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Judy Bruce: Exploring the free fall, into the breath

Shea Stanfield~ 11/26/2014

CAVE CREEK – This is impossible, and yet it must be true. There was no one in her studio all that week…yet masks were worn to protect themselves, to fool others, but this does not prevent their experience of repression, constraint, and imprisonment by duties. They want to fly away, but they are fragile creatures…Stories, secret musings from deeper regions of our lives emerge in lilting and intricately colored form onto the canvases of local artist Judy Bruce.

Judy and her husband Jim found Cave Creek to make their home a dozen years ago.  Judy has traveled in the intriguing and fanciful work of a painter for over fifty years, dedicating her creative life to exploring the mysteries of the human psyche and its endless search for the answers.

As many of us, she began tapping the shell of her life’s work as a young girl.  She grew up in Danville, Illinois surrounded by her father’s beautiful extensive gardens with an artistic mother who encouraged her young daughter to record her imaginative musing with a box of crayons, pencils, and ballpoint pens, on an endless supply of typing paper brought home from her father’s work. In Junior High, Judy won one of the city art contests, in which the grand prize was a Renoir print. The rest is history, as art history soon became Judy’s lifelong passion.

 Judy went on to obtain a B.F.A. from Illinois Wesleyan in studio painting and moving comfortably into completing her M.S. in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Chicago Consortium of Colleges with Loyola University. As go the dragon slayers, Judy entered the world of art instructor of elementary and middle-school students in Skokie, Illinois. Something magical happened in that 35-year career that opened hearts and expanded minds of her growing students, many of which remain in contact with her today. Today, Judy and her husband Jim make their home in Cave Creek. They were attracted by the wonderful weather, the endless breathtaking views, and the vibrant arts community, already in place.

Judy credits her early inspirations to Ed Paschke and the Chicago Hairy Who, who showed at Illinois Wesleyan during her sophomore year and had a strong presence in the Chicago art scene for many years. It is no surprise that the shadows and shades of Max Ernst, Jean Dubbuffet, and Francis Bacon have been seen peeking through the paints in Judy’s figural surreal expressionistic people which are thought provoking and soul probing from the environments they occupy. This last summer, in Austria, Judy came face to face with Martha Jungwirth’s oversize abstract oil paintings on huge pieces of cardboard and even larger scale self-portraits slashed with paint, by Arnuff Rainer. Both became an inspiration for Judy Bruce’s future creations and expressions.

Judy has a number of opportunities coming up for you to see her astonishingly breathtaking work. She will be available at her studio #43 during the Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour and at the Desert Foothills Library for the Small Works Show.  In March she will be part of the Holland Center exhibit for a group printmaking show as well as a one person show in at Adornments in Scottsdale. 

Judy is always willing to meet interested clients at her studio in Cave Creek.  To see more of her work and for her contact information, visit her Web site at Don’t miss the opportunity to dance in the mythology of the mind or explore the enchanting land of fairy tales that touch the human condition in Judy Bruce’s art.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at