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By Charly Haley, Forum News Service, Published September 29 2013

Gackle artist continues to ‘do different things’

GACKLE, N.D. – The green and beige prairie grasses of North Dakota’s Coteau region have been etched into monochromatic paint by Deane Colin Fay as part of his vast array of artwork.

The 62-year-old Gackle resident has shown at galleries in Minneapolis, New York and elsewhere, but now, much of his new art is being debuted at the newly opened Uptown Gallery in Fargo.

A North Dakota native, Fay has worked in paint, sculpture and other mediums for more than 40 years.

“I like to do different things. I like to learn different things,” Fay said while standing in the small gallery in his home.

The home gallery holds monochromatic and bold-colored paintings, as well as sculptures made of metal and stone. Art and furniture handmade by Fay fills the house that he shares with his wife, Jamestown Arts Center gallery manager Sally Jeppson.

Fay learned carpentry by working odd jobs over the years for money to support his art. Those skills in turn helped him build his sculptures, furniture and most of his house. Fay also entirely built the ranch house southwest of Gackle where he and Jeppson live during the summer.

The 7 miles between Fay’s Gackle house and ranch house hold the same images that are seen in Fay’s paintings – prairie grass and a big North Dakota sky.

Fay and Jeppson met while they both worked at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, Fay said. They moved to Gackle about 12 years ago.

Since moving to Gackle, Fay has been a little less prevalent in the Fargo art scene, where he had previously gained a following, said Steve Revland, a longtime friend of Fay’s and the owner of Uptown Gallery in Fargo.

Revland said he hopes to reintroduce Fargo to Fay’s art.

“He’s an extraordinary man. He’s an extraordinary talent,” Revland said.

Fay’s work takes up about one-fifth of Uptown Gallery’s space, which is showcasing 18 artists, including Revland.

Fay’s work is also still on display in Fargo’s renowned Hotel Donaldson, where each hotel room features a different artist’s work, including Fay.

He also has a sculpture at the Cass County Courthouse. It stands more than 10 or 11 feet tall, he said, welded from steel and copper.

“I do a lot of heavy lifting,” Fay said of his work on large sculptures. “Just imagine the Egyptians lifting stones – that’s me.”

Fay’s age and health have made him scale back a little. He used to do gallery management work with Jeppson – the two worked on projects around the state, including a gallery at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora – but now he mainly focuses on his art, he said.

“As a wife and also as a gallery person,” Jeppson said, “I’m continually amazed at the range of capabilities that Deane has as an artist and as a craftsman.”

Fay said he’s created about 60 new pieces in the past year and a half.

“It’s prolific,” he said. “I’m a very organized-type person when it comes to that.”

Although Fay has work in Fargo and other galleries, much of his art is in Gackle, surrounding the space where he and Jeppson live.

“Living with an artist, you’re living with art every moment of the day,” Jeppson said. “And not just what’s on the walls, but their thinking and development of ideas.”

The ranch house is made mostly of salvaged materials, including dead trees that Fay hauled himself to make railings for the stairs and porch. Fay’s paintings are displayed on the walls.

He and Jeppson also have horses and a vegetable garden there.

“We’ve got kind of a unique lifestyle,” Fay said.

Looking out at the Coteau from the ranch house’s porch, Fay explained, “It’s the solitude, the serenity, the peacefulness” of the prairie that inspire him to incorporate it into his art.

“You’re connecting with nature,” he said.