Ruby’s coming

by Paul Smart
May 26, 2011 11:07 AM | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruby C. Williams
Ruby C. Williams
By the time you read this, Ruby will be in town. She’s been driving north from her home in Florida, where she was given a Florida Folk Heritage Award by Governor Jeb Bush several years ago, starting a career that’s seen her works shown at the Smithsonian, classrooms, galleries and museums around the nation.

This Memorial Day Weekend VARGA Gallery celebrates its 8th anniversary with a Solo Exhibition of farm stand sign paintings by renowned outsider artist Ruby C. Williams, with an opening celebration at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, where the 83-year old artist will regale everyone with her keyboard playing and singing.

They say she’s a ringer for the great Bessie Smith.

Ruby maintains a farm in Bealsville, Florida that’s been in her family since the community’s founding by five freed slaves — including her great-grandmother Mary Reddick — just after the Civil War. She runs a produce stand there where she paints signs on canvas board and scrap wood depicting the fruits and vegetables she sells, along with the more esoteric statements and musings for which her original style has since gained fame. 

“Since I was a kid I do everything from the bottom of my heart, whether shelling a bucket of beans or making a painting,” she says of what drives her creations to the point where she’s been described as a Visionary Minister, making two or three paintings a day for years now.  “I had to hire help to work at the stand, where I would rather be there than doing the painting; but that’s just my way. I get excited about fresh vegetables and keep growing them healthy and getting them ready to go for the next person.”

We have to admit we’ve been hearing about Ruby, and noticing her paintings lighting up homes around the area, for years now. And share the excitement those who first got to know her years ago are feeling about her imminent arrival here this week.

The show will be up through June 19. Hats off to gallery owner Christina Varga for widening her net to bring us all this jewel, this Ruby.

The opening of Ms. William’s vibrant show will be this Saturday, May 28 starting at 6 p.m. at the Vargara Gallery & Studio, 130 Tinker Street, next door to Upstate Films in Woodstock. For further information call 679-4005 or visit 

‘Young artists are the voice…’

Bands. Art and artists. Dancers and a potluck feast. Beverages. A roasting pig.

Hand it to Beginner’s Mind, the new gallery located next to Castaways on Mill Hill Road (from the front) and Mower’s Alley catty-corner from Mower’s Market (via the rear). They know how to draw a crowd for a party — which then sells the art by the two dozen young local artists showing at what used to be the home of INDIE, and before that Art Forms gallery.

From everything we’ve heard, their inaugural bash a few weeks back was a major event.

“Join us as we have our 2nd art opening with music provided by funk/jazz band Bluefood, the Burkamp Brothers, and the 5 Points Band is on at 7 p.m.” reads gallery owner Noble’s blurb on what’s going down this Sunday, May 29, from 2 p.m.-midnight. “It’s a little different than your average opening — doors are open all day and the music starts in the afternoon on the porch...Oh and it’s a potluck so bring something good to eat and I’ll provide the music and booze, and there will be alot of that.”

The crowds online who say they’ll be attending grow hourly, by the minute. Ditto the wads of art expected to be on show (and sale) inside the space.

And remember…this is the place whose barn doors open on to the market. Real fun may be happening…

“Young artists are the voice,” says Noble (also known as Jason Cavallo). “We are only the stage.”

It all goes down at 34 Mill Hill Road May 29. Visit for full info. And images of the belly dancing fun from the last bash there…++

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