At 16, Gerald Griffin wanted to become just like his art teacher: a successful watercolor artist with a beautiful girlfriend, a cool beard and a red sports car.
Over fifty years later Griffen has a loving wife, a goatee and will showcase nearly 140 of his own art pieces created over the course of his 40-year career.
The opening reception for the exhibit, The Road Less Travelled By … will be held on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 6-9 p.m. at the Jacob Spori Art Gallery. The showcase will be open to the public until Oct. 19.
Griffin graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art from BYU and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. He taught drawing and painting at Ricks College and BYU-Idaho for collectively 34 years. He retired four years ago.
The theme of his exhibit takes inspiration from Robert Frost’s classic line from The Road Not Taken
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
He feels the line reflects the choice he made to follow an untraditional path in life as an artist.
The retrospective exhibit will include pieces from his college days as well as more recent projects; this will allow visitors to catch a glimpse of his evolution in style, design and inspiration.
“When you’re a writer or an artist or musical performer, you get inspired by different things that come along,” Griffin said.
Closest to the gallery entrance are his earliest pieces which include graphic design work focused on linear quality and flatness as well as contemporary-style paintings of buildings in small towns in Utah, New Mexico and Idaho.
In awe of Idaho’s natural beauty after moving here to teach, he taught himself to paint landscapes. One of his favorite paintings is of the Bechler Meadows in Yellowstone National Park. That piece will be on display on the center back wall of the gallery but it normally sits in the BYU-Idaho Center.
Several of his works are on display throughout BYU-I including a silkscreen series he made on Latter-day Saint symbols that is typically in the Gordon B. Hinckley Building — for the duration of the showcase it will be on the second floor of the gallery.
Griffin said, like many artists, he will get excited about a theme and make a large series about it.
His most recent work was a series of 150 still life paintings, 19 of which will be on display in the gallery.
His purpose in creating these paintings was to show the beauty of daily common items like apples, pears and gourds. While the paintings are similar, they each have differences that exhibit various design principles like visual tension, relationships between shapes, temperature and symmetry.
Griffin’s artwork was supposed to go on display upon his retirement but was delayed due to COVID-19.