Profiles and Interviews With Interesting New Yorkers

Janet Rutkowski: Molding Her Way Into The Art World

By Nick Christophers

Art can be produced in so many various mediums there is no limit to what someone can do. From painting to welding the possibilities are endless. For the general public they rarely equate art outside of painting and drawing. Yet there are those who have been privy to the amazing work of sculpture using all types of materials. Artists like Janet Rutkowski have offered the public a taste of that type of art. Her love of art began in her early 20’s during her years at the High School of Art and Design in NYC. There she studied drawing, painting, fashion illustration, and advertising.

Fast forward many years Janet would re-connect with her hidden love of art after visiting the studio of Arturo di Modica, the creator of the bull on Wall Street. It was an eye-opening experience for her. She began studying under the guidance of Sabastiano and Ron Mineo. Both of these men taught her how to work with stone carving, wood carving and clay. This was a stepping stone for Janet in discovering her artistic capabilities.

Janet admits that sculpting is not any more expensive than painting. When she decides to work on a project she utilizes scrap steel from commissioned pieces. She enjoys working with found objects. It is like taking what is not wanted and making it into something that can be desired. Janet actually began with abstract then functional and expanded into architectural and finally reverted back to sculptural. She also studied at the Sculpture Center on the upper east side of Manhattan.

Currently, her goal is to branch out and expose her work on a bigger scale. She has recently become a member of the Sculptor’s Guild and a partner in The Royal Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Besides showing her work she will be curating her first show at The Royal which has become a new passion for her.

The show she will be curating is in a subject area that has been dear to heart since she was a teenager. Fantasy and sci-fi has always been an interesting avenue to discovery and mystery for Janet. She grew up reading the works of Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philip Pullman to mention a few. 

“The universe has always held a fear / fascination to mankind. The message is simply five different perspectives of that awe through the eyes of creative mind. How timely is this show as we opened the day after the first photographs of a black hole were released? There is now such a renewed interest in astro-physics which will inspire the next generation of artists, writers and scientists.”

The show is called “Dark and Turbulent Galaxies”. Janet rounded up such artists like Mark Attebery, Assunta Sera and Zoran Crnkovic. All of these artists are ones Janet has admired over time. The goal was to incorporate diversity which she managed to do with the collection of these fine artists. In addition, an extra artist was added, Susan Shutan, who happen to exceed Janet’s expectations.

“Every artist in this show was phenomenal to work with. Coupled with the quality the work, there was a genuine sense of camaraderie amongst the group. I also have to mention my partners, Katie Hector (who helped to hang the show), Ilona Golovina and Amelia Biewald for their support and guidance. “

Janet and her husband Walter Kenul are lovers of art and architecture. They were responsible for the restoration of the B.F.D. Firehouse Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They run their business from that specific location. While restoring the building they grew to admire and fall in love with the artistic side of the work they did. Walter is an established musician in his own right. Following the work they did on the firehouse they built a studio in Barryville, New York. They also established an affiliation with The BrookHouse Gallery which would open the door to an array of creativity from both Janet and Walter.

Besides the recent show Janet is working on a large outdoor sculpture for an installation at the RoCA (Rockland Center for the Arts). That show will be opening on the 27th of April in conjunction with International Sculpture Day. In addition, on May 11th she will be doing an outdoor exhibit of her Summer of Love Series at The Catskill Distillery in Bethel N.Y. along with smaller works at The Stray Cat Gallery.  Janet is also looking to set up a proposal for a continuation of the “Dark and Turbulent Galaxies” in a much larger space. This will consist of larger works with a diverse range of artists and performances.

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