The Galloway’s Philadelphia-area home.
By Bonnie Gangelhoff
It’s 1 a.m. on the Fourth of July holiday weekend when the mail arrives at the Galloway home, a traditional two-story house on a rolling hill in an affluent westernsuburb of Philadelphia. “Look what I got,” Lu Galloway says to his wife, waving an envelope enthusiastically. “The catalog for Coeur d’Alene.”
A quiet, reverential mood prevails in the study of the Galloway home. The focal point is an oil painting Indian Portrait by Moonlight & Firelight by Joseph Sharp. It measures 16 by 20 inches. Also visible to the right is Howard Terpning’s Blackfeet on Badger Creek measuring 16 by 19 inches.
The annual Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Coeur d’ Alene, ID, is thousands of miles away and doesn’t likely appear on the radar screen of many East Coast art collectors. But for western-art aficionados anywhere in the world, Coeur d’Alene is a well-known auction, one of the country’s top-grossing sales of western works by contemporary and deceased artists. Earlier in the day Lu and his wife Beverly were debating whether they should attend the event and it appears the tantalizing catalog may tip the scales.
Lu flips quickly through the catalog and soon disappears into his study, a peaceful retreat with forest-green walls and shelves stocked with books about artistsranging from Charles M. Russell to Andy Warhol. “You won’t see me for a while,” he says before melting into a favorite burgundy leather chair. Half an hour later the catalog sports dozens of multicolored Post-It Notes marking artworks that interest him, including a Russell sculpture and an Oscar Berninghaus painting. “I’m trying to round out our collection with certain artists, old masters,” Lu says.
The master bedroom features Still Life with Pears and Oranges, a 36-by-30-inch painting by Malcolm Rains.
The Galloways have collected western art for about four years. Their spacious 5,000-square-foot home houses an impressive collection of both old and new works—Russell, Frederic Remington, Frank Tenney Johnson, Joseph Sharp, Roy Andersen, Howard Terpning, and William Acheff.
“What we are collecting now is about our heritage and about our roots,” says Beverly.
The Galloways, fortysomething transplanted Tex-ans, have lived in Phil-adelphia for 14 years, and their collection brings a touch of home to their East Coast environs. Lu jokingly blames the couple’s current obsession with western art on Southwest Art. In 1995 he picked up a copy at an airport in Houston, and the western works he examined in its pages spoke to him in a way that more abstract art had not.
Hanging over the fireplace in the family room is an oil painting, The One Called Braveheart by Roy Andersen, measuring 36 by 30 inches.
Just months later he and Beverly flew to Santa Fe and purchased their first western piece, Oleg Stavrowsky’s Something’s Funny, from the artist. By the end of 1996 they had acquired works by Dave McGary, John Nieto, Charles Middlekauff, and Martin Grelle. “
That was our big year the year we started losing control,” Lu says. “We went from being interested collectors to being obsessed.”
The couple first displayed their growing western art collection at their vacation home in the Pocono Mountains. But soon the modern art began coming down from the walls of their Philadel-phia home, and western art acquisitions went up. In 1997 the Galloways tried to pull in the reigns on their growing habit. “We kept talking about slowing down, but it didn’t happen,” Lu says. But they did change their focus. The more they read and investigated, the more they developed a keen interest in historic art. They decided to curb the number of works they bought and focus on acquiring older, more expensive pieces to anchor their collection.
A corner of the study features a watercolor Roping a Wild Steer by Charles Russell. It measures 14 by 20 inches. To the right is Howard Terpning’s Face of Many Winters, a charcoal measuring 20 by 16 inches. Frederic Remington’s Rattlesnake, a bronze measuring 23 inches in height, rests on the chest.
The two haven’t always been avid collectors of western art. In fact, they were initially attracted to modern works by artists such as Joan Miró, Robert Motherwell, and Alexander Calder; and their very first purchase was a Salvador Dali lithograph, which they bought in 1991 in San Francisco during a trip to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.
Today the framed Dali and many other modern works lean against a basement wall, the forgotten ones in a family of canvases overshadowed by cowboys, Indians, and Wild West scenes. The entry way to their Philadelphia-area home features a few more remnants of non western works including Corrida, a colorful crayon work depicting a bullfight by Picasso. But after a four-year fling with modern art, the Galloways found their passion in art of the West. Portrayals of the cattle ranches, prairies, and pastures they knew while growing up in the Lone Star State strike a deep chord for the couple. The works, they say, reflect something about them, about their love of the western landscape and their nostalgia for a vanishing way of life.
The Family room is home to Hopi Maidens, an oil painting by William Acheff measuring 32 by 30 inches.
