Gallery exhibits local artist's work

October 18, 2011

PLAINVIEW – The Abraham Art Gallery at Wayland Baptist University presents the work of Lockney artist Joe Garnett in Then and Now: The Works of Joe Garnett, a Retrospective. The show opens Oct. 22 and runs through Dec. 3. A reception will be held for the artist on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2:30 p.m. in the Atrium of the Learning Resources Center.

The show is designed to showcase Garnett’s artwork through the years. Now retired and living in Lockney, Garnett has been expressing himself through art since childhood.

“I’ve drawn and painted all my life,” he said, “except for about a 5-year period when I devoted myself to writing.”

Garnett said he found himself discouraged in his painting at a time in his life when he was working at a job he didn’t like. He said he just gave up painting and devoted himself to his poetry, another avenue of expression at which he has worked since about 1976. Garnett even has a book of poetry titled Tilting Sky available for Kindle on Amazon. He discovered, however, that writing didn’t afford him the avenues of expression he was used to with paint and canvas.

“I found that writing was one dimensional and didn’t fulfill all my creative needs,” Garnett said. “That’s when I went back to painting and devoted myself to painting full time.”

At one time, Garnett made a living working as an artist. Originally from Plainview, he moved to California to pursue an art degree. He lived there for 24 years, working as an illustrator.

“I did movie posters and album covers, basically free lancing,” Garnett said. 

Some of his more famous work includes the cover for The Doors memorial album after the death of Jim Morrison. He also created the portrait of Burt Reynolds for the Hooper movie poster. He has worked on projects for Aretha Franklin, Monty Python, Steely Dan, the Beach Boys and more. But by 1993 as the industry began turning to more computer generated art, Garnett found it difficult to make a living, and moved back to West Texas.

“The economy was bad back then and everybody was switching to computer graphics. I had a phobia about it,” Garnett said. “I didn’t want to lose touch with the painted surface. I have kind of a basic prejudice against art created exclusively on the computer.”

Although times have changed, Garnett still holds on to his prejudice.

“I know art can be enhanced on the computer and I do some of that, but I’m basically a dinosaur,” he said. “I’m 72 and I don’t see where I’m going to turn into a computer whiz at this stage in life.”

Garnett’s show will feature work from all stages of his life: from the drawings of a 12-year-old boy to current works of art. His style is a bit eclectic as he likes to experiment and switch from realism to abstract art.

“I studied experimental illustration. My focus has always been to experiment,” Garnett said. “I tended to be versatile in my commercial work. I was asked to imitate a lot of different styles.

“I love to do renderings. But when I finish a painting with a lot of detail, I unwind by doing abstract art,” he said. “I get a picture in my head and a lot of times it is abstract. I guess I do the realistic art to please the public and the abstract to please myself.”

The show will feature 40 pieces, many of which were donated by other owners and family members who collect Garnett’s work. He submitted about 60 paintings, but there is only room for 40 in the gallery. While few of the actual paintings will be for sale, Garnett said prints are available. He also has a website where more artwork can be viewed and purchased at

Garnett’s show will be displayed through Dec. 3. The Abraham Art Gallery is located in the lower level of the Mabee Learning Resources Center on the Wayland campus. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. , 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Friday, and 2-5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 806-291-3710.