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find: Visual Arts U.S.A.

David Ruhe  

watercolours, drawings, U.S.A.
(1914 - 2005)

Please email bafa AT Bahá´í an image for here

by Janet Ruhe-Schoen, 2001.

To title a piece about Dr. David Ruhe "a profile" is to immediately consider his actual profile, hawk-like, eager and questing, determinedly patient.

Dr. Ruhe, scientist and artist, is known in the Bahá'í world as a former member of the Universal House of Justice. His 25 years at the World Center and his years before that as Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States have stamped him with patience. His spirit remains eager and questing even now as he approaches the age of 90.

That he's a medical doctor is evident in his demeanor; as every individual who meets him soon discovers, he takes the courtly, kindly interest in our problems that we wish every doctor would demonstrate. That he's a scholar is evident in his talk: eloquent, plentiful, densely layered with data on almost every subject (though he admits that he's a bit in the dark about Irish faery lore). He is the author of two books, Door of Hope and Robe of Light.

The fact that he's a life-long, committed artist is less evident at first meeting, although his free spirit speaks in his wardrobe: highly original combinations of plaids and western ties ornamented with abalone or turquoise. He learned painting and drawing as a boy at the Baum Art School in his home town, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and every aspect and facet of his life has been illustrated by his sketches and paintings.

Even his medical career funneled itself into an artistic pursuit. He pioneered medical film-making. His son, Christopher, remembers "acting" in a film where he had a fictional wound sutured. One of Dr. Ruhe's movies won a gold medal at a Venice Film Festival and he has collaborated on major projects for museums and television.

His artistic nature is explored and expressed more deeply and personally in his paintings. However, he says, "I don't consider myself an artist. I consider myself a scientist." Yet he paid some of his medical school fees by making portraits of each student in his graduating class, of important personnel such as professors, and even of a corpse used in demonstrations. The graduates of Temple University medical school, 1941, had a one-of-a-kind yearbook.

In his study at his home near the Hudson River in Newburgh, New York, his desk and computer, though obviously busy and much in use, live in a nest of paintings. Walls, floors and easel are full of bright watercolors in various stages of development. In these his love of topography, geology, landscape, fauna and flora is profusely illustrated.

---more to come....

Excerpts from the BAFA newsletter, October 2001

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