About the Artist

Gary Swimmer lives and produces his works in Tucson and London. He considers himself an expressionist, making artwork in a variety of media and moving between pure abstraction and representation based on the ideas he wishes to explore.

Born in Budapest, Swimmer arrived in the United States as a young child. An artist his entire life, he

committed himself full-time to the visual arts in his late 20's after receiving degrees in biology and

attending medical school for a time. With a BA from Johns Hopkins University, studies at the University

of Liege and enough art credits from the BFA program at the University of Arizona to pursue graduate

work, he moved to New York City and received his MFA from Pratt Institute in 1990. He subsequently

taught and lectured at various institutions including Pratt Institute and the University of Arizona and took a

number of other jobs, primarily in education along the way. Mr. Swimmer has exhibited consistently over

the last 30 years and has work in private and public collections in North America and Europe.

About The Making

He explains that making art at this point is a different kind of engagement than in earlier times. The

path to get into that zone in which thinking, planning and reason takes its proper place behind the action,

that place of focus and determined, assured, experimental, experienced, intuitive activity has changed. It

is a challenge to remain true to ideas that have been around for a long time and have proven themselves over the years as neither fleeting or flawed while resolving those ideas in forms that remain fresh and new, with a sense of experimentation and risk without falling into stale or familiar paths. Herein lies the excitement. It is trickier to move at an appropriate pace, to stay focused and clear so the work develops into something robust, particularly with the commitment to spontaneity and to approaches that avoid overworking or over-refinement. There have always been periods of work vs. those of reflection, the duration of each phase is more erratic and certainty of the nature of what is "finished" is more variable, as there is a greater determination to honor certain limited boundaries related to color, mark making, media, support, time and a general insistence on greater freedom of action.

Time moves faster now, and with it comes a sense of pressure, an urgency, that is not always a pleasure, but it calls for faster work, more or perhaps different faith or trust in intuition, and this can be good both when honored and when resisted. Occasional blemishes, flaws, smudges that accumulate during the making or over time, can be left in place as an enrichment that comes with the life and aging of the work. 

Making art is a love, a passion, a habit, an addiction. It is a need to make, a desire to express, a search for form, a search for meaning, a search for some truth. It is the engagement of the mind and the hand. It provides a sense of freedom, a visual voice; the attitude is one of experimentation, risk and play. It provides a sense of satisfaction and the joy of creation, (something from nothing), of discovery, of surprise and of wonder. Thus the work embodies some of this hopefulness regardless of other aspects of the subject or content that is often times of a darker nature.

About The Work

Everything is an experiment. That is part of the thrill. The part that is not known, unexpected, filled with

possibilities. There are two phases, the time devoted to thinking, then a deep breath and the periods of

work. “The battle is to keep it fresh, not to sell it short, to resolve it as necessary, but not to overwork it

or overly refine it. So easily done. Pursuit of an initial concept or impulse, by starting with a random

color or marks, by seeking and honoring rawness, imperfections and even incompleteness and by

stopping when the piece has sufficient power or character, identity, is what happens on the best of days.”

To determine this requires evaluation time after the first sense of completion, looking at it and getting

some distance before considering the work to be finished. Of course, after a pause, if the work is

deemed incomplete, then the dilemma of how to move forward without artifice or over-refinement is the

challenge. This problem leads to trying to finish work in one extended movement. Unfulfilled work can

sit for long periods before it can be readdressed without hesitancy. “I like to pursue non-objective work,

especially in paint. The goo of it, the dilutability of it, lends itself to the pursuit. Seemingly endless

possibilities. A great amount of potential and power exists in abstract expression.” It is as part of the

present as ever.

There are times when certain themes related to the human condition call for figurative work and then

representational pieces are made. Geometry, often distorted or imperfect is a 

fundamental aspects of many works.

