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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Hidden Realms and Beyond

Masks have many uses through time protection for knights riding into battle, fooling others into thinking we are something we are not, perhaps to hide what we don't want others to see, and most recently, defense from pathogens we can't see. The latest mixed-media series from artist Judy Bruce is one of many explorations; others go into the Vulnerable, the Ravaged Face, or Goddesses. Stories and personal musings from deeper regions of our lives emerge in the lilting, fanciful, and intricately colored forms on her larger-than-life canvases.

Judy has traveled in the intriguing and surrealistic world of a painter and mixed-media collage artist for over fifty years, dedicating her creative life to exploring the mysteries of the human psyche and its endless search for answers. Like many of us, she began tapping the shell of her life’s work as a young girl growing up in a small lakeshore community boarding a large forest preserve in Illinois. Her father’s extensive gardens were a wonderland of color, texture, and diversity of shapes. Judy's mother, a painter, encouraged her young daughter to record her imaginative musing by providing boxes of crayons, colored pencils, and ballpoint pens, as well as an endless supply of paper brought home from her father’s office. In Junior-High, Judy won one of the town's art contests receiving the grand prize of a Renoir print. The rest is history; art history soon became Judy’s lifelong passion.

Judy earned a BFA in Studio Painting with a minor in Education from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington. She subsequently received an MFA from Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, and an Interdisciplinary Arts Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Chicago Consortium of Colleges with Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. As to the dragon slayers, Judy bravely entered the world as an art instructor of elementary and middle school students in Skokie, Illinois. Something magical happened in that 35-year teaching career. Her talent and love for her students opened hearts and expanded minds, and many students remain in contact with her. Today, Judy and her husband Jim make their home in Cave Creek; the warm weather lured them away for the dreary Chicago winters into the land of brilliant sun, endless breathtaking mountain views, and a vibrant arts community.

"Surrealism, odd figuration, modern design, influences of outsider art, and all the elements of the Chicago school influence my work today."

Judy credits her early inspirations to Ed Paschke and the Chicago Hairy Who; they exhibited at Illinois Wesleyan during her sophomore year and had a strong presence in the Chicago art scene for many years. Unsurprisingly, the shadows and shades of Max Ernst, Jean Dubbuffet, and Francis Bacon have peeked through the paints in Judy's surreal, expressionistic people. Their expressions emulate thought-provoking, and soul-searching looks from the environments they occupy. During a recent summer in Austria, Judy met Martha Jungwirth’s oversized abstract oil paintings on hung pieces of cardboard and even larger-scale self-portraits splashed with paint by Arnuff Rainer. Both artists became an inspiration for Judy Bruce’s future creations and expressions.

Judy paints in her home studio along Galloway Wash in Cave Creek, Arizona. She is a member of and actively exhibits with the Sonoran Arts League and the Arizona Arts Alliance, showing with both groups throughout the year. Judy is always willing to meet interested clients at her studio in Cave Creek arrangements can be made by contacting her through email or the website. Visiting her website will dazzle you with the range of work she has produced and sold over the years. Each series embodies a particular time in Judy's exploration of the human psyche. The composition, medium, technique, and construction evolve from one series to the next capturing the immense range of human emotion. Take advantage of the opportunity to dance in the mythology of the mind or explore the enchanting land of fairy tales that touch the human condition occupying the magical space in the art of Judy Bruce. Judy summarizes her inspiration: "Surrealism, odd figuration, modern design, influences of outsider art, and all the elements of the Chicago school influence my work today."


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