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     Gary Godbee received a B.F.A. degree in painting from Boston University in 1974 and has studied graduate painting at Brooklyn College and Montclair State University.  He has taught drawing at the Art Students League, landscape and portrait painting workshops in Sante Fe for the Academy of Realist Art, and currently teaches painting courses at the Montclair Art Museum School/ Yard School of Art (since 1993) and the Center for Contemporary Art (formerly the Somerset Art Association) in Bedminster, NJ (since 2001)

      Gary is best known for his realist landscape paintings, which often include panoramic views of northern New Jersey.  His work has been shown in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and California, and can be found in collections in the U.S., Europe and Japan.  Past one-person exhibitions have included shows at the Cudahy's Gallery in both NYC and Richmond, VA, the First Street Gallery in NYC, and the Watchung Arts Center in Watchung, NJ.   Recent exhibitions include one-person shows at Studio 7 Art Gallery in Bernardsville, NJ, the Edward Williams Gallery at Fairleigh Dickenson University, NJ, and the J. Cacciola Gallery in NYC. He also participated in two-person shows at the Arts Guild of Rahway and the Tomasulo Gallery of Union County College (September 2003), as well as group shows at Gallery Henoch in NYC, the J. Cacciola Galleries in NYC and Bernardsville, the Citadelle Art Foundation in Canadian, Texas, the Seraphin Gallery in Philadelphia, Tatistcheff Gallery in NYC, City Without Walls Gallery in Newark, and the Paul Robeson Gallery of Rutgers University. His work was featured in the New Jersey Arts Annuals at the NJ State Museum in Trenton in 2010 and the Montclair Art Museum in 2005.

     Gary Godbee has received Fellowships in 2004 and 1994 from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, exceptional merit awards from the City Without Walls Gallery in Newark in 2002 and 1995, and an Award of Merit from the Portrait Institute in New York in 1996.   He is included in the 1998 Society of Illustrators Annual and is listed in Who's Who in American Art (since 2007) and Who's Who in America (since 2000)  In 2000, he completed two twenty-foot wide murals commissioned through the NJ State Council on the Arts that are now permanently installed in the Department of Labor Building in Trenton. Gary is also a Lifetime Honorary Member of ACOPAL, the America China Oil Painting Artists League, founded early in 2010. 

   I remember being mildly horrified the first time someone said to me, with great admiration, "Your painting looks just like a picture!"  At first, this compliment rather baffled me until I realized that my painting's sense of verisimilitude had impressed its admirer as being almost photographic; like a "picture".

  The fact is, that we are so used to 'reading' photographs, and are also so convinced of their supposed fidelity to nature (even with the increasing prevalence of digital manipulation), that we unintentionally hold them up as yardsticks to every realist painter's vision.

   Although the majority of my landscape paintings are highly detailed, they are not meant to conform to the confines of strict Photorealist painting.  The priority for me has always been the creation of a convincing illusion that makes my visual point, and any photographic source material (often from multiple views) is always subservient to the necessities of that vision.  Each painting, then, is the result of some degree of transformation of the original source.  In some works the evolution may appear dramatic and in some rather minimal, but the significance is that the painting is based on an my  emotional reaction to a particular landscape, quality of light, or time of day, and is never simply an attempt to recreate the surface reality of any photograph.

   My paintings are reflections of my experience of a visual world that often goes unnoticed.  I'm always looking for something surprising in the otherwise mundane; something transformative that comes out of the simple act of seeing.

     In each work I'm constantly striving to capture one essential, universal pebble of truth, and subsequently, an unexpected beauty.  Sometimes the silhouette of a tower against the sky or some unexpected flash of light in the landscape will create the moment of recognition that I want to express.  The genesis for all of my paintings comes from the basic desire to share these little epiphanies.

     I often incorporate industrial or other prominent architectural forms in a specific natural setting in order to create a sub-text of aesthetic, social and ecological considerations.  This dichotomy between the man-made and the natural is a recurring theme. 

    Formally, my frequent use of a panoramic format expands the visual field and presents different complexities of composition, and the low horizon line places emphasis on the totality of a given location. 

    I also work periodically in very small format on gessoed wood or masonite to create a greater level of intimacy between the viewer and the painting.  In the case of this format, the "objectness" of the painting simply becomes another aspect in the continuing dialogue between the modern and the traditional.

Gary Godbee

Some more thoughts about my work: