Sunday, January 07, 2001

Ruthven receives lifetime arts award

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        John Ruthven believes wildlife art is as essential to American heritage as a history book. He's been practicing what he preaches — to great acclaim — for more than 50 years.

        Mr. Ruthven already has a score of honors, including being named a Great Living Cincinnatian. Now he's won a lifetime achievement in the arts award from the Ohio Arts Council.

        Mr. Ruthven will receive the Irma Lazarus Award, named for Cincinnati's late arts patron and advocate, on March 14 in Columbus during the 2001 Governor's Awards for the Arts luncheon.

        Mr. Ruthven, 75, graduated from Withrow High School in 1943. After serving in the Navy in World War II he entered the Cincinnati Academy of Art.

        He opened a commercial art studio in 1946, determined to find a way to join his passion for art to his love of the outdoors. In 1960, he became a national name in wildlife art when his “Redhead Ducks" won a major competition.

        His dozens of art commissions have translated to millions of dollars raised for non-profit conservation organizations.

        His lifelong passion was born, Mr. Ruthven says, with a visit as a child to the new Paramount Theatre. “I don't remember the movie, but I do remember the hand-painted murals. I remember going home and painting a tree. That's how I was hooked.”

        This award is special, he says, because “Irma and I were good friends. If she's looking down, I hope she's smiling.”

        Mr. Ruthven is Cincinnati's only state arts award recipient this year. He and seven other honorees will receive their awards at a luncheon at the Columbus Athenaeum. For luncheon reservations and information call the Ohio Arts Council at (614) 466-2613.


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