South African-born La Jolla artist, Ruth Sorokin, stirs emotions at Mission Art Walk
Published - 04/22/17 - 11:21 AM | 2103 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘Pansy’ by Ruth Sorokin will be displayed at the Mission Federal Art Walk.
‘Pansy’ by Ruth Sorokin will be displayed at the Mission Federal Art Walk.
Ask Ruth Sorokin about her art and she’ll pose a series of questions that unlock every imaginative and emotional artistic door you didn’t even know you possessed.

“Do I stir feelings?” she’ll ask. “Do I elicit anger? Embrace you? Annoy you? Induce happiness? Make you sad? Stimulate laughter? Evoke tears? Capture wonder? Kindle joy? Don’t like me? I love you!”

“No need to talk about me,” she’ll say. “You can see me in my art.”

The La Jolla resident will be among 350 artists featured at Mission Federal’s ArtWalk on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. ArtWalk’s 2017 Vivid Expression will traverse through 17 blocks of Little Italy and downtown San Diego, treating artists and visitors to art, gourmet food, drinks and entertainment. The largest fine arts festival in Southern California celebrating a 33-year history will showcase local, national and international painting, sculpture, glass work, photography, woodworking, metal work, and fine jewelry. Live music and dance performances, interactive art activities and “kids walk” family-friendly craft projects will also be included.

“Mission Federal ArtWalk is for everyone—from serious collectors to first-time art buyers,” said Sandi Cottrell, director of Mission Federal ArtWalk. “We include interactive art activities and kid-friendly projects to ensure that all attendees feel like they can be a part of the art. We encourage attendees to express themselves to find their inner artist, which exists in all of us.”

Touting an impressive collection of colorful abstracts, sketches, drawings, paintings and doodles, Sorokin described her foray into life as an artist as a “default that began in 1990 by virtue of a piece of remake clothing.”

Sorokin repaired a pair of Levi jeans “full of cuts and tears” by decorating them with swatches of colors and fabrics. A designer friend noticed the vogue apparel and suggested that she replicate samples as one-of-a-kind items to sell at a local LA outdoor market. The remakes became an instant success. Within two weeks Sorokin received a call from New York’s Bergdorf Goodman soliciting to sell her jeans. “I had never heard of Bergdorf Goodman,” said the South African native. “I was in America for barely two years and now they wanted to sell my clothing. So, my life as an artist began by remaking jeans.”

As chic remake jean sales soared, Sorokin decided that she needed better drawing skills to sketch designs for pattern makers. “I wasn’t happy with what I was putting on paper,” she said, “so I went to an art teacher to become more proficient at sketching clothing designs. While sketching, she also encouraged me to start painting oil pastels. I started with doodles because I had never painted anything before.”

Sorokin’s doodles became the cornerstone of her art. She continued to study with “amazing” teachers who elevated her artistry while stroking her new-found passion. Inspired by “so many things - nature, people, travels, stories, even gardening,” Sorokin painted daily, testing a variety of artistic mediums without duplicating a single image.

“To this day, I’ve never used image to replicate a painting,” she said. “I don’t believe anything should be replicated. I look at things to paint but I never paint what I see. I simply paint or draw whatever comes to mind; the way I see it.”

The self-described dreamer is never without a reason to remain artistic. “I’m a dreamer who doesn’t like to do the same thing twice,” she continued. “I like to diversify. I like to be un-identifiable. I draw, sketch or paint whatever I’m drawn to at that moment. I turn my daydreams into art.”

Sorokin attributes her warm and loving spirit – exemplified in all of her work – to her pastoral South African childhood. “I grew up on a remote farm in the deepest, darkest part of South Africa,” she said. “We – my two older sisters and younger brother – had to use our imaginations because we never had TV. We used coal stoves – electricity came later – and dealt with the cruelty of what happens in such a rustic countryside. Real life happens in ways that one wouldn’t normally experience in this country. Although I don’t miss the lifestyle, I have wonderful memories and visit often.”

The artist spoke lovingly about her mother, “a unique woman who believed in love and kindness,” who also serves as an artistic influence. “Who I am is attributed to what she passed on to me,” she explained. “And everything that goes on canvas is an extension of all of it.”

Sorokin described ArtWalk as a huge fine art show with “lots of exhibits that’s a great way to see if people like or don’t like my work.” Chosen as a first-time participant, she welcomes feedback. “I love to go out to the world and test my art,” she said. “Although I was chosen because of my art, art is subjective. Every artist has insecurities and quite honestly mine are just the same as every other artist.”

Sorokin’s future aspirations include painting stories on canvas. Distressed that society isn’t learning from historical mistakes, she’s collecting pictures of Native Americans and victims of slavery, the Holocaust and Aleppo, to paint a series of current and past events. Art shows knock on her door – much to her surprise.

“I don’t care about showing my work as much as I care about doing it,” she concluded. “Shows come to me more than I go to them. Success is being able to tell my story by painting pieces of what’s inside of me.”

Mission Federal ArtWalk attracts more than 100,000 art collectors and visitors from all over the country to peruse and purchase art from established and emerging artists. Located between Ash and Grape streets, Mission Federal ArtWalk will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days.

“We work closely with our sponsors, vendors, featured artists, entertainment, community and local non-profit organizations to bring an extraordinary art experience to San Diego,” concluded Cottrell.

“Ruth’s vibrant use of color in abstract styles is wonderful. We welcome her to her first ArtWalk event.”
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