About the Ideas

Ideas are part of the process. As to how they manifest themselves in the finished work is variable and

certainly not linear or worth talking about. However, since many of the things that underlie the work have

been pretty consistent for years, they remain viable and important and merit mention. They provide part of

the passion to pursue the work. And to reiterate, whether they project themselves out of the work is

questionable, and in some ways irrelevant. After all, the work stands on its own as a silent, still,

complete, visual, physical form and it is for viewers to receive it as they will.

Some of these underling issues, recurrent thoughts, in no particular order include: ambiguity, possibility, mystery; physicality, immediacy; imperfection, irregularity, awkwardness, incompleteness occasional absurdity; fragmentation of consciousness, vicissitudes of memory, the value of the raw and the danger and temptation of refinement; the provocation and moral capacity of art and how fragile it is, whether it be pure abstraction

or figuration; work that perplexes, work that calls for contemplation and invites repeated

viewing; apparent simplicity or complexity as devices; the use of color, evidence of the artist's

hand and the nature of beauty are all considerations in the work.

Other issues always on the artist’s mind are trauma, pain, cruelty, loss, death, flux, decay,

life, living, hypocrisy, inevitability of time and change, irrationality; the opacity and ineffability of almost all

things, ubiquitous distortion (reduction, false association, diminution), delusion, denial, and most

curiously, the remarkable constancy of optimism and the capacity for wonder, (irrepressible in the face of

countless and enormous, historic and ongoing failures, disappointments and horrors perpetrated by

individuals and cultures) and the ceaseless appreciation of beauty even in the worst of circumstances.


"WHAT AM I DOING?  More than ever, I face this weighted question every moment that I am not in the act of making. I take it as a sign of the times , of aging and use it as a catalyst to just begin." 


2014 – present     Jack and Marcel, New York and Arizona                                                                                             

2018 - 2019          Yun Gee Park Gallery. Tucson, AZ

2012 - 13             Obsidian Gallery, Tucson (closed) 

2008                    Illusions Gallery, (closed)

1996 – 2000         Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery


Solo Exhibitions

2015    Life, Death, Geometry, Memory and a Few Other Things , RLV Gallery, Oracle, AZ                                                2013    New Metal Drawings,  JCC Gallery, Tucson, AZ                                                                                    

2012    Metal Drawings , Arizona Western College, Yuma
           A Decade in Quicksand, works from before, during and after, Pop Up Gallery, Tucson 
2001    New Works, Hacienda del Sol Gallery, Tucson
1999    Object Paintings, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
1990    Paintings, Higgins Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
1988    New Paintings, Rotunda Gallery, University of Arizona, Tucson
           New Paintings, Ground Zero Gallery, Tucson
1987    New Paintings, 830 Gallery, Tucson    

Group Exhibitions 

2019     Group Show, New Works for times of upheaval, group exhibit 2019 - gallery 508, London, England.

(opening reception Oct. 10)

2019     Group Show, Boxers, Paintings and works on paper, gallery 2 Sun, tucson, AZ 

2019     Group Show, Boxers, temple gallery at the Temple of Music and Art, tucson, AZ

2019     Group Show, Flower Power, Triangle L Gallery, oracle AZ, Tucson Arizona

2019     Group Show, Flower Power, Triangle L Gallery, oracle AZ, Tucson Arizona

2019     Transiting 2, Joseph Gross Gallery, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2019     Group Show, Works in Metal, Yun Gee Park Gallery, Tucson Arizona

2018     Group Show, New Paintings, Yun Gee Park Gallery, Tucson Arizona

2018     Group Show, Works in Metal, Yun Gee Park Gallery, Tucson Arizona

2018     Group Show, Rancho Linda Vista, 50th Anniversary exhibit, Oracle, AZ

            Installation of metal drawings, Yun Gee Park Gallery, Tucson Arizona

            Group Exhibit, Jack and Marcel, New York (works on display throughout the year)   

2017     Group Exhibit, Raices Taller Gallery, Tucson Arizona

            Dinnerware Artist Today, Part 2: 1990-2003, Temple Gallery, Tucson 

           Group Exhibit, Raices Taller Gallery, Tucson Arizona

           Group Exhibit, Jack and Marcel, New York (works on display throughout the year)     

