Remembering Gary Carson, connoisseur of fine art, good books and the hunt

Gary Carson, an art advisor and appraiser in the Bay Area, was the agent for artists Bruce Conner and Stephen De Staebler and the representative of the Wally Hedrick estate. He loved bird hunting and Montana literature.

Gary Carson.Credit: Kim Harrington

G.B. Carson, 1950–2021

Gary Carson died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on July 29. He was 71.

Born and raised in Montana, he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in the History of Art program, studying under Peter Selz (also the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum). Gary had a long career as an art advisor and appraiser in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the 1980s he was the agent for artists Bruce Conner and Stephen De Staebler, and later became the representative of the Wally Hedrick estate. He was also a chronicler of the San Francisco Punk scene, contributing to such underground publications as Search and Destroy and Damage.

Two decades ago, he began dividing his time between California and Montana. He built a home overlooking the Missouri River near Townsend, Montana, where he continued his lifelong passion for bird hunting. During the winter season, he and painter Catherine Courtenaye lived in Emeryville. Most mornings they could be seen briskly walking their beloved dog Enzo at the off-leash area of César Chávez Park at the Berkeley Marina, which they cared deeply for.

Gary was equally at ease with hunting as he was in discussing Surrealism, Situationism, Bay Area figurative painting, contemporary pulp writers or Montana literature. Gary possessed a particular passion for Northern California modernist art, with an admiration for the Funk Art movement and the art that sprung from the Beat Generation. His connoisseurship for the arts was vast and infectious. He had an innate sense of culture and life fully lived. Gary had what some might call “the touch of the marvelous.”

He was honored to have served on the Montana Arts Council. G.B. is survived by his mother, P.M. Dagenais of Helena; his daughter, Miranda Carson of Berkeley; his wife, Catherine Courtenaye of Bozeman and Emeryville; and his French Brittany pup, Jasper, primed to carry on the long line of Carson’s hunting companions.

Gifts in his memory may be given to the Montana Historical Society, Planned Parenthood of Montana or the ACLU of Montana.