By Tris McCall
An Art exhibit featuring the works of the late Artist John Ruddy is being shown at Art 150 Gallery, 150 Bay Street, Jersey City . April 3rd to April 30th, 2022 Sundays from 1pm to 4pm
John Ruddy loved the color orange. Not the pale baby-aspirin orange of a sunrise, or even the urban orange of traffic cones — the shade he liked best was the reddish-orange of the roaring blaze. The paintings on view at “John Ruddy: Celebrating A Life Well Lived” pulsate with vibrant color: magenta suns, egg yolk yellows, glowing ectoplasm greens, Papa Smurf blues. It is Ruddy’s searing oranges, however, that make the most immediate impression. Sometimes he depicted fire outright. Sometimes he simply suggested conflagration, with hot colors leaping and spreading from shape to shape as fires do. Even some of his frames have curled edges reminiscent of flames. His retrospective exhibition sets the entire ART150 Gallery (150 Bay Street) ablaze.
Initially this seems logical. Ruddy, who died suddenly in December 2021 at 49, was a firefighter as well as a painter. He wasn’t a part-time alarm-answerer, either — Ruddy was a battalion chief in the Jersey City Fire Department. He was well acquainted with the danger of the roaring blaze. Yet it might be surprising that a man whose business involved quenching fires should invest his depictions of fire with so much life. Ruddy’s flames are saw-toothed and spike-tailed; they curve and snap and encircle his subjects, many of whom are fantastic creatures drawn from Indian and Near Eastern mythology. Curator Andrea Morin’s show, presented by ProArts, reveals John Ruddy to be a complicated, prickly character, unafraid of a challenge, a born adventurer utterly uninterested in aesthetic caution.