Garry L. Rich

Obituary
  • "Garry was my best friend in Kansas City and caused me to be..."
    - James Wilson
  • "I just learned of Garry's death and am deeply saddened. My..."
  • "Garry filled a space in my awareness that very few were..."
    - Art Schade
  • "Dear Sandy, My condolences to you on your loss. Garry..."
    - Susan Austad (Zucker)
  • "We are sorry for your loss, Sandy"
    - jane and gerry logemann/rosen

1943 - 2016
Garry L. Rich, artist, collector, Bed & Breakfast proprietor, and long time "social engine" of Noho and Soho died on the afternoon of May 17, 2016, departing his beloved Crosby and Bleecker Street neighborhood. He was found beside his object laden desk by his wife, the artist Sandy Gellis, who loves him dearly. In recent years, Garry was beset by several infirmities and confronted them with the growly humor that animated his life. Plans are now being made to celebrate this life in the way he would have wanted – a large and raucous party with close friends.

Garry Rich was born and raised in Arkansas City, Kansas on November 11, 1943. His parents were Evelyn (Werther) and Otis Kelly Rich, but he was primarily reared by his mother and
stepfather, Gerald Simpson. Garry was the quarterback of his High School football team – the dash and poise associated with this position carried over into Garry's "generous personality" and his career in art. He attended undergraduate school at the Kansas City Art Institute, and then went on to earn an MFA at NYU eventually completing everything but the dissertation (EBD) towards a PHD at NYU. He collaborated in his thesis exhibition with Jeff Way from Ohio, who became a lifelong friend, both living downtown and contributing to the energy and creative excitement of Soho in its formative years. Garry Rich exhibited his paintings in the 1970's and into the 80's, showing with the Max Hutchinson Gallery, as well as many group exhibitions across the United States. His work is in the collections of a number of museums including the Whitney. He also taught art at various schools including NYU, Hofstra and Bard College, and was a member of the Visiting Artists Collaborative (VAC), a group of artists whose members included Ree Morton, Elke Solomon, Jeff Way, Theodora Skipitares and Frank Owen, who traveled here and there offering workshops, exhibitions and performances.

Despite reducing the scale and output of his own artwork, many people were unaware of Garry's ongoing connection with art – with the express intention of not exhibiting in the "art world" – he continually sketched, read about art, and attended museum shows right up until his death.

At the same time, Garry Rich intensified his passion for collecting, building a rich cabinet of curiosities that filled most of his space. It includes: central american masks, ancient shark teeth, insects, meteorites, motor bikes and many other odd and marvelous objects. Part of the year, he retreated from the action of the city and lived for months on a small houseboat docked on an estuary on the west bank of the Hudson, reading voraciously.

He is survived by his wife Sandy Gellis of New York City; many old friends; a brother, Jerry Rich, and wife, Norma of Arkansas City; a sister, Judy Walker, and husband, Rich Harmon, of Houston, Texas; two nephews and three nieces.
Funeral Home
Greenwich Village Funeral Home
199 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 674-8055
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Published on NYTimes.com from May 30 to May 31, 2016
Funeral Home Details
New York, NY   (212) 674-8055
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