Welcome to our webspot.
explore our universe and even if we don't
boldly end up where no one has gone before, we hope to make some new
friends on the way. We are Janis and Frank Galef,
our home now are Coco and Shiloh, a big
and a pond
full of goldfish and koi.Our son,
Jeff, works for the Department of Water Resources in
Sacramento, where he resides with his wife, Ivory, their two Chihuahuas
and a cat.
Coco and Shiloh
ABOUT US (not
Janis has a long-standing interest in vocal music..
of Connie Francis since childhood. If a friend
hadn't shown Janis that there was a Connie Francis Webpage on the
Internet it is unlikely that she would have permitted Frank to get a
computer just to pursue paleontology and other alliterative
activities. Janis has always enjoyed singing along with her
favorite songs and has taken vocal performance classes at our local
community colleges. While her interest in Pop led her into her
studies, she is now interested in Blues, Jazz, and Opera as well. She
has also been interested in art for a long time and we have seen a lot
of fantastic art museums and installations in our travels. She is
now taking classes in drawing and ceramics at MiraCosta College and
doing some really nice work.
Frank has a longstanding interest in the past, the distant
past. He has been fascinated by dinosaurs since he was a child and now enjoys learning and teaching about
the ever-changing pageant of life on Earth. He has been
collecting fossils and building models of dinosaurs for years.
Some of his collection can be seen at his office and through our
links. With the rest of his free time he enjoys discovering
exotic cuisines, gardening and playing badminton (not for
wimps). Plus, once a year, he carves a pumpkin for
In some ways every day in Spain is
Halloween. While the Spanish are currently a world power in
soccer, basketball and tennis, their most famous sporting
enterprise is torturing bulls in front of an admiring crowd. What
better inspiration for a pumpkin than a ritual slice and dice of the
sort that has inspired artists including Manet and Picasso on canvas,
Bizet for an opera and Hemingway in the pages of The Sun Also Rises? I
hereby add my work to that of these august artists. While I
considered changing Hemingway's title to The Pumpkin Also Rises, I decided
it would take up too much surface space. Instead I chose to spin
off Blood and Sand, a
movie starring Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth, about a matador (and
a girl). What, you never heard of it? Well, neither had
I. Still, what a great title! Of course, pumpkins
don't spill blood, so I did have to twist it a bit.
"SEEDS AND SAND"
Pablo Picasso is one of the most
fascinating characters of the 20th century. I have seen a lot of
his paintings, drawings and sculptures and one of his most impressive
and famous masterpieces is Guernica.
that one... I may have actually seen
it when it was at the Metropolitan in New
York, but I would have been pretty young and don't remember. I
couple of years ago when I was in Madrid, but ended up
spending the day at the Prado and didn't get to the Reina Sofia where
it now hangs. Well, I have seen plenty of his paintings with
guitars, I'm just not that sure that I actually found the
guitars. About Guernica...
image of utter horror and outrage at the bombing of a Basque
village during the Spanish Civil War, an atrocity ordered by Franco
against those opposing him, which incidentally gave the Kondor Legion
of the German Luftwaffe a chance to practice aerial bombardment for an
upcoming engagement. A bull and a horse are ensnared with the
villagers in that reign of destruction and terror. While I
didn't actually seen Guernica in
did see a lot of preliminary sketches that Picasso
made. When I began trying to think of a theme for my pumpkin this
year, I didn't have to think too long. Consider how pumpkins must
feel about Halloween; sort of the same sense that turkeys must get as
Thanksgiving approaches. From there, the design practically drew
and carved itself. Hence, this years magnum squashus, "Pumpkin with Guitarika." I
had to get a guitar in there somewhere! By the way, the reason
for the "k" in guitarika instead
is that the Basque spelling for the town is actually
Gernika. While most of the faces were borrowed from Guernica, of course they
into pumpkins, with supplicant hands replaced by
foliage. I broke up the composition into a variety of cubist
planes and added eyes, ears, facial parts and a leaf from other Picasso
paintings throughout his career. And, of course, the
guitar. I just referred to cubism, but lets be real, when working
on a pumpkin, the proper term is roundism.
"PUMPKIN WITH GUITARIKA"
This has been a pretty frustrating
year on a lot of levels and I was trying to think of a design that
would reflect my feelings. Of course, from a
standpoint of having it tough, consider how it must be for pumpkins
this time of year. I'm going to guess it's pretty similar to how
it is for eggs at Easter and turkeys around Thanksgiving. I think
Edvard Munch, an expressionist, expressed it best in his famous
painting DIE SKRIK, or as it
is popularly known, The Scream.
it from the point of view of a human.
Naturally, I had to do it from the point of view of a pumpkin.
more thing; Munch showed the other people on the bridge headed the
other way and ignoring the anguish. In my version, he is coming
up from behind, and he has a knife.
