Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Journey to Julian's Last Las Vegas Painting

Jan 19, 2017
by Greg Autry

Early 1984 as I recall now, I came up with an idea for a painting that I proposed to Julian, and he was very enthusiastic about. It was a bit of a `spin' on some of his early works. A Clown, with Showgirls.  Truly, the nudes and showgirls were not what Julian painted in 1984, when he painted for himself. But like any artist who makes a living selling his art, he painted what the clientele wanted.

I was like so many others, as I was enamored with the gorgeous lushness of his nudes and showgirls. The paintings that had made him famous, since painting The Silver Slipper Collection beginning in 1950's, for the Las Vegas Mob, were still what his clients clamored for.  But truly by this time, Julian rarely if ever had a real passion about doing nudes. He could churn them out without much thought or regard. Too often, these later paintings show that disregard.

The Conductor II - 1983
Original Oil painting by Julian Ritter
 My idea was to dress up as a clown myself, and to have a whole bevy of Showgirls around me. My own fantasies of Showgirls, Vegas Glamour, and the sensual sexuality of all that Julian's works conjured up for me, would be encapsulated in this one painting. As I described it to Julian, sitting in his studio on Torito Road one Sunday, he began to draw sketches with conte crayons on a roll of vellum. He rapidly drew sketch after sketch, tearing off the paper and dropping one, then another, onto the floor as I talked.

Greg as the Clown Figure in the Las Vegas Fantasy
Original oil painting by Julian Ritter
When I remarked, amazed, at how fast he could draw as though he was not looking at what he was doing, he laughed heartily and said, `I'm just a fucking wonder!' Then he took a big gulp of the Brandy in a glass on the floor beside his chair and said watch this.  He proceeded to tear off a sheet of the vellum and put it on his board, to which he then sat his board on the floor in front of him where he sat, facing me in a chair opposite.

Janet Boyd Showgirl figure in The Las Vegas Fantasy
Original oil paintings by Julian Ritter
He took a piece of the conte and without looking at the board, upside down, and backwards, he looked directly at me while he sketched  two perfect nude female figures. Still looking at me, with my mouth agape, he laughed again, took another big swig on the brandy. That, 5 minute, exhibition is something I will ever forget in my lifetime.

`Teressa' - Showgirl figure in The Las Vegas Fantasy
Original oil painting by Julian Ritter
We talked more about the posing, and finally agreed on a study sketch as the basis for the painting. The sketch had two showgirls, I then I decided it needed more girls. We agreed there would be four Showgirls, and me, as a clown. Five Figures. We negotiated a price, well I should say, we haggled about a price.  Julian loved the bantering about prices and making the deal, almost as much as he loved doing the painting. Julian knew I could afford it, and no doubt I paid a little more than I might have. But I was truly happy and wanted him to do a great job, and most importantly as an artist myself I know how important it is that artists feel's their work is truly appreciated.

We agreed to hire four Showgirls from Las Vegas, and bring them to Julian's studio in Summerland, for Julian to draw and work on the painting. Julian's first suggestion, which was a mandate actually, was for me to hire Janet Boyd as one of the models.

`Ronnie' - Showgirl figure in The Las Vegas Fantasy
Original oil painting by Julian Ritter
Julian had in his studio the iconic Portrait of Janet, at the time I met him. The first thing I did when I saw that painting was to ask Julian if I could buy it, which Julian declined, and would decline continually. I didn't understand Julian's relationship with Janet at that time, all I knew was that she was a megastar showgirl. Julian gave me her address and phone number.  I was actually too intimidated to call her, so I wrote her a letter, telling her about the project and asking to meet with her. 

`Helen' - Showgirl figure in The Las Vegas Fantasy
Original oil painting by Julian Ritter
The painting that Julian would do, would be the now Iconic `Las Vegas Fantasy.' It would in fact be that last painting Julian would ever go to Las Vegas to do.  And I will tell that story, and more about Julian and Janet, next time.

I continue to work on my book about The Life and Art of Julian Ritter. Research is never ending, and I continually discover new things I want to include. I need a good editor at this point to start going through it, looking at format, and culling it down perhaps. Stay tuned !

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


by Greg Autry   --  Jan 10, 2017 

In early 1950 Julian went to Las Vegas for the first time, and made a Sale of 13 paintings, which would be the first installment of `The Silver Slipper Collection.'  The Silver Slipper Casino, over the next eighteen years Julian would add to the collection through various owners, as well as paint untold numbers of paintings for Dealers, Patrons, and Mob Bosses throughout the town.

