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 Gar Sparks  (1888 - 1954)

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Lived/Active: New Jersey      Known for: visionary figure in landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Surrealist Waterfront, 1948
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from New Jersey Gallery:
Gar Sparks was an artist of recognized talent that lived apparently all of his life in or around Newark, New Jersey.  He was born in 1888 and died in 1954.  He had an approach to painting that could be called dream-like, visionary, surreal and/or psychological with an often muted palette, which could sometimes become high-keyed.

He owned or operated a candy store in Newark and painted for many years, at least from around 1910 until close to his death in 1954. Like many others, he has been overlooked both in regard to his talent and for his early-on contributions to the "art of the mind". His work usually avoids the pitfall of becoming dismal, depressing or negative, a result to which many artists involved in the graphic exploration and depiction of the mind succumb.  His works seem to be fairly rare, and it is not now known how prolific he was over the course of his approximately forty-four years of painting.

To gain some insight into Gar Sparks and his art, the words of the American modernist Stuart Davis are given here:

"I first met Gar Sparks in a Negro saloon on Arlington Street in Newark, N.J. on April 12, 1912.  He was drinking celery tonic.  I remember the date because I had found a new friend.  And a good friend is hard to find.  It seems that Sparks was inspired by some paintings by Glenn Coleman, which he had seen in Columbus, Ohio.  Since Coleman was my best friend, we found it easy to talk.  Sparks told me about his own paintings and shortly afterwards I saw them.  They were portraits of people he had seen while running an elevator in New York City.  They had the quality of authentic art.  In some way, probably by an inner image, (certainly not by instruction) he knew that a shape had a shape.  He also had some paintings of people standing around in an expanse.  A river was involved in some cases.  I never inquired into the psychology of these things.  They looked good.  At that epoch Sparks was the director of a Nedick's Orange juice stand.  I used to meet him at midnight, and we would go to the Arlington Street saloon to listen to real music, or to Childs restaurant to talk about art." (from the book Painting and Sculpture in New Jersey by William H. Gerdts, Jr.)

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