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
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
(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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