Gary minored in art and majored in English at San Jose State University, and entered teaching directly after graduation. After his first year of teaching, he left secondary education to take a position with the Department of State Diplomatic Courier Service to be stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He accompanied top secret materials to virtually every capital city in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Whereas teaching offered very little time to paint, the courier job made it available, there often being a week or two of free time between trips. It also opened opportunities to see great accomplishments in art in amazing museums and galleries. He treated himself to an on location study of art history and appreciation.
After 2 ½ years of living the Cold War and witnessing Africa’s bloody emergence from colonialism, he headed off to Paris where he was accepted into the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts to study drawing and painting. This period in Paris would become especially important to his life, as he would meet the Karoline who would become his wife, and mother of their two children.
He retired from teaching in San Jose (and for two years in Brussels, Belgium) in 1998. At first he was preoccupied with the idea of producing a body of work that could be recognized as his own, but as he painted more, he found, to his relief, that he was just becoming Gary Coleman naturally. His rolling California hills as well as his abstract paintings thrive on inspired use of color over a superstructure of well thought out composition.
Since 1998, Gary has won more than 50 show awards, including 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes, and has collectors across the United States. He has the distinction of taking Best of Show for both the 2014 and 2016 Pacific Art League's abstract art competition.
In 2001 he had his first one-man show, entitled “The Artist as Landscape” at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto. Praised for both its use of humor and its artistic merit, the show was comprised of paintings depicting what the artist saw of his self without the use of reflective technology.
His resume includes being the featured artist for Palo Alto First Friday Art Walks in 2004. He has had an impressive number of one-man exhibits including shows at Pacific Art League (2006 and 2007), Pacific Grove Art Center (2008), Mt. View Performing Arts Center (2012), and University Arts in San Jose (2014). A one man show at Noah's Bar and Bistro in Morgan Hill, CA in 2013 was purchased by that restaurant.
Gary is currently represented by Gallery 24 in Los Gatos. He has been represented at one time or another by the Sobi Gallery in Burlingame, The Arte Junction in Winters, Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek, Casa Galleria in San Juan Bautista, Stone Griffin Gallery in Campbell.