Westerville Man Makes His Community His Canvas


Each day, Gary Gardiner suits up, hops on his bike and finds a masterpiece.

He is working to live up to an idea born in his retirement.

Shortly after his career as a photographer with the Associated Press ended, Gardiner had a close encounter with a truck.

It made him think about his mortality.

“And I said, ‘Well, somebody’s going to say, what was his last picture?’” he said. “So I came up with the idea to, every day of the rest of my life, go out and shoot a pic that day.”

Gardiner, who has documented people and events all over the country and central Ohio, made sure his new canvas was the one he missed for decades while he worked – his home in Westerville.

“I discovered a lot about people,” Gardiner said. “I discovered places I live near and hadn’t looked at on a regular basis.”

Even the mayor took notice.

“To me, he’s chronicling Westerville,” Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi said.

Gardiner finds his daily inspiration pedaling from one place to the next on his bike.

At the farmers’ market, he took a close-up of a planter’s hand. At his own granddaughter’s softball game, she became the subject.

“I’ll find a story within minutes, a great story other people want to hear, just by starting to talk to people,” he said. “Some of them are sad stories and some are spectacular stories.”

Just about all of them visually tap into a shared experience and conjure certain sentiments.

He said he becomes a voyeur when he has to be and keeps a distance when the situation calls for it.

He says he never wants to distract people from their purpose.

See Gary's pictures here.

“Pictures are a great way to look into the soul of a person or community,” Cocuzzi said.

For Gardiner, each day holds the promise of tomorrow’s blank slate.

“It’s been a spectacular ride,” he said.

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