Entry Piece - Silver Slipper Casino
`Las Vegas Follies' by Julian Ritter
48 x 72 -  Oil on Masonite
circa 1950


Entry Piece - Silver Slipper Casino
`Lady of the Evening' by Julian Ritter
42 x 58 -  Oil on Masonite
circa 1950

The first thirteen paintings in the collection were of nudes and showgirls. Moe Dalitz and Benny Binion were instrumental in the collection. Instructing Julian to paint Nudes worthy of a first class Parisian Bordello.

Portraits of Lil St Cyr , by Julian Ritter, circa 1950, Oil on Masonite, 
Originally part of the Silver Slipper Collection. Private Collection

Interior Silver Slipper Casino - Circa 1955
Julian's paintings on the far side wall. 
Photo courtesy of Scott Fawcet

In what would become known as his `Salon Nudes,' Julian embarked on paintings of Showgirls, Clowns, and Nudes, which would become the bane, and the hallmark , of his career.  As had happened in bars and bordellos before, and would happen in the future, his paintings garnered such incredible response from the public and art patrons, so as to cause crowds and response beyond what the various establishments were prepared for.

`Riding in the Red Surrey' by Julian Ritter
22 x 27 -  Oil on Masonite 
circa 195o's 

The Original `Mr. Whimsey' Series
                     Left - `The Clown Photographer'                     Right -  `Mr. Whimsey'
                         39 x 30  Oil on Masonite                            39 x 30  Oil on Masonite

Never had the public seen such lively, vivid, and overt sensuality on display. Crowds lined the Silver Slipper Casino during the days, and everyone wanted a painting by the flamboyant artist. Cooks, and hat check girls, not to mention the Showgirls and Performers. Julian took special interest when `girls' approached him with special request.

`Portrait of a Redhead' by Julian Ritter
20 x 16 oval  -  Oil on Masonite 
circa 195o's 

At the same time, it was the Pit Bosses, the Dealers, and the ribald assortment of `Family' members who would monopolize a great deal of Julian's time and efforts. Their "request" were more than simple request, and Julian understood he must keep them "Happy."  Untold numbers of paintings remain in family treasures around the country. Three of the most famous painting were of portraits of Moe Dalitz, Doby Doc, and Benny Binion. The portrait of Doby Doc with his dog, hung in Benny Binion's office in the Horseshoe Casino, for many years, and is now part of a private collection, in Las Vegas.

Howard Hughes
Google Free Images

Beginning in 1966 with the Desert Inn, Howard Hughes began slew of Las Vegas acquisitions, which would ultimately oust the Mob from Vegas, as it had been known. Hughes last Casino acquisition was the Silver Slipper. Many rumored reasons why he bought the property are strictly that, rumors. Truth be told, Hughes believed the property's value lie in its proximity to other properties and he saw great future value in that.

It was also a money maker and garnered a steady income stream. But when Hughes "people" made the purchase, they failed to clearly secure the rights to the paintings that had been done by Julian over the years, and which still hung inside the Slipper and by now, were in fact what added the real world character to the Casino.  Hughes had to go to court to fight the "Sellers" and to argue that the Paintings, were in fact , part of the "furnishing."

~ 1968 Las Vegas Newspaper Article
announcing Julian Ritter's trip to Las Vegas
to evaluate the Silver Slipper Collection 

What turned out to be the deciding factor, was the fact that the "Owners" had ill-advisedly "screwed" the painting in their frames onto the walls of the casino, rather than "hang" the art work in a traditional manner. Julian , along with Bernie Schantz, were called to Las Vegas  to testify as to the value of the collection, and Hughes was awarded the collection in full. Although, he did have to pay some restitution.

Archive image of the Silver Slipper from Google Free Images - Circa 195o's

Note that Julian's trip to testify about the collection, came only a month, after he returned from the ill fated voyage aboard the `Galilee,' being rescued after 89 days lost at sea.  The Silver Slipper Collection remained a part of the history and lore of the old Silver Slipper Casino, until the time the Casino was last sold and then demolished.  I purchased the Silver Slipper Collection, from the Summa Corporation,  after Howard Hughes' estate was settled, and retain the collection today.

`Suzie' by Julian Ritter
17 x 11 -  Oil on Masonite 
circa 195o's 

`Untitled' by Julian Ritter
~~ 30 x 48 -  Oil on Masonite 
circa 195o's 
Not on Public Display. Found Stashed in Howard Hughes' private Vault Room. 

I would be very interested in finding an appropriate venue, to do a show and exhibition of the Collection.  Contact me if you are interested.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

1939 Golden Gate International Exposition

January 5, 2017

Julian Ritter’s Ninety Foot Mural
By Greg Autry

In 1939 the Golden Gate International Exposition opened on February 18th, on a manmade mudflat island in San Francisco Bay, called Treasure Island. The `Theme’ of the overall Fair was “Pageant of the Pacific.” It would come to be called “The Magic City,” and lasted for only two seasons. The Great Expo was intended to celebrate the opening of the recently completed, Golden Gate Bridge and The Bay Bridge, which were to bring great revelations to San Francisco. The Buildings of the Expo were monumental, reminiscent of the `White City’ of Chicago’s World Fair held in 1893. At night the building were lit in multi-colors and could be seen a hundred miles away.

