Joseph Garlock was born in Russia in 1884, and immigrated to the United States in 1905. He lived in New York and New Jersey, making a living as a cobbler before opening a fruit and vegetable market and then operating a bus line. Garlock has no formal training, and began sculpting and painting as a “hobby” only after his retirement at age 63.
In a prolific body of work, Garlock captured a wide range of themes including landscapes, highways and waterways, imagery of family and ritual, portraiture, wooden sculptural figures, and vernacular genre scenes. With an extremely painterly style, Garlock covered entire surfaces of wooden board, cardboard from department store boxes, and canvas. He employed a vigorous but changing palette, ranging from monochromatic illustrations in grisaille, to bright hues of color vibrating in relation to one other.