Barry “Van” van Gerbig, Jr. was born May 1, 1966 in West Palm Beach, FL. Raised in Vermont, he graduated from Middlebury College in 1988. He now lives and works in Langley, WA with his wife, Lilly.
In 1996, to relax at the end of a day working with emotionally-challenged kids (from single parent & foster homes) he started painting. His work as a professional artist began when an avid Palm Beach art collector was gifted an original for opening up her home to family for his wedding. Her reaction to the highly original style of portraying animals in human-like pursuits was, “You could do this professionally.” That’s where it all began.
The style was “naive,” and whimsical, and soon attracted a local following. Barry says, “I’ve studied animals, but moved away from earlier, realistic interpretations, to focus on how I wanted them to play, move, express themselves & interact. It’s a way to work outside the lines. The combination seems to have the most positive affect on those who enjoy my work & style.”
After successful exhibits at venues like the Four Arts, in Palm Beach, his 2 dimensional art transitioned in 2000. That was when his wife, Lilly, combined her years of experience in retail, with Barry’s flair for colorful jungle themes … and a women’s printed clothing line (Govango) was born. Since then, it’s been sold in over 200 boutiques, from the Caribbean to Maine. And from that 8 year journey came an opportunity to also license his apparel prints to the “Lilly & Van” Collection, that sold on QVC for 2 years, from Spring 2009 through Fall 2010.
Barry’s desire to create on canvas was reignited when he was invited to exhibit at the Lighthouse Center for the Arts, in Tequesta, FL, alongside the works of Orville Bulman. Thanks to that exposure in January/February 2008, the goal of getting his art into hospitals, clinics & recovery centers is just starting to come to fruition … especially pediatric units. Barry says, “I wanted the apparel prints to find their way onto Dr’s & nurse’s scrubs, and children’s hospital gowns, which is still a goal for us. So witnessing the painted art & limited edition giclees going into healthcare environments is something wonderful, but a theme we’ve been working on for some time. Sometimes the art just has a way of setting its own course.”
“What is essential, for me, is to create art that attempts to positively transform emotions at many levels, even if it is just for a few moments of immersion. From my perspective, positive, uplifting images can often help the mind in ways that words may fall short. At its best, a finished painting comes from a higher place of joy & laughter, and offers a different world to regress to . . . an escape for the young & young at heart.”