Associated with The New Mexico Transcendental Painting Group, he worked with Emil Bisttram and Raymond Jonson, who later became his mentor. Jonson encouraged him to explore the potential for spiritual beauty in abstraction. “The Transcendental Painting Group’s radical approach to abstraction was influenced in part by the theories and paintings of two of Garman’s favorite artists, Kandinsky and Mondrian, as well as a range of philosophical and occult teachings such as Theosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Dynamic Symmetry.”* Garman also influenced by fellow a philosophy student Coreva Hanford. In 1938, he married Hanford and she introduced him to Platonic philosophy.
With his signature style of Geometric Abstraction, Garman created paintings he believed would not only achieve a type of spiritual beauty, but would also provide the basis for an empathetic emotional responses between viewer and painting. Garman worked toward achieving an art of aesthetic abstraction that was not preoccupied with moral or political interests, but would emphasize geometric shapes, lines, and flat color. In 1934, Garman worked at an archeological dig for a Depression-era Works Progress Administration project where he sorted pottery shards and found an appreciation for the aesthetic of the geometric forms of the Native American craft design. By the 1940s, Garman developed a sophisticated theory he called “dynamic painting” in which varied empathetic responses could be stimulated through elements of movement and its counterpoint, rest. “Appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, color, light and design, to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual”. **
Public Collections: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
* ** Tiska Blankenship. Vision and Spirit: The Transcendental Painting Group, Jonson Gallery of the University of New Mexico Art Museums. 1997