Richard Garrison analyzes ubiquitous materials and objects from the suburban American landscape, such as Sunday newspaper sale circulars, drive-thru window menu color schemes and product packaging. Through a process of careful scientific-like scrutiny Garrison dissects and restructures the color schemes of common everyday objects and creates Minimalist compositions that expose the beauty in the banal. This deconstruction of quotidian objects and experience is a personal, non-judgmental, examination of the visual, emotional and conceptual aspects of consumerism.
Garrison’s recontextualization of aspects of consumer culture affords us a new perspective on commonplace objects. In his series, Circular Color Schemes, (puns intended), Mr. Garrison measures the amount of each color from Sunday newspaper sale circulars and then in concentric rings of color graphs the amount of each color in gouache and watercolor on paper. Each wedge of color in the circle is marked as to which picture of the product it originates from, like “dvd player” or “flat-screen T.V.” The resulting compositions look like a cross between a color wheel and a Joseph Albers painting.
Using a similar process Garrison reveals the beauty of drive-thru windows in his series, Drive-thru Color Schemes, forever changing our experience of buying a burger. In systematic fashion Garrison has measured and graphed the color schemes of every drive-thru window from his home to the Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY, where he teaches. Instead of circles, the lines of color are graphed in vertical stripes that also map left to right the viewers experience of each drive-thru. The first collection of colors beginning at the lower left of each composition is the first menu a driver experiences at a drive-thru window and so on. Garrison takes elements of a banal experience, buying fast food, and presents it back to us in Sol Lewitt-esque analytical compositions of striking beauty and simplicity.
The Product Package series takes this process of analysis but instead of rendering each composition in paint, Garrison collages pieces of cereal boxes, garbage bag boxes or any printed cardboard packaging cut into regular rectangles, triangles or squares. These geometric abstractions are composed using only product packaging that comes into the Garrison household through the ordinary process of living, the buying of products needed for everyday life in suburbia, and are dated. So, they act as a record of the amount of any given color that comes into his home.
Garrison’s glorification of the insignificant similar to Zen philosophy is central to his studio practice. Coupled with Hanne Darboven-like analytical quantification and qualification his studio practice offers us a thoughtful re-examination of objects and experiences ubiquitous to the American experience.
Richard Garrison was born and raised in Albany, NY and received his BS in Studio Art from the College of Saint Rose, Albany in 1993 and an MFA from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 1995. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA and the Queens Museum of Art. He lives and maintains his studio in Delmar, NY.