New Artwork: Rebecca Rutstein

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Lazaro Cardena Canyon, acrylic on panel, 10 x 30 x 2 in.

This summer, Rebecca Rutstein mounted a solo exhibition at form & concept called Fault Lines. The smallest paintings in the show measured 36 x 36 inches, and the largest canvas was 7.5 feet tall and 5 feet wide. In a series of paintings and prints that just arrived at the gallery, the Philadelphia artist works in a more intimate scale. Many of the pieces are no taller than 10 inches. However, her subject matter—and vivid color palette—remains as vast as an ocean or mountain range.

In Rutstein’s case, we mean this quite literally. A series of long, narrow images reflects the undulating topography of the Pacific Ocean floor, drawn from her recent residencies at sea. Other works evoke rivers, volcanoes or continents, markers of the artist’s far-flung travels that have inspired her to envision geologic forms and phenomena as a highly personal symbol system. The work’s titles hint at events in her personal life that metaphorically align with the natural forces she studies. “The stories I tell about geology are always interwoven with my own personal psychology,” she tells us. “I’m [also] exploring formal abstract ideas.” Scroll down to browse Rutstein’s work, and check out our studio visit blog post for a video, interview and more.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, I Don’t Want to Lose You, acrylic on panel, 10 x 10 x 2.25 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Awful Bliss, archival pigment print, 10.75 x 21.88 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, In the Absence of Fear, acrylic on panel, 10 x 10 x 2.25 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Breathing Under Water, archival pigment print, 11 x 22 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Eclipse, acrylic on panel, 10 x 10 x 1.5 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Nicoles Caldera, acrylic on panel, 10 x 30 x 2 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Bold as Love, acrylic on panel, 24 x 24 x 2 in.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Blown Away, acrylic on panel, 20 x 20 x 2 in.
Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Galapagos I, archival pigment print, 10.75 x 21.63 in.

Click here to view all of Rebecca Rutstein’s artwork in the form & concept collection.

Summer Artist Talk: Rebecca Rutstein

When your painting studio is set adrift on the open sea, things can get a little messy. Philadelphia-based painter Rebecca Rutstein spent her last three artist residencies in close quarters with oceanographic cartographers, examining never-before-seen images of the ocean floor and translating what she learned into undulating, semi-abstract paintings. She grew accustomed to the constant motion of the boat and its unpredictable effect on her brushstrokes.

In Fault Lines, her first-ever solo exhibition in New Mexico, Rutstein returns to dry land. Using the sunburnt palette of the high desert, the artist turns her attention to seismic events that occur deep in the Earth’s crust—and employs some tricks she learned at sea to imbue her compositions with dynamic motion.

Rutstein will conduct an artist talk at form & concept on Saturday, July 1 from 2-3 pm. Fault Lines opens at form & concept on Friday, June 30, 5-7 pm, and runs through August 12, 2017. 

Biography

A Philadelphia-based artist whose work spans painting, installation and sculpture, Rebecca Rutstein explores geometric abstraction with a vision inspired by science and scientific data. Rutstein has been an Artist-in-Residence in Iceland, Hawaii, the Canadian Rockies and Vermont. Most recently, she was an Artist at Sea aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus where she collaborated with scientists mapping out never-before-seen ocean floor topography from the Galápagos Islands to California, and on the Research Vessel Falkor where she created art alongside scientists exploring uncharted territory from Vietnam to Guam. Rutstein has exhibited widely in galleries, museums, and institutions, and has received numerous awards.

Click here to browse Rebecca’s artwork.

Summer Artist Talks Schedule

In its first year, form & concept has emphasized powerful and diverse storytelling through its exhibition schedule and programs. The gallery’s roster of represented artists has been steadily growing, making for a dynamic One-Year Anniversary Exhibition (May 26-October 22, 2017). The majority of form & concept’s represented artists will speak, along with several guest artists.

Matthew Mullins & Wesley Anderegg | 5/27/17, 2-3 pm
Heidi Brandow | 6/3/17, 2-3 pm
Heather Bradley | 6/10/17, 2-3 pm
NoiseFold | 6/17/17, 2-3 pm*
Rebecca Rutstein | 7/1/17, 2-3 pm
Elana Schwartz | 7/8/17, 2-3 pm
Debra Baxter | 7/15/17, 2-3 pm
Jared Weiss | 7/22/17, 2-3 pm*
Armond Lara | 8/20/17, 2-3 pm
Broken Boxes Artists & Curators Panel Discussion | 8/20/17, 3-4 pm*

*Guest artists. All other participants are form & concept represented artists.

