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Manteca artist started his passion at age 5

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Manteca artist started his passion at age 5

Manteca artist Gary Wilson in front of his exhibit in the council chambers at Manteca City Hall. At left is his painting, "Centaur and Serpent."

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED January 28, 2010 3:05 a.m.
Gary Wilson was hit by the “love bug” when he was just a five-year-old boy.

That’s when he became “passionate about drawing,” said the Army veteran who enlisted “to beat the draft” during the Vietnam War in 1971.

A perceptive talented aunt noted her nephew’s innate talent and started giving Wilson his first formal training in oil painting when he was 11 years old. And the retired military man and business owner has not let go of his brush since, even when he was stationed overseas. In fact, he sold all of his paintings while he was in Bavaria so that he did not have to be encumbered by them when he crossed the Atlantic on the way back home. Besides, he had other more important things on his mind by that time. He had just ended his military stint, and took a “European out” to marry his German sweetheart, Liesl.

Back to civilian life, Wilson started his own business installing blinds and shutters for commercial and residential projects. Throughout that time, he continued to pursue his artistic passion with oil as his favorite medium.

Many of his subjects are “out of the box” inspirations, such as “Centaur and the Serpent,” one of 17 paintings he currently has on display in the Council Chambers at the City Hall in Manteca. The exhibit will run through the end of April and is open for public viewing during regular business hours at the Civic Center.

Other paintings are the photographic byproducts of travels he and his wife have taken throughout the United States. A breathtaking bird’s eye view of Zion National Park in Utah, for example, was inspired by a photograph he took when he and Liesl took a motorcycle trip in the Western United States, a passion that they share. Their wanderlust have taken them to Canada, Hawaii, Ireland, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy where he “accumulated enough photos and memories to inspire a lifetime of art.”

But he has also cast his artistic eye on some local sceneries, such as the Van Ryn almond hulling operation on the former Spreckels Road, now the Van Ryn Avenue in honor of the farming family, and a river view at Stouffer Park in Ripon.

A native of Massachusetts, Wilson and his family moved to California when he was nine years old to join relatives who were living in San Jose. Except they did not really know they were going to a place called San Jose, he recalled laughing.

“We really thought we were going to St. Josie!” he said.

The Wilsons have one son, Michael, 35, who lives with his wife and their three children in Texas.
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