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Artist Hans Skalagard is truly a man of the sea

  • Harlan Osborne

Its often said that one never forgets their first love, and for Hans Skalagard, a world-renowned nautical artist whose work hangs in many private collections, public buildings and maritime museums around the globe, that love is the sea.

And, although its been years since the rugged Nordic seafarer has ridden the high seas, he returns there every day, painting from memory and first-hand knowledge the authentic wind-whipped experiences he encountered aboard the square-rigged sailing ships and merchant marine vessels he served on during his 27-year sea-going career.

His detailed paintings have brought high acclaim and prominence to Hans and his wife, Mignon, who for 54 years has served as his manager and business agent in promoting and selling his brilliant works. For the past 10 years, the Skalagards have lived in Petaluma on a 10-acre former chicken ranch thats been in her family since 1940. Prior to that, and following his retirement from the sea, they lived in Carmel, where they owned and operated Skalagards Square-Rigger Art Gallery from 1966 until 1997.

This man is a real genius, a living legend. You dont see quality like this anywhere, said Mignon, from the comfort of her treasure trove maritime museum-like living room with walls covered with his powerful and exhilarating paintings. They are so realistic that a landlubber like me, who doesnt know a poopdeck from a yardarm, can almost feel the salty spray and pitching decks of the full-sail windjammers depicted in his oil paintings.

During their time in Carmel, the Skalagards were an integral part of the cultural scene, hosting galas and mingling with the social and military elite. They belonged to many organizations, with Mignon serving as president of the Monterey Civic Club and Quota Club, being named Woman of the Year in 1992 by the California Legislature. Generous benefactors, theyve donated many valuable paintings to various causes, museums and public-television auctions. You need to be involved in your community, said Hans, whos listed in more than 28 Whos Who publications, including Whos Who in the World and Whos Who in Society.

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