If you visit The Michael Garman Museum, you will find over 500 sculptures paying tribute to everyday American Heroes--the brave men and women who pull us out of burning buildings, stand on the front lines of war zones, protect our communities, teach our children, and inspire our imaginations. This cornerstone of Old Colorado City can make you feel like it has always been here, telling the gritty, honest story of who we are and how far we have come.
But behind the sculptures, behind the hundreds of characters that fill the streets of Magic Town, there is a single man, an artist who emerged from a vagabond journey to the southernmost tip of the world some 50 years ago with a story to tell. How could he know that a half century later, he would still be telling his tales in a medium all his own?
In 1959, Michael Garman packed a knapsack with a camera, a sleeping roll and $35. He set out into Mexico with dreams of becoming a photojournalist. He imagined a 2-week trek through rural Mexican villages would inspire him. And it did. When his money ran out, instead of returning to his home in Dallas Texas, Garman continued southwest, through deserts and villages. He scuffled with Tektiteko Mayans in Guatemala, got caught in a Panamanian riot, held up in a dungeon, crossed the Great Peruvian Desert, endured a Chilean earthquake, and smuggled refugees into Argentina. He hitchiked his way along the Pan America highway, sleeping under bridges, on benches, in firehouses. He traded labor for food and lived by his wits and charm. He tramped all the way to Santiago, Chile, where he talked his way for free into the School of Fine Arts. And it was here that Garman found his true love--sculpting.
In Santiago, Garman began creating composite portraits of the people he met along his journey. He then sold these sculptures door to door. Most of these early pieces have been lost or sold for basics like food and shelter.
Then, in 1962, Garman returned to Texas where he began reproducing his work with a singular vision—to create handmade, affordable art that told a story. This idea hung on—through hunger, trial, heartbreak and eventual recognition. In 1971, Michael Garman settled in Colorado Springs where he not only continued to reproduce his unique sculptures of American Heroes, but he also began work on his most ambitious project—a magical sculptural city that could house his hundreds of characters and add dimension to their stories. It took ten years and over $1 million to bring this story to life in Magic Town.
Today The Michael Garman Museum and Gallery houses over 500 sculptures by Michael Garman as well as his unique 3,000 square-foot sculptural theater complete with dozens of intricately designed buildings, hundreds of characters, trick-lighting, holograms and sound effects that transport visitors to gritty scenes of yesteryear.
To honor a half century of stories told through sculpture, Michael Garman will be embarking on a three-month celebration which will include special tours and exhibits at The Michael Garman Museum & Gallery, an Autograph Day in June, a private reception to recognize all the nonprofit organizations Michael Garman has supported over the years, exhibits of his earliest sculptures, and opportunities for a behind-the-scenes peek at the artist and his process.
Future stories about Micahel Garman's travels and adventures, as well as his rough and tumble years in Manitou Springs in the early 1970s will appear on Fresh Ink and michaelgarman.com in the weeks to come. To follow Michael Garman's adventures and keep up to date on all the 50th Anniversary celebrations, please follow The Michael Garman Museum & Gallery on facebook, or call to be added to our VIP mailing list:
The Michael Garman Museum & Gallery
2418 W. Colorado Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Really nice article, thanks!