For example, the first western artwork that greets a visitor to the home is Branding a Maverick by Frank Tenney Johnson, an oil painting that hangs in the entryway. The work shows a cowboy branding a calf, who is kicking up a cloud of dust in protest. One soon learns of Beverly’s affection for that particular piece. She grew up deep in ranching country in Amarillo, TX, and today her cousin and husband own a working ranch in Spearman, a tiny town in the Texas Panhandle. Beverly’s relatives in Hansford County are among the last ranchers to brand their cattle by hand, in the fashion portrayed in the historic Johnson work. The painting, like many of their other works, conjure up magical moments from her childhood visits to her grandparents’ farm, where she shelled black-eyed peas and picked cotton in the dry West Texas landscape of red dirt and clay.
Interestingly, in the Galloway home, the western art inhabits rooms that have a traditional East Coast flavor and somehow it works. Peanut-colored walls, tapestry-upholstered wingback chairs, and mahogany tables peacefully coexist with resident Indian chiefs, cowhands, and bucking broncs. Such is the case in the sprawling family room where a grand-scale work, The One Called Braveheart by Roy Andersen, hangs over a Pennsylvania-stone fireplace. The warm, brilliantly colored painting of a proud Indian dominates the room. The dark-green leather sofa and dark wood tables fade into the background, offering little distraction. “No question, this is a beautiful, striking piece the painting screams pride, and the image just wowed me,” Lu says.
The Galloways purchased the piece at their first art auction at Altermann & Morris Galleries in Santa Fe, NM, in 1996. This auction has become part of their yearly art excursions, which include a visit to the Santa Fe Art Auction while in town for the November gallery auction and the Collector’s Sale at Altermann & Morris’ Dallas gallery in May.
Braveheart is joined in the family room by the Remington bronze Broncho Buster and four contemporary western paintings: There are Backgammon and Surplus, two watercolor portraits of cowboys by William Matthews; Oleg Stavrowsky’s Something’s Funny depicting five cowboys sharing a humorous story; and Hopi Maidens, a still life by William Acheff. The Galloways are grateful to have the latter painting back; last winter it was part of A Brush With Reality: Detailing the West in Contemporary Art, an exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ.
The family room is connected by a sliver of hallway to Lu’s study, where the walls sport mostly older works. A more reverential atmosphere prevails here, set in part by the first thing a visitor notices the stunning Indian Portrait by Moonlight & Firelight by Joseph Sharp. The Indian faces the fire, his back to the viewer. Moonlight bathes his bare back.
Blackfeet on Badger Creek, a portrait of Indians crossing a stream by contemporary western artist Howard Terpning, hangs nearby. A glance across the room inspires additional awe a Remington bronze, Rattlesnake, sits on a mahogany chest. The walls above it feature the Russell watercolor Roping a Wild Steer and a charcoal portrait of an Indian, Face of Many Winters, by Howard Terpning. “The lighting is perfect in here,” Lu says, “and there is a certain level of contentment in just sitting here in my study and enjoying these works.”
It’s from his desk in this room that Lu, a business executive and Houston native, does the core research on his collection reading art books, talking to favorite galleries based in Texas and New Mexico, inquiring about auction pieces, requesting condition reports, placing phone bids, and tallying what various pieces sold for at auctions. In his desk drawer he keeps a list of his artworks with details such as purchase dates and locations, sizes, media, and prices.
“All the new works start out in my study, and then they circulate around the house,” Lu says half-jokingly. When he leaves the room for a moment, Beverly says she is continually plotting to remove the Sharp painting to another part of the house while her husband is at work.
The piece is her favorite in their collection. “I like the private moment, the mood Sharp captured of an Indian with his back turned, warming himself by the fire,” she says. She thinks she is drawn to the piece and other Indian works in the collection because her grandmother is part Cherokee, and Beverly is curious about her Indian heritage. She says that may also account for why she is uncomfortable purchasing works that portray Indians being slaughtered or in warlike settings. Instead she prefers works that depict them in a proud or private moment, a sentiment Lu shares.
The Galloways have two children who aren’t yet interested in their parents’ passion for western art, but the couple is nonetheless glad they can expose them to art. Perhaps as adults, they say, the children will appreciate the collection. The family dog, a snow-white Bichon Frise named Bootsie, however, has developed a certain taste for art. When a painting, Still Life with Pears and Oranges by Malcolm Rains, arrived recently, Beverly unwrapped it and leaned it against a wall while the couple stepped back to admire it. Bootsie scampered up and began licking an orange in the painting. Today, the still life hangs high above Bootsie’s predatory eye in the entryway to the master bedroom.
When the Galloway’s retire, they plan to move back to a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Their western art collection, of course, will accompany them. Over the years Lu and Beverly Galloway have felt lucky to share with each other such a stimulating pastime. “I look around me at couples, and so many times their hobbies don’t coincide,” Beverly says. “I think about how lucky I am that we enjoy this together. It has introduced us to interesting people and places. I feel we have something to pass on to our children that says a lot about our relationship and what is important to us. We built this collection together.”
Featured in October 1999