Liam O’Gallagher

Liam O’Gallagher (October 2, 1917 – December 4, 2007) was an avant-garde sound artist, painter and teacher whose San Francisco studio became an early gathering place for Beat writers and poets in the 1950s.[1] He was integral to the creation of foundations and centers for human growth, including Feathered Pipe Ranch, The Ojai Foundation and the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts.[2]

Photograph of Liam O’Gallagher, 1946

. . . Liam O’Gallagher . . .

Born William Gallagher in Oakland, California, the tenth of eleven children, the artist adopted the more traditional rendering of his name after visiting relatives in Ireland.[1] Author Aldous Huxley had a major impact on O’Gallagher’s life, encouraging him to pursue a career in the arts, which led to him studying with Hans Hofmann in Greenwich Village in 1946. Meeting members of the Ojai Players, a theatrical group focusing on the work of Anton Chekhov, he was invited to paint their sets at the High Valley Theatre in Ojai, California. In Ojai, he began a number of lifelong friendships with remarkable individuals including the actress Iris Tree, artist Beatrice Wood and Rosalind Rajagopal, who invited him to teach art at the recently created Happy Valley School (now the Besant Hill School of Happy Valley. Meeting the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti had a major impact on O’Gallagher’s philosophical views, which became increasingly concerned with mystical experience and creating social change.[2]

Moving to San Francisco, O’ Gallagher and his life-partner Robert Rheem maintained a studio, where they created Abstract Expressionist paintings in the area’s Chinatown district during the 1950s and 1960s, where they interacted with a number of artists, writers and philosophers including Richard Brautigan, Jess Collins, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Jean Varda and Alan Watts. Familiar with the Beat Scene in North Beach, O’Gallagher assisted Dr. Francis J. Rigney in researching his book The Real Bohemia: A Sociological and Psychological Study of The “Beats”.[2]

Reproduction of Untitled (Bird), A Painting by Liam O’Gallagher

Influenced by Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard, Liam became interested in the potential of LSD and in 1959 he traveled to Mexico with Robert Rheem, Dr. Barbara Brown and Laura Huxley to visit the home of Indra Devi, where he was given a dose of the then legal drug. Having an ecstatic experience on LSD, he returned to San Francisco with an increased interest in mystical experience. In 1962, O’Gallagher tried Psilocybin and the experience was filmed by Michael McClure and later used in a film titled Chinatown Trip, created by Kevin Wallace. Despite his belief that both experiences were positive and expanded his consciousness, O’Gallagher never took any form of recreational drug again and cautioned others about doing so.[2]

. . . Liam O’Gallagher . . .

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. . . Liam O’Gallagher . . .