NORMAN — I’ve known O. Gail Poole for quite a few years. Not the whole time I’ve been here, but as I have gotten involved in the Norman community after graduation and starting my professional career, I’ve gotten to know a number of the local artists either at local galleries, the Fire House Art Center, the Santa Fe Depot or just from having coffee in different venues around town. Gail fits into the gallery and coffee category.
I had never really talked to him other than at a social level. It seemed, as I have gotten to know him better in the last four to five years, that I really enjoyed the discussions and his outlook on things. I saw him at Panera one Monday morning and it occurred to me that he might have a lot to say about art and aging here in Norman.
I wasn’t disappointed. We met after his weekly “think tank,” which is in the 10 to 11 slot on Mondays and Fridays. I started by asking him all the standard questions like “How old are you?” and, “Where were you born?” “What directed you toward being an artist?” and other questions like that.
Well, I am a firm believer in the influence of family, good or bad, or both, in influencing how we turn out. My dad and mom were teachers, and all five of us children are teaching or have taught. Come to find out, Gail’s dad was an artist. There was that connection. Just because his dad wasn’t around after the age of 4 doesn’t mean he didn’t influence Gail. He painted murals at the public schools before he left and left a legacy for Gail to live around in the small Oklahoma town of Bradley.
Gail did a stint in the Army, thinking that might be his life’s ambition, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he studied art here at OU under the likes of Gene Bavinger, Joe Taylor and Jim Hinkle.