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A Charming Couple

John W. Pinkerton


If you’re a Yankee, you might call Jill and Bob a “power couple.”  Being reared in the South, I prefer “charming” to describe Jill and Bob---it’s not quite as uppity, but still implies there is something special about them.

My first contact with the Pankeys came after a knock on a locked door.  I could see there was an “old guy” sitting on a couch in what appeared to me to be an art gallery.  The “old guy,” Bob Pankey, responded and opened the door for Linda and myself.  We’ve been friends ever since.

After a brief chat, we learned that it was his wife’s studio, not a gallery, but they opened one evening a month for folks to view Jill’s art and drink some of Bob’s wine.  I inspected Jill’s art and judged it to be superior work filled with color and folks and life---impressive work, very professional.  My website, oldartguy.com, was relatively new, so I told Bob its nature and the fact that it included essays by myself and few other folks.  Bob wasn’t shy about it: he immediately told me that he was also a writer, and he’s contributed several heartfelt essays to the site.  (See http://oldartguy.com/Robert_B._Pankey.html.)

A highlight of our visits to Bryan for their First Fridays was visiting with the Pankeys at the studio.  It was always a fun evening with an atmosphere created by Jill’s art and Bob’s and Jill’s gregarious personalities.

After a few visits, I began to notice that Bob was also painting.  A few of his new works would show up at each new First Friday.  His work was acceptable…it wasn’t shoddy, but next to Jill’s works…well.  (See http://oldartguy.com/Bob_Pankey_Artist.html.)

Jill began contributing her art to oldartguy.com almost immediately after we met, and then, after a while, Bob began contributing his artwork as well as his essays to the site.  (See http://oldartguy.com/Jill_Pankey.html and http://oldartguy.com/Bob_Pankey_Artist.html.)

Then the Pankeys screwed up First Friday for me.  They decided to move on.  They closed the studio and moved back to San Marcas.

The contributions of art and essays to oldartguy.com continued as it does to this day, but First Fridays haven’t been the same since they departed Bryan.

I’ve noticed that they’re showing their art in various other parts of the country and, of course, their works are loved wherever they show.

Now I suspect you’re labeling this essay as a love note to the Pankeys, but I actually do have a point to make.

Jill’s work from the first moment I witnessed it I judged to be highly professional as well as filled with life.  I thought she had reached her peak, but I was wrong.

The other evening  Jill and Bob had a joint show at the SEAD Gallery in Bryan which is nearby.  We were determined to attend the show and, fortunately we did manage to make it.

Jill has reached another level of excellence.  I didn’t think this was possible, but she has.  One of her paintings particularly impressed me with its perfection.  I was reminded of an artwork I viewed at the Houston Art Museum a few years ago; I don’t recall the artist’s name, but the subject was a young woman and child.  I stared at the painting for some time trying to find the hand of the artist.  I never could.  It was perfect without revealing its maker.  That’s the way I felt about one of Jill’s works…perfect, flawless.  Then I viewed another of her works which was nearly the equal of the first one I spoke of; I noticed a small point about the size of the eye of a needle which revealed the gesso.  I was reminded by this small imperfection that art is work...that paintings don’t just jump on canvases by themselves: they require many decisions, many choices, many concerns by the artist.

And then there were the works of Bob.  I feared before attending their show that Bob’s paintings wouldn’t stand up well when next to Jill’s.  My fear was unfounded: Bob’s works looked as though they belonged there hanging on the walls next to Jill’s.

As we were leaving the show, Bob’s painting of a bear caught my eye, and I paused before it for a greater inspection.  I’ve painted a couple of bears and have found them to be troublesome, but Bob’s bear nailed it---the color choices and the choice of the bear’s attitude and personality were perfection.  I’ve seen Bob’s progress from month to month in the contributions he has made to oldartguy.com.  His works have earned the appellation “professional.”

Bob will be the first to admit that having a live-in mentor has its advantages, but that’s not the point.  The point is that through hard work his works have progressed.

The word “work” is not often associated with art and artists, but I believe it’s the most important word in an artist’s vocabulary---even more important than talent.  When work is combined with talent, well...you get the Pankeys.