Gabriel Krekk was born in 1955 in Nyirbator, Hungary, to his parents,
Lajos and Violetta. The following year the Hungarians would engage
the communist Soviet regime to fight for their freedom at any cost.
Their battle became known as history’s Hungarian/Russian Revolution.
The Krekk family left behind their farm and possessions in eastern
Hungary and made their way across the country to escape the war.
Fleeing into Austria, they spent nearly two years moving from one
refugee camp to another finally to be given accommodations in an
army barracks in Styr. They began to rebuild their life when Lajos was
hired to work at a brick making factory. With the birth of their second
child, Maria, the Krekks would now accept Austria as their homeland.
In the summer of 1958, Canada offered an acceptance of immigration
to the family. This proved to be another difficult life decision for the household.
In the late fall of 1958, the Krekks flew to Canada and arrived in Halifax,
Nova Scotia. While here they were blessed with the birth of their third
child, Bobbie, who could forever call Canada her homeland. Moving
shortly afterwards to Havelock, New Brunswick, Lajos would run a
dairy farm for their Canadian sponsors. Their basic needs were met,
and their little two room tar papered farm house was a dream come
true for the short term. The family endured many hardships in the
months ahead and were totally isolated from other people. The spring
thaw caused massive flooding of the region by the nearby river,
separating the family from Lajos, who was working at the dairy farm
on the other side of the river. Once the family reunited three days
later, they knew this way of life could not go on. Violetta’s brother
Tony had immigrated to Belleville, Ontario, years before. With his
invitation to move there, and his assurance that jobs were plentiful, once again the family pulled up roots, and in
the fall of 1959 made their way to Belleville. Here they would lay a lasting foundation to raise their family.
Krekk’s love for art began at a very early age by spending countless hours developing his artistic skills.
Speaking only Hungarian and German proved a difficult transition for him in forming friendships. Trying to
communicate with other children was difficult for the young boy. In avoiding the reality of his situation, he
would sit and draw his favorite comic book characters. He soon picked up English as his third language and
embraced the western culture, but his art would still prevail as his guiding passion.
In the mid 1960s, his family recognized his artistic abilities and made a huge financial
commitment to enroll him to study art at the Famous Artists School. Years of
concentrated study through correspondence lessons with his teachers brought him
into contact with well known modern masters such as Austin Briggs, Stevan
Dohanos, Robert Fawcett, Fred Ludekens, Al Parker, and Norman Rockwell. Here he
solidified his ambition to become a recognized artist.
In September of 1969, he entered the five year Arts & Science curriculum at
Centennial High School. Not only did he excel in the arts program under the
guidance of his art teachers Fred and Margaret Riemersma, but his athleticism also
became an important part of his life. He led the Centennial Chargers as their
quarterback in both his junior and senior years; he played in city leagues for hockey,
fastball, ball hockey, track and field, field lacrosse, and he also played for the city’s
Juvenile All-Stars in box lacrosse.
Krekk’s second love for photography began at the age of 13 when he received his first
camera as a Christmas gift — a state-of-the-art Polaroid Instamatic. Seeing this young man, strolling across the
city, and capturing pictures of the Victorian homes that abounded in his hometown of Belleville was a common
sight. The beauty of Victorian architecture would later be captured in his first three of four limited edition prints. To
further his photographic abilities in the area of mastering the 35mm camera, he received training from Ontario
Provincial Police Forensics Photographer, Detective Gary Roberts.
Since architecture had already become another integral part of his life interests, he made a difficult decision on his
future career aspirations between becoming either a commercial artist or an architect. He made the choice to
study Architectural Drafting and Design at Loyalist College and started his first year in September of 1975.
In May of 1977, he shipped his college portfolio of his designs to the School of Architecture at Carleton University in
Ottawa. Upon completion of his second year of college, he moved to Edmonton, Alberta, and accepted a position
as a brakeman with Canadian National Railways. In December of the same year, he took a seasonal layoff with CNR
and returned to his family’s home in Ontario. Here he found an unopened letter, dated in June, which was a letter
of acceptance into the Architecture Program at Carleton University for the previous September. Heartbroken by
this twist of fate, he remained even more determined.
In February of 1978, he established his own architectural design company, Remcon Technical Services which
operated from 1978-1983. After his first son was born in 1982, he shifted his seven day round the clock work
schedule to focus more attention on his family. He sold his company in December of 1982 and began a lengthy 31
year career with Procter and Gamble on January 24, 1983.
His choice of mediums changed over the years as his work and subject materials evolved from painting with oils,
illustrations with graphite, pen and ink, pastels, charcoal, and then finding his relationship with tempera. His
passion for water-based paints quickly moved to the beauty of watercolors in the mid 1980s. The challenge was to
control this medium to build his colors through multi-layering and to achieve the color spectrum of what he
observed in the world around him. Watercolors is his medium of choice, and he continues to master new
techniques to take his work deeper into the realm of Realism.
