By Mack Burke
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The late artist O. Gail Poole was a Renaissance man whose interests extended beyond the canvas. Poole, 77, died on April 13 in his Norman home.
Now his daughter, Nicole Poole, wants to extend her father’s legacy even further.
In conjunction with the Norman Arts Council she has created the Poole Memorial Travel Fund. Norman Arts Council executive director Erinn Gavaghan said the fund will help promising young artists seek inspiration on the road without going broke.
“He dedicated his life to making art,” Gavaghan said. “That takes courage.”
“Dad was so passionate about travel. It feeds your brain, and the larger your world gets, the larger your scope becomes,” Poole said.
Poole started the fund with $500 and donations started trickling in as family, friends and admirers gathered at the MAINSITE Art Gallery downtown to celebrate the prolific work of the longtime Norman resident. The celebration was fittingly titled “As yet untamed.”
“I didn’t grow up with a traditional role model. Dad didn’t go to an office every morning. He went to a coffee group and then he’d come home and draw or paint or tend to his ill-fated gourd garden, cuss at the dogs, deal with politics, catch up with friends, paint some more, fiddle with his gadgets and then draw until he went to sleep,” Poole said. “I just thought all dads were like that.”
Born into the art world, she spent part of her childhood frequenting her father’s art shows to sleep behind the easels and eavesdrop on critics and admirers.
“I would pretend I wasn’t related to him and listen to people’s comments on the paintings and I would snicker to myself because they were just all wrong; people ascribing meaning to something that was just a lark,” Poole said.
“Of course he influenced my decision to stay in the arts. He always had this vision for what my life could be — that it would be full of intellectual discourse, travel, dear friends and culture. Any time I veered from that, he was not shy with his criticisms.”
For a while, she managed to rebel by
becoming a secretary, but she couldn’t stay away from the world her father imagined for her.
“He was so full of passion and life. He was never at rest. If it wasn’t art, it was politics. If it wasn’t that, it was geneology or his dear friends and what he thought they should be doing with their lives,” Poole said. “I know I’m very biased, but that short man stood so very tall.”
He stood tall in his politics just as he did in his art, championing community interests and encouraging people to stand up for what they believe in.
“I think if he had a wish, it would be no matter your opinion or your political viewpoint, do something,” Poole said. “Stop being an armchair quarterback. If you’re passionate about something, go to board meetings. Vote. Become a part of the decision making process and make your voice heard.”
For information about the celebratory memorial or the travel fund, call the Norman Arts Council at 360-1162. Donations for the fund are accepted by phone or mail at 122 E. Main St., Norman, OK 73069. For more information on O. Gail Poole, visit ogailpoole.com.