Volume 2, Number 2 August 2011
Emeritus Member Artist
Stanley Wanlass
   
As the massive wrought-iron gate opened and I drove down a long winding lane past the "Clos de la Foret" vineyard and 16th century stone well-head to the entrance of his magnificent "Chateau Foret", I was transported to an earlier date and time. Having been a lover and collector of automotive art (and especially "Wanlass" art) most of my adult life, it was exciting to see numerous outside "Wanlass" sculptures appearing enigmatically half-hidden within the forest drive. I parked on the cobblestone entrance and passed additional exterior paintings and sculptures to a medieval entry. Upon entering, I was overwhelmed by the many 15th through 18th century antiques and exceptionally large Renaissance paintings gracing the walls.

An impressively beautiful curvilinear staircase led us towards his private gallery. The massive beams were all interrupted at the juncture of each post with corbels sculpted in the likeness of some of Wanlass' heroes; Shakespeare, Montaigne, Dante, Voltaire, Goethe, etc.. We walked along the cobble tiled hallway which overlooked the entry far below, stopping at a highly carved Renaissance armoire. Mr. Wanlass opened the lock with an ancient key leading me through the closet to a hidden door that opened into his mysteriously concealed gallery. The wonderful vaulted ceilings gave perfect ambience to present Mr. Wanlass' works.

Although hidden, the gallery had a magnificent view not only of the mountains, but of the valley below.
In addition to his sculptures and paintings, the gallery was adorned with antique racing trophies, early photos of racing cars, old automotive tins, porcelain signs and a myriad of automobilia. At the far darkened corner, among the collectibles, I spotted a letter given to him by his friend John Zolomij. The letter was written by one of Wanlass' heroes, Peter Helck. I always considered Helck 'the father of automotive art' and read the letter with relish. The letter was concerning an exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum where Helck, Wanlass and the Holland Museum had shown together in 1984. The poster advertising the exhibit depicted an old painting by Helck's hero/teacher Walter Appleton Clark, named "Meeting of the Monsters". The letter thanked Zolomij for using this painting and was also a tribute to Wanlass, comparing him to Clark. Wanlass considers it his most prized tribute.

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