The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — O. Gail Poole, 77, a prominent Oklahoma artist, passed away at his home in Norman on Saturday, April 13, 2013, with his family close at hand. A recent diagnosis of urothelial carcinoma prompted Poole’s family and friends to visit, write and call often during the weeks leading up to his death.
Services for family and close friends will be at high noon Saturday at the Bradley Cemetery in Bradley. A public celebration of his life and work will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the MainSite Gallery in Norman.
Poole was born in Marlow in 1935 to Hazel Patterson and Woodrow Poole. He graduated from Bradley High School and received his BFA in art from the University of Oklahoma, where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He also served as an officer in the United States Army, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
In his early career as a commercial artist, Poole created and served as chairman of the Oklahoma City Art Directors Guild and opened a groundbreaking, “Mad Men”-style advertising studio in Oklahoma City, Poole-Hobbes Inc., which became the most influential and creative studio of its kind in the state. In 1972, Poole was invited to participate in an exhibit of Western art in Düsseldorf, Germany. That show was the catalyst for Poole to abandon the stability and creative limitations of advertising art and forge a new career as a full-time fine arts painter.
Poole studied under his mentor and great friend, the late Richard V. Goetz, who influenced not only his work but also his circle of friends: a widely scattered but tightly bonded circle of artists as colorful and as lasting as the paintings they create.
For more than 40 years, Poole honed his mastery of form and distinct array of styles. His work won prestigious awards, was exhibited throughout the nation and hangs in countless international and national collections.
Artist Sherrie McGraw wrote: “Poole’s artwork directly reflects his renegade attitude throughout his entire life. His work demands closer examination as his style changes as frequently as the Oklahoma wind. In a commercial world, this diversity is not understood. The public demands — or perhaps it is the demand of marketers — that an artist stick with one vision so the work can be easily pegged.
“This easy identification of one’s painting is an untenable position for Poole, who has never been one to take direction from anyone. Though in demeanor, he is polite and gregarious; do not be fooled. O. Gail Poole is a maverick and is, as yet, untamed. Perhaps, he is like a volcano at rest, occasionally letting off a puff of smoke or steam, a glimmering of molten lava, waiting for the moment to fully express his passion within. I am honored to know such a talent as O. Gail Poole.”
Poole’s second passion was politics; he spent a great deal of time and energy working for causes he believed would benefit the community. Poole enjoyed allies of a rare and brave breed, and his family sincerely hopes their opponents will wise up and join them.
An avid genealogist, Poole is fortunately survived by four children, Nicole Poole of New York, Terry Wise of Novato, Calif., Diane Zueger of Seattle and Kerri Decker of Branchville, N.J. He is also survived by four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Finally, Poole’s ex-wife and great friend, Doris, stayed by his side to care for him during his final weeks.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that guests consider a tax-deductible donation to the newly founded “Poole Memorial Travel Fund,” administered by the Norman Arts Council, allowing artists of great merit the freedom and opportunity of travel, which Poole so adored.
Norman Transcript, Thursday, April 25, 2013
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