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Doug Gelhaye (1950-2020)
Doug grew up in Brooklyn Center, on the West bank of the Mississippi River just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. At about age 5, he asked his mom if he could paint a stick he had found. When asked what he’d do with it after he painted it, he replied, "I’d just look at it.” Sixty years later, Doug would get the same thrill altering things to make art.
Doug adored the TV episodes of the 1950s consisting of Superman, Flash Gordon, and Jet Jackson. Even later in life, he was quite sure that his imagination was still influenced by those Saturday morning shows. In high school, Doug said art class was his most interesting class. After graduating from high school, he was employed in various sales and customer service type jobs. During those years, he took a two-year break to attend North Hennepin Community College to earn an Associate in Applied Science degree. The emphasis was sales and marketing, but again, he enjoyed the art classes the most. It wasn’t until later in life, however, that he seriously began to pay more attention to his desires to create.
Doug found pieces for his creations by searching garage and estate sales, flea markets, and antique shops. He would say that “the smell of a thrift store intoxicates me.” He was also grateful for his wife‚ Lee Ann, for her wonderful organizational skills in managing all the things he would drag home.
The majority of Doug’s sculptural work involved the reworking and assemblage of the glorious materials he would find. He always said the anything with an interesting shape, color, and texture can be used. If it was rusty, and showing decades of wear, even better. Doug also liked to combine collage, painting, and photography into his works.
Doug’s work might tell a story, or it may just be a random merging of elements that seem to look good together. He really enjoyed the process of cobbling items together in ways they were not originally intended and the whole process is improvisation. He would often begin with a specific idea in mind, but rarely did his finished work look anything like what he originally envisioned. He encouraged viewers of his work to create their own interpretations of what his work might be or mean.
Doug founded the Worldwide Assemblage, Found Object, & Mixed Media Artists Facebook page where artists from all over the world can post and discuss their works, insights, questions, and philosophies.
Doug passed away on December 20, 2020, after a long and strong battle with lung cancer. Doug was a very talented artist and all of us at Gallery 5004 will deeply miss him and his humor, wit, creativity, friendship, inquisitive nature, and his kind and caring soul.