Having grown up surrounded by Louisiana art, furniture, Newcomb College pottery and early Louisiana decoys, I developed a love and appreciation for these treasures. My father and maternal grandmother were avid collectors of art and antiques, and I “caught the bug” at an early age.
Through my father, I had the opportunity to meet some of Louisiana’s important artists, including Clementine Hunter, Steele Burden, George Rodrigue, Robert Rucker, Don Wright and Burny Myrick. I have great memories of time spent at Mr. Burden’s studio on the grounds of LSU’s Rural Life Museum, of visiting Ms. Hunter at her house (I couldn’t understand as a child, why in her 90’s she didn’t have any grey hair – until my dad explained that she wore a wig). I remember Mr. Rodrigue’s studio in Lafayette and the smell of oil paint. One of my most interesting memories as a child was attending a cock fight in Cankton with my dad and Mr. Rodrigue in the mid 1970s (not exactly an appropriate place for a kid, but a night that I will never forget). I also remember our family visiting Mr. Rucker and his family at their home in New Orleans. And, the unannounced visits by Mr. Wright offering his always interesting paintings and sculpture for sale (I also remember the challenge of having to sit still as he painted my portrait).
The first painting in my collection was a small oil on canvas by Steele Burden. It depicts the pirate brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte on the Louisiana coast spying an approaching ship. It was a gift from Mr. Burden in 1971 when I graduated from kindergarten. My father then gave me one of Mr. Burden’s ceramic figurines – a boy and his dog enjoying a nap.
Years of visiting museums, galleries and attending auctions in New Orleans followed. I discovered dozens of Louisiana artists and their subjects – the people, bayous, cabins, steamboats, plantation houses, nudes, swamps and New Orleans’ French Quarter street scenes and courtyards. I fell in love with the work of Alberta Kinsey, Knute Heldner, Clarence Millet and Morris Henry Hobbs.
I was fortunate to receive Christmas and birthday gifts of Louisiana paintings and Newcomb College Pottery from my parents, which helped me build my collection.
My first piece of Newcomb was a Christmas gift from my parents around 1985 – a vase decorated with Camelia Japonica. I was fascinated by the markings on the bottom of the vase, and the story they told. I soon began to collect Newcomb pottery and artwork.
Over the past 30 plus years, I have enjoyed assembling a nice collection of Louisiana art. I have also enjoyed this journey with my wife and children, as they developed their own appreciation of Louisiana art, and chose their favorite artists and paintings.
It has always been a dream of mine to open a gallery, and I made the decision in 2016 to make it a reality. It’s time to share some of these treasures with others, as I continue to build the collection. I hope you’ll visit the gallery – I would love to meet you and share these pieces, and their stories.
L. Ruth Gallery of Louisiana Art
- Art and Newcomb Pottery for Sale