By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
For her hastily assembled and short-lived Quadrangle exhibition, attended by a surprising 200 eager viewers with 50 percent sold the first night, Rushton rolled out new figurative work called "Love Letters." Followers of the artist noted a new level of accomplishment and recognition of her delicate finesse with the unwieldy encaustic technique. "Her work was more layered a couple of years ago," Sauvage says. "These newer pieces are more refined, with more subtle layers." In "Love Letters: Somewhere in Europe," Rushton paints two soldiers writing letters in an army tent by candlelight. The men's features are nearly photographic, but expressive in a way that only painters can capture. In "Romance Novel," Rushton is successful in giving the painting a literary quality. The image of a woman drinking coffee and reading a book is similar to the scene in "Afternoon Cafe," the painting that won her "Best of Show" in last summer's Quadrangle Art Festival.
The trouble with Dallas artists like Rushton who don't have Dallas gallery connections and aren't hell-bent on shameless self-promotion is how rare it is to be able to see their work. Rushton's only scheduled show will be held next summer in Austin at the Workman Gallery in Pecan Square off Sixth Street. Rushton is grateful for the opportunity, and realistic about her relationship with the gallery. "Wally [Workman] likes me because I'm responsible, reliable, and my work sells," Rushton says. "She knows I'll always follow up. She knows I'll make her job easier." Sauvage says Rushton may be selling herself short. "She's exceptional, so eventually she will stand out," she says. "She's mastered a difficult medium. She's confident without being egotistical, and that makes her work more pure and honest."
Rushton's own frank self-appraisal gives Sauvage's assessment credibility. "Hey, I'll never be in the Whitney," she says with a laugh. "You won't catch me scraping hair off famous people's sofas, putting it in little bottles and calling it art." She calls herself an "old-fashioned genre painter," and believes she'll end up where she wants to be--better-known and better-shown in Dallas. To look at her work, you'd think that makes some sense. But then you look at the Quadrangle, and realize nothing really makes sense in this town.