“A Day in the Life” with Calgary artist, Gary McMillan

Gary McMillan always seems to have some project or projects on the go. If it is not a series of paintings, then it will be some otherworldly or whimsical sculpture made out of cardboard or even snow. Once, he was asked to do an installation for an art event for Loft 112. He built a seven-foot-tall wood and a cardboard gingerbread house with a built-in funhouse of mirrors full of flowers and toy animals that people could stick their heads into.

Everything has the potential to be a fun and challenging project for Gary. For our son’s birthday, he once made a hanging trophy unicorn cake and mounted it on the wall. He always seems to look for imaginative ways to do things and maintains that is what he applies to all of
his artistic endeavours.

He does most of his work in a crowded basement studio, so sometimes the projects sprawl out into other parts of the house. Bits of cardboard and paint smears appear now and again on the carpets, and I remind him to be careful to pick up any staples or nails left behind. Gary McMillan kind of lived like this back when he was single, and discovered the fun of using whatever was at hand to make strange art projects while attending AUArts, formerly ACAD, in the late 1980”s.

He remains the same today. He is currently painting a string of small panels of humanoid aliens, but I am certain that eventually, something new and large and outlandish will materialize in one of the rooms of our house.

Written by Kari Brawn – Wife

Gary McMillan
This year’s snow creation beside my house. I make about one per year for the delight of myself and my neighbours.
Gary McMillan
This is my Wall-Mounted-Unicorn-Trophy-Head-Birthday-Cake. This was for my 17-year-old son – not a little 5-year-old girl. He could handle the horror.
A few years before COVID, I made a gingerbread house installation that people could enter. Once inside, they could raise their heads into a viewing chamber full of visual delights.
Gary McMillan
This is the most fashionable photograph of me ever taken. I took this of myself for a bogus fashion and lifestyle magazine issue that my wife and I made for the family. All of the brand labels in the caption are also bogus.
In 2020, I was invited to have a one-person art exhibit entitled “Galapagos”, at the Okotoks Art Gallery. It was a wonderful space in which to show my paintings and cardboard sculptures.
These two characters are biding their time around the rarely used upper bathroom bathtub. They were in short-term storage while awaiting installation at Edmonton’s Harcourt House Art Gallery
Here are a couple of my current paintings. They are both on 16”x20” panels. I am working smaller these days to minimize storage space.
Gary McMillan
A few years back, I set up a 19th-century salon-style art display of some of my oil paintings at C-Space in Calgary. Note the historical garb. This was part of the first Art Calgary art collective exhibition and sale of fine artwork.

Which ‘hood are you in?

I live in an old 1912 two story home in West Hillhurst. To me, it is the best place to live in the city because I can easily go painting along the Bow River from Edworthy Park to Fort Calgary.

What do you do?

Apart from making and selling artwork, I am self-employed as a part-time craft person making custom wax models for a few independent Calgary jewelry retailers.

What are you currently working on?

As a continuing practice for many years, I like to go out landscape painting near my home, usually along the Bow or Elbow rivers. It is a great way to spend a good part of a day engaged with one of the city’s natural places. In the studio, I am working on an ongoing series of small paintings featuring alternate worlds occupied by an array of peculiar beings.

Some of these will be in an upcoming travelling show through the TREX program set up by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Where can we find your work?

As of last year, I decided to be in control of my own marketing and selling of my artwork. I am no longer available in commercial galleries, although I always welcome the opportunity to exhibit in public galleries. You can find me on Facebook and you can find my work on my two websites, two Instagram pages and on my two Etsy stores. The reason I maintain two pages on each platform is to separate my more traditional work from my contemporary work. It is just less confusing for everyone all around.

Contemporary ETSY | Fine Art ETSY 

Contemporary Website  | Fine Art Website

Contemporary Instagram | Fine Art Instagram

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