By Clayton Skidmore
What is a mid-career artist? Does it describe an artist’s income or how influential they are? Ayla and I pondered these questions over beers with Garry Noland in our recent studio visit. It became the initial topic of our conversation, an idea that Garry himself seemed confused of since he’s been a practicing artist for over 30 years. As a prerequisite to having his studio at Studios Inc., being mid-career seems to be a loose title assigned to a group of artists with widely varying years of practice. If age isn’t a variable, what does it mean to be mid-career in a city where it seems there are not enough collectors to earn a living, and to gain prestige artists have to show outside of their own city?
I would offer that it’s the measure of Garry’s gratitude that defines him as a mid-career artist. His enthusiasm in his materials and process pass effortlessly to their viewers. Material curiosity is the predominate subject. Be it covering his studio floor with duct tape and ripping it up to create wood grain textures of actual splintering loose wood, or wrapping National Geographic magazines in tape to make layers for sculptures about sediment drifts. Garry places himself as the archeological interpreter of his material experimentations. Understanding the coding of his abstractions isn’t as important as simply empathizing with the artist’s handiwork.