ARTIST AFIRE- Artist/Fire Captain John T. Ruddy Exhibits at Raven Gallery

  To open Art Gallery in JC this fall


Paintings by John T. Ruddy of Jersey City: PADMA, MATAJI, and NATARAJ.

(PADMA is on display at Raven Gallery and Boutique in Jersey City)

By Sally Deering

 Artist and Jersey City Fire Captain John T. Ruddy has traveled all over the world and the souvenirs he has brought back include exotic images and motifs that influence many of his paintings.

“I studied Renaissance and Classical painting and I’ve traveled to 50 countries,” Ruddy says, sitting at an outdoor café in his downtown Jersey City neighborhood. “I always head for the cathedrals, mosques and temples first, and I ask myself, what does this culture aesthetically offer? Travel has always been a life-long passion.”

Ruddy’s work can be seen as part of the group show UNDERTOW on view through July 25th at the Raven Gallery and Boutique on Newark Avenue in Jersey City. Active in the Jersey City art community for the past 20 years, Ruddy’s work has been shown at ArtHouse Productions, 58 Gallery and Pro Arts. He has had solo shows at Grassroots Community Space and Porto Lounge; and exhibitions at LITM and The Dopeness. Featured in many group shows, in 2013, Ruddy co-curated the Jersey City Artist Studio Tour’s flagship location at the Tenmarc building; and in 2014, Jersey City commissioned him to construct the centerpiece public art installation for the studio tour’s opening gala at Exchange Place.

“I’ve been able to work consistently as an artist,” Ruddy says. “I started with classical training and threw out the rules.”

Ruddy paints with acrylics and oils on canvas and board. A lot of his works are sculptural he says and some of his larger paintings feature applied media like jewels. Some pieces have a Hindu reference, and Ruddy says writer/teacher/philosopher Joseph Campbell had a big influence on him both as a person and artist.

“Joseph Campbell opened my mind,” Ruddy says.

Ruddy’s paintings are meant to be experienced in person, he says, and he’s not about creating images that can be reproduced on T-Shirts or coffee cups. Instead, he prefers creating one-of-a-kind paintings.

“Paintings are stories,” Ruddy says, “like personal mythologies.”

Art Director of 660 Studios, an arts venue in Jersey City known for its eclectic art and music happenings, Ruddy is about to launch, an interactive website and mobile application that promotes Jersey City’s art scene. It will have an online calendar of city-wide events and an Apple app. The 660 Gallery which debuts in the fall will be on the first floor of 660 Grand Street where artists can exhibit.

“It will be a building of artists,” Ruddy says.

Ruddy is the son of retired JC Fire Department Battalion Chief John Ruddy. Back when he was 21 with the ink still fresh on his BA degree in Art History from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, the artist was conflicted over whether to pursue his art full-time or get a “real” job. When the chance came to test for the JC Fire Department, Ruddy seized the opportunity and passed. That was 20 years ago. Ruddy now serves as Fire Captain for the 1st Battalion, Engine No. 2 on Grand Street, and has found a way to balance his work with his art.

“I wanted to be an artist but the pragmatic side of me won out and I became a firefighter,” Ruddy says.  “As a firefighter, my schedule is flexible, so it’s the perfect job for an artist.”

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