Thursday, March 21, 2019

Happy Birthday Gregory Gallo

I'm missing my old friend Greg Gallo today and thinking about him on his birthday. I worked for Greg at WG Studios in Queens NY in the 1990's for a number of years. We were family. The studio was just that - a studio apartment that was long and narrow with a single bathroom. It was a smoke filled place and there was a pool table, tv, and lots of books. We worked from 11 - 7 every day which was a schedule that I liked. This was to accommodate Greg's painting schedule (he liked to sleep in). Greg was a kind of scary and intense guy with a thick Long Island accent who had red hair and a red beard. That intensity was what made him such a great artist. He was the first "real" artist I ever met. The man created almost non-stop for as long as I knew him. He designed all the art for the business which was mostly licensing for apparel companies. Each day, he'd give me a few assignments - he'd quickly sketch out what he wanted the finished piece to look like and then send me on my way - so he could get back to painting!

Greg painted all day long (he'd usually have a movie playing in the background or a great album (he introduced me to Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns). At 7 pm, he would sometimes send me on a beer run so he could start his long night. :) Greg was constantly experimenting with different painting styles and he liked to do a "series" of paintings. Sometimes they were very detailed and a single painting could take days or longer. At other times he could knock out five pieces in a single night! It was always fun coming in the next day to see what he had done.

Though I found him intense and intimidating, I loved him. Greg was really a loving Italian guy who cared about the people he worked with and the bigger world in which we lived. He was always thinking about nature and the environment and how we fit into it. This was reflected in his art where he would often incorporate the earth, animals, people and spirits. He told me I was in one of his paintings once but would never tell me which one exactly!

I managed to acquire a few of his pieces when I worked there. The first was from my favorite series that he had done. Each piece was very detailed and took many days to finish. He worked on several at the same time and I remember that he put himself and his girlfriend (future wife) into a couple of the pieces. I so loved them that I offered him a few hundred dollars for one (which was a lot back then). He agreed and sold it to me though he tried to get it back from me later. I wouldn't part with it and it is hanging in my home today! I used to kid him that I couldn't give it back because that was my retirement. :) Another time, I came into work one morning and there was a big 4ft x 4ft canvas that just blew me away. I gushed over it and Greg said "give me a dollar", which I did, and it was mine! That's the kind of guy he was...

Click here to see his some of his paintings: GALLO

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