Lele Galer: A multi-talented force of nature

Lele Galer outside her studio

In the 1996 science fiction comedy Multiplicity, Michael Keaton plays a man stressed out with the demands of work and family. He works as a scientist who invented a machine that can manage all the demands on his crazy schedule. In a willing suspension of disbelief, moviegoers watch as the scientist clones Keaton and then chuckle at the disastrous and comical results.

Lele Galer seems to have succeeded where the Multiplicity scientist and Michael Keaton failed. She juggles multiple sides of herself--with no apparent ill effects. Lele is first and foremost a mother—to her own three sons, Simon, Peter and Alex—and any friend who needs a shoulder to cry on. With her husband, Brad, she owns the award-winning Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery. At the winery, she organizes pop up art shows and holds monthly art “crits,” where local artists show their works in progress and ask for feedback.

Lele writes about art for Chadds Ford Live and other local publications. Click here to see her articles. She hosts a weekly “Art in Action” radio program on WCHE Radio 1520 and is a sought after public speaker. Lele  has been raising money for non-profits and schools for over three decades, serving on many boards, committees.  She began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New York Botanical Garden where she was in Development.

It is the day after the Super Bowl when I meet Lele. Her home is sparkling clean. Not a single dish in the sink or half-consumed glass of wine on the bookcase betrays the family party that was in full swing the day before.

In two days, she will join her husband, Brad, for a two-week business trip to Japan. You or I would probably have open suitcases, folded clothes, various maps, and tour guidebooks piled in the corner of the dining room, to do lists and reminders for the people taking care of the house and dogs while we’re away scattered everywhere. There would be a wild look in our eyes and our hair would be standing on end a bit. Not Lele. She is calm and focused, as if she hasn’t another thing on her mind other than this moment.

Lele (nee Anna Louise) has always tried to fill a community need wherever her neurologist husband’s career has taken them. She is particularly proud of the entire cafeteria mural she spearheaded at a school in Mount Kisco, New York. When the school demolished most of the school for renovations, the remodelers kept the walls.

The Galers moved to Chadds Ford in 2000, and Lele immediately rolled up her sleeves and got to work, directing mosaic projects at Pocopson Elementary, The Westtown School, Unionville Elementary, Chester County  Youth Abuse Shelter, West Grove Garage Youth Center, Tick Tock Early Learning Center, Unionville Elementary Library, and Avon Grove Middle School. She also directed Unionville District’s Art in Action program from 2001 to 2008. She remembers fondly that, “while the boys were growing up, the house was always filled to the brim with kids.”

We walk up to her studio, a converted stable organized into sections by art medium. There is a section devoted to painting, where an in-progress oil of Brad and encaustic works (also known as hot wax) painting, wait for her return. She likes working with encaustic paint because it produces bright colors with interesting textures, and the colors remain true.

Ceamic Hearts by Lele Galer

There is the ceramic section where a pile of small hearts is almost finished. At the end of the studio is a separate room for steel sculpture. Curious about metal sculpture, she took a class with Kennett Square artist and teacher Stan Smokler, and found it to be “fun” to re-purpose discarded steel into abstract sculptures.

Hearts—Lele’s current shape obsession—top a line of soon-to-be centerpieces for a fundraiser. “The inspiration for the heart,” she explains, “came to me when I was exploring this new medium. One of the first things students learn in illustration class is how to draw an egg. Therefore, I started sculpting eggs or globes.

Cropped sculpted hearts by Lele Galer

Then I pushed out the borders to create a heart. I was also motivated to make hearts because no one else was doing it, and I could experiment with different patterns as I became more and more comfortable with steel,” she says. “ The shape is satisfying to construct and the end-result is lovely to look at, “she concludes.

“I always knew I would return to gallery work one day,” says Lele. Since 2005, she has exhibited in numerous galleries and juried group shows. She is currently working on thirty-three commissions for three different art shows this spring. Although she majored in English at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and the University of California-Berkeley, she never left art. Lele confesses, “I am a painter at heart.” And, she is passionate about making art more accessible to the general population, to take down barriers. “You don’t have to have a degree in art to enjoy it or have an opinion about it. In America, we’re missing that connection,” Galer says. “What ever happened to whether or not you like it?” she questions.

Our visit over, Lele walks me to my car. She has to get back to those metal sculptures that need to be finished today. “But first, she says, I’m going to get the snow blower and finish clearing the driveway . . . .”

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About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.

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One Response to “Lele Galer: A multi-talented force of nature”

  1. Carol Catanese says:

    Way to go! Thanks for giving praise for this amazing woman, Lele Galer. She is a dynamo and a renaissance women.

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