Wood working artist selected for Artist of the Month

When we think of an artist we envision a painter with a brush and palette, splashing colors onto a canvas. But those who have recently visited Arts Council Menifee’s gallery at the Kay Ceniceros Center have discovered an interesting and creative artist who is showing his “wood intarsia” pieces.

David Ruch’s original artistic passion was music, and he has learned to play many stringed instruments including mastering the violin. Music became his profession, recently retiring from teaching music and world history for over 40 years.

Ruch has a second artistic passion, creating with wood. His father, who passed away when David was young, inspired him to pursue his God-given talent in working with wood. Ruch made a soap box racer when he was 10-years-old. He then progressed to making his own HO railroad cars and buildings to flying wooden model planes and then learning to work with all of the power machinery in his middle school wood shop class.

Ruch found inspiration to create from his daily life experiences.

He learned how to repair violins and other musical instruments. Eventually Ruch was inspired to build his own musical instrument from scratch. He decided to build a Celtic harp which he has played in church on several occasions.

“I see instruments in magazines, and I know I’ve got to try making it,” said Ruch.

He wrote to a museum and asked for dimensions for the viola de amore they were displaying, and with the information they provided, he built one.

Upon retirement two years ago, Ruch became serious about woodworking with the encouragement of his friend Al Gingher. Gingher taught him how to use a scroll saw and Ruch “caught the bug.” His favorite part of the hobby is intarsia, which involves cutting a picture out of wood using the natural wood colors for the picture, similar to a jigsaw puzzle with each piece from different woods, and then assembling them into the picture.

He also likes segmentation, an art method similar to intarsia except that all the picture puzzle pieces come from the same wood, with the colors being differentiated by applying stains or other means.

Another aspect of woodworking he enjoys is fretwork in which he takes a photograph, converts it to a line drawing, then cuts it out in wood to make a “carved” portrait.

The passion can be seen in Ruch’s eyes when he shows the many different colors and grains that he works with such as Poplar, a white hardwood, or Lace wood, which is red. His shop, a modest shed in his yard, contains large and small pieces of these colorful wood strips ready to be trimmed and assembled into his next work of art.

Ruch has recently joined a group of similar minded wood artists who meet in Nuevo called the Hemet Scrollers. The group has created and donated over 100 handmade wooden toys to Loma Linda, VIP Tots, and other children’s organizations.

Along with playing the violin in church, woodworking and traveling with his wife, he does not know how he ever found the time to work.

Recently, Ruch decided to display his wood creations at the Arts Showcase event that Arts Council Menifee hosted at the Countryside Marketplace. He sold four of his pieces that day.

“The Arts Council has offered me a place to show my work right here in town, which gives me inspiration to create more,” said Ruch.

For more information on David Ruch, visit www.artscouncilmenifee.org.

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