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The Art of Love | By Nathan Walls


Describing someone’s home as a museum is usually a bad thing because it means that their place is cold and untouchable. Not so at the residence of Dave and Gail Gilbert. Their house on Towbridge Road in Fayetteville may be something of a museum, but it is anything but cold. Throughout the house are pictures created by Gail with watercolors, pastels and oil paints as well as some of her acclaimed ceramics. As if that weren’t impressive enough, scattered about are Dave’s noteworthy bronze sculptures and handmade furniture. Both husband and wife, married for 31 years and the parents of six children, are respected artists. And that’s to say nothing of their day jobs. Dr. Dave Gilbert is a cardiologist at Ferncreek Cardiology in Fayetteville and Gail is the office manager of the practice. Dave once combined his work and his hobby by sculpting a heart to use to teach his patients what was wrong with their own hearts. “It was so helpful, I decided I would do it in bronze,” Gilbert said. There are three copies of the two-and-a-half feet tall instructional piece and they are used at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, the Bowman Gray campus of Wake Forest University and in Gilbert’s office. The Gilberts are a welcoming pair who enjoy time with visitors, primarily in the area near the kitchen, which features an open floor plan. A small hallway, lined with watercolors, leads to the kitchen and the adjacent sitting area, accentuated by a high ceiling and a fireplace adorned above with one of Gail’s award-winning watercolors. The dining room is across from the kitchen and a sunroom is a few steps away. The sunroom is where most of Gail’s watercolor work takes place. It’s there that her scenes of fish, crabs, fruit, boats, beaches and portraits have come to life. The light in the sunroom makes it an ideal place for Gail’s painting and also for Dave to do some of his sculpting. Prior to working with watercolors, Gail, a well-rounded artist, won national awards for her ceramics. “I’ve dabbled in art all my life,” Gail said. “In the past, I did pastels and oils. I started doing watercolors. They are challenging, but with them, it’s easier to clean up after yourself. That was one of the reasons I went into it, plus you can take it with you wherever you want. It’s been more or less a hobby, because between I worked full-time and raised children. It’s sort of a secondary thing, but my first love.” In fact, love is evident throughout the Gilberts’ home, in the way they compliment one another for their art, in the pictures of their family and in their chosen art forms. But they are also competitive and talk about how they play golf, turkey hunt, ski and race a 16-foot sailboat together. One glimpse above the stairwell that descends to the basement and Dave Gilbert’s appreciation for his wife is evident. Hanging on the wall is a body sculpture of Gail that Dave made. The sculpture is clothed, by request of Gail’s mom. “She’s special at art and I’m a wannabe,” Dave said humbly. One of Dave Gilbert’s finer pieces is a sculpture of Donald Ross outside the pro shop at the Highland Country Club in Fayetteville. Ross was perhaps the best known golf course designer in history, famous for his work on Pinehurst No. 2 and about 300 other golf courses, including one at Highland Country Club. “Highland Country Club was the last course that Donald Ross designed and built,” Dave Gilbert said. “I thought we needed to have a classy piece of sculpture of Donald Ross that shows him in his prime. He’s designed all of these great golf courses. The sculpture turned out pretty good.” Just outside the kitchen and sitting area, is the deck, shrouded by trees and overlooking a lake. The Gilberts enjoy sitting on the deck and looking at the moon and stars at night. In the morning, the sounds of birds fill the air. The couple’s scull boat is docked near the lake bank. After playing bridge indoors when they entertain guests, the Gilberts often bring their visitors outside to do some sculling. And then, after the guests leave, the Gilberts use their free time to focus again on their artwork. “You’re never quite satisfied,” Gail Gilbert said of her watercolor painting. “I keep striving to be what I want to be. You have to know when to quit so you don’t overwork it. You feel it, you know when you have done something good. You know when you have done a good painting, it just feels right.”