As one of Sid Garrison’s gallery owners in San Francisco said of his art: “I loved what he was able to do with the pencil. . . He was able to compete with any painter.
A graphite artist since childhood, Garrison typically spent an entire day sketching, using 20 to 30 pencils to make tiny termite marks that covered every square inch of 28 x 28 inch sheets of paper. His work was abstract and his features were indistinguishable unless seen up close; from afar, however, Garrison’s art appeared oceanic or cosmic and spoke of infinities.
Despite many physical setbacks, Garrison worked full time as an artist. He was born with Alport syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the kidneys, hearing and eyes. Garrison suffered a stroke in 2005 and lost his ability to draw. But he persisted, and within three months he started making art again, with one noticeable difference. Although he was color blind and had used muted colors before, after the stroke he was able to work with more varied and vivid colors, which he continued to do for the rest of his career.
Garrison was born in Wichita, as was his wife, Terry, whom he married in 1978. His first exhibition was at an outdoor art fair in Kansas City in the late 1970s. Terry’s work took them to San Francisco in 1988, Garrison exhibited his designs in many venues there, receiving reviews in the “San Francisco Chronicle”. His art has also been exhibited and cataloged in New York.
In addition to creating his own work, Garrison was an avid collector of mid-century Scandinavian ceramics and furniture. (See “Nordic Hoard”, “KC Studio”, September / October 2015). He and his wife traveled through Scandinavia and Europe in search of the best of what was then a largely ignored genre of sculpture. These ceramics have since skyrocketed in appreciation and value, and the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis now includes 75 of the garrison pieces in its permanent collection.
“Collecting was Sid’s life passion,” says Terry Garrison, “but making art was his life’s mission.
“He was also a Facebook enthusiast. He was a friend of people and had artist friends all over the world that he actively supported. There was a woman artist in Arizona who was in the last year of her life. Sid gave her constant emotional support and even sent her a small ceramic from our collection.
In 2014, the garrisons moved to Kansas City when Sid had the opportunity to receive a kidney transplant from KU Medical Center. In 2015, he needed quadruple bypass surgery and a pacemaker. He continued to make art, which he exhibited at the Kansas City Flatfile Exhibits at Block Artspace (winning a jurist award) and had a solo show at the Kiosk Gallery in 2018.
For its exhibit at Kiosk, cars full of friends and family made the three-hour drive from Wichita for the opening. “Sid liked the quality of the show so much,” said Terry, “and the following Monday he was back at work in his studio.”