Mel Garbark

1930 - 2016

Mel Garbark’s entire life was art oriented. From coloring books as a small child through classes and private tutoring as an adolescent to a career in advertising art as an adult. Although he did much recreational painting, it wasn’t until recuperating from back surgery in 1981 that he started painting in earnest. After his first trip to Africa in 1983, the painting turned to wildlife and that interest never wavered.

Mel considered himself to be a naturalist and conservationist and never painted anything he hadn’t experienced personally. His works reflect a natural concern for the ecology, preservation and future of the wildlife and landscapes he portrayed. Mel attended the school of the Art Institute in Chicago Illinois and the American Academy of Art  in Chicago. He also studied with Robert Bateman, Alan Hunt, John Seerey-Lester and others.

Exhibitions included:

  • Bateman Selects, Nicholaysen Art Museum, Casper, WY 1986
  • Ultima Thule Retrospective, Black Swan Gallery, Seattle, WA 1989
  • Top 100 Artists for the Parks competition, Jackson Hole, WY 1991 and 1999; and Ultima’s Yellowstone Retrospective, Yellowstone National Park 1992
  • Wildlife: The Artists View, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI 1993
  • Birds in Art Exhibit Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau WI 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999
  • Kentucky National Wildlife Art Exhibit 6 different times.


Awards included:  

  • Award of Merit 1989 and Best of Show Award of Excellence 1990, Wildlife Art Walk, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO
  • The Berillo Award, Mountains and Meadows Conservation Fine Arts Festival, Meadow Vista CA 1990
  • Artist of the Year, Safari Club International, Chicago Chapter 1993
  • Best North American Animal, Best International Animal and Best Bird Awards, October West Wildlife and Western Art Show, Burbank CA 1993
  • Winner Florida Panther Show Poster Contest, October-West Wildlife and Western Art Show, 1995
  • Best of Show, Woman’s Club of Paducah Art Show 1998, 2001 and 2003


His Artwork from 1992, 1993 and 1994 may be found in the Permanent Collection of the
International Wildlife Museum, Tuscon AZ. His commissions included African Wildlife Sculpture Designs, Lenox Collections 1990; Christmas Bird Print, Kemper Securities for 4 years; Everon Securities 1999; and First Union Securities.

Mel was a member of the National and International Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, Wildlife Conservation International, National Parks Conservation Association and the Paducah Area Painters Alliance.

~ Rest in Peace Mel ~

More images of Mel's paintings can be seen using the link below

The PAPA Gallery

Home of the Paducah Area Painters Alliance