Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Visionary Who's Sands Ran Out of Time

Collinsville, Oklahoma is a quaint community just north of Tulsa that beckons antique shoppers from miles away. Shoppers will spend the day strolling down the Historical Main Street seeking hidden treasures in one shop after another. Little do they know that Collinsville has a secret treasure of great magnitude. This treasure, which is nestled in the dark recesses of an old building that looks to be vacated, continues to wait for the treasure hunter to uncover its bounty.
The sign is weathered, “Woodruff’s for Spacious Skies ~ a Gallery of the Arts” it states. The display windows are dilapidated and in disarray with old posters and bunting faded by time. The rickety wooden doors have cracks in the paint and the curtains are torn. The typical passerby would pay no attention to the building as it appears to be abandoned. The treasures this building holds within stays hidden from view until the keeper unlocks the doors and reveals the magnificence that is held inside its walls.
The keeper of the key is Dianne Newhouse the friend of the late Dianne Woodruff who attained minor attention for her series on the State Capitols and Presidents. Woodruff a native of Oklahoma lived for years in the Swan Lake district while married. Her passion for art and creativity and an unhappy marriage drove her to the San Francisco area for some 20 years. After being discovered by the art world Woodruff came home to Oklahoma and landed in the town of Collinsville, a place, she had visited frequently in her earlier days.
Dianne Woodruff was a driven woman who’s vision for the extraordinary and out of the ordinary captured the curiosity of the Collinsville community. In 1980, Woodruff came to Collinsville and began to turn it on its ear. Her vision of the Land of Oz and the yellow brick road was met with both criticism and praise. She purchased two buildings herself and began renovations and collaborated with the late Mrs. Holman on a third. Her vision began taking form as several other community leaders caught on to her tail feathers.
Woodruff’s art is large, she created on a huge scale and her creations were deceiving as they looked like they weighed a ton. The grand scale murals are three dimensional, she invented a process by where she used a concoction on Styrofoam so she could carve and paint making the pieces look like stone, wood, and metal. Her attention to detail is evident in her pictures depicting Washington D.C. She uses a multitude of mediums incorporating them into a picture that looks like the viewer could step into the scene.
Woodruff’s eye for detail is unmistakable in her creations of the presidents. With in each picture of the presidents pictures are hidden which reflect the life and times of the president. Her portrayal of President Ford at first glance looks to be just of a man swimming. Upon closer examination, the viewer is able to see a host of figures and words. It would take hours of viewing on multiple days to take in the entire display. Woodruff’s pictures are busy, but that busyness only adds to the visual enjoyment.
According to Newhouse, Woodruff painted like a maniac on many occasions spending 15 to 20 hours strait on a painting. “Once she would get an idea in her mind she would not stop until she had the completed idea on paper,” said, Newhouse. Woodruff’s last project was designing the huge murals for downtown buildings in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. She was not able to complete the project as she died of cancer on November 19, 1993.
The desire on Woodruff was to open a Gallery and utilize it as a teaching facility to further the creative arts in higher education. The Gallery is filled with Woodruffs works but her dream was never fulfilled as the sands in the hourglass of her life ran out way to soon.

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