Julian Ritter painting a Mural for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. 
From the Julian Ritter Estate Archives. 

In the 1930’s, the `WPA' (Works Progress Administration), or the `Second New Deal’ would also act to provide jobs to the great many unemployed workers throughout the Country.  The `Federal Project Number One’   employed  artists, writers,  musicians, actors, and directors from around the country, instituted with the intent of getting America back on the road to financial well-being after a decade of suffering the greatest financial  Depression in the country’s history.  The WPA would interact with State and local agencies nationwide, to implement large Arts Programs. Applications from artists were received in the thousands, from around the country.

Julian was out of work in 1938 with little or no prospects. When Julian needed money, he would  load a bunch of paintings into his car and head to art galleries to peddle his wares. Thus was the method which began several successful relationships with Galleries in San Francisco, and a `Peddler’  Julian always remained. He is also aware of all the hype and publicity surrounding the upcoming Golden Gate International Exposition to be held on San Francisco's Treasure Island and he definitely intended to seek out opportunities. Although he did not know how he would do so.

In its infancy, the American Scene Movement is a somewhat depressing, albeit realistic, view of working class Americans. Fueled by Prohibition and the Great Depression, the gaiety and frivolity of the 1920's had long given way to lives of hardship, self doubt, and a preponderance of despair.  This background, magnifying the harsh realities of Julian's upbringing and early childhood, makes it hard to imagine anything but dark emotionally depressing figures emanating from Julian's imagination around that time.

American Scene Painting, was intended to convey a sense of nationalism and romanticism about everyday life in 1930’s America, from small town and rural America, to the big cities. Some consider the American Scene Movement, as a precursor to `Modernism’. Painting Murals, in buildings and Expositions, was coming into vogue as a helpful way to employ artists. Many artists were being influenced by the likes of Fresco Muralist Diego Rivera. Rivera became known for making political statements in Fresco’s, painted in the perfect spaces for such statements, public buildings!

Julian was young, full of life, and confident in his abilities. Never afraid of hard work, Julian took pride in his working class nature and background. Beverly Hills architect Mark Daniels, is in charge of the "Mines, Minerals, and Machinery Building,” at the GGIE. Julian jumps at the opportunity to paint a major statement piece when offered by Mark Daniels. Daniels is impressed with Julian’s repertoire of paintings and pen and ink sketches when the two first meet. 
Julian never applied to the State, nor to the WPA, as an artist, however though Mark Daniels a Purchase Order is issued in December of 1938 to `Julian Ritter,’ by the `STATE OF CALIFORNIA-BUREAU OF PURCHASES’ which states as a scope of work;

`To furnish complete, install and in place on Treasure Island in the Building known as “Mines, Metals and Machinery Building”, a minimum of 1,000 square feet of murals depicting the mining industry in the United States.  All work including sketches and finished murals, are subject to approval by the California Commission for the Golden Gate International Exposition.'   

Julian immediately likes Daniels because he is `hands on' and not afraid to “get in and get dirty.” Daniels likes Julian's wit, and quick understanding of the process. Julian works diligently on paper sketches and painting color studies for the various figures he envisions. Julian works to incorporate Daniel’s ideas and themes, with his own sense of Spirit and Daniels likes how amazingly fast and accurate Julian's drawings are, and is amazed at the number of paintings Julian turns out as `Color Study’s.’

Some of the Studies were as large as 36 x 24 inches, masterfully painted, and would remain in Julian’s private collection for years; Julian unwilling to part with them until that is financial necessity required selling them.

24 x 36 Study, Oil Painting by Julian Ritter, titled `Steel Worker,'  Private Collection.

An artist himself, and a highly successful architect, Daniels sees Julian's work as more than just superb draughtsmanship. As the mural unfolds in paint, he recognizes the true Genius of Julian Ritter.  Julian would only have two months to do preliminary sketches, paint some studies to get color palette and details approved, and to complete the mural. When completed it was over 10 feet tall and almost one-hundred feet long.   At this time there are no photos of the actual mural which have been found. There is one photo from a newspaper article at the time seen above, depicting Julian at work, painting the mural. One study painting [above] has been located in a private collection, which was sold by Julian in 1948. 
For the mural, judging by the little available evidence now we see that Julian created  figures of strong, hard, rugged working men in the great industries which would define the USA in the first half of the Twentieth century. Rather than portraying the resentfulness of the hard times as so many other American Scene muralists, Julian's figures are infused with men, happy to be working and swelled with that camaraderie that groups of workers, and teams of men come to understand. There is an emotional uplift is Julian's work and Architect Mark Daniels see’s the Spirit of Julian's soul transfused into his work. Mark Daniel's was also a man of distinction. With their working relationship blossoming, Daniels gave Julian additional jobs to paint for the exposition, as well as introducing him to prominent people in San Francisco, people who came to buy more of Julian’s paintings.

