Tuesday, March 31, 2009


No....not using their product....at least, not in this case. In the late 60's I received a call from Julius Spector, head of the Point of Sale department at Gallo Wineries in Modesto. His group was in charge of design and production of store displays, posters, banners, box displays, etc., nationally. He needed an illustrator....a 'Norman Rockwell' type (!). I think he had received a reference from a San Francisco agency. I drove over to Modesto, about 75 miles into the central valley, where the Gallo plant and headquarters are located, to meet Julius and to pick up a POS job. We got along well from the start....and over the years I illustrated dozens of posters and ads for Gallo. Julius Spector was a short, cigar chomping, take charge type, from New York, with an accent to match. And a plus....a sense of humor. I was known as 'Cholly' over there.

The above heading, 'fun', meant two things. The ads were mostly for Gallo's 'jug' wines, popular in stores in the 70's, and aimed at a young mass audience. Maybe a better description for the ads would be 'seventies silly'. Little of it serious....except to sell the product. It pretty well matched the turbulent 70's times. The second part of the 'fun' was that in good weather, I would fly over to Modesto from Buchanan Field in Concord, not too far away. Below, a couple of shots of the plane and driver in those Gallo days.

The 'aim' was to save time....the flight in a small plane was half that of driving. However, by the time I rented the little Grumman Trainer, kicked the tires, wiped the windshield, preflighted the plane, fuel valves drained, oil and fuel levels checked, bugs wiped from the leading edges of the wing, the flight made....no time was saved! But it was fun getting there and back.

Modesto's airport was less than a mile from Gallo, and I was picked up by Julius or his secretary.

Diversity was the name of the game on subjects, and photographs of bottles, glasses, etc. were often combined with the art. The department had several ad and display designers, two of them former P&H artists, who comped some of the ad layouts seen here. First, a 'Tyrolean' scene, our middle daughter and a boy friend the models toasting each other.

Next, one of several 'General Boone' posters....one of the sillier series. I think a tie-in with a TV ad character.

Another General Boone follows...

...and then a Hay Wagon illustration....done in markers to speed things up for a tight deadline.

A Carlo Rossi ad follows. Carlo was a brother in law of Ernest or Julio Gallo, and had a line of jug wines in his name. On the illustrations shown, Carlo and I would meet on the lawn in front of the large headquarters building, where I would take reference shots for the posters. I recall a cheerful Italian vintner, his lacquered nails and hand tailored shirts!

The next scan was for a line of wines called 'Boone's Farm'....this one called Wild Mountain. Another short deadline large poster....done in gouache and black line technique.

Finally, a pair of nearly life sized die-cut Tyrolean figures, displayed in more spacious stores with Gallo's wines.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set.


Unknown said...

Great stuff Charlie. You can sure see how these would really stand out in a store. Did they comp you cases of Boone's Farm? I remember it being a favorite in my high school days. Interesting from a marketing perspective using a jolly "cartoon style" spokesman to sell booze. Sort of like the Camel "Joe Cool" cartoon campaign.
Love the plane pixs. You gotta' tell the story about how you built one in your garage.

Tom said...

Great work Charlie. You sure put an amazing amount of resolve in all your illustrations. Even on tight deadlines, and you short-cut very little. The b/w line drawings from last week have an incredible amount of tonal variation giving them a lot of literal dimension... even the ones that were reproduced in a small format. Don't know how you did it, and met those crazy deadlines... probably a lot of "all nighters". And, no doubt you were very fast with a pen or brush. Did you ever do portraits in oil? You sure have the skills and knowledge for it.

I always enjoy studying your work.

Tom Watson

Charlie Allen said...

BIGB....(Is that Bruce?) Who else knows about the homebuilt plane? I'll post some pictures down the line here. As said many times, enjoyed the variety of stuff....kept it from getting boring. TOM....good to hear from you and thanks. I did work fast....the technique usually shows it. One of my Duck Stamp friends called me a 'serial slasher'! Oddly very few night efforts....I wasn't very efficient after hours. Since art school, very little in oils. Not sure I have the patience. I kept saying 'next year'....but next year in oils never got here!

Rich said...

It all looks so JUICY!