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O. Gail Poole’s Sideshow

January 24 – May 10, 2020


Sideshow surveys the satirical and often irreverent imagery of artist O. Gail Poole. Orville Gail Poole (1935-2013), often known simply as Poole, was born in Marlow, Oklahoma. He developed an interest in art early in childhood, receiving encouragement and support from his mother, Hazel. He continued his education at the University of Oklahoma and, after his graduation in 1957, pursued a career in advertising. Poole worked with Ackerman McQueen initially before founding the advertising firm Poole-Hobbes, Inc. in 1967. During this time, he began painting images of the American West in an impressionistic style. The success of his painting career encouraged him to sell his shares in the firm in 1975 and devote himself to a career as an artist. He took lessons from Oklahoma City artist Dick Goetz and exhibited widely.

By 1990, however, Poole began creating enigmatic and witty caricatures as a critique on the foibles of American culture. These paintings employed diverse influences ranging from the Renaissance to Vincent van Gogh to create uncanny environments. O. Gail Poole’s Sideshow explores the oddities of the artist’s late work. Sideshows are, by definition, diversions that use the spectacular, unusual, or bizarre to entertain or distract the masses, and Poole’s work reminds us that the sideshow is everywhere we look.

Image Credits

O. Gail Poole, U.S. 1935-2013, Mental Dilemma/No Joke, Oil on masonite, n.d., 33 7/8 x 21 5/8", Courtesy of the O. Gail Poole Collection

O. Gail Poole, U.S. 1935-2013, Strong Man, Oil on masonite, ca. 2000, 22 x 16 1/2", Courtesy of The O. Gail Poole Collection

O. Gail Poole, U.S. 1935-2013, The Inner Self, Oil on canvas, ca. 1992, 47 1/4 x 35 1/2”, Courtesy of The O. Gail Poole Collection