Opening Tonight: Jared Weiss & Rebecca Rutstein

Join us tonight for the debut of two painting exhibitions, Rebecca Rutstein: Fault Lines and Jared Weiss: He’s Either Dead Or It Was His Birthday. Weiss is a Santa Fe artist who draws from Freudian theory and his own memory to create compositions infused with a sense of déjà vu. Rutstein, who lives in Philadelphia, explores geometric abstraction with a vision inspired by scientific data. Both artists will appear at the opening reception on Friday, June 30 from 5-7 pm.

Kathryn Davis of ArtBeat Santa Fe interviewed each painter about their work. Scroll down for links to the interviews, and to read excerpts from other recent press.

Rebecca Rutstein

ArtBeat Santa Fe with Kathryn Davis- Artist Rebecca Rutstein Interview- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico

“There’s an oppeness to this work that reminds me of being here in this part of the world, where the sky goes on forever and it feels like you can see forever,” said Kathryn Davis of ArtBeat to Rebecca Rutstein. “[There’s] a lot of play with shadow, surface and dimensionality.” Listen to the full interview here.

A write-up on Rebecca’s work appeared in Albuquerque Journal North‘s “Top Picks for the Week” feature by Megan Bennett. Here’s an excerpt:

While spending time learning and creating among geologists and oceanographic cartographers, [Rutstein] was able to study the terrain and the ocean floor, and began painting based on what she saw. For this show, she will show work depicting “seismic events that occur deep in the Earth’s crust.”

Emily Van Cleve of Santa Fe Arts Journal interviewed Rebecca for a feature story. Here’s a teaser:

“I took a geology class as an undergraduate that had a huge impact on me,” Rutstein says. “Recently, I looked back at the geology textbooks I used in college. The collision of the Earth’s plates, which has inspired the work in my Santa Fe show, seems like a metaphor for what has happened in my life and other people’s lives.”

Make sure to read both stories, and stop by tonight’s opening from 5-7 pm to meet Rebecca and see Fault Lines. She will appear at an artist talk on Saturday, July 1 from 2-3 pm.

Jared Weiss

ArtBeat Santa Fe with Kathryn Davis- Artist Jared Weiss Interview- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

“You are a painter’s painter,” Kathryn Davis of ArtBeat told Jared Weiss. “I think you’re going to get a lot of painters showing up to see this show. I encourage that, because of the use of color, the brushwork. The immediacy, and then the denial—you step back and realize, ‘I don’t know what this is about.'” Listen to the full interview here, and make sure to check out Jared’s takeover of Santa Fe Reporter‘s Instagram for sneak peeks at the show.

Elizabeth Miller of SFR did a great story on Jared’s work last year, for his Adobe Rose Theater show You Can’t Have Your Horse In Here. Here’s an excerpt:

Like those candy-colored memories from childhood, Jared Weiss’ paintings can’t really be trusted to tell you the whole story, or to relay the details that could cue an accurate interpretation of what happened. But the effect of that obfuscation—of dark canvases in which the faces are lost in shadow or blurred into the background, of gestures only half finished and unclear in their direction, of the strange juxtapositions and those random objects that do come oddly and sharply into focus—is to render visible some pieces of what was, but what has been largely buried by what might also have been.

Come meet Jared and see He’s Either Dead Or It Was His Birthday tonight from 5-7 pm. He will appear at an artist talk on Saturday, July 22 from 2-3 pm.

Opening: Rebecca Rutstein | Fault Lines

When your painting studio is set adrift on the open sea, things can get a little messy. Philadelphia-based painter Rebecca Rutstein spent her last three artist residencies in close quarters with oceanographic cartographers, examining never-before-seen images of the ocean floor and translating what she learned into undulating, semi-abstract paintings. She grew accustomed to the constant motion of the boat and its unpredictable effect on her brushstrokes.

In Fault Lines, her first-ever solo exhibition in New Mexico, Rutstein returns to dry land. Using the sunburnt palette of the high desert, the artist turns her attention to seismic events that occur deep in the Earth’s crust—and employs some tricks she learned at sea to imbue her compositions with dynamic motion. Fault Lines opens at form & concept on Friday, June 30, 5-7 pm. Rutstein will appear at an artist talk on Saturday, July 1 from 2-3 pm, and the exhibition runs through August 12, 2017.

RSVP on Facebook.
Learn more about this exhibition.

Preview | Rebecca Rutstein: Fault Lines

When your painting studio is set adrift on the open sea, things can get a little messy. Philadelphia-based painter Rebecca Rutstein spent her last three artist residencies in close quarters with oceanographic cartographers, examining never-before-seen images of the ocean floor and translating what she learned into undulating, semi-abstract paintings. She grew accustomed to the constant motion of the boat and its unpredictable effect on her brushstrokes.

