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Gary Lee Price
(Twin Falls, Idaho, 1955 - )
Gary Lee Price was born May 2, 1955, in Twin Falls, Idaho, to Betty Jo Stripling and Delbert Wayne Price. When his parents divorced, Gary went to Germany to live with his mother and stepfather, Theodore Reeder. When Gary was six years old both his mother and stepfather died, so he moved to Idaho to live with his father and stepmother, Nellie Dimick Price.
Gary went to both grade school and high school in Montpelier, Idaho. Once Gary graduated from Montpelier High School, he went on to study at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. He then served a two-year mission for the LDS church in southern Germany. Following his mission, Gary studied in Jerusalem for six months through Brigham Young University’s Study Abroad program. He then studied at the Utah Technical College in Provo (now Utah Valley State College), where he met and studied with sculptor Stan Johnson. Studying under Stan is what drew Gary to sculpture and inspired him to enroll at the University of Utah and study painting, drawing, and anatomy. While he was at the University he studied under Alvin Gittins as well as Stan Johnson. Gary focused on the human figure, his favorite subject to sculpt. In 1982, he earned his B.F.A in painting and drawing.
During his high-school years, Gary painted and sold his landscape paintings. Later on, Gary worked as a ranch hand, a farmer, a jewelry salesperson and manager, and worked in Stan Johnson’s studio and foundry in Mapleton, Utah. Gary gained many skills through his work including mold making, wax and slurry casting, and welding. These skills would later become very important in influencing the direction of Gary’s art. Some of Gary’s earliest subjects include Southwestern and wildlife themes, such as Buffalo Nickel and Return of Fury. His first recognition came with the Death Valley Art Show, followed by national recognition for his sculpture They Rise Highest Who Lift As They Go.
Gary Price is known for his great diversity. His work has been referred to as eclectic because of the diversity in subject matter. For Gary ,art is a quest for beauty, and his work ranges from wildlife, sporting, figurative, and western subjects to that of religious subjects. He works in sizes from pendants to large installations and his style ranges from controlled to impressionistic. About his work Price says, “The ability to listen and draw upon the many sources of inspiration that constantly surround us determines our growth. What I try to do is remain open, not pigeonhole myself to one subject matter or style. My work is constantly evolving.”
On June 13, 1981, Gary married Lanea Richards. Today they have five boys and live at the base of the Wasatch Mountains on 10 acres in Springville, Utah. These five boys contribute to Gary’s most recent focus in art— childhood. Gary believes each child has the unalienable right to a happy childhood. He says, “I am trying to make a statement about humanity in my work. I sincerely want to lift the human spirit, mine included.” Price’s object is “to create a work that is harmonious and refreshing to the soul.”
Gary has contributed to the art world in numerous ways in addition to his personal work. Gary founded the “Sculpture to Live By” committee, finding sculptures each year to be permanently exhibited in Springville, Utah. Gary has been elected to the National Sculpture Society in New York. Gary has won the Best of Show at the Scottsdale Artist’s school, and has been featured in Southwest Magazine.
Gary believes in “always remaining a student” and finds the great masterpieces he sees during his travels provide sources of inspiration for his work. Along with living in Germany for two years, he spent six months in Israel, one month touring the jungles and ruins of Mexico and Guatemala, and in 1984, he traveled through eleven different European countries for three months, including a month in Egypt. Gary also has continued his art education by taking various classes from many other fine artists. He says, “I believe in schooling and receiving critiques and training from those who know more than I do. I don’t believe in groups or organizations that foster one way of sculpting or looking at something. Can we be open minded? Can we create something of beauty or make a statement that needs to be made? These are the things that interest me. Sculpture is a process of learning to listen, trying to see and doing one’s best to feel.”
Irises is one of many bas reliefs Price has created. Gary said, “Creating relief sculpture is extremely enjoyable and rewarding. Having graduated in painting and drawing and then later discovering 3-D, I find that creating these reliefs combines the best of both worlds.” Most of Gary Price’s relief sculptures are depictions of flowers or plant life.
Price believes art is a quest for beauty. About his flower plaques, he has said, “One of my greatest passions is gardening. I’m fascinated with the idea that we can dramatically control the way we feel about life simply by planting some trees, bushes and flowers. I believe our surroundings and immediate environment have a very strong influence on us. . . I love springtime and can’t seem to plant enough bulbs. Flowers, to me, are true masterpieces and these reliefs are my attempts to prolong their beauty.”
Irises is a bronze cast which clearly portrays Price’s love for nature, his ideas about creation, and his interest in scientific patterns seen in nature. Price has taken one of nature’s most delicate creations, the flower, and has portrayed it in one of the most stable and indestructible materials. Price’s respect for this type of life is very evident. The irises are contained within a circle and a rectangle, which are a reference to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Vitruvian Man. Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is taken from his sketchbook on proportions of the human figure and explains ideas of Pell’s mathematical series and its relationship to perfect proportions. These geometrical theories are also related to the Golden Rectangle, often used by the Greeks in architecture and sculpture, and today, studied in all sciences. These mathematical sequences are often found today in many creative works as well as in plant proportions. By making reference to these scientific relationships, Gary Price has communicated that these plants can be seen as perfect creations following all the laws of science, but above the ground, they become something less scientific but more delicate and beautiful. Although based on scientific principles, Price’s depictions of flowers still focus on his idea that art should lift the spirit.