Hagerstown artist Douglas Zaruba's work to be displayed in Frederick
Tucked into a corner of Hagerstown’s cultural district, artist Douglas Zaruba has worked tirelessly over the past two years creating pieces for his first one-man show.
This weekend, his labor of love will be on display for all to see when he launches his month-long exhibition “Spiritual Landscapes” on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Frederick Community College’s Mary Condon Hodgson Art Gallery.
Zaruba was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1949 and studied fine art, architecture, poetry and physics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In the mid-70s, he shared studio space at the Essex Street Studios in Buffalo along with other young artists, including Duayne Hatchett, Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman. After initial success as a painter, he abandoned painting to become a nationally-recognized jewelry designer and master goldsmith.
“I had originally started my career in art as a painter almost 50 years ago but abandoned that to pursue the concept of jewelry as fine art. I have followed that path for over 40 years now,” Zaruba said.
For more than 30 years, Zaruba operated Douglas Zaruba Gallery and Vortex 13, a well-known jewelry gallery and studio on North Market Street in Frederick. His reputation as a jewelry artist is well-known and over the years he has created pieces for many notable people including multiple Academy Award-nominated actresses who commissioned pieces they wore on the red carpet.
“Everybody in Frederick knows me as a jewelry designer and people don’t realize I started out as a painter and sculptor and had a gallery in Soho,” Zaruba said.
In 2005, he left the gallery in his son’s hands and moved to a remote Caribbean island off the coast of Panama, where he began to paint again and create sculpture. Upon returning to the United States in 2010, he pursued both fine art and fine jewelry design.
Two years ago, he moved his studio to a larger space at 15 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. There he continued to focus his artistic passion on painting and sculpture, as well as on fine jewelry.
Zaruba said he has created 12 new paintings and five sculptures for this exhibition.
“I’ve been working for the past two years just to put together work for this exhibition,” Zaruba said.
Zaruba credits a quote from John Cage, “The Purpose Of Art Is Not To Communicate With The Audience. The Purpose Of Art Is To Still And Quiet The Mind And Make It Receptive To Divine Influences,” for changing him as an artist.
“This quote had a profound impact on my work as an artist. I see my work as creating spiritual landscapes, portals that can transport the viewer from ordinary to non-ordinary realities. They serve as points of departure, doorways opening into the collective unconsciousness,” Zaruba said.
Douglas Zaruba paints in his West Washington Street studio in Hagerstown. (Submitted photo)
The artist has displayed his work across the country and even as far away as Russia and Japan. He said he will be flying to California in April to discuss showing his new work at a gallery in Santa Monica but he chose to do his first one-man show closer to home.
“A lot of other galleries have contacted me but because this is my home I chose to do my first solo show here,” Zaruba said.
Wendell Poindexter, art center director for Frederick Community College, said he had been familiar with Zaruba’s jewelry work and had always been an admirer, but it wasn’t until a conversation between the two at an opening at the MCH Gallery where he learned the artist worked other mediums.
“I learned at that moment he did 2D work as well. I was directed to his webpage and after viewing his work, decided it would be great for Frederick Community College to feature his art,” Poindexter said.
There will be an opening reception for the exhibit on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Mary Condon Hodgson Art Gallery, 7932 Opossumtown Pike in Frederick. The exhibition runs through Oct. 30.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Doug’s art and I’m hoping the arts’ community will come out and support him at the opening,” Poindexter said.
In addition to the Frederick show, Zaruba was also selected to present his sculpture, “Proposed Navigation,“ at the 4th Biennial Maryland Regional Juried Art Exhibition which is presented by University of Maryland University College. The exhibition will run from Dec. 1, 2019, to March 15, 2020, at the University of Maryland University College arts program in Adelphi, Md.
“It is quite an honor to be in that group and it’s exposing me to a lot of people I wouldn’t normally meet. I have a lot of followers in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas and they will be surprised I do sculpture,” Zaruba said.
Those who are fond of Zaruba’s jewelry and his sculptures will enjoy what the artist has planned next. He recently combined the two mediums to create sculptures where a piece of his jewelry can be displayed within the piece instead of being hidden away in a box when not being worn.
“The jewelry will become an integral part of the sculpture,” Zaruba said.
He said so far the new pieces have been so popular that clients who have purchased jewelry pieces in the past are inquiring about having sculptures made for their jewelry pieces.
For more information on the artist, visit www.douglaszaruba.com.