Born in Russia in 1884, Joseph Garlock immigrated to the United States in 1905. He lived for a while in the lower east side of New York and later moved with his family to Bloomfield, New Jersey. There, Garlock worked various different jobs, such as a cobbler, opened a fruit and vegetable market and also operated a single vehicle bus line that ran along Bloomfield Avenue into the center of Newark. He never received any training in art and only began painting and sculpting after his retirement in 1949, at age 63.
Considering his art nothing more than a “hobby,” Garlock spent 15 years creating hundreds of paintings, wood carvings and assemblages using various materials, including lumber, box tops, awning fabric, tree branches and tin cans. His first painting was done on a tin pie plate and illustrated the Woodstock, NY weekend cabin that belonged to his daughter Rose. He stopped creating art in 1965 due to old age and palsy. In 2000, five years after Rose’s death, the Garlock family discovered hundreds of pieces of their grandfather’s artwork that she had stored in a woodshed on her country property.