many variations.  Whether they are presented subtly or boldly, small or large, fragile or monumental, I want my works to be visually exciting, capable of engaging the eye, the emotions and stimulating the mind of the viewer.

Oct 2006


Biography from University of Wyoming Art Museum:
Harold Garde is a painter's painter.  His evocative compositions and rich surfaces convey forms or figures that range from highly simplistic to psychologically complex. An abstract expressionist, Garde was introduced to those influences while he was a student on the G.I. Bill at the University of Wyoming in the 1940s   He studied art with surrealist Leon Kelly, abstract expressionist George McNeil, and geometric abstractionist, Ilya Bolotowsky.

"Harold Garde: Painting 50 years", an exhibition at the University of Wyoming Art Museum is the first major retrospective of his work.  Included are paintings from various subjects he has explored over the years: vases, portraits, figures, chairs, puppets, pinnacles, crossroads and sightings.  A series of kimono images are in the form of strappo, a printmaking process he invented in which dried paint is transferred onto paper.  Garde says of his work, "I am interested in what paint can do, making marks that expressively respond to my thoughts and actions."

Garde received his BFA from the University of Wyoming in 1949.  He has exhibited extensively in Florida and Maine in recent years where he lives and works.

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