Saturday, December 24, 2011

Marcel Olis - Trying to Reconstruct his Early Years

I find the details of my grandfather's teenage years the most fascinating - unfortunately, it is also the least documented. Although it is difficult to reconstruct the details of his life before coming to the US, I will do my best here.

We believe he was born in June 17, 1890. He lived in France from a young age. He has a French-Basque heritage, and we know his formal surname in France was Olis Velasco y Nevarro (or possibly Olis Velasco et Nevarre).

Growing up, I had heard tales of Marcel coming from a royal family, and that his family tree is displayed on the wall in the main library in Paris. Knowing that tales become taller when told to a child, I am going to assume, without investigating, that these are exaggerated. Someday, I hope to travel to Paris to see for myself.

To the best of my knowledge, Marcel had only one sister. I don't know much about her except that she became a Nun in the Catholic Church, and lived her life serving the Church.

We know that Marcel studied art at the Sorbonne University. Shortly after graduating, he traveled to South America to the Straits of Magellan to construct a statue there. He had won this opportunity from a competition at the University. He was only 16 years old.

During World War I, he became a mercenary pilot for Belgium. One of the most interesting things I found was that his pilot's license number was in the 300's. This translates to him being a very early adopter in aviation.

I will close with a very interesting story... I came across a pen & ink drawing done by Marcel that I vaguely recalled seeing before. My dad explained that Marcel was shot down & captured by German troops during WWI, and that he had escaped by disguising himself as a peasant. Later in life, he created this pen & ink drawing from memory. It captures the German prison camp - which strongly resembles a castle - and a small figure in the foreground carrying a shepherd's staff. Fascinating! Isn't it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marcel Olis - My Grandfather

Many of you might not know about my grandfather, Marcel Olis, who was a famous artist. I would like to begin a series of blog entries documenting his life and accomplishments as seen through my eyes.

Marcel Olis was born at the turn of the century in France, and passed away on May 16, 1953 in California. His life story is simply amazing! From studying art at the Sorbonne University in Paris, to shooting down a famous German flying ace in World War I, to being one of the first artists to work with color photography and film, his life reads like a fairy-tale. My biggest regret is that I never meet him because he passed away long before I was born. But, I grew up listening to many stories about his life.

When I was a child, hearing stories of his life was typical. Now that I have grown, and experienced all that it takes to build an art business, I am in awe of all that he accomplished. So, I am setting out to tell the stories from his life in order to celebrate his life, preserve the information, and to learn even more about him. I hope that you decide to follow along, and enjoy these amazing stories.