In Fault Lines, her first-ever solo exhibition in New Mexico, Rutstein returns to dry land. Using the sunburnt palette of the high desert, the artist turns her attention to seismic events that occur deep in the Earth’s crust—and employs some tricks she learned at sea to imbue her compositions with dynamic motion. Fault Lines opens at form & concept on Friday, June 30, 5-7 pm, and runs through August 12, 2017. Read our interview with Rutstein below, and make sure to RSVP for the opening on Facebook.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Brighten the Corners, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.

Describe your new body of work, and tell us about its beginnings. 

So, this body of work is coming full circle from the artist residencies that I’ve just completed at sea. I’m returning to some of the themes in my work that I’ve been exploring over the last several years. The paintings explore mapping and geology in less specific ways than while I was at sea, when I had live data coming in. These are getting back to more abstract themes that I’ve been exploring.

Which were the first paintings in the series? 

I started off working on a lot of 36-inch square paintings where I’ve been exploring a lot of these ideas, and now I’m moving into 60-by-90 inch paintings as well. In some of the paintings I’m exploring wire frame mapping, which features these tetrahedral forms.

I’m really interested in this idea of fractal geometry. It’s been a big theme in my work, this idea that patterns repeat themselves in infinite scales. When you’re looking at one of the paintings, you’re not sure if you’re looking at something through the lens of a microscope or a satellite image of, say, the planet’s surface. 

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Contagious, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.

How did you choose the palette for these works?

Color has always been the intuitive part of my process. I’ve always thought in color. Back in grad school, that was always the strength of my paintings. The color I choose is very emotionally driven and very intuitive. In this particular body of work I’m actually thinking about some of the colors that appear in the landscape of New Mexico. Some of the oranges and pinks. I’m really not referencing New Mexican geology specifically, though.

It’s interesting, because you’re moving from residencies at sea to the high desert. Although, New Mexico is a prehistoric ocean floor, so maybe they’re not as separate as we think. 

That brings me back to my initial interest in geology, which was back when I was an undergraduate at Cornell. The finger lakes region of Upstate New York, where Cornell is located, is absolutely stunning. It’s this dramatic display of waterfalls and gorges, where streams have been eroding monumental layers of shale to reach these finger lakes. The finger lakes are long, deep lakes that were gouged out by glaciers about 10,000 years ago. They offer this incredible view of geology at work.

At Cornell, I took a geology class for non-science majors. It was informally called Rocks for Jocks, and each class we’d go to a state park nearby to learn about the geology firsthand. You just reminded me when you were talking about New Mexico being underneath a sea, because this whole area had also been covered by an inland sea about 400 million years ago. We would go and look at these rocks, and we could see ripples and shell fossils. I would stand up on these cliffs, and imagine the whole area being submerged by the sea. 

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Fantasy Obscured, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.

Is that when geologic concepts entered into your artwork? 

Not quite. My undergraduate work was mostly figurative, and my early work in grad school at University of Pennsylvania was an exploration of abstract expressionism. I made large-scale paintings in oil, which were very much about expressive mark-making. Occasionally, I would anchor the paintings with some linear, mystical elements, but everything was done very expressively.

Around the year 2000, I felt like the paintings needed more structure. At the same time, I was going through some difficult, personal relationship stuff. That’s when I started leafing through my old geology textbooks. All of a sudden, these plate tectonic diagrams started to really resonate with me.

How so? 

They spoke to me as a metaphor for my own interpersonal relationships. Every time I would look at these plates colliding and separating, I thought about the shifts and friction and tension and collision and separation and upheaval I was experiencing in my own life. I started to recognize these forces under the surface of my own daily life.

I decided on a whim to start putting these diagrams into my paintings, to see what would happen.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Fault Lines, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 90 in.

And what happened? 

All of a sudden, my paintings had meaning for me beyond self-expressive mark-making. It became very clear to me that the paintings had much more meaning when I started to explore this metaphor of tectonic forces. From there, I wanted to pursue opportunities to learn about geology in different regions.

I started applying for residencies in places that I thought would be interesting from a geological perspective. My first residency was in the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Canada. I wanted to learn how the Canadian Rockies formed, so I met with people in the field and did observations, and then incorporated the narrative into a whole body of work.

How did you end up on your Hawaiian residency? 

Well, I went back to Canada the following summer. A couple of years later, I wanted to explore another area. I ended up going to Hawaii to study the Kilauea volcano, which is one of the most fascinating active volcanoes on the planet. I took helicopter rides over the volcanic activity, and caved through lava tubes. I really allowed myself to experience the geography firsthand. Then I told a story through my paintings.

