Shop Talk! Women in the Arts Q&A with…
By ADAA writer
ADAA: Your fondest memories of your time at A&D?
Rutkowski: Getting into Art and Design was a major life factor, taking me from the small isolated borough of Staten Island into the frenzy and excitement of Manhattan. Traveling with a group of friends from school on the ferry was an unforgettable experience. Discussing art, music, literature and the counter culture of the times. I loved being part of a group of such talented young people in a creative and supportive environment.
ADAA: Were you inspired by a teacher(s) at the school? Anyone in particular?
Rutkowski: There were two teachers that I totally adored, having nothing to do with art, how strange is that. Mr Shine, our music teacher who not only inspired me to continue playing classic violin at a time it wasn’t popular, but also introduce me to some amazing books such as The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Then there was my Spanish teacher who kept me enjoying language throughout my time at A&D.
ADAA: If you can go back in time and speak to a teenage you, what would you say?
Rutkowski: This is a good one because I truly regret not taking better advantage of my studies at Art & Design. Late 1960‘s through the 1970’s was such a time of social unrest and young people discovering themselves. I found myself so caught up in that, school and career was “establishment.”. Returning to the school now and seeing the amazing new, young talent really makes me wish I had tried more mediums out. Photography, drafting ( which is one thing I need now) etc. I would tell myself go to this incredible school every day, get there early , stay late, get involved! Next lifetime!
ADAA: Where do you go for inspiration?
Rutkowski: My studio, even when I’m not inspired, all I have to do is start welding up something, anything and ideas emerge.
ADAA: What obstacles have you encountered in your career path and how did you overcome them?
Rutkowski: It took me a long time after Art and Design to rediscover my creative self. Although I had a good foundation, commercial art wasn’t for me. I worked many different types of jobs. After about ten years, I felt the creative need and started searching for a way to appease this appetite. I took some drawing classes at the New School, but that wasn’t it. Then I stumbled upon the studio of Arturo DiModia,( the sculptor of the bull on Wall Street.) in a basement in Soho. I started carving stone and found myself hooked on the three dimensional. From there I worked with Mr.S. Mineo and his son Ron ( my friend still to this day) at Art Life Craft Studios, where I honed my stone carving and started working in wood and clay. I was fortunate enough to have my teacher Ron Mineo, recommend welding, as my designs were not suited for these mediums. I found the Sculpture Center on East 69th Street , where I feel in love with welding. I started making sculptures, but it was difficult to find representation, so I then moved onto functional art. Furniture etc. And ventured into architectural railing and gates. I made money but wasn’t satisfied. Building a studio outside the city was the catalyst to my return to sculpture. I am still struggling for representation and presence in the art world. But, I am happy with my work which sells through my own efforts. The most important thing is people love my work, buy it and enjoy it.
ADAA: What’s your next project you are presently working on?
Rutkowski: I am presently focusing on getting my work outdoors in public spaces. I did show some of my large scale “Summer of Love” series for one year at Bethel Woods. The home of the original Woodstock concert. I am finishing a piece for the town of New Rochelle for their 325th year anniversay. I am embellishing a large fiberglass Fleur di Lis with steel to be installed in a public space in the town. I am also awaiting proposals for outdoor works at Sailor Snug Harbor in Staten Island and from the town of Summit NJ.
ADAA: Do you use social media? If yes, how has that affected your career?
Rutkowski: Yes, most assuredly! I think I started out on a site called Art Metal, where metal sculptors would talk about their work , their struggles, and their process. We shared photos and there was alot of critiquing. Then I moved onto Facebook , have made many friends past, present and future.I have sold work and received a large following of supporters. It has been one of the best ways to communicate when and where I am showing or have new work available. I am also on a few selling sites, such as Etsy, The Art Commission, Artsicle and others. But the site I sell work from is Fine Art America. I am on Twitter but not as actively. I am always searching for new venues to get my work seen. Best of all, I found the Art and Design Alumni Group!
Janet Rutkowski, a native New Yorker, attended the High School of Art and Design. Later, she studied in the studio of Arturo DiModica ( who is the creator of the infamous bull on Wall Street). See more of Janet Rutkowski’s work on her web site.