Reynold Ruffins Debuts “Art—a Family Affair” at ECHS Heritage House

"Tumblers" by Reynold Ruffins, Photo: Barbara Lassen
"Tumblers" by Reynold Ruffins, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Legendary illustrator and two-time Dan’s Papers cover artist Reynold Ruffins is having a sort of reunion in his neighborhood and you’re invited! Since retiring to Sag Harbor full-time almost 18 years ago, Ruffins has focused his considerable energies on painting. His works, along with a selection of his late wife Joan’s, and those of their daughter Lynn Ruffins Cave, will be displayed at the Eastville Community Historical Society’s Heritage House in Sag Harbor beginning Friday, August 17 and will remain on view through November 29 in an exhibition titled “Art—a Family Affair.”

"Blue NIght" by Joan Ruffins
“Blue NIght” by Joan Ruffin

This is the first time that the work of these three artists will be shown together. When asked who curated this show, Ruffins replies humbly, “I guess I did.” Last week he was still making adjustments to the mix, but he will have more than 15 works of his own on display. Ruffins shares that “I’m very pleased to have the show, I think it’s in the right place.” To honor the legacy of the Eastville neighborhood, all of the figures depicted are of color. There are Indian people and Haitian people engaged in all manner of activities, taken from Ruffins’s illustrations for children’s books, black circus performers tumbling, as well as a number of portraits. A selection of Ruffins’s paintings, and art prints of paintings, will be available for purchase.

A graduate of The Cooper Union, and a recipient of its most prestigious honors, The Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for professional achievement in art and The Cooper Union President’s Citation, Ruffins is perhaps best known as a founding member of the iconic Push Pin Studios. This collective’s talents also included those of Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast and Edward Sorel. Ruffins went on to found Ruffins/Taback Design Studio with Simms Taback in 1963. This partnership lasted for more than 30 years. Their clients famously included IBM, AT&T, Coca-Cola, CBS, Pfizer, The New York Times, Time Life, Fortune, Gourmet magazine and the U.S. Post Office. Ruffins has enjoyed many solo exhibitions as well as group exhibitions at Musée du Louvre in Paris, and in Milan, Bologna and Tokyo.

From landscapes to gymnasts to still lifes, the colorful flow and lilt of Ruffins’s paintings are often compared to jazz. In fact, Ruffins worked with renowned jazz musician Herbie Hancock and Whoopi Goldberg on the illustrations for a highly praised Koi and the Kola Nuts video for children. He has also illustrated more than 20 children’s books. The American Library Association presented him with a Coretta Scott King Book Award for Running the Road to ABC. Written by Denizé Lauture, the book tells—and colorfully shows—the story of Haitian children following a long path to school, to learning.

Joan Ruffins (1932-2013) also attended The Cooper Union but was asked to leave when she became pregnant with the Ruffins’s oldest son Todd in 1954. She was told that she was “taking a man’s spot” at the prestigious school. Years later, in 1979, the school conferred a certificate of completion on Joan. This rare exhibition of her works demonstrates her command of paint and pastel. Her two paintings and a pastel in the show draw the viewer in with an intense sensitivity.

Mixed Media Art by Lynn Ruffins Cave
Mixed Media Art by Lynn Ruffins Cave

Lynn Ruffins Cave attended the School of the Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. A versatile artist, she often combines a wide range of materials in elegant arrangements. Her three works in this show are composed mainly of fabric and beads.

Join the Ruffins family to open “Art—a Family Affair” at the Eastville Community Historical Society’s Heritage House, 139 Hampton Street, Sag Harbor on Friday, August 17 5–7 p.m. 631-725-4711,

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