It was reported that all of the Art on Display at the `GoldenGate International Exposition would amount to $ 20,000,000.00.  Whether accurate or not, the Exposition was instrumental in propelling Julian into the ranks of commercial free lance professional artist.  The 1939 GGIE would result directly and indirectly to Julian’s success and the spread of his name and his work, throughout the United States.

Because of his `Mural' for the Exposition he also got similar work for restaurants, hospitals, and even real estate offices. Although there is scant record today, he is known to have produced murals, and wall paintings, for several San Francisco hotels of an illicit nature. Bordellos in North Beach were common [see STORY about Bimbo's 365 Club.] 

After Julian’s participation in the 1939 GGIE, he was offered and accepted two shows in New York City. In 1941 Julian made his New York City debut at The Newhouse Gallery, as well as The Gallery of Modern Art.
The original Fair had opened February 18, 1939, and would ultimately close September 29, 1940. The Fair’s theme, emphasizing unity between Pacific nations, would last no longer than the Fair itself.  It had been planned that the Fairgrounds would become a part of the “new” San Francisco airport after the Fair closed, however world events would intervene and the US Navy would take over the land and buildings as part of the upcoming war effort, building a large presence on the island, along with the new Alameda Naval Shipyard. Julian would spend the war years, in the US Army, where he would ultimately marry his first love, Hilde.

Jan 2017, The Main Administration Building on Treasure Island.
The only remaining building from the Great 1939 Exposition. 

Today, both the Fair Grounds on Treasure Island and the Navy Shipyard in Alameda are abandoned. There remains only one, `Main, Administration Building’ from the ’39 Expo, still standing on Treasure Island. While it is nearly abandoned, it does offer a glimpse into the ornate grandeur of the past.

 Jan 2017 - Interior of the `Main Administration Building' on Treasure Island. 

Jan 2017 -  The Bay Bridge and City of San Francisco, seen from Treasure Island.

There is proposed new housing and related commercial development for Treasure Island, with hopes and promises, of resurrecting the `Administration Building’ as a living Museum. And surely, somewhere, there are photographs to be found, of Julian’s work at the Fair, as well as more study paintings by Julian to be discovered.

*Photo of Julian Painting at the 1939 GGIE from Newspaper Article in the Julian Ritter Estate Archives. The Artists Estate retains all copyrights to the original image. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016


October 5, 2016

Currently writing my book about, `THE LIFE AND ART OF JULIAN RITTER.'

Julian disdained the very establishment he needed. He was not equipped nor inclined to deal with the politics of the `well-to do' and sophisticated art markets, and investors, in New York or elsewhere.

Steel Worker - Study for GGIE
by Julian Ritter 
Julian briefly attended the Art Institute of Chicago, then graduated from Art Center, in Los Angeles, in 1934. His first public recognition came during the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, where he was hired to paint a 90' mural at the `Mines, Minerals, and Machinery Building.' Depicting the working classes of America.

Ink & Watercolor - Bimbo 365 Club
by Julian Ritter
Julian worked at the Hollywood studios, until next he was harkened to New York City, where he showed a collection of early watercolors, pen and ink sketches, along with oils. He had two shows at the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Newhouse Galleries in 1941. Wandering amongst the sophisticated snobbery of the New York elite, Julian reacted negatively out of fear and ignorance.

The 1950's would be the `Golden Age of Julian.' Invited to Chicago by Otto Eitel, where he was treated with respect and adored, Julian painted at the Bismarck Hotel, and soon at the Palace theatre where he first saw the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus, at the invitation of Eitel.

Bismark Hotel owned by Otto Eitel
Chicago, IL 
Mr. Whimsey by Julian Ritter
Inspired at Ringling Bros Circus


Portion of the Wall Mural at Bimbo's 365 Club San Francisco
by Julian Ritter
Hired by `Mr. Bimbo,' in early 1950, Julian would create the `Bimbos 365 Collection' of King Neptune and sensual Mermaids , which hang today at the same club, in San Francisco.

