Orlandoan fine art-photographer Josh Garrick remembers meeting the current love of his life back in junior high. He fondly recalls one of their first encounters at a Pennsylvania county fair. Garrick still has a vivid memory of that day. He won a blue ribbon in one of the fair’s contests.
Today, the love affair continues but some might say it is anything but ordinary. Garrick’s relationship led him to leave behind his hometown, his family and friends, and everything he knew as a farm boy for the hustle and bustle of city life – city life 2,400 years ago in Athens, Greece.
Garrick’s 7th grade romance from the county fair was actually with a Greek temple he built out of Plaster of Paris.
The National Archaeological Museum located in Athens is the largest museum in Greece and boasts of one of the richest collections of ancient Greek artifacts. It is arguably also one of the most prestigious museums in the world, sharing the company of the Smithsonian Institution, the Louvre, and the British Museum, among others.
“[As a kid,] I never dreamed this big that a museum would give me an exhibition – let alone the National Archaeological Museum,” says Garrick. “I’m very proud of this honor…that someone felt that my work deserved it.”
Though Garrick happens to be gay, the main object of his affection these days is not another man or even a person, but rather any and all things Ancient Greece.
“I’m certainly out. I don’t hide it, but it doesn’t have a big impact on what I do art-wise,” says Garrick. “I’ve never ever had to be “hush hush” about being gay. Even in rural Pennsylvania where I grew up, I came out in my senior year of high school.”
Garrick moved to Orlando in 1996 after living and working in New York City for a number of years. He said he was fortunate to benefit from an LGBT-friendly art scene in New York at the time, but that not all LGBT artists were so lucky in other parts of the country.
Garrick said his current artwork gives him little time for dating. His lover and his muse is the classical period of Ancient Greece – a city, a building, a time period, and in many ways an ideal.
The sensuality and homoeroticism of Ancient Greece and its relics are not lost on him, but Garrick says that his being gay does not define the subject matter of his photographs. “Homosexuality was absolutely accepted in that period of time. It is interesting how it must have worked…[but] Ancient Greece is the common theme [for my work],” says Garrick.
Garrick has also had the unique opportunity to go where few Americans have ever gone before when he was granted permission to climb and photograph the iconic, temple ruins of The Parthenon in Athens. He calls the legendary, 2400-year-old building a prime example of one of the most extraordinary buildings mankind has ever created.
“No non-Greek is allowed to touch The Parthenon,” he says. “The greatest photoshoot of my life was being allowed to climb the scaffolding…the most glorious moment of my life was actually standing on the roof of the Parthenon. As I stood there, I remember two wild emotions going through my head…’Oh my god, you’re going to die!’ and ‘This is the greatest opportunity of your life, don’t blow it.’”
Garrick’s photographs of The Parthenon and other Greek relics have been described as contemporary art inspired by classical art. Time seems to bend back on itself in the photographs as his compositions intimately narrow the field of view of a seemingly larger-than-life and timeless ancient culture to the smallest, intricate details of the ruins that still linger on today. He still says that no photograph will ever do The Parthenon justice like seeing it in person.
His photograph titled “Heavy Lifting” is one of the shots he captured from the roof of The Parthenon. It depicts a cropped, black and white image of a work crew operating a crane amongst the marble ruins. Contemporary buildings of 21st-century Athens litter the horizon from a distance.
His portrait “The Little Jockey” is a black and white, still photograph of a sculpture depicting a person riding a horse. Garrick credits “The Little Jockey” photograph with catching the attention of the National Archaeological Museum.
The jockey’s face and body curled up in a riding posture are draped in shadows with his left hand and arm extended in the air as if pointing onward. The lighting and framing of the image add a lifelike quality to the sculpture as well as what Garrick hopes is a new way of appreciating the original piece.
“The biggest intent of my work is for the audience to go back to the original statue. I hope they will stop and take another look,” says Garrick.
Garrick says his photographs are going to hang alongside the original pieces this fall at the National Archaeological Museum.
The name of the exhibition is called Seeking the Ancient Kallos and will run from Sept.r 12, 2013 to January 8, 2014.
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