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10/1/2012 9:03:00 AM
Nancy Ruby: 'Painting our environment'
Nancy Ruby likes the layers of her painting to show through.  “I thin a color with turpentine and make shapes by pulling a soaked rag across the canvas.” This artist is endlessly inventive; she needs to concentrate her joy in nature on dynamic semi-abstractions like “Rushing!” to achieve her potential.
Nancy Ruby likes the layers of her painting to show through. “I thin a color with turpentine and make shapes by pulling a soaked rag across the canvas.” This artist is endlessly inventive; she needs to concentrate her joy in nature on dynamic semi-abstractions like “Rushing!” to achieve her potential.
Nancy Ruby
Nancy Ruby
By Louise MacDonald
Special to Kudos

Nature catapulting down a trail of rocks! Oak Creek at the height of the monsoon crashes through, spilling violently and randomly. A compelling spectacle worthy of a fine painting.

But during the rainy season Oak Creek overflows its course, despoiling itself. How can we save this important stream from disaster as fecal coliform begin to taint its waters? DNA samples by water quality specialists along the 50 miles of its trajectory are telling the story of what's happening to our favorite waterway.

Concerned environmentalist and painter Nancy Ruby catches here in oil and graphite the dynamic scene of Oak Creek's roiling waters whose purity Sedona's nature lovers wish to preserve. We see the river in late spring, cascading over rocks, with cliffs and red rocks in the background. Random circles of pink and yellow accentuate the turbulence.

To prepare for such paintings the artist hikes with her camera over forest and mountain trails. From resulting photographs she creates abstractions and representational paintings that herald her strong support for the Oak Creek Watershed Improvement Plan.

Mountains are "sacred" to Nancy Ruby. Often painted as amorphous and abstract, they are frequent subjects of her work. "Many Paths" - an extraordinary five feet by ten feet -- is a vast work in oil and graphite that has aroused considerable local interest.

Composed of six panels, it reveals the criss-crossing paths of ancient trails used by Indian tribes over the centuries to travel from Hopi lands to the south through the Verde Valley and on to present-day Jerome and Prescott. Mount Humphrey, considered sacred by the Hopis, appears in the center panel. Here the Kachina spirits of the Hopi reside.

These trails still exist as hiker paths; some have become modern roads. The over-size work in soft pastel shades was funded in part by an Emerging Artist Grant from the City of Sedona in 2009-10. In my opinion, "Many Paths" is worthy of a prominent place in Arizona public space.

Two large Ruby abstractions, entitled "The Cave "and "The Canyon," vibrate with concentrated color, one in deep blues and lavenders, the other in oranges and reds.

She likes the layers of her painting to show through. "I thin a color with turpentine and make shapes by pulling a soaked rag across the canvas."

This artist is endlessly inventive; she needs to concentrate her joy in nature on dynamic semi-abstractions like "Rushing!" to achieve her potential.

Nancy Ruby currently has three paintings in the Zen Mountain gallery in Jerome. Her work will be exhibited in her own tent at the Sedona Arts Festival on Oct. 13-14.

"Many Paths" was shown in a solo exhibition devoted to that work at the Verde Gallery at Yavapai College. Ruby has participated in numerous juried shows in Texas and Virginia, as well as in three shows presented in Tlaquepaque by the Sedona Visual Arts Coalition. Her web site is: www.nancyruby.com.

"For the last few years I have focused on the landscape of my immediate surroundings, the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, where my heart has found a place to soar," the artist says.

She finds SVAC's "Open Studio" tours helpful in bringing viewers to her studio. Her husband, physician Michael McKinney, plans to take up sculpture when he retires. For this Sedonan life is art!

Louise Sheldon MacDonald is a free-lance writer living in Sedona. She has been an art reviewer in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD for over 20 years.

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