January 16, 2011 - Three new sculptures at Meeks Park
Meeks Park is now home to five kinetic sculptures by local artist Al Garnto. Country Calder, installed during October of 2009, was first and next was U Cylinder 24. Recently Garnto added Kinetic Water Drop, U Circle 85, and Rotating Atoms of Matter.
The Appalachian Sculpture Project was conceived by Al Garnto, a native of Union County, in hopes of exposing areas of the Appalachian Mountains to art and sculpture that would otherwise not be attainable by small community funding. Mr. Garnto is currently looking for colleges, universities, and rural towns along the region of the Appalachian Mountains to be a part of his project.
Mr. Garnto's vision is to do at least twenty-four kinetic sculptures from Georgia to Maine. Meeks Park, located in Blairsville, Georgia (the heart of the Appalachian Mountains) is already host to five of Mr. Garnto's kinetic sculptures, making Meeks Park the largest kinetic sculpture show in northeast Georgia history and the first stop on the way to Maine.
Mr. Garnto's sculptures have helped increase tourism, attracted students from surrounding colleges and school systems, utilized recycled materials, increased awareness of learning differences, and added to the beauty of surrounding areas.
Al Garnto’s sculptures are made from recycled materials and then put into motion by harnessing the wind's energy. Al says, “Most of the time my designs come out of the materials I find from work places like sawmills, machine and welding shops, construction sites, dumpsters, and old barns that are being torn down. I design and engineer my sculptures to come out of the recycled materials I find.”
Al’s kinetic sculptures incorporate various learning opportunities for viewers. Al uses everything from student interaction and active construction involvement to traditional lessons like sometimes found in the classroom. Garnto’s sculptures are also paired with educational polished-marble plaques.
Mr. Garnto has used art and sculpture to overcome a severe learning difference (a rare form of dyslexia). He says, “It does not matter how far teaching technology has progressed to a person like me that processes my information in a completely different manner. Most educators just don’t understand the obstacles. Thank God for Young Harris College and Dr. Austine Hunter Wallis who spotted my learning difference, had me tested, and worked with me to develop ways to over come it. Austine and the teachers at Young Harris College helped change the course of my life.”
Garnto intentionally manipulates the audience's perception of his artwork. He blurs images, words, and phrases into his paintings and sculptures to impart to the audience the frustration he deals with every day.
Garnto adds, "A dyslexia diagnosis in 1992 allowed me to understand for the first time that my brain processed information differently than the rest of the population. I was able to learn despite the dyslexia. By the end of 1993 I had brought my grade point average up to a 4.0. I was named to the Deans List, and was presented with a Presidential Scholarship to The Atlanta College of Art. Finally my dream was becoming a reality."
Al’s art and sculpture has won several awards. His ability to express himself proficiently in a wide range of media lead him to receive one of the largest art scholarships offered in the United States - the Presidential Scholarship. After finishing his formal studies, Al Garnto returned to his hometown of Blairsville Georgia, and in 1994 he opened his own business - Al Garnto Fine Art Studio (visit www.algarnto.com).
January 10, 2010 - Garnto’s sculpture rings in the New Year
On a snowy day in Meeks Park, bells were ringing in the New Year. The second in Artist Al Garnto’s Appalachian Sculpture Project series, the kinetic sound sculpture called U Cylinder 24 was recently installed in Meeks Park.
Constructed from mostly recycled materials including tin, steel, and wood retrieved from the Hinson farm on Old Gumlog Road in Union County, U Cylinder 24 is located in the pine thicket above the play ground area in Meeks Park. Visitors are mildly surprised when they happen upon the artwork – especially when the wind blows and the bells start ringing.
Along with the first sculpture, Country Calder which was installed during the summer of 2009, U Cylinder 24 was designed by Artist Al Garnto to complement the beauty of Meeks Park.
May 2010 - Artist Al Garnto welcomes Charter School
Students and teachers from the Learning Center Charter School in Murphy, North Carolina , recently visited with artist Al Garnto at his studio in Blairsville , Georgia . Eighteen students and teachers were treated to an up close and personal view of Al's working environment - a place where canvases cover the walls, artwork exists in various stages of completion, and kinetic sculptures are designed with recycled materials.
