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Looking at the Works of Dan McGuire and Gary John Gresl, gallery statement for Walker's Point Center for the Arts; Gary John Gresl

Michael Flanagan, April, 2003

Gresl began making art as an undergraduate student at UW-Stevens Point.  His career plans were in conflict with his parents, who wanted him to be a teacher.  Despite that Gresl stayed in school an extra year to take some basic art courses.  Following graduation he taught in Brillion, Wisconsin but was not truly happy.  He began to emerge as an artist beginning in 1983-84 while earning a living in the antiques business and joined WP&S (Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors) at that time.

In 1987 Gresl became the President of Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors and was president for two terms ending in 1991.  Coinciding with the end of that last term, he dealt with personal and business matters, including running the Milwaukee Antique Center, and returned to active exhibition in 1997.  Gresl's artmaking process continued to include his interest in assemblage and found objects and his work was accepted for an exhibit at the Villa Terrace in Milwaukee, for which he received an award, reinforcing his enthusiasm for making art and renewing his energy.

Gresl's current work has themes that evolved from personal interests such as geology, fascination with rocks and minerals, and experiences from his youth.  "The Yellow Cottage on Lake Poygan", is a relation of his experience of seeing his first nude photograph, a Marilyn Monroe calendar.  He combined that memory with found materials, layering them to represent his experience.  The basics of organizing objects to make them interesting in terms of color, texture and shape are things that inform his work.

Gresl uses his instincts when looking at found objects to lead him to ideas for new works of art.  Often an item will help him create a link to a past experience and he tries to let that process flow as naturally as possible.  He may keep an object for years, not using it, and then be inspired by it.  In one case a piece he had held for over ten years became the cornerstone for a new work.

Gary John Gresl and Dan McGuire seem to be cut from the same cloth although each artist takes a somewhat different approach to reaching the final solution for their works.  It is a pleasure to show the work together at WPCA.

(Michael Flanagan serves on the Board of Directors and chairs the Exhibition Committee at WPCA.  He is Director of the Crossman Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater).

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