Artists on Coping: Gail Winbury

During the coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.

Gail Winbury in her studio, photo by Nancy Ori

Gail Winbury brings a psychological lens to her art. She shows in museums, universities and galleries in the States, Europe and Mexico. Her work was in OTAContemporary in Santa Fe, Aferro Gallery in Newark, St Peters University in Jersey City, NJ, The Jersey City Museum, the Monmouth Museum of Art and the Henrich Heine Haus in Germany and other venues. She was a resident at the School of Visual Arts, Manhattan, and at Edgewood Farms, Truro, Ma., a Fellow with the Bau Foundation in Puglia, Italy, and received a grant for an artist exchange in Israel.

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Slip Sliding Away, oil and pastel on canvas, 38” x 48”, 2016, photo credit Peter Jacobs

AS: How are you coping?

GW: Sometimes I feel calm and accepting. It’s been almost two weeks. Other times I am anxious and uncertain. I decided it would help to get some structure in my new life at home. I spend every morning making art or doing something art related. I walk and meditate in the afternoon. But I had to abandon my studio very suddenly and left all my brushes, paintings and oils behind. There were 2 paintings I had just begun and was feeling excited and challenged by the new work. I think that I am too afraid to return to the studio to grab my paints and brushes. I am making art books instead, but really want to paint.

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She Told Them No, oil and cold wax on linen, 40” x 50’, 2019, photo credit Peter Jacobs
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Her Favorite Fairytale, oil, cold wax and charcoal on canvas, 48” x 68”, 2019, photo credit Peter Jacobs

AS: Has your routine changed?

GW: My routine has changed completely. I have gone from a 30-minute drive,9:30 in the morning to the studio where I work for 4-5 hours 4-5 days a week, to being home full-time with my husband, and without oil paints and brushes. I am walking, meditating, and making art on the table. My smaller home studio was being used for storage, so I had to clear it out. I spent all of February in Mexico making and showing art and giving a lecture. For months before that I was working constantly every night and day on a solo exhibition and another show I was curating. That intensity is gone. I am living more simply now, day to day.

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

GW: My feelings vary from hour to hour. I am profoundly sad for us all, for all we have lost and will lose. I am scared, I do not want to die from the virus nor anyone that I love. I feel angry and helpless. I had a one-woman exhibition that I hung in Manhattan Tuesday March 10 and had to cancel the reception 2 days later. I was curating an exhibition of 10 artists which was to open today and postponed it until March 2021. I can not quite process how I feel about losing these opportunities. Yet there are days or moments that I feel so grateful for things slowing down and the time to connect with people I love.

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Gone Fishing, oil and cold wax on linen, 24” x 30”, 2019, photo credit Peter Jacobs

AS: What matters most right now?

GW: My family, my health and that of those around me. And my work. A few days ago, we ordered seeds, herbs and vegetables on-line from our local nursery. When we arrived, we were happy to see in the field a labeled cart ready to go with our goods. Driving home, I found myself waving at everyone we passed. Mostly fathers with children and some solo walkers. While some might have thought me a bit of a weird woman with white hair, I will remember the bright instant smile of surprise when one man with his two children saw me and waved back. One of those simple moments that now seem to matter more.

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

GW: I have no idea about the road ahead. I do not think things will ever be the same. Already, I am not the same. But my son is supposed to have his wedding in early August, I am supposed to have a one-woman exhibition in Pittsburgh in October. I have no idea what will happen. I truly do not know what to expect from the future. I would need to have enormous powers of foresight or enormous narcissism to think I know what is ahead. But for now, I can accept that life as I know it, has changed.

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The Fear Monger, oil and cold wax on canvas, 48” x 68”, 2020, photo credit winbury

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: