Diana Rutherford: Thirteen Portraits
Paintings and Works on Paper
February 6 – 28, 2015
A Memorial Exhibition to Benefit the Alliance for the Arts
Co-curators Barbara Anderson Hill, Sherry Rohl
The Alliance for the Arts is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Diana Rutherford’s portraits in the Theater Lobby Gallery from February 6 through 28, 2015, with an opening reception on Friday, February 13 from 5–7:30 p.m.
Rutherford was born in Illinois 1939 and died in Fort Myers 2013. Thirteen Portraits features her soulful paintings for which she was internationally known. Ten of the 13 portraits will be available for sale through silent auction, with proceeds to benefit the Alliance for the Arts, courtesy of family of Diana Rutherford.
Curator Barbara Hill: “During her lifetime Diana Rutherford completed 30 portraits. Her subjects over the years included artists, substance abusers and saints, many of whom lived in Lee County. Rutherford is considered one of southwest Florida’s premier portraitists, painting in the style of master portrait painters Lucian Freud, David Bates and Alice Neel”. She preferred to work from live models although a camera was used in rare occasions. Although trained classically, Rutherford’s painting approach was decidedly non-traditional. She was interested in capturing the quirky charm, celebrating the uniqueness of each individual. Several of the works in this exhibition are self-portraits.
Diana Rutherford traveled extensively and lived and worked throughout the United States in Massachusetts, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Florida and Virgin Islands as well as internationally in France and Japan. In addition to painting and drawing, Rutherford was an accomplished printmaker and sculptor. She graduated from the Institute de Francais, Villefranch sur Mer, France and earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Art Degree from Tufts University, Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA in 1979, and received a scholarship for independent study in Japan, 1978-79.
Rutherford’s work has been exhibited in 18 solo exhibitions as well as numerous group, invitational and juried exhibitions nationally and internationally. Rutherford received six awards for her portrait painting in Boston and Florida and had been commissioned to do portraits in the Boston/Cambridge area as well as the Aix-en-Provence and Nice regions of France. Her work is in the private collections in the United States and Puerto Rico as well as France, and the United Kingdom. Spanning a 40 year successful career as she continued to search for authentic spirituality in her work, she taught and lectured in four continents and had her work reproduced in 14 publications.
Rutherford died in Fort Myers September 24, 2013. Earlier that year in the summer of 2013, she travelled to South Dakota in her RV to open the joint exhibition of portraits she shared with her late grandfather, Harvey Dunn, which crowned a fruitful career as one of Florida’s foremost portrait artists.
Artist Statements and BIO
August 13, 2008
“All during my life, I have painted portraits as a kind of spiritual meditation. I believe all the living, manifesting intelligence, are divine, and the complex human is worthy of investigation. The layering in paint of private moments, rather than the modern photograph, can produce a language that is about someone. My portraits are fueled by a desire to search my own response to a soul. Where do we look when we’re finished with facts? There are ways of reading each other derived from what we call the “sub” and “un” conscious but it sometimes requires a struggle. It’s like trying to place milliseconds of wonder into perceptible time and perhaps, from this search, I like to think, a sort of visual revelation can emerge.”
“Building a portrait is a kind of search, somewhat informed by personal choices by the artist, but which really begins when the unconventional demands of the Spirit take over. This particular way of encountering an individual, for me, is an act of faith, layering in paint of private moments, requiring stamina and struggle before something emerges about that person which feels like a revelation.”
Born in 1939, Diana Rutherford lived in New York, Chicago and Boston where, as a student at the Museum School in Boston, she studied anatomy, medieval painting, fresco, etching, sculpture and where she discovered her passion for portrait painting. To gain a broader cultural perspective, Rutherford was granted a year of independent study in Japan. Graduating with her BFA degree from Tufts University in 1979, she has focused primarily on portrait painting, she opened a studio at the Boston Center for the Arts, where she taught homeless children and had her first solo exhibition. She later lived and painted in several countries, including the British Virgin Islands and the south of France.
Her subjects over the years have included artists, substance abusers and saints. She preferred to work from live models although a camera was used in rare occasions. Although trained classically, Rutherford’s painting approach was decidedly non-traditional. She was interested in capturing the quirky charm, celebrating the uniqueness of each individual. She completed a total of 30 portraits in her lifetime.
Finding herself physically unable to manage Boston’s climate and urban environment, Rutherford sold her Cambridge house where she lived for 25 years, bought a motor home and embarked on a quest to explore small, low-end campgrounds, particularly on the southern United States; painting the landscape of trailer parks. She joined the truck drivers, fulltime RV retirees and exiles on the road, and became a full-time resident of a studio/house on wheels.
Diana writes “This may not be auspicious for an artist, but the renewed feeling of mobility, the joy of discovering the earthy sensibilities of the South, plus working out of a studio on wheels, is ecstatic. Though to house dwellers, it may seem an anathema, I am grateful to be part of this sub-culture. I choose it as a subject because, first of all, I believe it really doesn’t matter what I paint, but how I paint or draw. The subject of the trailer park is about freedom, about living in humble proximity to nature, and the gathering at night with my fellow travelers.”