Gary B. Giberson, Master Decoy Carver
First taught to carve by his grandfather,
Gary has strong ties to his Mullica River ancestors who settled there in 1637. He has always lived on property that has been in his family for over 370 years. Not many people in America can boast of that, and boast of that he does - and often - in his colorful story-telling sessions.
In 1978, he was asked to become a regular at Wheaton Village in Millville, New Jersey. It was here that Gary received his first presidential commission through Governor Brendan Byrne for President Jimmy Carter.
He left Wheaton Village in 1978 to return to help Fred and Ethel Noyes, who had first introduced him to the public at their Historic Smithville Inn. He and Niki were asked to help them establish a decoy museum in Southern New Jersey.
Fred Noyes had accumulated one of the largest collections of antique decoys ever put together - over forty-three-hundred decoys.
Ethel Noyes passed on while plans were in progress and Fred was devastated. After grieving, he decided to build more than just a Decoy Museum. He would incorporate his decoy collection into a full Art Museum. To establish a place for local New Jersey artists, young and older, to display their skills. Gary and Niki were given the tasks of photographing, measuring, and cataloging the massive decoy collection.
During this immense undertaking, Gary's artistic eye identified and remembered the unique characteristics of so many different carver's work.
He studied all the books, visited all the major decoy collections around the country, and made many friends. His friendships with these knowledgable people helped him in his daily chores at The Noyes Museum.
He became a close personal friend of one of the decoy world's most knowledgable persons, Bud Ward, of Oceanside, Long Island, New York. Both Bud and Gary loved decoys but especially shorebird and snipe decoys. They spent hours identifying shorebird decoys from Fred's collection of over eight hundred of them. Then off to Long Island to study Ward's collection of over three hundred snipe decoy stools.
Fred again wanted to showcase Gary's skills and allowed him a free hand to create a demonstrating studio in the middle of the museum with a behind-the-scenes workshop and office to continue to enhance his decoy knowledge.
In 1982, Gary was borrowed from his museum tasks, along with his lifelong friend, Harry V. Shourd III, renowned New Jersey carver and family historian, to demonstrate decoy carving as guests of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Other appearances include:
As a demonstrating Master Decoy Carver, Gary received much exposure and press. Many celebrities purchased his works and prominent customers have commissioned carvings for other famous people including:
Gary's work is part of the permanent collections of The Smithsonian in Washington, Wheaton Village Museum in Millville, New Jersey, the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, the Noyes Museum, and the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming, as well as among prized private collections of folk art and artistic wood sculpture.
Excerpts from Gary's life are astonishing and he can hold the interest of folks for hours recounting them. He was named, "The Greatest Carver In The Country, but not very well known in the City", but somehow he is quoted often as being "The Luckiest Person Born!" How true!