Friday, March 21, 2014

Granny’s Pantry # 15: Aunt Ruthie

Every family should have an Aunt Ruthie--unique, creative, eccentric, and a bit out of the box. She was one of the two High Rock aunts that helped make visits there “events.” (The other was Aunt Lorene—and that’s another story.)

She--was a companion on our “safaris” into the woods on Sunday afternoons—made the best “Sissy rolls”—filled the special bowl with stuffed dates at Christmas—rambled through thrift stores with us-- and gave us pastel chalks hoping to bring out our inner artists. 

She was a collector, and her gifts of art, furniture, jewelry and other treasures grace all of our family homes today.   


Ruth Elizabeth Cole was born in 1919 and spent most of her young life at the High Rock house with her parents, Granny and Granddaddy Cole.  
She was educated at "WC" (Women’s College--now UNC-G) and taught  elementary school in NC for about 40 years.

She may have been and educator by vocation, but she was an artist at heart.

According to Aunt Ruthie, one of her earliest memories was of looking at a bush of beautiful red roses in Granny’s yard. She remembers pulling off some of the petals, immersing them in water, and trying to “paint” the outside of the white clapboard house with them so that the home would be the same vibrant red as the roses.    

While that early artistic endeavor wasn’t successful, her lifelong pursuit of creating beauty through her paintings has been. The virtually unspoiled rural landscapes around the High Rock farm, including the Yadkin River, the foothills of the Flat Swamp Mountains, and the flowers in Granny’s gardens (which she and Aunt Ruthie cut to decorate the house) served to inspire many of her paintings. 

Her versatility as an artist is surprising as I look now through the vast number of works she produced. Using a variety of media--oil, acrylics and watercolor--and she painted in a range of styles, from naïve to abstract. She was probably most fond of and  comfortable with a soothing impressionism, which allowed the viewer to use her art as a doorway for his or her own mental or creative wanderings.

 In her own words, in an Artist’s Statement produced some years ago, she wrote:        
I have always been interested in the Visual Arts. This interest was nurtured for many years by working with children and fostering their creative activities.
I determined that when I stopped teaching, I would pursue this wonderful area   of human enrichment. The time from 1975 through 1985 was filled with a series of classes, workshops, teachers and art groups. Now I work alone, submitting my work to juried shows and galleries in Charlotte, NC [and beyond]. To me, the greatest teacher of art is nature, and the greatest quality of art is honesty. To be true to nature (not to be confused with copying nature) and to your own originality is no mean task.  The journey has been rewarding but never ending. The vista is always broadening.

Ruth Cole, artist,
was featured in a solo exhibition in 1996 at the Arts Center Gallery in Lexington, and received numerous awards in juried shows for her still life and landscape paintings. Her art serves as a preservation of the beauty of rural Piedmont North Carolina and a reminder of the loveliness that surrounds us if we take the time to notice.  


 At age 94 she is no longer able to pursue her art or the many other interests that made always made her so unique.  Alzheimer's has claimed her, making it hard for her to remember us.  

She's still “Aunt Ruthie” to our family, and we love to mix and mingle around her.

We need look no further than our memories and the wealth of beauty she created to know why being around her enriched, and enriches, us all.



 And never for a moment think that
 she is not still..."Aunt Ruthie."


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)




1 comment:

  1. What an amazing lady "Aunt Ruthie" is. I love her artwork! I would love you go and visit her and the cow palace one day soon. Kathy