FORT WORTH – Six months ago, Margery Grella, the director of Artspace 111, put the gallery’s artists on notice: For Gallery Night, their show would have a theme – something the gallery rarely does. For spring, they would mount an exhibition titled “Sky Blue Sky.”
For many of the artists, this was not a stretch, as they regularly paint landscapes, and the sky is always there in their art. For a few, such as Pat Gabriel, who paints gorgeous skyscapes over stretches of unsightly ground clutter, the sky is absolutely vital.
Still, there were others who never seem to include the heavens in their art, so that the result was a show of skies by old hands and the newly enchanted. What was surprising was that the skies were as varied as the artists; no two handled the theme in the same way.
Gabriel’s skies are always spectacular, and he pushed his good/bad vision to the max when he painted a typical suburban roofline of brown asphalt shingles, with brown gutters and a brown satellite dish backed by a gorgeous sky. It was truly an encapsulation of the sacred and profane.
More typically he paints strong horizontal pieces that resemble windshield dimensions with highways, taillights and road signs in the foreground and beautiful stretches of Texas sky in the distance. Unfortunately, it’s the way we see skies most often – from the windows of our cars as we drive to and from work. His paintings are a blatant reminder that sunsets and sunrises should be porch time, not drive time.