"PUMPE SKRIK", OR "PUMPKIN GETS
HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN 2009
In May we visited the Prado in
Madrid. It is definitely one of the great art
museums. There is room after room of incredible art and
while I didn't go through it with carving a pumpkin in mind, as
Halloween approached, I got to thinking about some of the images I had
seen there. While the work of artists from all over Europe are on
display, there is a definite emphasis on Spanish artists. I
considered Zubaran's Lamb as a pumpkin, bound and calmly waiting to be
carved. I thought of Las
by Velasquez, redone as a rather orange royal family
being captured by one artist while being carved by another. I
also considered some of the paintings of the Emperor, Carlos V, such as
his mounted portrait at Muhlberg. With his Habsburg jaw, he's
already almost a pumpkin. But then I realized that there was
already someone whose art already reflected a far more twisted view of
humanity than the darkest Halloween night. While Goya began his
career painting fluffy "cartoons" for translation into tapestries and
then switched to carefully veiled satires in his portraits of the royal
court, his painful dealings with the dark side of the Spanish soul and
the events of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in the early 1800's
resulted in what are called his "black paintings". Some say that
a typical sight in a Spanish art museum is a white wall hung with dark
squares, but Goya probably took this motif farther than anyone other
than Rothko in his final days. While all of the paintings from
this late period in his life are dark and despairing, probably none is
darker and more despairing than Saturn
Devouring His Children.
Well, I had to go Goya
one better. Not only do I depict the frustrated deity's
infanticidal culinary choice, I show him after having first baked them
in pies. Shades of Titus
! Goya worked in oils, and the palette he
chose resulted in black pairings. Had Goya worked instead in
squash, he would have been famed instead for his period of black and
Here, then is my 2009 Pumpkin, PUMPKIN EATS HIS CHILDREN
We spent a week in Bavaria last month, and
along with the onion-domed churches that are so characteristic of
German architecture, we were very impressed with Ludwig II's fantastic
castle, Neuschwanstein. The walls inside are covered with
murals inspired by scenes from Wagner's operas. I
figured that if tales from Wagner were good enough for the King of
Bavaria, they were good enough to appear on my pumpkin. Here, in
a scene from Wagner's final opera, Parsifal, a naive and wild
young man who is unaware of his noble birth and fantastic destiny, has
stumbled into a magic realm. In a hunting mood, not unlike a
certain vice-presidential candidate, he has shot the first thing he
sees. Sadly, his victim is a gentle and peaceful symbol of this
mystical kingdom and he is immediately taken to task by a noble knight
whose job it is to ensure the safety of all creatures near the holy
castle. While Parsifal gestures in protest that he is innocent,
his action will have far reaching consequences... but that is another
story. Well, in the original story, it was a swan that
Parsifal shot, but this is Halloween!
Here then is my 2008 Pumpkin,
"PARSIFAL UND DER RITTER VON DER HELLIG KURBIS"
(or PARSIFAL AND THE KNIGHT OF THE HOLY PUMPKIN)
HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN 2007
those of you not up to date on your Cordon Bleu technique, the writing
on the steps reads,
Méthode Française de tailler le
Here are some links to
some of my other pumpkins from the past:
2006: Aztec Calabeza Carver.
After spending several days in Mexico City where the Aztecs once
spent a lot of time making ritual sacrifices, this depiction of the
source of pepitas seemed to make a lot of sense. Chac mol
is keeping the priest company and awaits his share of the filling.
2005: Samurai Pumpkin Carver.
Zen of Kabocha Seppuku.
2004: BAD Halloween. Birds Are
Dinosaurs. This was my spin on the classic Knight rendering
of dueling Laelaps, an early name for Allosaurs.
Condemned to play the accordion for eternity.
2002: Death Takes a Holiday.
Windmills. Just because you are tilting at windmills
doesn't mean there aren't any dragons!
way! Be careful how you wish for what you want.
1990: Dueling Dinosaurs.
a John Gurche painting. I
substituted a Triceratops for the Styracasaurus.
Also, if you want to see
another take on Pumpkin Carving, check out my brother Barry's website, Jack O'Lanterns by
Barry Galef! Barry goes for a more high concept type of
approach. He seems to be in the Opera Seria genre, while I tend
more to stay in the Buffa style.
During the years that Jeff
was at Humboldt State University, we made a lot of trips up and down
this 750 mile long state. An important part of our history is the
Mission system that was Spain's attempt to colonize California while
stopping the Russians from encroaching from the north. There is a
lot of controversy about the Missions and the people who were here
first, but the old buildings and the museums associated with them are
among the most fascinating places you can visit. Between the
1770's and 1820's, twenty one Missions were founded between San Diego
in the south and Sonoma in the north. We were able to visit all
of them, and some of our impressions are here, at Style Elements of
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