“Can You See the Rhythm” in The Apple Gallery, February 2021

The Stokes County Arts Council is pleased to announce the opening of our upcoming exhibit, “Can You See the Rhythm,” featuring Leo Rucker in the Apple Gallery during the month of February.  A virtual opening will be held on Friday, February 12, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. on the Stokes Arts Facebook page, coming to you live from the Apple Gallery.  You may visit the exhibit other times at the Stokes County Arts Council, 500 N. Main Street, Danbury, North Carolina. 

Rucker’s life as a portrait artist and muralist began at an early age, with a pencil drawing of his next-door neighbor’s deceased husband who fought in WWI. Art later became a true passion for him in middle school when Rucker worked to develop and improve his skills in portraits and landscapes with pencil and watercolor.  In high school, he received many awards in art, and in college continued his pursuit in commercial art at Rutledge College with a degree in 1983 and an outstanding artist award from that school. These accomplishments opened the door for Rucker to become a supervisor in the gold leaf department at Carolina Art and Frame in Kernersville, NC for 10 years.

“Maraca Fever” by Leo Rucker. Acrylic on canvas. Available for sale in the Apple Gallery, February 2021

Rucker was mentored by Richard Hedgecock and Paul Roseboro, who were established artists that encouraged him to continue developing skills in different media. This led to his first entry in a competition in 1992 at the Sawtooth Center for Visual Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C. where he received a merit award.  In 1995, his career began to escalate with the commission of a series of drawings and paintings for Forsyth County Partnership (Smart Start). By 1996, a long relationship with Segment Marketing Service Inc began, as Rucker created pastel, acrylic, and oil portraits for an ongoing column called (Role Models Beyond Beauty) featured in Sophisticate’s Black Hair Magazine for 18 years. The magazine would show more than 200 portraits of accomplished ethnic women from all around the world that Rucker was commissioned to paint. As his work began to be more recognized in his community, another opportunity would be the commission to render a tribute to the history and progression of transportation by the Winston-Salem Transportation Department.  Eighteen pillars of the city’s transportation center hub in downtown Winston-Salem would come to life with the designing of the 22 African American founders of the First Safe Bus Company, and the richness of its history along with the future of energy-efficient buses.

“Mother of Rhythm” by Leo Rucker. Acrylic on canvas. Available for sale in the Apple Gallery, February 2021.

Also committed to giving back to the community, Rucker worked with youth and adults to develop their skills as an artist, teaching basic drawing and painting skills at the Sawtooth Center in Winston and in his studio from 2007-2015. He began to be more committed to pushing his skillset to a newer level by painting his version of “The School of Athens” that’s in the Vatican in Rome by artist Raphael. Using mixed media of acrylic and oils, the piece has given Rucker a truer look at how much he has grown as well as which areas he needs to continue to improve.

Working at Old Salem Museum and Gardens as Lead Interpreter at the St Philips African Moravian Heritage Center, Rucker utilized his creative skills to enhance the history of the African Moravians and the many Moravian practices as they have evolved throughout North Carolina between the mid-1700s till today. In 2018-2019, he became an advisory board member of “The Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies,” a coalition of historical societies, museums, historic sites, associations, and commissions dedicated to preserving and promoting history in North Carolina. A recipient of the 2018 Winston-Salem Arts Council, Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant, Rucker attended the 2018 Portrait Society of America National Conference, where he was able to sharpen his skills as a portrait artist. As a member of the St Peters World Outreach Center Arts and Media Team, Rucker utilizes art skills through painting backdrops for the drama department as a set designer and became one of the church photographers. Most recently in 2019, Rucker participated in a group show called “Pulse Art and Music” at Delta Fine Arts Center, a mural commissioned by Forsyth Tech Mazie Woodruff Center in Winston-Salem, NC, an Exhibition at SECCA (Painting Happyhill), and several commissions for Old Salem Museum and Gardens, including three book cover designs, and The Depot Street Renaissance Mural for Innovation Quarters. This has allowed Rucker to see the world through many creative lenses as he captures life on canvas and other surfaces.

“My Jazz Pulse” by Leo Rucker. Acrylic on canvas. Available for sale in the Apple Gallery, February 2021.

This exhibit will be on display from February 1-February 28 in the Apple Gallery. The Stokes County Arts Council is open to the public Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm-5:00 pm. For additional information about the exhibit, please contact the Stokes County Arts Council at (336) 593-8159.