One look around Len Garon’s art studio, which doubles as his apartment, the signs of Americana are everywhere, from the flag at Alexandria’s City Hall to the dog portraits filed amongst the mass of paintings. It is fitting that Garon was picked to paint “Old Glory,” the tribute painting and fundraiser for this year’s tribute to the Veteran’s of America’s Armed Forces that was held on Nov. 10.
Garon’s impressionistic painting will be featured at the American Freedom Festival Concert featuring country music stars Martina McBride and Darryl Worley.
“This is just my way of giving back,” said Garon. The proceeds from the sale of this painting will go to veteran causes as well as gifts to the many corporate sponsors for supporting the military and their families. This is the fourth year for the festival, which is dedicated to raise awareness for the military and their families that have been affected by Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Although Garon’s specialty has been painting sports figures, particularly tennis stars on the Legg Mason Tournament, he was chosen to do “Old Glory,” by Sgt. Major Jack Tilley, whom he met at a social event. Tilley started the American Freedom Foundation and told Garon about the Veteran’s Day event. “I was very impressed with the cause,” said Garon.
Garon didn’t start out as an artist, though. He began painting more than 30 years ago after earning a degree in hospital administration, but knew deep down inside, “I had a passion to paint,” he said. People told him that making it as an artist alone is nearly impossible, but he accepted this as a paradigm that needed to be surpassed.
He adopted this impressionistic, action painting method to become the official Legg Mason Tennis Classic artist for several years in a row, painting big name tennis pros in action. Garon has painted Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi, to name a few. “I go out there on the court,” he said. He also specializes in murals, pet portraits and painting on commissions around town.
For more than seven years, Garon had a studio in the 200 block of King Street, but now his studio is in his apartment.
“The light is phenomenal in here,” he said.