Call it destiny if you will; a couple with artistic proclivities comes to Las Vegas to begin a new life. One, a lady who has an amazing penchant for what the French call En-PleinAir
art. The second, a gentleman with an ability to channel a bit of Howlin' Wolf. Together these two make a powerful combination of artistic energy that anyone would easily envy. This amazing couple is none other than Kathleen and Rudy Strukoff.
I met Rudy in 2011 at the Beat Coffeehouse strumming a guitar. Rudy is an imposing figure, tall and someone you would want on your side in saloon brawl. Kathleen on the other hand is petite with fiery hair and a smile as bright as a Las Vegas day. But don't let my descriptions fool you. Rudy might look imposing but he is a jolly fellow ready to demonstrate his and Kathleen's talents to the world.
Shortly after they moved their studio to the Arts Factory I remember how excited they were to have a new place to create art. Even though they did not have any art on the walls and it was still a bit of a construction zone they showed me it's potential. You could easily imagine Kathleen standing at an easel or Rudy sitting on a stool with a guitar.
Just hanging out with them is addictive; they love people and enjoy good conversation. You know you are in for a treat when you start talking to them. Especially about their life experiences, their art and where they came from. In Kathleen's case she grew up in New Mexico, a place where Georgia O'Keeffe made famous with her colorful paintings of flowers and adobe's that are today a staple of the American Southwest. Goodness knows that state can have a profound effect on anyone visiting it, if even for a brief moment. One can only imagine a child growing up in the Land of Enchantment
. It is obvious from Kathleen's art that this land would change her perception of the world around her.
Being a PleinAir
artist allows Kathleen to be in the environment in which she paints. Becoming one with her surroundings to truly capture its essence. Studying her work you are immediately reminded of the late 19th century impressionist
movements. An era made famous by the likes of Monet, Pissarro, and Van Gogh to name a few of the more well known names.
|Fremont Street Colors|
By Kathleen Strukoff
During a recent conversation, Kathleen mentioned the need to find the right light when she composes. Sometimes starting exceptionally early in the morning just when the sun comes up so she can capture the perfect moment. Though aside of such artistic rigidity and dedication I find that Kathleen allows herself the freedom to experiment beyond such structures. In a painting she recently completed of "yours-truly" she demonstrates the use of a vibrant color palate. Using exaggerated colors to make the painting come alive, her command of bright colors are perfect for Las Vegas especially when you are attempting to create impressions of its neon encrusted landscapes.
Rudy like Kathleen is a product of his environment. Growing up in Chicago with its amazing music seen, it is no wonder that "RudeDog", as he is also called, would become an accomplished musician. Interestingly enough it was Kathleen that got him to start playing the guitar. On his 31st birthday she got him the perfect gift, an old guitar and a few lessons. After those initial 6 lessons he decided to parlay that experience into 4 years of serious study culminating with the creation of a band. Lucky to have worked with some amazing musicians such as Ambrose “Sonny” Rivera and Steven Katz, Rudy was ready to take on the world. Today Rudy continues to rock the strings, teaches lessons and even repairs guitars.
Being involved in the cultural arts as I am you meet lots of creatives. Some you meet once and never see again but there are others you come across that grab your attention and make you want to know them more. In the case of Rudy and Kathleen their love and true appreciation of the desert and vintage Vegas takes hold of you. More times than not you meet people who dislike Las Vegas, but when you meet people who can look beyond the pretty lights of the Strip and see this community for what it truly is, those are the people I want to know. I want to explore thier thoughts about this environment and what attracts them to it. Before moving to Las Vegas Kathleen did her due diligence, began digging deeper and was amazed that there was more happening artistically then what appears. Anyone who truly wants to know more about a city and what makes it tic will seek it. For artists and creatives this is a natural tendency. That is why it is easy to single out those who claim Las Vegas has no culture from those who know otherwise.
In the end Kathleen and Rudy want to be catalysts for change in the arts scene, they want to leave a mark in some way that helps the community grow and continue developing in a positive way. Though a lofty goal for two recent transplants, I suspect that they will not have a problem doing it. They truly care about their new home and have already made great strides to be a part of the mosaic that is the arts in Southern Nevada.
You can visit Rudy and Kathleen at their studio LaChica: Art and Music
inside the world famous Arts Factory. Tell them Paco sent you...
LaChica Art Gallery
107 East Charleston Blvd. Suite 221
Las Vegas, Nevada 89104
Current exhibition at
La Chica Art and Music
Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...