Meet Gail Ramsey Wharton, featured Artist in March and April

The work of Gail Ramsey Wharton will be on display in the State Theater Lobby throughout March and April.

The State Theater Lobby will be open 5-7pm April 22-23 for ArtsWalk.

Gail Ramsey Wharton


Gail Ramsey Wharton was born and raised in Berkeley, California, where she says the stage was set for her lifelong interest in poetry and art. Her M.A. led to an 18-year career as a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist. She has spent most of her creative life in the area of visual arts, exhibiting and teaching art in many different locations in the Midwest and the Bay Area. In 2001 she moved to Lacey, Washington, where she was invited to join a group of poets in Olympia, called Fusion. Through this group, she met many local poets and became a member of the Olympia Poetry Network. Arts Olympia is another local organization where she met many of her fellow local artists and friends. She finds her poetry and is sometimes influenced by her artwork and, conversely, her artwork frequently derived from poetry.

Visual Thinking


My collages have been variously described as mysterious, unsettling, busy, and comic.  All of these descriptors seem to fit at one time or another.  The commingling of absurdity, comedy, and melancholy, for instance, is a part of my take on life, as well as my artistic intention.  The artist who influenced me the earliest was Hieronymus Bosch.  Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, and others of the Dadaist movement also exhibited a knack for combining elements in surprising ways that created in me a strong affinity for their work.

When I Grow Too Old to Dream

Some of these works are made from the parts of disassembled books that have, in part, been torturously sewn and/or glued back together.  I find an enjoyable irony in this reverse-gear activity.  Two of the collages employ phrenology images, with their corresponding bigoted, misogynist, and narrow-minded Victorian attitudes.  I expect at first glance these particular works will elicit some amusement, but a further look should reveal the darker, meaner aspects of what is going on.

Vladimir’s Beard

In terms of process, most of my works are multi-layered mixed media on a substrate of Bristol Board.  I sometimes scratch or sandpaper my surfaces, using glazes to enhance the textures and unify the colors.   Usually, I set up my workspace the night before so there’s little prep time when I begin working late the next morning. I often listen to music when I work but nothing that distracts my focus.  Low-volume, minimalist-patterned compositions by John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and others of that ilk, are often the right fit. Other times I prefer silence, especially if the only sound is rain falling on my studio skylight.


Gail Ramsey Wharton taught art at SPSCC for several years. Her works have appeared at numerous galleries in the Olympia/Lacey area, and in juried exhibitions at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Gallery and Leona Fuller Gallery at SPSCC, and the Art Gallery of Tacoma Community College.