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Kady JLKR (Janet Ruttenberg) grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, a child art prodigy with a successful artist uncle based in Paris as a guide. Created at age 11, her collage Dubuque 4th Street Elevator decorated her father's orthodontics office: it shows Dubuque's famous funicular with passengers visible through the car windows and overgrown landscape with various animals, all subjects at the heart of her mature prints, paintings and multimedia works.

In 1949, the eighteen-year-old Janet was accepted by Mauricio Lasansky at his acclaimed University of Iowa print workshop. Two etchings made under Lasansky look like premonitions of the artist she is today. One portrays a family through their car window and the other shows a film projected in an Iowa City movie theater. The first prefigures her Park Avenue works developed from the late 1960s through the 1970s and the second is an intimation of the paintings into which she would begin to project her own videos around 2008–2009.

When she moved to New York from Chicago in 1965, Kady JLKR was inspired by watching traffic on Park Avenue with buildings and trees reflected off the cars. Park Avenue was her first extended project to celebrate New York and New Yorkers by orchestrating print making with photography and painting at an unprecedented scale. These works have not been seen in public since 1977 when they were exhibited in the Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Avenue. The exhibition included a 70-foot long frieze of 14 horizontal stainless steel panels with mixed media representations of car traffic on Park Avenue as a modern procession in profile, as hieratic as memorial images of ancient Egyptian royalty. Each car panel is itself etched, and sometimes painted with automotive enamel, so that the etching plate is itself developed as the work of art rather than simply a matrix for printing secondary images. Hinged over car windows are shaped etchings on paper that represent drivers and passengers unaware that they are being observed. An extensive portrait of modern urban consumer culture, the Park Avenue frieze celebrates car culture in keeping with Pop and New Realism paintings and films with cars as icons.

In the mid 1980s, Kady JLKR found a studio just steps from Central Park. The idea of painting in the Park held no special interest until walking through it one day, she was struck by the diversity of human interaction juxtaposed with the natural beauty of its surroundings and became inspired. By around 2008 she was a park regular, working out-of-doors in Impressionist fashion every day to capture the landscape looking south across the Sheep Meadow to the skyline along West 59th Street, a subject that she has already rendered in more than fifty enormous watercolor studies that are the basis for acrylics and oils of the same scale developed in her studio. These works are landscape variations with New Yorkers posed like pagans relaxing in Old Master images of the Golden Age. Stressing the sweep and structure of the landscape, the artist also incorporates the comings and goings of hundreds of characters, families, friends, sunbathers, lovers—all unwitting models for her brush or her camera.


Kady JLKR (Janet Ruttenberg) began painting at the age of five under the tutelage of an accomplished uncle, Abel Warshawsky, and by age eight she was spending summers studying in advanced programs at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her mother sent her to boarding school at age fourteen, she says, to prevent her from staying up all night painting. The plan had no effect.

She went on to study art at the University of Iowa under master printmaker Mauricio Lasansky. After her formal training, she deconstructed the canon, painstakingly copying beloved paintings and prints in order to tease out their secrets. With subsequent moves to Chicago and then to New York, and while raising four children and through the ensuing decades, she has continued to paint in the same enthralled, observant manner. There is a seductive blend of unfettered exuberance, technical mastery, and allusions to famous antecedents in Kady JLKR’s works. Her mature work maintains the illusion of an artist encountering the world as though for the first time.

Kady JLKR’s works have been exhibited at the Dubuque Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the Union Carbide Building in New York City, and recently in a Rail Curatorial Project exhibition, Singing in Unison, at Industry City in Brooklyn, New York. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress in Washington DC, among others.


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