In the 1950's, Julian's trademark Salon Nudes, and Clowns, would emerge and overtake the art world where they were sold at Galleries throughout the United States and around the world.  Commissioned by the likes of Las Vegas mobsters Benny Binion and Moe Dalitz, as well as later owners of the Silver Slipper Casino, the Silver Slipper Collection, was (officially) 28 oils on masonite, and hung at the famed Silver Slipper Casino in Las Vegas from 1950 until 1988. The Silver Slipper Collection was sold by the Summa Corporation in 1988 when the Howard Hughes Estates was settled, after years of litigation, and just before the Silver Slipper was demolished.

Silver Slipper Salon Nude (Entry piece)
by Julian Ritter
Howard Hughes litigates and Wins the Silver Slipper Collection

Interior Silver Slipper Casino
circa 1950
(Julian's paintings on the wall in back)

Julian had forsworn working with Galleries and Dealers for the most part. Instead, preferring to work with a select group of Patrons who bought everything he could produce.

In the mid Fifties Julian took his family, and traipsed of to Mexico to live and to paint, before moving back to Santa Barbara, California. Then the unimaginable happened, Cancer took his true love Hilde whom he had married during the war (WWII). Forlorn and grieving, Julian embarked on the 45' yawl Galilee, to sail the south seas.

San Blas - Mexico
by Julian Ritter

Two years later this led to the scintillating pairing of Julian (59), with a new love and Muse, Laurie Kokx (18), who flew to Acapulco to meet up with Julian and then sailed off to Tahiti, aboard the Galilee. A three year adventure ensued which was culminated in 1970, when Julian and Laurie and one other crew mate, departed Tahiti, bound for Honolulu.  Ravaged by storm the Galilee was disabled, and the crew drifted, lost at sea for 89 days. Forty-Nine days with no food.

                        Sept 14, 1970 USS NIAGARA FALLS
Win, Laurie, and Julian
aproximately Sept 18
Sept 14, 1970
45' Yawl Galilee in Distress
(crew from USS Niagara Falls
preparing to tow the Galilee)

On September 14, 1970, the USS Niagara Falls miraculously spotted the becalmed sailboat off course and in distress, with the three aboard within hours of death.  Rescued and taken to Honolulu, Julian and Laurie would return to California, settling in Summerland, south of Santa Barbara.

They would live together for the next fifteen years, Julian reinventing his art to portray the horrors and visions of his ordeal at sea, along with revitalizing his emphatic paintings of sensual showgirls, nudes, and women of all walks of life. In 1972 he would create history's most iconic Showgirl painting, the portrait of Janet Boyd, which made its debut on the stage at the Silver Slipper. In mid 1984 he would paint his most masterful Showgirl painting, a commission called `The Las Vegas Fantasy,' four showgirls and a clown, painted on gold leaf.  Both paintings almost eight feet tall.

Las Vegas Fantasy
by Julian Ritter

Portrait of Janet
Janet Boyd by Julian Ritter

Laurie and Julians life was ideal, until Laurie betrayed Julian's love and trust. As a child growing up during WWI in Germany, with a mother who worked as a sometimes actress, sometime prostitute, Julian learned early in life not to trust others. His biggest issue throughout his lifetime was trusting people. Hilde had left him alone, and with this final betrayal by Laurie, Julian (~75) up and sold everything and moved to Hawaii  to live with his son.

Julian Ritter
circa 1948

Nine months after moving to Hawaii and building a majestic new studio to paint in, Julian would suffer a massive stroke (circa1985), and never paint again. His Son Michael would take care of his father until Julian passed away over ten years later, March 4, 2000.  Laurie would die mysteriously, April 29, 2006.  She had dedicated her life after the rescue, to creating purpose for Julian's Art and to keep him painting and away from the bottle. In the aftermath of their breakup, Laurie could find no purpose of her own, nor could she stay away from the bottle herself.

The Life and Art of Julian Ritter, delves into the intracacies of what makes a life of art. Why and how did a life so full of adventure and story, pale in comparison to his dedication to making his art. He painted, hours upon hours, every day of his life from the time he was 8 years old, until the time of his stroke. His Mastery is unparalleled, yet he remains an enigma in the world of art.

As we approach the Fifty year anniversary of the `Rescue at Sea,' I endeavor to fulfill an oath I made, to tell the story of Julian Ritter's art, and his life.  Join me on this magical journey, to find out how and why, Julian created his art, and stayed true to his Purpose of creating art, for the sake of the art.

I also invite you to take a look at my GoFundMe Campaign.   And for more information and photos, go to the Julian Ritter Website.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 1909 Julian's Birthday

September 19, 2016.  Today is Julian's Birthday. He was born in 1909 and he would be 107 today..
Greg Autry's goFundme Campaign to complete The Book about Julian, and get it off to the editor.

I am asking for your donations/gifts to raise funds that will enable me to complete my book about Julian Ritter, and get it off to the editor.  Julian was a friend, and mentor, and one of the great artist of the twentieth century. I have dedicated myself to write a book about Julian's amazing life and his monumental art.  I'm getting close, and can use your help to get over the finish line. Please click `Donate Now.'  Your Shares on Facebook and Twitter are also greatly appreciated.