The show I did after my Hawaii trip was called Ebb and Flow, which could be read in multiple ways—kind of like the diagrams from my geology textbooks. The show from the Canadian Rockies series was called Love and Subduction. Later, after my Iceland residency, I did a show called Deep Rift. The stories I told about geology were always interwoven with my own personal psychology.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Feeling Isolated, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.

When you were in Hawaii, did you realize you wanted to explore the ocean? 

That was one of the first moments when I became really curious about what was underneath the surface of the ocean. It started off with ocean floor maps that I discovered during the residency. Then, my mom sent me an article in the mail that happened to be Marie Tharpe’s obituary.

Marie Tharp was this amazing woman. She was and under-recognized oceanographer who spent decades through the 1940’s, 50s, and 60s working at Columbia recording single echo soundings that were taken from ships and plotting them into these two dimensional profiles to figure out what the depths of the ocean were, and what the ocean floor looked like.

She would take these 2D profiles that were maybe a hundred miles apart and then interpolate all the spaces in between and create three-dimensional drawings of the ocean floor, replete with canyons and mountains and volcanoes. The drawings were incredibly detailed. 

Did Marie Tharp find her way into your work?

I wanted to create an homage to her. I discovered that all of Marie Tharp’s maps and drawings had been donated to the Library of Congress in DC. I went down there and pored through these drawings and maps, and was blown away. When I got the opportunity to create a 60-foot installation at the Philadelphia Airport, I did a multi-panel installation for her.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Running Place, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.

Speaking of deep sea exploration, when did your first residency at sea come about? 

Even before I went to sea, I had been working on these underwater themes for several years. I moved away from that for a while after my Iceland residency, and then I had the opportunity to go to sea. It was a voyage from the Galapagos Islands to California. The scientists were going to mapping out never-before-seen ocean floor topography in high resolution.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but it also created a host of challenges. It was definitely uncharted territory for me, no pun intended. I was used to working on a big scale in my studio, and I had to figure out the logistics of paintings on a ship. I had to get all my supplies there and anticipate what I would need in terms of paint and canvas.

So you were already in a pretty confined space, and then there was the motion of the ocean. 

Yes, painting on a moving vessel was its own challenge. The ship was moving particularly hard because we were trailing a hurricane in the Pacific. There was a lot of rocking going on, and at first I was trying to control what I was doing. Eventually, I decided to just go with the flow of the ship.

I started pouring paint onto the canvas, and allowing the rocking movements of the ship to disperse the paint. Then I’d superimpose these sonar maps that we were collecting on top of these very process-oriented fields of color.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Slanted & Enchanted, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 in.

Was it liberating to unleash like that? In other ways, your works are so precise. 

That’s really what I’m after, that polarity. It’s this idea that I’m not controlling the way the paint is going to arrive on the canvas. Even in these really organic pours, there’s this idea of fractal geometry. I love that there’s a process-oriented element, and then I’m going back in to work with more intentional and purposeful graphic forms. They coexist on the same canvas.

Does that idea of the connection to your emotional landscape still resonate in your current work, or has it shifted away as you’ve explored all these different things? 

It is still there. It happens sometimes in the way I title my work. Personally, my life feels a little more stable now. I think it’s there, but it’s more buried than it used to be.

In my paintings, I’m exploring formal abstract ideas, so it also harkens back to the abstract expressive painting that I was doing 20 years ago.

Rebecca Rutstein Artwork- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Rebecca Rutstein, Still Dreaming, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.

In your experience working with scientists and studying science, what are you bringing to the table as an artist that’s unique or important? 

Here’s a beautiful analogy from Robert Ballard, who is very well-known in the ocean exploration world. His ship, the Nautilus, is the one that I sailed on in the Galapagos. We were interviewed for NPR, and he was talking about what the artist brings to the table. He said that ocean exploration is like being on the edge of the Grand Canyon in the dark, and the artist turns the light on.

So, the artist visualizes and translates boring data into something potentially beautiful or impactful that a larger audience can appreciate. An artist is going to broaden the awareness of these important issues. That idea of communicating these ideas to a larger public is really critical, and why scientists are looking t work with artists. There’s a big interest in this cross-disciplinary exploration.

Rebecca Rutstein: Fault Lines opens on Friday, June 30, 5-7 pm. Click here to learn more about the show, and make sure to RSVP on FacebookFault Lines opens concurrently with another painting exhibition, Jared Weiss: He’s Either Dead Or It Was His Birthday. Click here to read our blog preview of Weiss’s show.