Michael Garlington is the son of a journalist and a photographer. He grew up in Petaluma, California, where he currently lives and works. From Petaluma, land of hippies, poultry and dairy farmers, metal fabricators, bleeding hearts, artists and transients he drew his early inspiration. At the age of 17, he started working with his mother and stepfather at their photographic lab based in San Francisco. At Spindler Photographic, Garlington gained and mastered his skills of black and white film developing and printing. The clientele at Spindler were the best photographers in the Bay Area and this exposure helped inform both his composition and dark room talents.
In 1998, Garlington began his photographic career. He began creating fantastical portraits he refers to as photo sculptures. By building backdrops, adding costumes and set elements to his portraits, imaginative dreams were caught on film. He captures starkly luminous imagery of fairy-tale-esque scenes encompassing the spectrum of human experience, from the mundane to the poignant to the absurd.
Since 2004, Garlington has been featured in PhotoNY, PhotoLA, and PhotoSF. In 2005, a collection of his portraiture was published under the title, Portraits of the Belly of the Whale. He has been exhibited in solo and group shows around the world, and in 2009 his work was the target of an art heist in Connecticut.
More recently, Garlington has been sought out for his installations. In 2010, he was sponsored to create PhotoHouse by the National Endowment of the Arts and the Andy Warhol Visual Arts Foundation at SF Camerawork. Black Rock Arts Foundation chose and sponsored his work as part of their Honorarium Collection at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada two years in a row. first, in 2012 with EGO. It was a 20′ x 60′ x 4′ installation piece forming the word “EGO” out of an assemblage of intricately placed hand-poured gilded relics. In 2013, Garlington designed and built PhotoChapel, a 8’x20′ Gothic-style chapel with a 40′ steeple. PhotoChapel was covered inside and out with his Black and White portraiture, contained an intricate gilded interior, an alter, a confessional and catacombs. Both installations were burned, yet rest in pieces in the memories and photographs left behind.
Today, Michael Garlington is a renowned installation artist, sculptor and photographer who continues to build art in Petaluma.
“The Jungian psychoanalyst, James Hillman, has said that the world does not ask for belief;
it asks for noticing, attention, application, and care.” – John Westerhoff, Sensing Beauty.