The school also took a "guided" tour of Al's Appalachian Sculpture Project in Meek's Park where Country Calder reigns supreme. The students and teachers were impressed by the large kinetic sculpture and other original artwork that Al has recently added to the project.
Teacher Gail Arnold facilitates an elective class of 5th through 7th grade students known as The Trailblazers. She says, "We have been thinking about creating a nature preserve on property adjoining our school. It was a given that Al Garnto could help increase awareness of the possibilities of using recycled materials, teach about alternative energy sources, share his love of nature and creativity. I also wanted the kids to hear Al talk about his early struggles with a rare form of dyslexia and his perseverance to get an education."
She continues, "We are very fortunate to have an artist like Al Garnto in our community. I recommend that we support and encourage him in his Appalachian Sculpture Project as well as his other endeavors. Not only is he a great artist, but an articulate spokesman for all the kids who struggle with academics because of a learning difference."
Country Calder in Meeks Park
October 20, 2009 - Artist Al Garnto (and the Appalachian Sculpture Project) is proud to announce the completed installation of the first in a series of kinetic sculptures. County Calder , located in Meeks Park , Blairsville , Georgia , is now on display and available for the public's enjoyment.
Al Garnto is well known throughout Towns County and Union County . Al is a life long resident of Union County and is an alumnus of Young Harris College (where he majored in Art and Sculpture). His Nottely River Series paintings, Little Jim Global Art Project, and contemporary work in various mediums have established him as one of the most respected (and well liked) artists in North Georgia .
Al says, "Country Calder, created with recycled materials, harnesses the power of the wind to provide movement and sound. Running, walking, dancing, and playing are all kinetic activities. Kinetic art contains moving parts and depends on motion for its effect. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, a motor, or the observer."
The Appalachian Sculpture Project was conceived by Al Garnto in hopes of exposing areas of the Appalachian Mountains to art and sculpture that would otherwise not be attainable by small community funding. Al is spearheading the project out of Meeks Park and hopes to install more sculptures throughout Meeks Park and in other towns from Georgia to Maine within the next few years. (The next sculpture is nearing completion and 24 more are in the planning stages.)
Over the next year Meeks Park will become the starting point of the largest kinetic sculpture exhibit in Northeast Georgia history. Mr. Garnto hopes to increase local tourism, to attract students from surrounding colleges and school systems, to utilize recycled materials, to increase awareness of learning disabilities, and to add to the beauty of surrounding areas. As a bonus, most sculptures will display an art lesson or history lesson for educational purposes.
For the first sculpture, Artist Al Garnto has used the name Country Calder in honor of the late great Alexander Calder (the father of the mobile sculpture). Calder brought large-scale mobile sculptures to the forefront of public art and his work can be found in most major museums around the world (including Atlanta 's High Museum of Art). Al Garnto was influenced by Alexander Calder's work while he was a student at Young Harris College and the Atlanta College of Art.
Garnto adds, "Installing Country Calder was a group effort. I would like to thank all my friends in the community that helped make this project possible."
September 26, 2009 - First kinetic sculpture in Meeks Park
Blairsville artist Al Garnto is busy creating the first in his series of large kinetic sculptures slated to be on display in Meeks Park . He recently poured cement pads - the first step in the installation of 16 foot tall "Country Calder".
County Calder is constructed from recycled materials salvaged from an old barn located at the home place of Tom and Mary Lance in the Dooley District of Union County. Al says, "Most of the time my designs come out of the materials I find from work places like saw mills, machine shops, construction sites, dumpsters, and old barns that are being torn down."
Artist Al Garnto has given this sculpture the name "Country Calder" in honor of the late great Alexander Calder (the father of the mobile sculpture). Garnto, who majored in painting and sculpture, was influenced by Alexander Calder's work while he was a student at Young Harris College and the Atlanta College of Art.
Mr. Garnto uses art and sculpture to overcome a severe learning disability (a rare form of dyslexia). Blurred images, words, and phrases are incorporated into his paintings and sculptures as a way of expressing frustrations that occur in the lives of all disabled persons.
