Travel is so much more than packing a case and going somewhere. The French for “travel” is “voyage,” which I believe describes it much better. Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Dad understood this and his extensive travels informed every aspect of his life and work. Each time he found himself feeling complacent, he planned another trip. My father was born in Oklahoma, and though he traveled the world extensively, he always returned to Norman. That's not nothin'.
It was Dad's love of travel that made it important for me to begin the O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund. Norman artists should be afforded every opportunity to broaden their horizons. It is my hope that the fund will allow recipient artists to come back to Oklahoma with a new sense of perspective on her beauty and a deeper understanding of the world around them.
I began the fund with what I could afford, and I am encouraged and heartened that contributions continue to come in. As I am determined that this continue as an annual fund, The Norman Arts Council has created a page to donate online. All donations are tax-deductible. Too, once the O. Gail Poole Collection is fully documented and catalogued, I will donate portions of sales to ensure Oklahoma artists continue to have the opportunity to widen their perspectives and come back home to share those perspectives with us.
I imagine Dad would be both tickled beyond words and deeply humbled that his legacy could impact the lives of future generations of Oklahoma artists. For this round, 3 Norman artists of merit will be awarded $500 each for travel. If you are interested, you can download an application online; submissions are due August 30.
While I'm on the subject - no one becomes an artist because it will lead to riches. We do it because we are driven to creative expression. On being an artist, Dad was fond of saying “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
In America, it is difficult, if not at times seemingly impossible, to sustain a life in the arts without the patronage of people who believe the arts are necessary. I personally would not have made it through college without scholarships and awards; in fact, to raise funds for my college trip to London with the OU Theatre Guild, Dad created limited edition, hand cast and painted Shakespeare cameos for me to sell. Only a few years after that, I toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company. You never know how far your help will go.
And why should we support the arts? I can’t speak for the world-at-large, but for me the arts are important because they represent the human struggle to touch the divine, and they give us hope that, based on the strength of our response to art, that contact is possible. As support for this argument, I ask why some pieces of music move us to tears? Why leaps of dancers make us feel as though we can fly? Why words on a page help us tap into a deeper understanding of ourselves? Why bits of pigment come together to give us a sense of longing or release? I think especially in modern society these moments are to be cherished, if not downright chased. Artists provide the material for these feelings. We need to provide materials for the artists.
If that zinged you at all, please consider making a donation to the O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Norman for the support they have shown to me and my family during Dad’s illness and in the wake of his considerable loss. Norman is a special town because of its people, and I am so grateful that the community has institutions such as the Norman Arts Council, the University of Oklahoma and the Norman Transcript to support them by providing exposure to our artists.
Norman Transcript Article: Travel Fund Honors O. Gail Poole