By Jan Lewin
It is not unusual to see Buckhead resident Dr. Gary Bodner in surgical scrubs in the halls of the Women’s Center at Northside Hospital. After all, as an obstetrician and gynecologist, he has delivered thousands of babies in Atlanta during his 30 years of practice.
What is unusual, and what many of his patients don’t know. is that Bodner has a budding painting career. He is scheduled to deliver his third solo show on Sept. 11 at the Anne Irwin Fine Art on Bennett Street in Atlanta.
His work, which has developed quite a regional following, is known for its combinations of colors. Often associated with impressionism, or a loose, colorful style of painting, Anne Irwin, owner of the gallery believes his work cannot be categorized.
“Gary has an amazing intuitive sense of color, and it comes naturally to him,” says Irwin. In fact, his paintings were reviewed for the first time nationally this month by the American Art Collector, a well-known magazine for art collectors.
“It’s not really about the subject so much as it is about having a reason to apply paint to the canvas,” said Bodner. “I consider whether the subject matter offers me the opportunity to put different colors together because the power of color is so important to me.”
Lately, Bodner has been experimenting with mixed media and subjects that lend themselves to a more abstract expression, though he still has not given up his traditional landscapes and interior scenes.
Even though Bodner has painted for only 13 years, he had a strong creative urge for years. Born on Long Island, NY, in Massapequa, Bodner’s father was a salesman who early on discouraged him from becoming an artist. At 13, his parents were called to school and told by his teachers that he was talented in art, and that they should consider sending him to art school. His father told Bodner right away that art was not a suitable career choice and that he should become a doctor.
“So, like a good son, I listened to my father and ultimately became a doctor,” says Bodner. “I’ve never regretted that decision either. I’ve loved being a doctor and in fact, when I had a chance several years ago to retire, I decided to continue practicing. I like working.”
Before medicine, he studied architecture, but admits he could not draw, so he changed to medicine. Years later he took a watercolor class at the Chastain Arts Center.
“I tried watercolors, but I wasn’t good at that medium either,” he said. “It wasn’t until I took a painting class that it made sense to me – the lights and darks, the colors – all of it.”
Bodner paints every day. “I get agitated when I can’t paint,” he said. “In fact, I have a vacation coming up and I’m concerned about not painting.”
When asked how he will handle it, he replied,” I just paint in my head. I look at everything around me and think about how it would look as a painting.”