The Art Files: Gordon Munro
Tucked between a hair salon and a nail spa in the Preston Corners shopping center in Cary, lies a small storefront gallery called Gordon Munro Fine Art. It opened in the summer of 2014, to much excitement from media outlets. Articles were published in the News & Observer, the Cary Citizen, and Cary Magazine detailing the life and career of the owner, Gordon Munro.
GMFA is currently nearing the end of its month-long show “Four Artists”, which features the work of three previously exhibiting artists and Gordon himself. The gallery typically shows work by one artist, but when a short period of a little less than a month between two solo shows presented the opportunity, he carefully curated a group exhibit with a selection of lithographs, concrete sculptures, and paintings by artists who have previously exhibited at the gallery, as well as some platinum prints of his own.
The photographs on the wall span decades of editorial shoots for fashion magazines, portraits, ads, light studies and more. Platinum is a process of printing that, in addition to it’s durability, is favored by photographers for it’s tonal range. For a lighting expert such as Gordon, the method accentuates subtleties like the soft highlight of Grace Jones’ cheekbone, or the folds in the fabric of one of Bill Blass’ balloon dresses. An adjacent wall displays an array of digital prints, which are so meticulously detailed they are appear almost inhuman.
Mr. Munro has been published in various high fashion magazines since the 1960’s. The son of a builder, he would have followed the same path had it not been for a high school chemistry teacher who wanted his students to understand the real-life applications of the science. Using an old, untouched camera of his father’s, Gordon quickly became the school’s photographer and, a few years later, found a job as an assistant to a photographer in London.
But the photography scene at the time was mostly in New York City. After his mentor accepted a job with no place for Gordon, he moved across the pond and began working for the well-known photographer Irving Penn. For nearly four years he assisted him with fashion shoots for magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
A collaborator at heart, he would have been content to assist Penn with lighting forever. New York is expensive, however, and his contract with Penn stipulated that he was not to work on his own projects lest he get distracted. So when he learned all he could from Penn, he left to begin his freelance career.
Since then, he’s done editorial work for Lancome, Revlon, Clinique, Saks Fifth Avenue, and more. His portfolio includes portraits of celebrities like Magic Johnson, Iman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Gordon Munro has been in Cary, NC for 9 years now, and finds that the art scene in the triangle can be quite rich. He frequents the galleries and museums in downtown Raleigh, particularly Flanders, the Adam Cave gallery, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
In addition to his curatorial endeavors, Munro has found additional fulfillment through collaborative projects with Lionel Vatinet of La Farm bakery. Though he no longer makes weekend trips to New York City for jobs, he will continue to search for new creative challenges and collaborations in North Carolina.
Cary is certainly lucky to be the home to an artist of his caliber. CVA will continue to follow his work and career.