A few years ago in Kansas City, I visited the Mission Road Antique Mall. I love going to places that have old beautiful old objects, because I love art and material culture. My parents have done a lot of interior design work, and I grew up around it. Looking at old and intricate things is soothing to me, even though I cannot afford to buy them.

That day in Kansas City I was adrift. I had recently divorced. I’d sold a lot of odds and ends on Craigslist while emptying the house, and had a bit of cash. It was serendipity – there is always serendipity.

Drucilla Gault had died, and I guess they were clearing out her estate.

She lived in Kansas City. I like to imagine she had a quiet life. I think she went to church. And she painted.

I do not know any people who have heard about Drucilla Gault. The Internet is not helpful. Many women artists have not been documented, were never in a spotlight no matter how good their work was. But as I walked around Mission Road Antique Mall, I saw this painting on a wall – a large cityscape, in the genre of mid-century cityscapes. Signed. Dated. Untitled.

Done with the smallest brush, the oil painting shone with intricate layers of golden light with a green underlayer, illuminating the masses of buildings, the elaborate, fading street sighs, the muted shadows. The painting’s city-world, translucent and incredibly detailed, floated and beckoned.

Drucilla Gault. Cityscape. 1973.
Drucilla Gault. Cityscape. 1973.

And because women artists are undervalued, and vintage paintings by relative unknowns are undervalued, the price tag was much lower than it should have been. And because of serendipity of divorce and Craigslist, on that day, I could take it home. And so I did.

When I look at this painting, I see a work of quiet genius that took time and vision and patience to create – a work as intricate and luminous as the best old embroidery. It is a quiet piece which is complex and which invites a closer look. I do not know why Drucilla Gault was not better known. I have no idea what else she painted, whether this was her masterpiece, whether there are many other paintings, undocumented but hopefully as admired.

When I think about what I want my writing to be, it is this. The tiniest brush. Layers and layers of light.

Drucilla Gault. Cityscape - detail.
Drucilla Gault. “Cityscape” detail.

5 thoughts on “A Cityscape

  1. Nancy Nehls Nelson says:

    Dear Rose –

    Your name came up on Google when I entered “Drucillia Druci Gault.” My husband had one of her oil paintings, too. He had it hanging in his office for over 35 years. He bought it in Chicago when his business took off and he had money to spend…kind of like your story!

    I am looking for a new home for this painting. If you would be interested, please let me know and I’ll send you a photo of it.

    Nancy Nehls Nelson
    Weaverville, NC

  2. Teresa Weidmaier says:

    I just picked up another if her undervalued paintings at a church garage sale for $3 here in Des Moines. An oil of a modern landscape. Love it!

  3. Rick Fowler says:

    In the late fifties/early sixties, my family lived next door to Druci and her family. My mother and Druci were very good friends and I can remember many times watching her paint. My mom encouraged Druci to start going to art shows and selling her work. Due to their friendship and my mom’s help getting her started, we ended up with several of her early paintings. When my mom passed, I ended up with all of the paintings and enjoy them to this day and the memories they bring. If anyone is interested in seeing photos or possibly collecting more paintings, just let me know, I have more than I can possibly display. Druci loved her family, friends and the joy she created with her artwork. Her talent will never be fully appreciated.

    1. Rose says:

      Hi Rick, thank you so much for reaching out. I am very interested in Druci’s work and life. I know next to nothing about her, and yet this painting brings me so much joy; it is in my living room. I have formal and informal art background (though I am not primarily an artist myself), and the three Druci paintings that I’ve seen are of a very high quality. I would love to see photos. You can contact me at rose dot lemberg at gmail.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I found a beautiful watercolor landscape by Druci last year in a Salvation Army in Des Moines. It was about to be tossed into a bin and I asked to buy it . I’m so glad I did. It now hangs proudly in my dining room.

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