About his Watercolor Paintings (published in the New York City – ARTisSpectrum
Written by Agora Gallery’s Stephen Bracco
Artist Gabriel Krekk's light-drenched photorealist watercolors belie the notion that contemporary painting must fall within an expressionist tradition. Instead, Krekk's work in photorealism reveals that an unmediated objective image is impossible; his skill lies in embracing that sobering truth while also allowing his humanism to come through. To paint a "mundane" object in the photorealist style is to see the object anew in ways not even possible through the original medium of photography. Krekk also brilliantly appropriates photography's imperfections--the globes of light which appear on a lens, and the unfocused backgrounds--and transfers them to the canvas, thereby raising philosophical and aesthetic questions about the intervention of technology (and the artist) in the creation of truth and beauty. Look at these works for both the visual pleasure and the humor, for Gabriel Krekk's stunning watercolors please the eye and stimulate the mind, while being benignly and ironically subversive to the status quo.
Throughout Krekk’s life, he has been heavily involved in giving back to the
world through donations of his time and with both his originals and limited
editions to support countless causes. In 2007, he launched his For Freedom
Project, donating his signature series print For Freedom to charitable
causes and organizations across America. These organizations include a
high school in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, and most recently a donation
to a Rapid City group that was working to eliminate sex trafficking in the
Black Hills of South Dakota. The group from South Dakota requested and
was granted the adoption of his For Freedom name.
Also, in 2007 on a flight from Phoenix to Chicago, Krekk formulated another vision to create a
consortium of Contemporary Realism artists from across Canada. He spent the next two years
organizing and coordinating the creation of Canada’s The Group of Twelve—some of Canada’s
finest realism artists, who put on one of the largest art exhibitions in southeastern Ontario in 2010.
Krekk’s ability to develop dreams into visions with a clear structure until completion is confirmed
in all of his projects.
In 2004 Krekk met Nancy Duncan, an American who would become his soul-mate and wife. Her
strong belief in his paintings eventually shaped the very body of his work. As he spent many
years grappling with defining his subject material, a simple email heading arrived in his inbox in
December of 2011 from Nancy—Cowgirls. The following year in 2012, he developed the business
plan and then launched the AMERICAN COWGIRLS Project.
During his exhibition in Los Angeles in 2007, Krekk spent considerable time in Arizona. He knew that this would be
the state where he would spend his winters away from the frigid Canadian weather. In 2009 he purchased his
vacation home in Maricopa, Arizona, with its perfect location and access to the Southwest Art Market in Old
Scottsdale and Sedona.
On April 24, 2014, he retired from his long-standing 31 year career with Procter & Gamble so that
he could focus on both his art and photography careers. Throughout his years in his corporate
career, he continued to build and maintain his passion for both his art and photography.
The year 2015 proved to be one of the most devastating years in Krekk’s life as his father Lajos
passed away in August, and then, Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer in October. He flew
into Chicago and moved her to his home in Maricopa, Arizona, for her to begin chemotherapy at
Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert. This would be another major life decision, and he
gave up his third homeland of Canada, so he would be able to give Nancy all of his care. In April of
2018, the heartbreaking medical tests revealed that the breast cancer had metastasized to her
liver. Their joint dreams of happily ever after ended when his wife passed away on November 12,
2018. The absolute grieving has not stopped for him, and many months passed before he was able to return to his
art. His driving force still comes from Nancy’s wish that he complete the project. In honor of his wife, he will
complete the vision of American Cowgirls.
In 2019 Krekk stepped in to support the Folds of Honor organization that assists the
families of America’s fallen and disabled soldiers. He stands with them and will
continue to do so with a $50 donation from each print sold from the limited edition
print released on November 13, 2019, of Seamus Casey – The Dream of 13. The
original painting was sold in auction in Chicago at the Folds of Honor Gala
Celebration at Navy Pier Grand Ballroom on October 4th, 2019, for $13,000.
Krekk completed the illustrations for Amberley Snyder’s children's book, Walk Ride
Rodeo that was published in 2017, and Netflix released the movie with the same name in March 2019. Krekk’s
photography also fills the pages of Lana Randall’s book Cowgirl, the Real American Brand that was published in
July 2019. His body of work is clearly defined by his American Cowgirl paintings and his next generation style of
Gabriel Krekk, along with his Cattle Dog, Dakota, continue to live and work from his home studio in Maricopa,
Arizona. He holds true to family values spanning two countries to maintain his family ties with his two sons,
Gabriel Jr. of Newfoundland and Michael of Montreal, Quebec. He embraces a powerful love for his four
grandchildren and hopes that one day one of them will follow his footsteps into the world of art.
My life work is dedicated to the memory of my wife, Nancy Duncan 1957 – 2018