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 Joseph Garlock  (1884 - 1980)

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Lived/Active: New Jersey / Russian Federation      Known for: naive-folk art painting, sculpture

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from Auction House Records.
The Suspension Bridge
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Julie Heller Gallery:
JOSEPH GARLOCK (1884 - 1980)

Joseph Garlock immigrated to New York from Russia and her attendant hardships in 1905.  In America, his working life included repairing shoes, driving a privately owned bus and, finally, selling fruits and vegetables in his own small store in Bloomfield, New Jersey.  In 1949 he retired from a lifetime of hardship and work.

With his children grown, Garlock found himself with free time on his hands, so with his wife Rose's encouragement, he traded in his cobbler shop and fruit stand for a brush and pallet.  With the formal retirement of this Russian emigre, a unique American talent was born.

He spent time in Woodstock, staying in his daughter's cabin.  Using enamel paints and an old pie tin as his medium, he conceived his first painting depicting a remarkable likeness to its subject matter, his daughter's rustic woodland cabin.

We can only speculate on the nature of the muse that took hold of Jospeh Garlock. From that point on he painted and sculpted obsessively for the next fourteen years until he became affected with palsy which made it impossible for him to continue working.  His daughters and grandchildren remember him as a solitary figure in their household.  He lived in a small room in the family's New Jersey home where he sat on a single bed, churning out one painting after another.

His subject matter ranged from religious ceremonies witnessed as a child in a Russian village to life on a sunny day out on the Jersey shore.  Garlock also painted and sculpted portraits of his American heroes and icons.  Accolades during his lifetime were few and far between and Garlock both lived and worked in virtual obscurity.

After his death in 1980, one of his daughters gathered all his artwork together and stored it in her woodshed on her Woodstock property.  The work remained hidden there until she died and Garlock's nieces and nephews gathered at the cabin for a weekend of clearing and cleaning.  Their grandfather's rich collection of artwork was discovered and the family made a call to a local gallery owner who immediately recognized the importance of the find.  Within two years Jospeh Garlock's work was being exhibited at leading galleries, purchased for major collections and being discussed by art historians and critics.

Text by James Cox


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