The Wild Side of Craig Rubadoux



Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art keeps the season rolling strong with yet another wide-ranging exhibition showcasing one of Sarasota’s greats. Curated by Mark Ormond and currently on display, Craig Rubadoux: Magical, Mystical, Fantastical features more than 20 paintings from the artist’s decades-long career, including a sizable collection of small-scale works from this past summer in Nova Scotia, giving audiences a broad vantage and rare perspective on the life and developing style of this Sarasota master. The exhibition runs through March 31.

Spread across the white walls of the gallery, the breadth and startlingly vivid colors of the exhibition as a whole strike the viewer the moment they enter the room, before any individual painting can receive preferential viewing. An energy permeates the air, carried by crosswinds of conversation between paintings artfully arranged by Ormond. And though all distinctly Rubadoux and sporting the artist’s signature style, great variety abounds within that world, with some images serene and clear, brought to life in precise, clean lines, and others emerging from the seemingly manic and overlapping scrawls of some dark indecision. But it’s all Rubadoux. “I try to run the whole gamut, from joy to sorrow,” he says, “like life itself.”

The work itself is, according to the artist, akin to “a journal of my experiences.” While, on one hand, that could leave the artist vulnerable and exposed to the viewing audience, perhaps moreso than usual, Rubadoux expresses a certain ambivalence, especially regarding seeing his early work again. “Sometimes it’d be nice to touch things up a bit,” he says, “but you put all of your energy into whatever painting you’re doing at the time, and when it’s ready to go, it’s ready to go.”

One thing that rings clear from every wall—Rubadoux loves animals. Blue dogs, red dogs, spindly foxes and even a trio of pigs inspired by a Georgian isle still home to descendants of boars brought by the Spanish centuries ago, they all adorn the walls at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art, brought to life under Rubadoux’s brush. “I like wild things,” he says simply, and these animals too are, in a way, a record of his life. As a child growing up in Sarasota, his parents would take him to the Ringling Bros. Circus, where he would sketch elephants, horses, hippos and big cats. He remembers a later trip to Spain, watching soldiers train horses on the beach. He still makes trips to Newfoundland, camping and spying bear and moose. “All of that experience informs what I paint,” he says.

Already at work on his next series, revolving around foxes, a bobcat crossed by Rubadoux’s deck in Englewood the other day and caught his eye in a way he may not have been prepared for. “Sometimes a certain animal will resonate,” he says. “So that might be the next image.”

Currently on display at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art, Craig Rubadoux: Magical, Mystical, Fantastical hangs through March 31.

Picture: "At Dawn" by Craig Rubadoux. Photo courtesy of the artist and Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art.

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