Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

William Dyas Garnett

William Dyas Garnett, who died in 2004 at age 65, was born in San Diego, raised in Missouri and educated at The Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles (later absorbed by CalArts) and Portland State University, where he received his MFA. Garnett’s art, which spanned many years and iterations, was united by a deep respect for drawing.  Through his interest in Pop Art, Cubism and the Mexican muralists, he forged a unique style that led to a series of notable murals in the Northwest. He was a much beloved instructor of painting and drawing at PSU, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Clackamas and Mt. Hood Community Colleges and PCC (Sylvania), where he taught for many years, and where his mural on the history of Labor can be seen in the CC building.  Garnett helped establish the Artist-in-the-Schools Program, which received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1978.  He was represented by Blackfish Gallery in Portland.

Garnett was an inspiring and goofy lecturer, whose wild digressions into poetry, existentialism and art history would provide a weird monologue to some of the most astonishing demonstrations of drawing ever witnessed by art students.  “I dissect art history with my hand, not my head,” he wrote.  Garnett liked to teach by aphorisms.  His students liked to write them down:

“The darkest darks are at noon.”

“Painting is the seismograph of your moment.”

“If you want a replica, go to the J.C. Penny Catalog.”

“Tell a lie with vigor.”

“Train the head and heart together.”

“Music brings order to silence. Art brings order to space.”

A pamphlet of his writings on art culled from his papers and his students’ notes was produced by PCC in 2005.