Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stan Galli Remembered

Back in March I began corresponding with Tom Galli, son of West Coast illustrator, Stan Galli. I asked Tom to share some recollections from his childhood growing up in Stan Galli's home. Here's what he wrote:

There are some things from childhood that are not as fresh in my memory bank as should be, so I will just ramble on a bit...

I cannot speak for my brother Tim but I remember somehow taking Dad's illustrating for granted... Family friends were Fred Ludekens, Bruce Bomberger, Jack Dumas, Al Dorne, Stevan Dohanos, and many publications were all standard parts of our daily life. Dinner time often found us at the table looking at and discussing some illustration or other in terms of feelings evoked, color, shapes, forced, etc...

As Brooke posted on your blog, the entire neighborhood participated in most illustrations by way of posing for dad. I can now look at an illustration of dad's from way back and say oh, that is Peter or me or Tim or Jack Dumas.

Many times our school teachers would walk us up to our house to see dad and watch him work.

(Grammar school was only three blocks away in a very rural setting.) Most dads were off at work but my dad was always available at home so when a fire drill occured I thought it was time to go home. Of course I did not just go home quickly but sort of miandered up the creek from school to our house where it continued on to many of my friend's homes, so it was well past the time to reasonably go back to school.

I would go into the studio and dad would ask me why I was home so early- "they let us out early".

I was probably in the third grade or so before I noticed that not only were we a somewhat unique family but that we were growing up in a rather special neighborhood. Every one was a professional of high calliber and many of them were or became very famous. Haines Hall of Patterson & Hall lived up the street near Lawrence Halprin the famous Landscape Architect who lived close to Bruce Bomberger.

To this day we are very close friends to another neighbor and illustrator Dan Romano who lived near Joe Esherick the famous architect. The mother of one of my class mates was the Secretary Treasurer of the U.S.

One of the most unique experiences that dad's profession offered us was the ability for us to go on vacation anywhere and dad could still work.

It was not unusual for us to go to a ranch in New Mexico, rent a house on an ocean bay, to participate in a working ranch in the mountains for the entire summer. All this was considerable fun and very important in the lessons of life.

If there was anything to describe dad's success I would have to say his incredible ability to obseve and learn from it. Not just looking at everything but most importantly seeing what he looked at. The other thing about dad was his desire to expose himself and us to everything possible, not just art. My brother and I, at age 16 & 17, were sent to Texas to photograph freeways then on to New Orleans to visit dad's friends on our way to Clearwater, Florida to find and photograph a washed up palm tree on the beach... now that was an unforgetable experience!

Dad would always be 'scrapping' (tearing out pages of publications) from every source and on every conceivable subjuct. He was always studying everything from wildlife to clothing to plants to cars to ships to history to people, so that he could draw with accuracy and without future reference.

He can draw anything without reference material and at any scale and from any view point. The ceiling of my bathroom, to this day, is a scene of a giraffe and a monkey in amongst trees and grass. The entire wall of my son Tony's room was a Calvin and Hobbs scene by dad.

Dad is not a pretentious person so there was never any issue about what noteriety he may have achieved. He does not live in a big house and never drove fancy or expensive cars. He was constantly immersed in drawing. His loves in life are few: wife, drawing, family, not in any particular order. I sense that he now would like to have promoted himself for more recognition.

Sadly, Stan Galli passed away about a month ago.

Tom and I had begun these correspondences in the hopes of presenting a week-long look at his dad's career. I hope that we will still be able to do so some time soon.

* My Stan Galli Flickr set.


  1. Leif-The past couple weeks posts have been a pleasure!Galli's work is consistantly beautiful.Soltesz's M. C. Escher-like cut-away art is delightful(His son's website was well written).Pete Hawley's card and ad art,Fulton's heroic pulp illos,George Evans' and Romita's comic art,and the family stories make for very interesting reading.It's a bounty of information.
    Good work!

  2. I agree - really great articles recently!

    This post on Galli is really incredible - a great story. As with most art, the background info really helps to add substantive "value" - seeing the pics with the narrative really gives it an almost tangible nature. Keep up the great work, Leif!

    Lastly, condolences to the family - he was brilliant!

  3. Steve and Matt;

    I really appreciate hearing your words of encouragement - they confirm my own feelings that I'm on the right path with the way I present these posts.

    I know it means a lot to the families who generously agree to share their personal recollections with us to hear that as well.

    Many thanks to you both!

  4. Charlie Allen5:34 PM

    Oh, yeah! Agree with Matt...Stan was brilliant. The master of solid form, dramatic compositions, excellent draftsmanship....all that illustration should be. The Weyerhouser series alone deserves historic recognition in illustration. I knew Stan in the early days of my career....he, a veritable dynamo of artistic energy. Stan and Bruce Bomberger were the reasons I interviewed at P&H in 1948....why not go where the best were? Comparisons are not good.....but I illustrated to live. Stan Galli lived to illustrate! Today, work of his caliber is, and forever will be, missed greatly.

  5. Leif -

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Galli's UAL posters were a mainstay in our house growing up in the 70's. I am also a car buff, so I love all of automotive drawings. I received a very nice e-mail from one of his sons not that long ago after I reached out to him and they seem like a very nice family. Reading this post, I was rewarded with a brief look at what it was to grow up with an artist like Stan Galli as the patriarch. Rest in Peace Stan, Job Well Done!

    Chris Crean

  6. Thanks Chris;

    I'm very glad to have been able to bring you this post -- stay tuned, there will be more on Stan Galli coming soon.

  7. Dorinda Troutman6:44 PM

    How delightful to read about Stan Galli after I googled him on a whim. I also grew up in the 40s and 50s in Kentfield, went to the same school as Tom and Tim, and was friends with others in his neighborhood. I also visited the Galli home a few times with my parents. I remember that it was modern, with a patio of washed pebbles in cement. That they had the Audubon portfolio on their coffee table. That Stan, knowing I was interested in art, kindly showed me his studio and his filing cabinets full of the graphic material his son wrote of him pulling from all kinds of sources. I've always loved his illustrations, especially for Weyerhouser. I used to look for them in magazines. Coinsidently, my mother bought me two posters last year of Stan's that were advertised in a yard sale. Sadly, she died a month after Stan.

    My condolences to the family.
    Dorinda Hogue Troutman

  8. A Stan Galli oral history ~

  9. Wow, what a treasure! Thank you very much for that link!

  10. Anonymous8:44 PM

    I just ran across among my family archives one of the Weyerhauser booklets that my dad, who worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, gave me in the late fifties. Seeing those crisp, clean Stan Galli nature prints again brought back fond memories of my childhood. I could almost smell the sharpness of the pine and feel the cool dampness of the forest mornings. Excellent artists like Galli inform how we see nature. On my many hikes in the California Sierras, I sometimes feel I am seeing the animals and landscape through his eyes. Thanks for the memories of your precise vision of nature, Stan.

  11. Leif,
    I found this on a Google search. I have an original, very early oil painting by Stan Galli, I am seeking to sell it and would prefer it go back to his family but am wanting any outlets if you know of any. I could send you photographs if you send me an email to :