The Appalachian Sculpture Project was conceived by Garnto in hopes of exposing areas of the Appalachian Mountains to art and sculpture that would otherwise not be attainable by small community funding. Mr. Garnto hopes to increase local tourism, to attract students from surrounding colleges and school systems, to utilize recycled materials, to increase awareness of learning disabilities, and to add to the beauty of the park.
Al Garnto's Global Art Project honors Little Jim Davenport
Resident Artist Al Garnto is creating some amazing art. His latest works, the Little Jim Global Art Project, the Nottely River Series giclee prints, and several new composite photography collages, are generating national attention.
The Little Jim Global Art Project started when a quick sketch turned into an eye-catching, colorful cutout. When friends and patrons saw it, they urged the artist to produce enough to go around. He was soon filling orders from Canada and the West Coast.
"Little Jim" folk art cutouts are an overnight phenomenon. Photos are arriving weekly that picture "Little Jim" in various locations including a backstage visit during a Broadway play, with travelers at state lines, and with a family in Seattle , Washington .
"Little Jim" is a representation of Garnto's great grandfather. Garnto says, "Great Granddaddy was known for his character, his stories, and for having one arm. He lost the other arm in an accident as a young man. He liked to wear overalls and a hat so that's how I drew him."
Jim Davenport was well known in Union County and surrounding areas. Garnto adds, "Children thought he was a cross between Santa Claus and the Boogey Man. Within minutes of being around Little Jim, children would be crawling all over him laughing. It was like he became Little Jim the Jungle Gym. He was just one of those rare persons you felt fortunate to know. Little Jim was not afraid of work either, being a saw mill worker and farmer most of his life."
While busy producing "Little Jim" plywood cutouts for the Global Art Project, Al Garnto still manages to find time for his fine art. Collectors are raving about Garnto's beautiful new paintings. Al explains, "The actual description is mixed media collage and composite fine art photography mounted on canvas." Al also recently invested in the business side of his fine art studio. Several popular paintings from his Nottely River Series have been reproduced and are now available for sale at extremely reasonable prices. These high quality giclee (pronounced jhee-clay) reproductions are created with archival inks and papers. Each limited edition print is signed, numbered, and ready for framing.
Al Garnto's Fine Art Studio is located right off the square in Blairsville , Georgia . Please call (706) 745-1200 or visit Al's websites at www.algarnto.com for more information.
Local Artist Al Garnto exhibits at David's Fine Art Gallery
Al Garnto's premiere showing of his "Nottely River Series" was recently held at David's Fine Art Gallery in Murphy, N.C. The event showcased Garnto's large paintings of Nottely River. Some of Garnto's other works from private collections were also on display and his well known painting of Byron Herbert Reece was on loan from Young Harris College.
Many people turned out for the opening reception. Guests included friends, other artists, and interested patrons. People new to Garnto's work were amazed at the young man's talent. Everyone enjoyed the event.
Garnto's "Nottely River Series" shows the stark reality of nature's beauty. The dark trees and reflections in the water cause mixed reactions from the viewers. The orange tones could represent sunrise or sunset. Whatever time of day, the paintings create an emotional response.
Garnto, from Blairsville, Georgia, is known throughout the southeast for his large scale portraits, murals, and landscapes. He works in various mediums including oil, charcoal, and watercolor. Garnto also does sculpture and is available for private lessons.
Garnto's formal training began at Young Harris College, where he majored in art. He also attended the Atlanta School of Art where he produced many works that are now in private collections. After college, Al returned home to Blairsville to follow his ambition as a professional artist. He opened his own business, "Al Garnto Fine Art Studio", located at 135 School Street. His commissions come by referral, collectors, and a loyal client base.
David's Fine Art Gallery is pleased to have the opportunity to show Garnto's work. David's Gallery opened on Valentine's Day 2006 and is owned and operated by David Vowell. The gallery offers fine art for the mountain community. Vowell says, "I love art and have many years of experience as a business manager. I put the two together to pursue my dream of sharing creative delights with other people. I am pleased to be working with Al. His work is amazing."
The show runs through April 10, 2006.