Artist and Colorado College graduate Margaret Kilgallen died tragically at age 33 in 2001, just as her career was taking off and only three weeks after the birth of of her daughter Asha with artist Barry McGee, aka Twist.

Kilgallen got her BFA in 1989 at CC where she studied letterpress with the late Jim Trissel. As her work attests, typography and folk/hobo art were huge influences on her work. She was particularly taken with the hand-painted signs of the Mission District in San Francisco where she lived (many of the “folk” typographical styles she loved have since become mainstream in design).

There have been some whispers of a possible retrospective of Kilgallen’s work here in Colorado Springs sometime in the next several years. In the meantime, the slide show above has a few images of her artwork gleaned from the web and images from the book called Marianne Moore at The Dial” (which she worked on with CC grade and artist Brian Molanphy and which is still available for sale through Special Collections at Tutt Library).

The YouTube video below is from an old PBS Art 21 show on Kilgallen’s work, in which she discusses her love of typography. There are more images and interviews with Margaret HERE. You can also watch a segment about Kilgallen in the the excellent art documentary Beautiful Losers, which is about many of the graffiti- and folk-influenced artists of her generation HERE.



(Music in the slide show is “Johnny’s Gone to War” by Matokie Slaughter, one of Margaret Kilgallen’s musical influences.)


3 Responses to The Hobo Chic of Margaret Kilgallen

  1. kay johnson says:

    Thanks to whoever put this up! I love this artist’s work and remembered being amazed that she had gone to school right there at CC – Colorado Springs should be crowing about its connection to this artist- I saw a book of her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Yes, do a show!!

  2. Ronwell Q. Dobbs says:

    Love her work- I forget that she went to school here because all I can think of when I see her stuff is the Mission District. She is the quintessential Bay Area Low Brow artist. I would have loved to see her work grow had she lived longer…

  3. adam degraff says:

    Great post! I didn’t know Kilgallen went to CC.

    I was hoping to get Kilgallen to do a cover for a book of mine just before she died, but sadly, no go. Cool to see she was involved in Marianne Moore project though. As an homage to her, I tried to copy her “font” for the sign of our club/pizza joint, the D Note, in Arvada, CO. My brother didn’t like it, wanted something “cleaner” and so, behind my back, he had the sign painter change the design. The sign painter came in to show my brother the design and caught me instead. I saw that my brother had gotten rid of the Kilgallen-style font, and so, behind my brother’s back, I had the sign painter add a single red bird onto the redesigned sign, a bird I copied from one of Kilgallen’s paintings. The bird still sits on the sign today, a constant and subtle reminder of a favorite artist.


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