Live from ‘the Studio’

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If Ruth Walker were one to blow her own horn, the blast could probably be heard all the way to the Gulf Coast.

However, Walker is not one to do that so others have to do it for her.

The Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center held an opening reception for Walker’s exhibit, “A Lifetime of Memories,” Tuesday night at the Johnson Center for the Arts.

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No artist is more deserving of the recognition, said Wiley White, Center development director.

“Ruth is a multi-talented artist and everyone who knows her, loves her and appreciates her many talents,” White said. “We are excited to have Ruth’s work on exhibit at the Johnson Center for the Arts. It’s a varied exhibit with portraits, garden scenes and landscapes. Her watercolors are so precise and then she has paintings that are done with broad, loose brushstrokes. Ruth also does fabulous graphic work. It’s an honor for us to feature one of our own Ruth Walker.”

Walker’s exhibit, “ A Lifetime of Memories” dates back to the 1970s and includes a self-portrait when she was a young woman.

It also includes paintings of the old Troy High School that she and her husband, Charles, attended and a painting of the old Presbyterian Church that was demolished years ago. Prints have been made of both structures.

The exhibit also includes portraits painted in different styles.

“All of the portraits that I do now are in oil,” Walker said. “I can control oil better than anything else. I have included several still-life paintings, landscapes and garden scenes in the exhibit. Those who have seen our home gardens will probably recognize some of those scenes.”

Walker also works in pen and ink, pencil, charcoal and acrylic paints.

“As far as style, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t do Pop art or anything like that. I read a lot about other artists and their styles and methods in order to develop my own style. I guess you would say that I’m more of a realist. I do real stuff.”

Walker’s interest in art goes back so far that she doesn’t know exactly when she decided she wanted to be an artist or what spurred that interest.

“I know that my interest in art goes back to the second grade when I saw that I could create something with a pencil,” Walker said, “An artist is all I ever wanted to be. I wanted to be a famous artist. I didn’t make it but I’ve surely had fun along the way.”

Walker started her career as a freelance artist until her youngest child became school age.

“In 1969, we moved to Birmingham and I started public work as a publication art director,” she said. “Then in 1979, we moved back to Troy and I applied for an opening at the university, and I worked there in graphic art design until I retired in 2000.”

After her retirement, Walker had more time to devote to her artwork, and she has taken full advantage of the opportunity.

“I paint for myself and for others,” she said. “I don’t do many art shows because I’ve never been able to accumulate enough pieces for a show. I’ve been fortunate that as soon as I get a piece finished, it’s sold.”

Walker admitted that it’s often difficult to let a piece go because of the sentimental value attached to it.

“Almost every piece that I do that’s not a commissioned piece has a sentimental subject,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to let them go but, on occasion, I do — no matter how I feel about them.”

Walker told the story of a couple of paintings that she did of a cousin, who was a basket maker.

“A friend came in while I was painting and wanted to buy them and he did,” she said. “About six years later, our friend came back and said he had something for me. It was the two paintings of my cousin. He had enjoyed the paintings for those years but he knew they had sentimental value to me and wanted me to have them back. It was a very nice thing for him to do and a real sweet story.”

Hours for the Johnson Center for the Arts are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.