In 1951, Gene Galasso, 19, tangled with a fish that
got away, and it brought him a top prize in painting. I call this
adventure “The Tail of the Big Fish and the Little
became known as a fine artist and a graphic arts designer. His
Washington, D.C., studio walls were adorned with awards and
I was 30, I had the temerity to open twin advertising and public
relations agencies in Washington, D.C. My first hire, as my art
director, was a young artist who worked for a manufacturer of
printing inks. Gene was a gem, the best hire I made, and we did a lot
of good work together.
afterwards we were approached by a doctor who was raising money and
recruiting to create Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People
Everywhere), a peacetime hospital ship that would sail to various
countries to provide medical assistance to people in need. Gene
designed their first promotional literature, pro
the first of his many selfless services.
1958, I spent two weeks in Brussels at the World’s Fair on
behalf of a client. This trip back to Europe was destined to change
my entire future. I was present for the creation of the International
Public Relations Society, but what changed my life radically happened
shortly afterwards in Paris.
was so impressed with the graphics and visual dynamite of the fair
that I sent Gene off to Belgium to feast and learn. Then he went to
Paris with camera to follow up on the new enterprise I had launched.
This led to my colorful book about modern, hand-woven French
I wrote it and he designed it. He even formulated the inks our
printer used. One of the many awards Gene earned was one that we both
got in 1961 for that book from the Lithographers and Printers
National Association, akin to the Academy Awards for movie
back in 1950, Galasso was a struggling young man with a passion for
painting and no way of making his living at it.
drifted to Provincetown, Cape Cod to study art under famed Hans
Hofmann (1880-1966) and to paint. But to survive he had to wait on
tables, wash a billion dishes, work drag boats for scallops and trap
boats for tuna. At the end of the tourist season, when the Atlantic
seems to run as paralyzingly cold as in midwinter, Gene got a job on
a tuna trapper.
trap tuna, nets are strung along poles running into the ocean from
near shore. The tuna, mostly 35-40 pounders, follow the nets away
from shore towards deep water. This leads the fish into a maze, where
they are met by the small tuna boats and crews with gaffs.
day the trap was hit by three giants at once. The crew concentrated
on one that later dressed out at more than 900 pounds, the season’s
record. So, alive, it was a half-ton fish.
the seasoned hands fought to gaff this tornado, the diminutive but
determined Galasso, a greenhorn, was waived aside to the bow. There
he noticed that the thrashing fish had made a hole in the net, and
one of the three big ones had already escaped.
to stop the other, Gene locked his feet under the deck boards and
innocently plunged his gaff into the monster’s shimmery
was like grabbing the gate of a Mack truck at 100 miles,” Gene
recalled. The tuna spanked its tail, and Galasso was ripped
right out of his boots, which were still wedged into the deck, and
hurled through the air like a piece of mutton from a catapult.
the next weeks, Galasso drew workman’s compensation while
recuperating on shore — which enabled him to paint, if
painfully. And one of his paintings, which shows a lone gaff
fisherman on land, won the top prize at the Biennial Exhibit of the
Baltimore Museum of Art, until then an unprecedented post-war tribute
for a figurative painting.
Galasso, The Lonely Fisherman (smaller version). Gene painted this one for me as a Christmas present.
Lawrence Jeppson is an art consultant, organizer and curator of art exhibitions, writer, editor
and publisher, lecturer, art historian, and appraiser. He is America's leading authority on
modern, handwoven French tapestries. He is expert on the works of William Henry Clapp, Nat
Leeb, Tsing-fang Chen, and several French artists.
He is founding president of the non-profit Mathieu Matégot Foundation for Contemporary
Tapestry, whose purview encompasses all 20th-century tapestry, an interest that traces back to
1948. For many years he represented the Association des Peintres-Cartonniers de Tapisserie and
Arelis in America.
Through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the American Federation of
Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, and his own Art Circuit Services he has been a contributor to
or organizer of more than 200 art exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Taiwan.
He owns AcroEditions, which publishes and/or distributes multiple-original art. He was co-founder and artistic director of Collectors' Investment Fund.
He is the director of the Spring Arts Foundation; Utah Cultural Arts Foundation, and the Fine
Arts Legacy Foundation
Lawrence is an early-in-the-month home teacher, whose beat is by elevator. In addition, he has spent the past six years hosting and promoting reunions of the missionaries who served in the French Mission (France, Belgium, and Switzerland) during the decade after WWII.