By Raiza Giorgi

Many people recognize the name of the late Merv Corning as “that guy who paints those football players,” but to his friends and family he was much more.

The debut release of “Merv Corning — An American Artist,” a book of his life and work, will be held at the Book Loft in Solvang at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.

“Merv and his wife Tula had a dream to have a book published about his work, and so when he passed away in 2006, we have spent that time working to put it together,” said Lisa Young.

Young and her husband Ralph are best known for Young’s Gallery in Los Olivos, long before the wine tasting rooms set up shop, showing many talented local and acclaimed artists. They have been framing art in the valley since 1987.

“For the many friends and patrons who knew and admired Merv’s remarkable talent, this volume serves as a memorial tribute to him and his lifelong commitment to art,” Young said.

Corning was born and raised in Santa Ana and started his career after World War II in San Francisco. The war interrupted his senior year of high school when his parents moved from Santa Ana to San Francisco. Corning joined the Merchant Marines at age 17 and remained until the end of the war. He then worked at an advertising agency as art director, and then as a men’s fashion artist.

Corning was commissioned to create scenes depicting the aerial combat of the war, which were featured at the Pentagon and are now a part of the permanent collection at the Air Force Museum.

He is also known for painting portraits for the National Football League, especially for his portrait of Pittsburgh Steelers player Mel Blount.

“’Merv Corning – An Amercian Artist’ is a labor of love from his wife Tula. This book will give you a very special look into the creative and personal life of this talented, humorous and spiritual artist,” Young added.

The book will be available mid-November through Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara, The Book Loft in Solvang and through