Works exhibited in Santa Cruz, CA, New Orleans, LA, Chicago, IL, Kansas City, KA, Ocean Springs, MS, Camden, ME, and Boston, MA.
Died February, 2005
Harrod Blank, a noted documentary film maker, describes his mother in the following piece:
She was a woman of many names! In the beginning she was Gail Perrin. She was born and raised in New Orleans. She went to Newcomb College at Tulane University where she met Les Blank and moved off to California to start a new life with him. She was reluctant at first to take on the name of Blank as she was forming her identify as an artist Gail Perrin. So she became Gail Perrin Blank. After having two children, Harrod & Beau, and living in Los Angeles for six years, her relationship with Les Blank waned, and she moved to a rural live-from-the-land commune in Santa Cruz California. She began creating ceramics whenever she had free time from working to make a living and being a single mother. She then dropped "Perrin" from her art name and signed her work Gail Blank, or as she referred to herself to others in conversation, "Gail Blankety Blank." After her boys went off to college, she decided to go back to New Orleans and spend some time with her own parents. It was during that trip that she reconnected with Burt Keenan - who had been interested in her since they were teenagers. She became Gail Keenan. She kept working under her artist name Gail Blank until closer to the end of her career and life.
For those of you who knew her, you would know the qualities that made her stand out from others, what made her special and in turn, what made you special, too. For those of you that didn't get to meet her, it was her unpretentious, humble, yet curious essence that made you feel comfortable when she was present with you, that you were paid attention to, and even cared for, and maybe loved. Because if there was any awkwardness in you, she would break it down, make fun of it by being silly and move on. If you were alone in the corner at a party feeling socially outcast, she would be the one that may come up to you and talk about the moon. She would make a person feel better by lifting them up, encouraging them, finding out about their life, but again mostly by being in the moment, present, and really caring. She was rarely out for her own agenda, and in fact, she was inept at social networking or promoting her art and career. She was simply real, unique, positive and fun to be around.
If you did see her at a party or out and about, she would stand out physically as well. In addition to her physical beauty, she had great taste and aesthetic in all things - sort of a classy, bold, and unique aesthetic as she would wear any number of one-of-a-kind large brooches - for example, a life-sized silver hand, or a strand of giant African nuts, or a silver banana-moon shaped collar. And yet she wasn't clown-like or obnoxious, she was regal, and comfortable with who she was.
She loved. She loved thrift stores and making her boys try on clothes that were too small or ridiculous - for her own amusement; she loved to laugh, being silly, and all things funny; she loved watching sunsets and tried to be in position to watch one everyday especially later in life; she loved babies and children and kittens and cats; she loved being in nature; she loved the sun and getting tanned; she loved doodling and making drawings and all things artistic; she loved hanging with her girlfriends; she loved being with the men in her life - and as demonstrated through her art, she loved sensuality; she loved the human body, both male and female; she also loved to travel and "get off the boat" and go ashore as she referenced her travels when sailing with Burt; she loved strangers and she loved meeting other artists; she loved ice cream and snow balls and all things sweet, and she loved her children...a lot.
Gail Perrin Blank Keenan was a spirit that no one can name. She herself was like all the things she loved in one. She was the majestic sunset, the natural beauty, the wild adventure, the sensual, the silly, the child, and the sweet. If you knew Gail, you were happy to know her. Most likely you would have had a good time together, laughed, and enjoyed the good things in life. If you never got to meet her, this description may not do enough, but most likely you would like her if you did meet her. You would feel good about yourself after and you may, like so many, myself included, never forget her.