Gerald Garden in 1976, photo courtesy of the 1976 Blair High YearbookAt my high school, Blair High in Pasadena, 1972-1976, the only art classes they really offered was Sign Art and Cartooning Class. I took them both but I took cartooning all 4 years. My teacher was Gerald Garden. I did very little cartooning and did more illustration work. Mr. Garden would come up to me with an editorial cartoon from Time Magazine or out of the LA Times newspaper and ask if I thought I could do it...so I did and I think it sort of, maybe just slightly, amazed him how fast I could redraw an editorial cartoon without the aid of tracing paper or a projector. I liked drawing the old Sunset magazine covers. I also liked to draw just whatever popped into my head. I had gone to see Jaws one weekend and on monday decided to draw the boat from memory and it wasn't half bad. I had a great time in Mr. Gardens class. Here was a grown-up who took drawing seriously. I had never seen that. I think Mr. Garden made me feel that creating art was something some people actually did for a living...that it was even possible.
After I came home from 3 years in the Army I worked and took classes at our local community college, PCC. Years later I mentioned Mr. Garden in one of my online Bio's and his daughter stumbled on it from a Google search. That put Mr. Garden and me back in touch and we occasionally emailed each other. Mr. Garden was then retired but working for the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, now called The Autry. He did the cartoons and artwork in their newsletters. I lost his info when my hard drive crashed one year but after moving up to Solvang I found his phone number doing a Google search. I called him and turns out it was his birthday! We both got kick out of the odds of that happening.
Some of my projects at the end of my senior year at Blair 1976I enjoyed sending him things about art or cartoons or news I had via email and I was happy we had the chance to keep in touch...the least I could do to thank him for his inspiration and guidance when I needed it. I found out recently that Mr Garden had passed away and felt a great loss and sorrow but at the same time I felt very fortunate to have known him and that we had kept in touch. I would say that the sign of a good man is the impression they leave on you, the thoughts you carry around about them and the inspiration they have imparted on you. My best wishes and thanks to Mr. Garden for his life of teaching and the inspiration and guidance he gave to so many.