2016    Exhibition of works, Jack and Marcel, New York

           Group Show, Solar Culture Gallery, Tucson

2015    6th Annual Sculpture Exhibit, Sculpture Garden, Tucson Jewish Community Center, Tucson 

           Group Show, Solar Culture Gallery, Tucson                                                                                                                     Group Exhibit, Jack and Marcel, New York (works on display throughout the year)                                                               Show of Hands, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson       

2013    Group Show, Obsidian Gallery, Tucson, Arizona (works on display throughout the year)                                         

2012    Group Show, Obsidian Gallery, Tucson, Arizona (works on display throughout the year)
           Group Show, Art in August, RLV Gallery, Ranch Linda Vista, Oracle, Arizona
           Group Exhibit, “Crush” Silent Auction Benefiting the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson

2010    Group Exhibit, Sky Island Alliance Auction, Tucson
2008    Group Show, Illusions Gallery, Tucson
           Group Show, Illusions Gallery, Tucson
2007    Group Show, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
2006    Group Show, Graficas Gallery, Works on Paper, Tucson
2001    Group Show, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
2000    Dinnerware’s Twentieth Anniversary Invitational Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson             

           Group Exhibit, Gallery on the Hill, Aberdeen, Scotland

1999    Faculty Exhibit, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson
           Paintings, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
1998    New Paintings – Swimmer, Blomquist, Chittock, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
           Ready, Set, D’Art, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson
1997    Arizona Biennial, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson
1998    New Paintings, Cochise Community College Gallery, Douglas
           Group Show, President’s Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn

           Group Show, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
1996    6 Alumni Invitational, Rotunda Gallery, University of Arizona, Tucson
           Group Show - Edwards, Hopper and Swimmer, Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, Tucson
1995    Invitational Exhibit, Dinnerware Artist’s Cooperative Gallery, Tucson
           Page 22, 450 Broadway Gallery, New York, New York
1994    Three New York Artists, Belcher Gallery, San Francisco
1993    Encasements, Pratt Institute Library, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
1992    Book as/into Art, Pratt Institute Library, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
1991    2nd Annual National Juried Competition, Eleven East Ashland, Phoenix
           Bliss and Nausea, Ridge Street Gallery, New York
1990    Juried Exhibition, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York
           10th Annual Pratt Symposium Exhibition, juried by top N.Y. critics, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
1989    Group Exhibit, Gallery 107, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
           Juried Group Exhibit, Carolyn Ladd Pratt Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
1988    Group Exhibit, Magritte Gallery, Tucson, Arizona
           Group Exhibit, Dodajk Internation Gallery, Tucson
           New Paintings, Ground Zero Gallery, Tucson
1987    2nd Annual Six State Juried Competition, Dinnerware Artist’s Cooperative Gallery, Tucson
           Group Show, 830 Gallery, Tucson
1986    Group Exhibit, Alumni Foundation Gallery of the University of Arizona, Phoenix

Teaching Experience

2001-2010    Tucson Unified School District Tucson, Arizona
2000            International Summer Program, SPAM, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
1999-2000    University of Arizona, Tucson,
1997-1999    Pima Community College, Tucson,
1990-1996    Pratt Institute
1995, 1996   Guest Lectures, Kingsborough Community College, Bronx Community College, 

                   Quinnipiac College
1993            Saturday Art School (for gifted high school students), Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York


Private Collections in North America, Europe and Public Collections including Tucson Museum of Art, City of Tucson, Process Museum, Pratt Institute; Designed Holocaust History Center, Tucson, Arizona,2013; Commercial projects including book covers, album covers, illustrations; public art for Financial Center, NYC; Employment as Research Associate to the Provost, Pratt Institute; Finalist, Distinguished Faculty Member, Pratt Institute; Graduate Assistantship, Pratt Institute; Kingan Scholarship for Painting, University of Arizona; Past board member and board president, Tucson Visiting Artist’s Consortium; Past board member and Interim Director, Dinnerware Gallery, Lectures on History of Holocaust Art.