Steve and Deb Garst

Works of art by Steve and Deb Garst will soon be on display at a gallery in Troy. Submitted

Wetumpka's own, artists Deb and Steve Garst, will soon have more than 120 works of art on display at the Johnson Center for the Arts in downtown Troy. The exhibit is titled GarstArt: Works by Deb and Steve Garst.

The opening of the show is June 9, which coincides with Steve Garst's birthday. The opening reception will be June 12 from 4-6:30 p.m., and the exhibit will run from June 9 to Aug. 7.

“It’s been a long and busy journey," said Steve Garst. "Every piece of art has its own story that we will gladly share with any groups that wish to visit the gallery during our exhibit. Come help us celebrate art at this exciting time.”

This week they will take the last of their paintings to the gallery and will stay to assist with hanging the pieces. The exhibit marks a major career milestone for the Garsts. Their ultimate dream has always been to team up as GarstArt and do their own two-person exhibits in major galleries.

The creation of their two-storied art studio, lovingly dubbed the Dog House Studio, gave them the needed space to teach and create.

After several years of using their living room as an art studio, and two years before Steve Garst retired as an illustrator and art director, the Garsts embarked on the task of building the Dog House Studio. With two large spaces to create, they now have a separate building to use as a studio space and a place to teach. Their home has become their own personal gallery.

Deb Garst has been participating in art shows and national and international competitions for many years, so when her husband retired in 2009 they were free to do art shows across the southeast, as well as national and international competitions together. They have had opportunities to show their artworks alongside other artists from around the globe in some of the country’s finest galleries.

The Garsts said it can take up to two years to be accepted by a gallery and often there is a long waiting list. Standards are high and acceptance is determined by the gallery’s board of directors. Their first invitation was to show at Jemison Carnegie Heritage Hall in Talladega in 2018, a gallery where the couple had shown before with other organizations. Their show was a great success and they still participate in yearly events there. By doing joint gallery exhibits the couple has the opportunity to share the natural beauty of the area they live in.

In 2019 the couple was invited to do an exhibit at Johnson Center for the Arts, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the show. Now, after the health crisis has eased, the exhibit is finally in the works and will soon become a reality. Steve Garst had participated in a Watercolor Society of Alabama competition and exhibit at this gallery a few years back and the couple was impressed by not only by the gallery space but the friendly, very professional staff.

Knowing the challenge they faced, they were excited to be chosen but also were prepared for long hours in the studio. They have created over 120 pieces of art. They've created pieces individually as well as collaborated on pieces to fill the two-story gallery.

"You might think that the task is complete when the last painting is finished, but a show of this magnitude is more than just creating pieces of art worthy of the venue," Deb Garst said. "Framing, pricing lists, cataloging, photographing and preparing images of the art for the gallery's online catalog, opening reception preparations, making invitations and address lists, promotional material preparation, and other assorted details are all a part of the process to help ensure the success of the exhibit. It’s all a challenge but we love it and hope to continue doing exhibits as long as we can."