A new show of paintings and drawings by Galen Wolf opens at Sanchez Art Center on February 21 with an evening reception. Galen Wolf: A Brush with History includes selections from three major series by the artist. in the 1930s he drew and painted California’s missions. His watercolors of Mission Dolores and Mission San Luis Rey were reproduced by the San Francisco Chronicle on Palm Sunday in 1937. The rotogravure prints are on display along with Wolf’s original paintings and drawings of Missions Santa Barbara, San Juan Capistrano, San Diego, and others. In the early 1940s Wolf worked as a WPA artist, his commission to paint the grand estates of the Peninsula and other vanishing landscapes in the surrounding towns and on the rural coast. The final series in the exhibit showcases Wolf’s innovative mosaic style of painting which he used to illustrate his folkloric history Legends of the Coastland. Learn more about the show and Sanchez Art Center here.
On Sunday, March 10, at 1:00 p.m., I will be at Sanchez Library in Pacifica presenting a slideshow called Close to Home: Writing Local History. I’ll have with me some original art by Galen Wolf, including sketches of the Sanchez Adobe, where Galen’s mother Mary went to dances in the early 1880s. The historical landmark, now a county park and open to the public, is still standing at 1000 Linda Mar Boulevard, en route to the library.
My presentation is part of LitWave, Pacifica’s annual celebration of the literary arts. You can find out more here.
Many of Galen Wolf’s friends and family had a collection of holiday and birthday cards hand painted by him. A former student recalled him working quickly on a full sheet of watercolor paper, painting one tiny watercolor sketch after another. When the sheet was full, he cut it into cards approximately 4 x 7.5 inches. Each had a special message for the recipient. On the back of this Princeton scene he wrote, “Best of holidays and best of painting to you. And some love, too!” It’s possible this one, inscribed to “Angel,” never made it into the mail.
“In the early days of the coast side in Half Moon Bay was built the (at that time) palatial home of James Johnston, known as the ‘White House.’ On a sloping hill one mile south of town, it had a beautiful view of the surrounding country—and sea.”
—Mary Griffith Wolf, 1938
A few years after Mary wrote her remembrance of “The White House of Half Moon Bay,” her son Galen Wolf made this plein aire watercolor sketch of the scene.
You can learn much more about the historic home here, including information about the Holiday Boutique & Winter Tea. I will be there this coming weekend, November 10 & 11, with Galen’s delightful book about Coastside history, Legends of the Coastland. Admission is free, and, decked out for the holidays, the house truly resembles the “fairy land” Mary lovingly described.
Just recently, I learned the identity of the lovely and vivacious young woman in this photograph, which appears on page 80 of Legends of the Coastland. Her name was Marjorie Jean Davis, and she and her family were great friends of Galen Wolf. I found out about Marjorie after her daughter Trudi Burney visited the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and saw Galen’s photo on one of the interpretive panels in the Fog Signal Building. She told the docent, Rob Johnson, that Galen was like an uncle to her when she was growing up. Rob put us in touch with each other and Trudi emailed me this picture of Marjorie and Galen together at Wolf Ranch.
Meeting Trudi, her husband Ray, and her brother Robert Galen Davis at Harbor Books in Princeton on July 29 was a great pleasure. Both Trudi and Robert have followed a creative path in life, partly due to Galen’s influence. Robert is a pastel artist and Trudi works in a variety of media. You can see a sampling of her ceramics at her Etsy shop.
This Sunday, July 29, I will be at Harbor Books and Gallery in Princeton from 1:00 to 3:00, talking about and signing copies of Galen Wolf’s Legends of the Coastland. The talk will be illustrated with art and other original material from the Galen Wolf Archive. We’ll also have some souvenir pin back buttons to give away, little wearable works of art featuring images from the book. Stop by and pick one up, courtesy of Luna Moon Press.
Harbor Books’ owner, Carole Brehm, herself a painter and jewelry designer, is wonderfully supportive of local authors, artists, and craftspeople. Her bookstore features a hand-selected collection of new and used books in all genres, including some great titles on art and creativity. The mix of books, art, and crafts in the shop is a delight to browse.
The bookstore is located at Harbor Village, 270 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay. Call 650-726-4241 for more information.
Thanks to many wonderful people—staff, volunteers, and visitors—Legends of the Coastland’s official launch at Pigeon Point Lighthouse last weekend was a great success. I overheard some fascinating facts and history about the lighthouse and its magnificent Fresnel lens from the docents in the Fog Signal Building. Added to my store of knowledge: the correct way to pronounce Fresnel (the “s” is silent) and the charming fact that one of the old-time lighthouse keepers had a 600 lb. pet pig to keep him company.
If you didn’t make it to the event, you can still visit the Fog Signal Building and see Galen Wolf’s art, which is featured prominently in the interpretive display. You can also view the Fresnel lens there. Its removal from the tower was the first step in restoring this historic light station. You can support the effort here.
Legends of the Coastland sets sail on the weekend of June 9 and 10!
Metaphorically speaking, that is: it’s a book, not a boat. Legends of the Coastland was written and illustrated half a century ago by artist Galen Wolf. Through his stories and paintings, he retold the colorful history of the San Mateo County Coastside he knew as a boy. The resulting book is a visually stunning, delightful blend of fact and fiction.
Please join us at Pigeon Point Lighthouse for the book’s launch. Wearing my editor/biographer hat, I’ll be there from 12:00 to 3:00 both days to sign books, talk about Wolf’s life, and discuss the “mosaic” technique of painting he used to illustrate the stories. At 1:00 each day, a lighthouse docent will give a dramatic reading of my favorite chapter from the book, “My Uncle Ben and the Sea Monster.”
While we can’t promise you a sea monster sighting, there will be some surprises and giveaways, a chance to see the lighthouse’s magnificent Fresnel lens close up, and lots of sea and shore life to watch and enjoy. Sales of the book benefit the San Mateo Coast Natural History Association (SMCNHA), an organization of volunteers that provides support directly to our coastal State Parks.
The free event is hosted by California State Parks and SMCNHA. Come on down!