Art: Alexander Rutsch

For my first ‘art’ post, I’d like to highlight an artist that I was lucky enough to know as a child. Alexander Rutsch.

“My dreams are color and life. They soar in my head like millions of symphonies. I can never stop building dreams.” – Alexander Rutsch

Being a 2nd generation-er, my family had a wide background and I grew up around an eclectic mix of Europeans and Russians. Alexander was married to my mother’s first cousin and our family gatherings were always an opportunity for me to wander off into his sculpture garden or inspect his studio of unfinished paintings. At the time I didn’t know what a professional artist was…I just knew that he was a kind, intelligent man, who played chess with my grandfather, spoke various languages with my relatives, told great stories and was a bit misunderstood.

One day while walking with Alex in his sculpture garden, he asked me to help name one of his sculptures. I must have been 9 or 10 at the time…and I froze. Me? A kid? I didn’t know anything about sculpture. How could I help name a piece of art made by a master? Alex rattled off a few names and then I blurted out something. I don’t remember what…..but I remember it wasn’t that good. I just wanted to impress the kind, artist elder in my family.

As I got  a little older and became more educated, I started to recognize the characters in his stories. His friends and colleagues were Salvadore Dali, Pablo Picasso…..Gods of the art world. Alexander even did a portrait of Pope John Paul II. And yet there he was, sitting with my family eating BLT’s, asking for scraps of paper and shoe polish so he could draw outside at the pool and telling wonderful stories to whoever would listen.

I’m no art historian. I studied art throughout my life and memorized the texts at one time, but I’m no walking encyclopedia of styles and methods. What I do know rings truer in my ears than anything I learned in a textbook. A humble, kind, gentle man….produced simple, calming and impressive artwork. His character shone straight through into his art. And as my memories of this great man fade since his death in 1997, my appreciation for him grows stronger. Perhaps one day his pieces of art will be as prominent as a Van Gogh or Dali. To some people they already are.

I’ve had many artistic influences in my life, direct and indirect, and I do credit Alexander as one of the reasons why I followed my family’s artistic roots. I had influences from actors, musicians, artists and businessmen on one side….and on the other athletes, policemen, military and blue collars. Maybe Alex saw the misunderstood artist within me when he asked me to name his sculpture years ago. I like to think so.

If you’d like to learn more about Alexander Rutsch you can