Sarah C. Rutherford
Is this part of gentrification, the nesting impulse? Arriving at a certain junction in life one wants to look for a comfortable spot to call home and maybe start a family. One of the home based hobbies people had when I was a kid was to take up wood burning ( not on a stove, but with little hand tools that you plug in to make your own brand of art). I thought it was only a fifties sort of thing, but when I was putting together my book on wildlife art ( Quarry Books division of Rockport Press published “Wildlife Art” by Alan Singer in 1999 ) I came across the art of Haruki Koizumi ( see below ). I knew I had to have his art in my book, it was such a delicate rendition in basswood of an Eagle-Owl.
Eagle – Owl
wood burning on bass-wood
Now, along comes the art of Sarah C. Rutherford with her show “Nesting ” recently opened at the 1975 Gallery. She has a short story form of composition complete with enigmatic titles which she has given these low-relief painted constructions. The stories she has to tell about birds and people ( are we supposed to know who sat for these portraits? ) denote a space she has carved out for herself that is all very much her own in our contemporary art scene. CITY newspaper surveys say that she is at the top of her field, as the most popular artist in Rochester at the moment.
Sarah C. Rutherford’s art at
November 22 – December 14, 2014
Sarah does this all in a non-threatening way, and you come away with a feeling of assurance for the careful aspects of her art – observance of nature – both human and animal, and the care she gives to the painting and shaping, the wood burning for detail, and the layering of her tableaux. There is an illustrative core to this work that goes beyond nature worship with forays into a mysterious land of action and reaction ( “The Shadow of the Grasp” ). Sarah is really onto something with the birds she conjures with. She places most of her birds in flight, or just about to land and this sense of life and movement is welcome. Yet there is a story behind this, maybe they are just day dreams. In “Auspice” why is the hawk placed in such a way as to come in for a landing near a decorative nest box that would never do for a home? What’s more- is that the hawk is right over a woman who looks up with something like anticipation or even anxiety.
Other subjects are handled as deft illustrations of situations like the youngster among the orange Japanese lantern flowers. And in the center of this show there is a kiosk of sorts that displays for sale, hand carved wooden feathers ( for your nest ). Some really interesting details about the wood used for this show stand out. They are attractively painted, and some of the wood pieces fit together like a streamlined jig-saw puzzle. Should I mention that her wood-burning is quite nice, she has a feel for the structure of feathers, and she seems to favor birds of prey and interesting combinations of flowering plants. It is curious to see these flowers on the wings of the birds. It is something a bit different than what you are used to seeing in the galleries around town, maybe with the exception of what the Olneys ( Don and Cheryl ) have created over the years.