Ruth Patterson Hart:
From the Family
It is both exciting and a bit perplexing to discover the whole body of artwork of our mother, Ruth Patterson Hart, tucked away for 50 years in the basement of our family home. It was buried under stacks of portfolios she’d kept of our artwork as children. We and the rest of her family and friends had seen only the few of her pieces she displayed during the second half of her life. That she kept it all but left it untouched for all those years is both a mystery and perhaps a message.
The artwork we found is alive with her sensibilities and presence. We remember that she reminisced about her early childhood years at the Cady School, an experimental private grade school in Portland. She said those years shaped her aesthetic sensibilities -- the school immersed her in both the natural sciences and the creative arts. As a result she went through life with an eye and ear especially tuned to the rhythms of the natural world, a great capacity for appreciative attention for everything around her, and a love of the arts. She filled our childhood years with these same experiences and opportunities.
Looking back as adults, here is our sketch of the artist as we knew her: there was no affect or pretense to her presence, just an immediate and keen interest in the moment. A very private person, she was also a gracious hostess to one or many. Fiercely committed to her ideals, she could bring ease and humor to even the most conflicted moment. She was both whimsical and serious, generous but very much her own person. She delighted in what was zany, but her home was a place of serenity and great aesthetic attention to everything. She made things fun. She loved making and fixing things: from cooking to fixing the washing machine, making or repairing a perfect tool, designing and printing the year’s family Christmas card. She was happiest outdoors, in the hillside garden that had once been open wild fields and the destination for Cady School field trips of her childhood. As a life long friend said after her death, in these ways she never really changed at all and so became a touchstone for many people.
We now find all these facets of her that we knew so well in the paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures shown on the pages that follow. We are delighted to share them with you.
Martha Hart (Schulte)
Sally Hart Retecki
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