WHO I AM  and  WHY THIS NOW.As an adult, I worked to build a business and raise a famaily. I began to collect art seriously in the late 1970's and became enamored of the `Salon Nudes' painted by the artist Julian Ritter. My initiation into the world of  art as an `Investment,' had a somewhat rocky initiation. Around 1982 I purchased an "original" Julian Ritter oil painting at a very renowned art gallery in Laguna Beach, California.

                           Artist Julian Ritter circa 1950

I thought I had negotiated `quite the deal,' and also found that Julian was alive, still painting, and lived in Summerland, California (just south of Santa Barbara.)  I was excited beyond words when I arranged to meet Julian and show him the painting I had just purchased.

My first meeting with Julian was profound in many ways. First and foremost, I was delighted and honored to meet Julian and Laurie Kokx. Secondly, I found out that the painting I had purchased, was a fake. And NOT a very good fake at that!

Restitution was made regarding the fake painting, and more importantly I started a lifelong love of a man I believe is one of the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century.

I commissioned Julian to paint a portrait of my wife Yvonne, and later, another commission for a large painting in Las Vegas which is now well known as the `Las Vegas Fantasy.' I purchased paintings directly from Julian and in 1988, I purchased a collection of 28 paintings called the `Silver Slipper Collection,' from the Summa Corporation in Las Vegas, Nevada, when the Howard Hughes estate was settled after years in litigation. 

                     `Portrait of Janet' by Julian Ritter

I met Julian a couple of years after my own father passed away. In addition to his art, I came to love the man deeply. I felt a deep connection to him, his work, and what he was trying to say through his art.  

     Artist Julian Ritter painting the `Portrait of Yvonne,'       
             1984, Torito Road, Summerland , California

Julian passed away, at the age of 90 in 2000, three days after my mother passed away.  I had tried to promote him when he was alive, and after he passed, I rededicated  myself to telling the story of the `Life and Art of Julian Ritter.'  Thus the theme of the book I have commenced to write.

It is around 34 chapters and 800 pages, in a rough second draft. Here is a brief description of three middle chapters from the book:

`Renowned Artist Julian Ritter sat sail in the "Galilee," leaving Santa Barbara behind, after the death of his beloved wife Hilde. Months later, disheveled, in jail in Acapulco, he was out of hope and out of time. His last desperate act, when given a chance to make a call from jail, was to phone Laurie Kokx in Santa Barbara, California.  In a life saving attempt Laurie arranged a private plane to fly to Acapulco and to bail Julian out of the Mexican jail.  Safely out of jail and revived, a month later, 60 year old Julian Ritter and 17 year old Laurie Kokx announced that they would embark together to sail to Costa Rica and on to the Tahitian Islands. After spending three years, living his childhood dreams of sailing the Islands and painting, Julian and Laurie hired another crewmate and would set sail for home, first bound for Honolulu. Within a couple of weeks however, things began to go wrong. The engine conked out, the radio was on the fritz, and lastly, they were caught in a severe cyclone, which crippled the 45 foot yawl Galilee. Their mast broken, severely off-course, no way to steer or to communicate, they were lost at sea, emaciated and within hours of death.  Lost at sea for 89 days, the last 49 days with no food, they were miraculously rescued by the USS Niagara Falls, where upon the Navy Doctor, Lt. Phillip Becker, immediately had them taken to critical care in sick bay aboard the ship.'  

Sept 15, 1970, "Galilee" in tow by USCGC Cape Corwin, 
     and USS Niagara Falls, heading to Honolulu, Hawaii. 

 `Sick Bay' of the USS Niagara Falls, days after rescue of 
          Winfried Heiringhoff, Lauren Kokx, Julian Ritter.

Brought back from the brink of death, Laurie and Julian eventually made it home to Santa Barbara, settling on Torito Road in Summerland, California.  

This is only a portion of what I've written to date, telling the story of a man whose life adventures, personality, and character at times overshadow his art, and who may be truly one of the greatest artists to ever have lived. Foolishly or not, Julian disdained the art world which he relied upon. He lived his life true to his beliefs and always in pursuit of his art. 

                     Sept 14, 1970  `Galilee' in distress
                            "NO FOOD, NO POSITION"  

I made the decision to start the book, based on my intimate relationship and conversations with Julian over many years. He told me many stories, and we talked about art and his life's philosophy whenever we were together. Now I still need to do a signifcant amount of research.  Part of the research needed to be done is about Julian's history in Las Vegas. Julian's `Golden Years' as I call them, were the 1950's, when he painted the bulk of the Silver Slipper Collection a well as  having major art deals all overthe country.

