Growing up in the 1950s in Coronado, painter John David Ratajkowski said he remembers “being able to draw anything I could see.” Fascinated as a boy by all variety of materials, Ratajkowski was early on adept at painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking and lithography. He recalls that the key attraction for him in every case was the compelling desire “to make” — whatever the media.
Ratajkowski’s experiments in abstract work have powerfully impacted his portraiture. His current series of portraits of Jewish literary figures depicted in film brings together his abstract painting techniques with his long-time work in the portrait.
The Gotthelf Art Gallery at the Jewish Community Center will present the solo exhibition “John David Ratajkowski – From Page to Stage: Portraits of Jewish Literary Figures in Film,” Dec. 8-Feb. 23. A free public reception with the artist will be held at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the gallery.
The history of the Jewish figure in American cinema is rich and evocative. Particularly outstanding have been films based on Jewish characters from literature. It is these that Ratajkowski takes as his subjects.
Ratajkowski’s work appears in private and corporate collections. He is represented by the Blue Leaf Gallery in Dublin, Ireland and the CJ Gallery in San Diego.
The exhibit was curated by Kathleen Balgley who received her Ph.D. in literature from UCSD with a specialization in the relationship of visual art to literature. She has taught for three decades as associate professor of English at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; lecturer in the UCLA writing programs; and now as a teacher in the humanities department at the San Diego Jewish Academy. —Jewish Community Center
If you go
“From Page to Stage: Portraits of Jewish Literary Figures in Film” by John David Ratajkowski
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday-Friday, Dec. 8-Feb. 23
Gotthelf Art Gallery, Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla