Roark Gourley is a native Californian, born in Lynwood during the summer of 1949. He received his art training at Orange Coast College, Laguna’s own Art Institute of Southern California and the University of Colorado where he studied electronic optics, physics, holography, and found time to master photography. Armed with all the formal instruction, Roark set about developing his own techniques, greatly aided by some impressive natural gifts: a highly active imagination, creative ability galore and a particularly lively sense of humor. Mr. Gourley and his wife, Michelle, are long time residents of Laguna Beach, California where he also maintains his studio. He is a 10 year participant in the Festival of Arts, and with a vociferous commitment to Laguna Beach, he is now serving his third year on the Board of Directors for the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters. Like many artists whose work is deceptively simple, Gourley’s is not. He works in a technique he coined “two-and-a-half dimensional art.” That’s it, 2.5 dimensional, somewhere between flat painting on canvas and completely freestanding sculpture. Each piece starts out as a small sketch, which is then scanned into his computer, manipulated to his liking, printed and transformed into a full size image. His art works are made from wood; cut, shaped, sanded, resined, and brightly painted into all manner of outrageous cartoonish objects. His work is characterized by his humor. There is always a social commentary that lies underneath the whimsical imagery. One must look beyond the visual gag employed by the composition to the real purpose of the work at hand. “If I can slip some deeper meaning and careful execution, both of which have to exist in good art, into funny, lighthearted work that keeps you smiling and feeling alive while you learn, then I’ve accomplished my goal,” says Gourley. His work has reputedly been seen in cities as far reaching as Nagoya, Japan. It not only reaches the many galleries, museums, and exhibits, but also enriches the private collections of many celebrities and other connoisseurs in the realms of the industry, politics and the professions. In the Spring of 1991 the Smithsonian Institution commissioned Gourley to create a 10′ x10′ x 5′ wall sculpture for their show, entitled “Seeds of Change”, which remained on exhibit through 1993. This piece is currently on tour of the United States. You may also come across his work while on a visit to the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, or while watching television on the set of Tri-Star Productions, “My Two Dads.” He also was invited to appear and create animation for Big Daddy Production/NBC’s “Name Your Adventure”. You will find Roark’s State of the Hearts featured on A&E’s 22 episode Romance Series hosted by Elayne Boosler and Roark himself was chosen as the featured artist on a GMC Jimmy 4X4 commercial. Along with upcoming book projects, future deals are in process for Roark’s work to appear on prime time television’s Friends.
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