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An example of work by George Russin
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following recollection is from James O'Connell, May 2006. |
Years ago I would meet George at the Dunkin' Donuts every morning and we
all knew of George's paintings and the photographs of his work.
One morning Frank, a printer, and myself decided to reprint the
photographs on large paper and I would go over each print with clear
acrylic paint on a knife blade, the way George did his work, then frame
each print. With permission of the owner of the donut shop, we
hung the prints on the walls of the shop and at time people would come
in and want to purchase one. George would sign them and make a
few bucks for himself as he no longer painted and owned none of his
originals. This was good for George and I know it made him somewhat
The local neighborhood newspaper called "Neighbors" had heard of
George's art work and what was being done with his prints on the wall
of the donut shop. They did come to the shop, talk with George,
some friends, and photograph some of the prints.
Now George Russin, living alone at 95 years of age in itself is quite
George. Although I do get down there and take him out for lunch
now and again, I'm still waiting for him to find me those things you
need to help authenticate his autobiography. I know he has a
letter from Eleanor Roosevelt, pictures of himself with some of the
well known entertainers of his time, also the movies "The Glenn Miller
Story" and "Hollywood Hotel" where he was featured in one of the music
Also sent by James O'Connell was a copy of a newspaper article titled "Doughnut shop nails down artist's works" in The Miami Herald,
March 13, 1997. The article describes his regular morning visits
to the Dunkin' Donuts shop near his Northeast Dade home and his
ordering black coffee, an English muffin and then sitting by the front
window where he chats with friends. The old timers refer to him as
"Mayor" or "General". A wall is dedicated to his art work.
The only work he has kept for himself is a self portrait, and he quit drawing in
1991, after the death of his sister. He said: "She was the one
who would get me out of bed each morning. She was like my agent.
She knew what I had to get done by the end of each day."
Russin was also a musician. Born in New York, he grew up in a
piano-playing family, and at age 16, he joined a jazz band as a "self
taught tenor sax player, working with musicians like Fats Waller, Benny
Goodman, Lena Horne and Louis Armstrong before putting down his sax in
1956. He recalled: "I loved doing the musical scenes.
I lived for whatever had to do with women, music and art. And I
wouldn't have changed it for the world."
Soon after that, he began pursuing his art talents, which included
taking night classes, working with a palette knife, and doing stain
glass "to develop a vibrant, mosaic-like style that was displayed at
some of New York's top galleries in the 80." Of this part of his
life, he said: "It was the same kind of concentration and joy as
when I played the sax." Among his subjects were portraits,
Siamese dancers, generals and reporters---many from his travels in
Europe and Asia during World War II.
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