In 2015 I decided to move to Las Vegas, to do research and to physically start the book, while Sandy, my wife moved  back to San Jose to be closer to her family. Thanks to the firm Sandy works for, who allowed her a transfer to their Palo Alto office.  In Las Vegas I started and finished the first draft of the book, and began the second draft, the first rewrite. I also met a wonderful editor in Las Vegas, who is accomplished and is familiar with Julian's  paintings that used to hang in the Silver Slipper. 

                                                `Entry Piece'
    Salon Nude by Julian Ritter - Silver Slipper Collection

While I do not consider myself a "Writer," per se, I have been doing some writing.  A few years back, while photographing  a fashion show  `For The Stars,' on Melrose Ave in West Hollywood, I met a publisher  who liked my photos and asked "If I write ?"  "Of course I do," I replied. Thus Lawrence Davis gave me a "job" as a photojournalist for LA Splash Magazine.  Writing for LA Splash  Magazine does not pay, in cash, it has however offered me opportunities to improve as a writer, as well as other opportunities to cover events and meet  people I would not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Sadly, Lawrence Davis passed away in 2015. He had become a dear friend and I miss him every day. I continue as a photojournalist for LA Splash Magazine, in thanks to Lawrence and to continue my writing discipline. 

     Lawrence Davis - Splash Magazine Publisher 2014
                                        with Wilma Elles 

Building on the experience I've gained with LA Splash Magazine has given me the confidence to seriously pursue writing my book about Julian. I do it because I must. It has become my purpose, my passion, and I do it to honor a man who dedicated his entire life to art, and to whom I felt a kinship with, from the time I met him.  In the face of dire adversity, Julian Ritter dedicated  seventy years of his life to his one true purpose, that of creating art. Julian loved women without restraints, he loathed societies constraints and judgments, and sought to portray women as true Goddesses, without shame and full of joy. 

I am about half finished with the second draft, and will be ready to submit it to the editor. Right now I have thirty-four chapters, and a total of about 800 pages written.  The second draft is about two-thirds completed, but I'm at a stop now.  And STOPPED, is why I am reaching out with this "goFundme" campaign. 

HOW I WILL USE THE FUNDS1)  COMPUTERS and EQUIPMENT                $  4,536.00
I have (had) two computers. A PC which I write on, and a MAC which I edit photos on.  The PC Hard Drive crashed about two weeks ago. Thankfully I do have the manuscript backed up, on a flash drive.  My MAC, is failing, and I am concerned it is going to crash also. Thus, the first component of my Request, to replace my Computer and related equipment.

I will purchase a new MAC, and add Microsoft Word to the MAC, to write on. Thus I can continue writing, to complete the manuscript.  Additional cost will include an Epson Printer, Set Up fees, and miscellaneous related items.

I will not be able to finish the manuscriipt I'm afraid, without  the funds to replace the computers.

2)   EDITING THE MANUSCRIPT                       $ 2,182.00

Professional editing of the manuscript is required before it can be submitted to agents and publishers. My goal is to attain a deal with a major publisher, to publish the book in hardback. One, or possibly two volumns.  Obtaining a publisher is another challenge, but for now, I must get the book finished. This is the goal here. 

I've selected an editor, whom I believe will provide invaluable assistence and support.  She has chastised me when needed, cajoled, and motivated me.  

3)   CAMERA EQUIPMENT                                  $  4,023.00

I must purchase a new camera, as my current D700 is approaching one-million shutter clicks. It has been in for repair twice in the last two years, and at this point the repairs will cost more than a new camera.  It failed at one shoot last year, and I recently had to rent a camera body for a shoot, as the D700 is simply not reliable anymore. 

I've been shooting Nikon professionally since my first F3, when I was shooting fashion in New York. I will continue to shoot Nikon.  This aspect of my `goFund me' campaign is to purchase a new Nikon D810 along with a wireless receiver.  

When I began the book I was making a living painting, doing art appraisals, and my commercial photography. I found that I could not do all three, and do them well.  One had to be put on hold so that I could tell Julian's story. To that end, the photography became more important, as it was inherently entwined in what I am doing. As a photournalist for LA Splash, I photograph all of the events I write about. This I believe raises my credibility as a writer. I believe it will be beneficial when I am seeking publishers for the book about Julian.
I also use my camera when doing art appraisals, so as to include thumbnail images of the paintings appraised, with the written appraisal.  This also goes to the computer issue (#1 above) for writing appraisals and editing photos for appraisals. 

Lastly, I shoot commercially to supplement my income and to pay monthly living expenses. My commercial work has fallen off significantly in the last year. This I percieve  as being a part of the new digital world of imaging, but more importantly, as result of my relocation to Northern California. I am developing new clients and professional relationships here, but I must have reliable equipment. 

