Although Great Neck resident Norman Gorbaty, 76, has been creating art his entire life, his newly-opened exhibition at the Queensborough Community College (QCC) Art Gallery marks only the second time he has publicly displayed his work.
Originally from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Gorbaty began painting as a child and continued to create art from that point on.
“My first brush was a clothespin with a rag tied around the end with beet juice as my paint,” he said.
While a pre-med student who was second in his class, Gorbaty decided to switch majors and instead focus on his art.
“Junior year I decided I wanted to do art, for which my father didn’t talk to me for two years because we had a lot of doctors in our family,” Gorbaty said.
After completing his undergrad work, Gorbaty received a fellowship to attend Yale. He studied art and graphic design there.
Following his marriage, he decided to go into graphic design, saying that such a profession would make him more acceptable to his family. He worked in that area for 50 years, designing things such as advertisements, annual reports, film titles, children’s books and posters.
However, the entire time he was still creating his own artwork and putting it away. He said he did it “to sort of keep myself honest.”
Gorbaty’s wife, Joy, passed away a few years ago and had been his only real audience for many years. After her death, he stopped doing graphic design and began focusing on his art.
“My son Ben talked me into showing stuff. I never showed anything before,” Gorbaty said. He also said, “She’d [Joy] would be very, very happy. I think that’s one of the reasons my son has pushed me. He doesn’t like to say it but I think he promised her he would try to…get it going.”
Gorbaty had his first-ever exhibition just a few months ago. On February 13, an exhibition of his work, including sculptures, paintings and drawings, opened at the QCC Art Gallery.
“It is an honor to be part of reintroducing the world to Norman Gorbaty,” said gallery curator and director Faustino Quintanilla. “There is so much to be learned from this extraordinary artist and his remarkable craftsmanship and dedication to the arts during the ‘hidden’ years.”
As he began to exhibit his pieces, Gorbaty said that it feels good to have people such as Quintanilla get excited about his work.
“I just want it on the wall,” he said. “I want people to look at it. I would love them to look at it and take with them what they want.”
Gorbaty said that his goal for the future is to get his work in good collections “where they can meet and talk at night to other pieces that are of quality and let them live in good company.”
The QCC Art Gallery is located at 222-02 56th Avenue in Bayside. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit www.qccartgallery.org or call 718-631-6396.