Gavin started early as painter, with his first show at the Crocker Museum at the age of 16. “It was a different world,” he recalls, “when you could approach a small museum and say: ‘This is my work.’ With his early style–which blended the influence of Bay Area Figuration with hints of Thiebaud and Kondos–established when Gavin entered UC Santa Cruz in 1977. His studies there, with Doug McClelland, Don Weygant and Hardy Hansen, exposed the young artist to conceptualism and contemporary abstraction.