I am still shooting in Southern California, as well as Las Vegas, and traveling to shoot when requested. Here, I must thank my beautiful wife Sandy, for her unyielding support and belief in my artistic endeavors. Never has a man been so fortunate as to find a woman who truly believes in him and what he does.  

I cannot ask for Sandy to carry all the financial burden. I must work and do as much as I am able to contribute financially to our household, all the while working on `The Book' about Julian. 

4)   RESEARCH FUNDS                                            $ 2,052.00

I do need to make a couple of trips to conclude some valuable aspects of the research, which will take me to Museums and Libraries in Berkeley and San Francisco, as well as Reno and Las Vegas again, and also to a town in Oregon. I believe both these trips will provide valuable information to bring together some of the final aspects of the concluding chapters for `The Book.'

I have actually been working and doing the research for `The Book' for years. Going to museums, libraries, meeting people, and  collecting stories. Even the art appraisals I do is part of my research. Including my time in Las Vegas I've spent an estimated twenty to thirty-thousand dollars of my own funds.  Some of which has been offset by doing appraisals. I am NOT looking to recoup funds here for money I've already spent. I'll do that when I get a book deal. 

TOTAL and IN CONCLUSION                          $  12,793.00
Asking for money is difficult for me. I first went to my bank for a personal loan.  It seems banks and credit unions do not make personal loans in support of the arts, thus I was rudimentally turned down. Raising funds has become a necessity for me to complete my book about Julian.

I have structured this `goFundme' campaign in the four phases shown above based on what I believe are the most critical aspects, first.  I will apply fiunds received in the order listed herein: 
                        1)   Computers   $   4,536.00
                        2)   Editor               $   2,182.00
                        3)   Camera           $   4,023.00
                        4)   Research        $   2,052.00
                        TOTAL                    $ 12,793.00

My love for Art, for design, for creating has evolved over a lifetime of experiences and people. Julian being the most profound influence on me, not only as an artist, but as a human.  He spoke of `Spirit' long before I understood. He remains one of the most important influences on my life and in my perception of life. I feel that out of love and loyality both, this is something I must do for Julian. It is also an expression of what I believe.
I am hopeful that the book will reach people all over the world. It is my dream that my book would be the impetus to talk about and understand Julian's work, his art, and his life's journey. It is my hope `The Book'  creates a bigger conversation about Art, and the purpose of Fine Art as a tool for humans to express themselves. I want people to have an opportunity to see Julian's work, after the book comes out, in museums and galleries all over the world. 

My dream will be fulfilled by having Julian's work recognized as the great art it is. I'm very hopeful a producer or screenwriter will read my book and see Julian's work, and that the `Life and Art of Julian Ritter' may become the basis for a feature film, cable TV series, or a documentary. 

I'm also very hopeful of attracting the interest of appropriate art venues, such as museums and galleries, who would be interested in hosting shows and exhibitions of Julian's work. 

Julian was prolific over many decades. I have seen amazing works from collectors all over the USA, as well as in other countries, who have paintings and drawings that need to be seen by the art world.  This, I wish to facilitate.  

Paintings from the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition, the de Young Museum, and the `Bimbo's 365' collections, are but a few examples.

                                       `Atlantis' circa 1950 
              Bimbos 365 Club - San Francisco, California

                `Steel Worker' circa 1938 study for Mural
              1939 Golden Gate Exposition San Francisco
                 Mines Minerals and Machinery Buildings

We are a little more than three years away, from the fiftieth (50th) anniversary of the rescue of the "Galilee" on Sept 14, 1970. I will consider myself accomplished when I have fulfilled my promise to Julian, to let the world know that he was unique, and one of the greatest artists that ever lived. 

You can follow updated stories and posts on the Julian Ritter Facebook Page, as well as the Julian Ritter Blog, which I write and post weekly. At the Julian Website you can read some of the "stories" that are the basis for other chapters in the manuscript, and see more photos of an array of Julian's paintings.  

To get an idea of my other interests and pursuits, take a look at some of my Articles in LA Splash Magazine . Of course there is an Article about Julian, as well as renowned Las Vegas Showgirl, Janet Boyd. My own, Facebook Page, Greg Autry,  as well as my Facebook Page titled,`Greg Autry Art & Photo. '  are portals into my life of art.  

I Thank You now, for whatever you can do.  Your gift is valued and is greatly appreciated.

Greg Autry
Author of the book - `The Life and Art of Julian Ritter'

`Las Vegas Fantasy' by Julian Ritter
                       Greg, Janet, Helen, Ronnie, and Teresa

                                        Greg Autry - Author
                         `The Life and Art of Julian Ritter'