Nationally Recognized Illustrator to Present Exhibit at Cook Library
Chuck Galey likes to hook children from the first page. Through his lively, colorful, detailed and imaginative illustrations, he does just that in the dozens of children’s books he has illustrated over the years. “My goal as an illustrator is to encourage young folks. It leads the child to becoming a lifelong reader.” His illustrations fuel young minds and foster a love of reading, not to mention bonding families through books.
While drawing always came naturally to Galey, as a child he didn’t have role models he could look up to. “I didn’t realized that people could make a living creating art.” His parents sent him to art classes in his hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi, where he studied under Lenny Wacht, a German immigrant who played classical music records while her students worked. Yet when it came time to go to college, Galey chose to study oceanography at Mississippi College. He had learned to scuba dive in a swimming pool in the Mississippi Delta and followed his lifelong passion for the sea. The only problem with that was after two summers aboard a marine research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, he could never quite shake the overwhelming seasickness that engulfed his body. That led to a change of college and a change of majors. Galey graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in graphic design.
Armed with a degree and a natural talent, Galey worked for several advertising and public relations firms, but he became discontent with that work. “An advertising illustration only lasts until the next ad campaign, and I wanted something more enduring.”
His son, Sean, was born in 1987, and Galey and his wife, Forrest, bought the child several illustrated children’s books. “We would read him books at night, which is a great bonding experience with a child. As I turned the pages and looked at the beautiful pictures, I realized I could do that.” Galey had opened his own illustration studio in 1985, so he began looking into illustrating children’s books. That career blossomed as Galey designed covers for several children’s book series including R. L. Stine’s Fear Street and Beverly Cleary’s Ribsey and Henry Huggins for Recorded Books.
Galey continued to hone his skills as a children’s book illustrator. “I began to realize that through illustrating, the mood of the story is set. I create the characters kids can follow throughout a story.” A successful picture book illustration is more than a pretty picture. Illustrators must blend technical skill with imagination to evoke a story or conjure up something in the viewer’s mind. Galey relishes that challenge.
For years, Galey has illustrated books for children’s authors, including Rock ‘N’ Roll Dogs and Jazz Cats by David Davis, Jay and the Bounty of Books by Randall Ivey and The Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair by Dotti Enderle. Jazz Cats was honored by the Miss. Library Association in 2003 with a special recognition of illustration in children's literature.Fun Day in Mrs. Walker’s Classby Robert Little was chosen to represent Mississippi in the 2006 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Galey also does illustrations for Highlights for Children magazine, including the hidden pictures spot. After taking a writing class with author John Floyd at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, Galey is now ready to try his hand at writing his own children’s books.
Galey has been an active participant in the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at Southern Miss for many years, presenting programs and workshops. Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection said, “Chuck Galey, aside from being an accomplished illustrator, is a great friend to the de Grummond Collection. He has been a valuable contributor to the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival for many years, so we are delighted to have an exhibit of his original work here. Our art students interested in learning illustration will benefit.”
The work of Chuck Galey can be seen on display in the Cook Library Art Gallery on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg from October 4 through November 18, with a gallery talk the afternoon of October 6 at 4 p.m. There is no charge, and the public is invited to attend. “The Cook Library Art Gallery has been fortunate to showcase many quality exhibits from various types of artists, and we are thrilled to have Chuck Galey’s exhibit this fall,” said Dawn Smith, Assistant to the Dean for Publicity and Outreach. “The de Grummond Collection is home to some of his papers and drawings so its only fitting we showcase his pieces.”
Cook Library is located on the Southern Miss campus in Hattiesburg. For library hours, visit (http://www.lib.usm.edu/) or call 601-266-4241 for more information.