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 Gayle J. Novak  (1951 - 1998)

About: Gayle J. Novak


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Lived/Active: Arizona/Ohio      Known for: Abstract

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Ad Code: 4
Biography from Butler Institute of American Art:
From the obituary as published in the Arizona Republic on July 11, 1998

Painter Gayle Novak, an associate professor of art at Arizona State University's West Campus, died Thursday after a brief intense battle with cancer. She was 47.

Novak was known for her richly painted abstract canvases.  Most recently her work was shown  in "Another Arizona", a juried exhibit of Arizona artists at the ASU Art Museum.  "We chose her work because of its strength and expressive power," said Heather Lineberry, a curator at the ASU museum and one of the judges for the show.
"Gayle was a brave and genuine painter, working in a style traced to midcentury work, but with an honesty applicable to our time"

Novak was married to another ASU professor, Robert Cocke.  His scruffy surrealist paintings were very different from Novak's.  "Opposites attract," Cocke said, "But when you get past a certain stage, you cease to worry about the distinctions between figurative and abstract art.  We have the greatest respect for each other's work."

Novak was diagosed with ovarian cancer in February.  Her mother had died of breast cancer, also at 47.

The painter was born in Cleveland on July 4, 1951.  Until the age of 29, she had been a dancer and teacher with the Cleveland Civic Ballet, but became more involved with visual arts and came to Arizona to study painting, receiving her master of fine arts degree in 1984. Two years later, she began teaching at ASU.

Cocke and Novak met when they were graduate students at ASU in the fall of 1983 and were married in 1987.  For the past nine years they lived in New River.

"The desert was an important part of her life and work," Lineberry said.  "She was so influenced by the life she lived, north of the city.  It was a solitary life and that came through in her paintings. She had a lot more work in her to produce.  That is cut short.  It's a great loss."

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