Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruth Chase.
Ruth, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Basically I am the third generation of my family to live in Venice, California. I was raised as an only child living in a studio apartment with a mom who couldn’t drive, read or write and we were on welfare.
Growing up in Venice gave me a childhood filled with limitless freedom beyond what most people ever experience. It made me tough; it made me resilient, it made me hate the place at times. It almost killed me but I am a better woman for having had it.
I am where I am today because of who I was forced to become.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth road, no way. I don’t think anyone gets a smooth road, but some of us do have more bumps.
In my late teens I was using drugs, watching friends go to jail, overdose and live on the streets. I learned how to be tough by not wanting to get beat up or bullied anymore.
So, my plan was to get an education somehow. I wasn’t good at anything I knew of and my reading and writing skills were just passable. If only I could get a degree in something maybe my future would be better? Going to college was my sobriety plan and my path away from poverty.
I was accepted to the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with a degree in painting in 1990. My path hasn’t been short or easy but I can say now that I am truly living a dream come true being a full time working artist and mother. It took a lot of focus and drive to get here; I wanted to give up so many times along the way.
Ruth Chase – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I started out as an oil painter and have evolved into an artist who creates multi-media installations that include paintings, audio, social media, slideshows, video, and social engagement. Working with concepts that reflect identity and the value of people to their community.
What sets me apart is I’m not interested in making just pretty pictures or cool, hipster art. My goal to use art as a bridge building tool, for positive social change.
I know the artists and galleries have been getting a bad rap in Los Angeles lately. So much displacement because of gentrification and the art world has been targeted as part of the problem. I want people to remember that art has the power to change lives and allow people to see the world in new ways, opening windows of compassion. It’s through mostly non-profit spaces that this work happens.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
By far my proudest career moment was at the opening for West of Lincoln Project late 2017. West of Lincoln Project is an installation that documents life growing up in Venice, CA and the powerful insights that come from street smarts. It was awarded a grant for an Individual Artist through the Carl Jacobs Foundation.
After two years of total dedication, full time painting, interviewing, with no money and stealing time while homeschooling my daughter, the West of Lincoln Project opened at Venice Arts to about 400 guests. There were tears, and laughter, it was new and old school community coming together. The heartfelt response from the community was beyond anything I could have dreamt of. During the month of its installment, people came every day. I will forever be touched by this project and the over 300 people who contributed to it. Even though I never got paid in money, the payment in love has changed me as a person. It is through the act of love that I have received life’s greatest rewards.
- Website: www.RuthChase.com
- Email: RuthChaseFineArt@ymail.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/westoflincolnproject
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/RuthChaseFineArt
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArtistRuthChase
Self Image (Ruth in front of two paintings) by Ed Hensley Photography
Image of group with guy with guitar by Ray Rae of Venice Beach Photos