Galen Wolf’s Home Place


Irrigation Pond, watercolor by Galen Wolf

History, culture, and the environment came together in the work of California artist Galen Wolf (1889-1976). Shannon Nottestad, Wolf archivist and biographer, will talk about the artist and share historic photographs and some of his original artwork on Saturday, April 30, at the site of the former Wolf ranch. Now Ananda Valley Farm, the property will be open to the public from 10-3 offering fun, games, learning, tours, and free food to celebrate AVF’s 3rd CSA season.

This is a rare opportunity to see the rich fields and rugged hills where Galen Wolf lived and painted, inspired by the land he called his “lifelong friend.” Along the way, he brought its people and culture to life in Legends of the Coastland, a folkloric history of the San Mateo County coast. Copies of the book will be available at the event. The farm is located at 1050 Frenchman’s Creek Road, Half Moon Bay, just off Highway 1.

Galen Wolf Retrospective Show

A midcentury coastal landscape by Wolf

A midcentury coastal landscape by Wolf

The Paintings of Galen Wolf: A Legendary Retrospective takes place Saturday, April 18 in downtown Half Moon Bay. The historic International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) hall at 526 Main Street is the perfect setting for the one–day show.  Drawn from the collections of several individuals, the main exhibit features more than 50 paintings, many of them never before shown to the public. A second exhibit pairs Wolf’s paintings with those of former students Opal Bischof, Pat Keefe, Louis Hays, and Jan Tiura.  There will also be a limited number of original watercolor coastal landscapes and seascapes by Wolf available for purchase. For more about the show, visit the Half Moon Bay IOOF events page. Show hours are 2:00–9:00 pm.

Estate Sale of Galen Wolf Art


Ocean Shore Railroad by Galen Wolf (1889-1976)

From Thursday, July 31 through Sunday, August 3 there will be original paintings by Galen Wolf on view at 607 San Carlos Street (corner of Carmel) in El Granada, California. The artwork is part of a collection that includes the original art for Legends of the Coastland, painted in the artist’s distinctive “mosaic” style. A number of the Legends mosaics will be offered for purchase, as well as watercolor landscapes and seascapes by Wolf.

The estate sale also features a complete household; some unique nautical items and other collectables;  sport and commercial fishing gear; and tools. Hours of the sale are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Galen Wolf : A Brush with History opens February 21

Filoli by Galen Wolf

The main house at Filoli, a WPA painting by Galen Wolf, circa 1940. Loan courtesy of San Mateo County LIbrary.

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.

Galen Wolf at Sanchez Library

The Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica, CA

A sketch of the Sanchez Adobe by Galen Wolf, circa 1945

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.

Season’s Greetings from Galen Wolf

A hand painted greeting card by Galen Wolf

A card with a Princeton scene for "Angel"

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.

The Johnston House, Half Moon Bay

“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.”

Johnston House by Galen Wolf

Watercolor sketch of the Johnston House by Galen Wolf, circa 1940

—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.

A Mystery Solved

Galen Wolf with his friend Marjorie Davis

Playing around: Galen and Marjorie circa 1949-50

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.

Galen Wolf and Marjorie Davis

Galen and Marjorie at the ranch, 1949-50

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.

Galen Wolf talk at Harbor Books in Princeton

The Toy Ship by Galen Wolf

Illustration for the Toy Ship legend

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.