Garman full of ideas after years in Europe
Sculptor Michael Garman, arguably the best-known person in Old Colorado City, has returned from two and a half years in Europe, with plans to “finish Magic
Town” and “do modern times” characters, according to a recent interview he had with biographer/ publicist Mary Koehler.
The latter plan would be somewhat of a departure for a sculptor who originally gained renown for shaping "street people" familiar to an older America and which had evolved from Garman's early years in seedy art districts of different towns. "Instead of the dated times that I was doing back then," he told Koehler, "I want to do modern times now - the baggy pants and all the new styles, the cell phones, all those little moments that are going on in today's world."
Another project idea for Garman's business, which has operated in the historic building at 2418 W. Colorado Ave. for 37 years, is to develop new video and staging effects using "hundreds and hundreds of new characters" while working in conjunction with "a group of other sculptors," the interview relates.
Garman, who will turn 70 in May, had been living in Germany with a family member for the past 2 ˝ years. Overcoming heart problems and a "prolonged illness," he is now "returning home and retaking the reins of his international company," the Koehler article states.
In response to a request for elaboration on the interview, Christine Ott, general manager of the Michael Garman Gallery, said that what "finishing Magic Town" really means is "possibly adding a few touches," meaning additional characters or "changing a few things around… It's always a little bit of a work in progress, and he's got an artist's eye."
Magic Town is a series of street scenes, featuring characters and buildings of Garman's creation, that visitors to the gallery can walk through. The Garman's store sells the "street people," as well as scores of everyday characters he's made, ranging from golfers to cowboys.
Regarding the artist's comment about sculpting modern characters, Ott said such pieces would likely result from commissions for corporate customers that "want a younger look." They aren't likely to be added to Magic Town, "unless there is a way to fit them in."
In any case, Garman would retain the rights to any commissioned characters, so in the future copies of some of them might become available to the general public, she explained.
From an immediate-business standpoint, Garman's is expanding its line of miniatures - 3 ˝ inch-high replicas of his larger characters, Ott said.
The local business is still the only Garman's store. However, various shops elsewhere carry his product line, and people can also order them from the Garman's website.
Manufacturing of the characters once was done entirely in Colorado Springs (at a building on Wahsatch Avenue in addition to Old Colorado City at one time), but the multi-million-dollar business has been "downsizing" in recent years, and the miniatures are now made overseas to keep them affordable, she said.
"Michael Garman's story really is a rags-to-riches adventure," Koehler writes. "Married twice, this father of three, grandfather of five, is far from retiring. As he would put it, 'There's too much left to do.'"
Westside Pioneer article