Artist Portrait: Gail Vollrath by Jim Magner

Written by Jim Magner
Originally printed in the October 2010 Hill Rag
Reproduced by kind permission of Capital Community News
Gail Volrath Artist Profile by Jim Magner on East City Art
Gail Vollrath with her recent exhibit at Gallery Plan b
Gail Vollrath can’t get away from art. Her interest started at a very young age, and the forces of paint and pencil have firm control of her destiny and aesthetic vision. Her view of the world hovers in that place between representational and abstract and lies close to the essential truth of the mysteries of life.
She began her professional life as a technical Illustrator in the early ‘70s, and became a mechanical draftsperson. But drawn to her first love, she went back to school and completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine arts. She then moved to the District where she has been featured in a number of group shows and solo exhibitions.

Her work goes well beyond traditional materials and methods in developing and constructing each composition. She begins with oil colors, builds a “history on the surface,” and continues with china markers and tar, letting intuition take the lead, to reach the idea that moves in and out of the forms.


Untitled (camp II), oil, tar on canvas, 14” x 13”, 2010
For her current show at Gallery Plan b, in addition to her large paintings, Gail has gone back to drawing on old and “new” Polaroid film – about 85 drawings which are hung alongside her larger works and incorporate those images.

Is there a story hiding in the moving lines and animated shapes that combine to give dimension to the ideas? Maybe, but you have to discover your own story in the memory-sparking forms. Ultimately, it is not any one individual element but the over-all effect that creates the narrative.

Editor’s note: Gail Volrath exhibited last month at Gallery Plan b, 1530 14th St NW, see more of her work at

A Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim can be reached at


Editorial Team
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