Country Morning | Oil on Canvas | 14 x 14 inches | 2021


It’s no wonder Danny Galieote’s oil paintings conjure the Technicolor romance of midcentury America. “I grew up with one foot in Hollywood and one foot in Western Americana,” he says of his childhood in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hills, where his family kept horses on their 2-acre property, and he usually started his day cleaning out their stalls before feeding and brushing them. His grandpa and great-uncle, meanwhile, owned Galieote’s Menswear on Hollywood Boulevard, which attracted luminaries from Duke Ellington to Elvis Presley. Every Sunday, the brothers would regale the family with stories of their customers over big home-cooked Italian dinners before everyone sat down to watch “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.”

Such influences shaped the sensibilities of a boy who’d shown exceptional artistic talent from an early age. Galieote recalls an inscription from his third-grade teacher at the end of the school year. “She wrote, ‘Good luck, Rembrandt,’” he chuckles. “And that made me think, who’s Rembrandt? So, I began researching him.” A year or two later, while Galieote was taking private, after-school painting lessons, his art teacher told his parents, “‘Danny can look at anything and draw or paint it.’ So, I just kept doing it.”

After graduating from Notre Dame High School, where he won the grand prize in the annual art show, he began studying art first at California State University, Northridge, and then at the esteemed California Institute of the Arts, “where I would sneak into various workshops and classes, sort of making my own curriculum.” Galieote eventually applied there and was accepted — but, around the same time, he was offered a select internship with Disney Animation. He accepted the position and worked there for more than a decade as a hand-drawn animator on “The Lion King,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Hercules,” “Tarzan,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Tangled.”

Where Eagles Fly | Oil on Canvas | 36 x 48 inches | 2023

Around 2001, as computers began taking over animation, Galieote began transitioning into academia and fine art, accepting a teaching position at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena and establishing his studio. “I started painting full time, and my passion became studying the masters,” he says, citing influences ranging from Renaissance greats like Rembrandt to Modern icons including Thomas Hart Benton and Norman Rockwell. Eventually, he evolved a “Pop American Regionalism” style all his own, meticulously creating slightly exaggerated depictions of everything from a showgirl 1950s box-office attendant in Hollywood Western to a soaring vision of Monument Valley in Where Eagles Fly.

Galieote’s recent projects include concept work for a new coin from the United States Mint and updated reimaginings of the Four Freedoms paintings Rockwell rendered during World War II. More generally, he adds, “I’m working a lot this year because I’ve got a big solo show coming up next spring” — yet another measure of the lifelong artist’s burgeoning success.

Hollywood Western | Oil on Canvas | 48 x 36 inches | 2023

Galieote is represented by JoAnne Artman Gallery in Laguna Beach, California; Arden Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts; and Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Pasadena, California, where he’ll participate in a group show on November 29 and a solo show in March 2025. He’ll also participate in the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale, January 11 to 26, 2025.

Based in San Rafael, California, Norman Kolpas is the author of more than 40 books and hundreds of articles. He also teaches nonfiction writing in The Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension.

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