American Spirit: Margaret Kilgallen

Margaret Kilgallen at Art in the Streets

Margaret Kilgallen at Art in the Streets

Margaret Kilgallen at Art in the Streets

Margaret Kilgallen at Art in the Streets

Click images to enlarge

About six or seven years ago, maybe more, I bought a t-shirt from the Giant Robot store on Sawtelle, it featured the words Cookie’s Surf Shop with a simple drawing of a female surfer. I didn’t really know anything about it, only that the line work seemed so perfect, a mixture of times gone by with a sense of modernity. It turns out the shirt was based off a painting by Margaret Kilgallen. The saddest part is that she had already passed away from cancer.

When I think of the story of Margaret Kilgallen it makes me incredibly sad. Only in her early 30’s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer… while she was also pregnant with her husband Barry McGee. In order for their daughter, named Asha, to survive, Margaret forwent chemo therapy, sacrificing her own life for that of her unborn daughters. It’s a sad and tragic story that I feel should never be forgotten, because she was not only completely unselfish, she was one of the most incredible artists from the Beautiful Losers movement.

I had the extreme pleasure of seeing her work at the opening of Art in the Streets, one I chose to truly relish. I sat back and soaked it in, absorbing the way she drew people and the curves in her type. I sat there thinking of all the time it took her to hang paint each of these panels, and how beautiful it all looks as a complete thought. It saddens me that the world has lost such a brilliant artist, but I always look on the bright side and think of how glad I am that she was here at all.

Check out the photo gallery below, and if you have the chance, visit Art in the Streets so you can see her brilliant work in person. If you’re in San Francisco, there’s also some of her pieces up right now at Ratio 3, you can get more information here.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>