Wally Hedrick (1928 - December 17, 2003) was an American artist, gallerist, and educator whose contributions to art include psychedelic light art, mechanical kinetic and assemblage sculpture, Pop Art, and California Funk Art. Hedrick was additionally a key figure in the first public manifestation of the Beat Generation, and helped organize the Six Gallery Reading—an important poetry event in San Francisco that helped herald the West Coast literary revolution.
Born in Pasadena, California, Hedrick’s artistic career began with paintings of popular imagery such as American flags, radios, and televisions years before the rise of Pop Art in New York. In the early 1950s Hedrick was employed by the popular San Francisco North Beach hangout, Vesuvio Cafe, to sit in the window dressed in full beard, turtleneck, and sandals while sketching and painting. Hedrick’s role in the Beat movement helped usher into San Francisco the Beat lifestyle and the subsequent tourists who could take bus tours to view the Beat scene of the North Beach. Shortly after graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute, Hedrick began teaching courses at the school before being fired in 1959 for refusing to teach as a from of protest against the Vietnam War. He later taught at San Francisco State University, San Francisco Academy of Art, University of California at Davis, San Jose State University, and Indian Valley College. His most famous students include musician Jerry Garcia and artists William Wiley and Robert Hudson.