As a person of diverse interests, Gary Anderson received his Bachelor's degree in art education from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in 1974, and his M.F.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1984. In 2002 he earned recognition from Professional Photographers of America as a Certified Professional Photographer. Anderson taught art, photography, and graphic design as well as sponsored State Champion and State Co-Champion high school yearbooks during his teaching career, which spanned twenty-eight years. Also notable during his career as a teacher are five selections to Who's Who Among America's Teacher as voted by his students. He retired from teaching in 2003.
In 1993 while still teaching, Anderson opened a portrait photography business, Dynamic Images Photography, and worked from his home portrait studio until 2006. However, as digital photography became more prevalent, he began to feel a desire to thoroughly re-explore fine art in order to create work using his "hands as well as eyes and heart."
The move away from photography was inspired by his repeated visits to Mesa Verde in Colorado as well as what Anderson terms a "paradigm shift" in the way he interpreted and viewed fine art. Anderson's reset resulted from a 2006 visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. where Anderson saw the room-sized Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, by little-known folk artist James Hampton.
Throne is fabricated from scraps of aluminum foil, paper, wood and other discarded materials that Hampton, a custodian employed by one of the federal offices in D.C., salvaged from trash cans. The predominately monochromatic Throne was spiritually motivated, which Anderson finds critically important. In addition to Hampton, Anderson's work has been considerably influenced by primitive art, as well as by artists Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollack and Louise Nevelson, and by photographers David Hockney and Duane Michaels.
Anderson often stresses his desire to connect with viewers on a spiritual level from an ancient context. He feels that ancient tribes and civilizations were spiritually motivated, as well as survival-motivated. "Primitives created and designed objects that had a functional primary use, but which were decorated purposefully, perhaps to imbue the function of the item with spiritual power," explains Anderson. He also feels nature forced primitives to use available materials meaningfully and with appreciation.
The includion of fabrics and sewing in Anderson's work comes from the influence of Anderson's father, who was a furniture upholsterer, fabric salesman, and machine embroidery craftsman. Anderson's father taught his teen son basic sewing so young Gary's school-age summers were spent working by his father's side in a lint-laden, musty, fabric-strewn upholstery shop.
Anderson also gives his time by volunteering at Georgetown Art Center where he served on the board of directors from 2011-2014. The Georgetown City Council appointed Anderson to the Gerogetown Arts and Culture Advisory Board in 2012 where he continues to serve. Gary also leads an artists' group called Red Dots, which is devoted to supportive discussions and promoting the work of aspiring local artists.
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