Gary was born into a third generation ranching family near Toppenish, Washington and began painting at an early age. While taking painting lessons from noted Western artist Don Crook in 1981, Gary began to realize his potential. With Don’s mentoring and encouragement, Gary made art a career choice.
With the love of the west in his blood, Gary created work with an emphasis on old west culture during much of his early career. Working with his hometown community, Gary painted a collector series of 10 rodeo posters celebrating the area’s ranching heritage. For eleven years, Gary traveled the west and Midwest, designing and painting 48 murals for towns in California, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Illinois. In 1995, Gary proudly created a bronze sculpture of 5-time world bareback bronc champion, Bruce Ford, which went on permanent display in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In 1998, change was in the air, and Gary moved to the big sky country of Montana. “First and foremost I have always been an outdoors man,” says Kerby. “Secondly, I’m an artist. With my love of wild country and adventure it only seemed natural for me to be painting landscapes and animals – and what better place than the wilds of south central Montana”. Gary relocated 80 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, near Livingston, Montana. “Natural beauty surrounds my home,” says Kerby, “not a day goes by that I don’t find inspiration in a deer wandering through my yard, the sound of a sandhill crane at dawn or the evening sun on the Crazy Mountains”.
The abundant new inspiration Gary enjoyed translated into numerous one man shows and commissioned works. Then in 2006 came the exciting commission to create a life-size bronze mountain man that would become the gateway monument for Wilsall, Montana which Gary entitled “Welcome to the Shields”. Soon after the 2007 1st grade class gave the sculpture the name of “Thunder Jack” and it stuck. “I’m so proud that the local kid’s took ownership in the work seen by so many”, Gary says. In 2007 Gary was asked once again to create a rodeo poster for Toppenish, Washington celebrating their rodeo’s 75th anniversary and was also named that communities “Lead Artist” for their famous “Mural in a Day” art project.
Then in 2008 Gary created Wilsall and Park County Montana’s very first exterior monumental mural. A 14 x 40 foot mural representation of a Bell’s Bros photo entitled “WILSALL UNLEASHED”. Soon after Gary was unleashed to create several more works for the famous “Wilsall “Bank Bar”. At this point bringing his total to 51 murals in 16 years. His goal was 50 murals in 20 years. Gary says, “You have to think big. After that, everything else seems small and very achievable.”
Gary says, “I’m an artist, a bowhunter a fly fisherman and all of these have one thing in common… patience…without it there would not be success. There have been many green lights in my life. For example, the influence of artists like Don Crook and Fred Oldfield. The influence of Don Olson and the crew at Omega Bronze Foundry in Stevensville, Mt. Then the influence of mural artists who put me on the path to success and all I learned from from my neighbor Clyde Aspevig and the marriage to my wife Sandy. I’ve learned that learning never ends.
I have a full tank of gas, ready to push the pedal down, let the engine roar, it’s an open road. Gary Kerby invites us into his creative experience, “My hope is, all of you will travel with me to the wild places, experience wild creatures and feel what I felt though the work I create.”