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Ruth Rossman, 90; Watercolorist Helped Found Venice Art Walk

August 05, 2004|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Ruth Rossman, a watercolor artist and educator who helped found the Venice Art Walk, has died. She was 90.

Rossman, widow of Venice Family Clinic founder Dr. Phillip Rossman, died Friday in her Los Angeles home of natural causes.

A co-chair of the University of Judaism Fine Arts Council who helped found the school's Platt Gallery, Rossman staged a one-woman exhibition of her work at the gallery in 1998.

The artist described her paintings and drawings as "a form of romantic expressionism" that a critic for The Times reviewing that show called "close enough a description of art that teeters, sometimes precariously, between figurative abstract modes."

Rossman often portrayed children at play, as her "Dangling Figures" depicts them hanging from a jungle gym. Other paintings show children jumping rope, swinging or climbing a ladder.

But her work includes serious subjects as well, such as in "Family Group at Auschwitz," which shows dehumanized figures with ghostly featureless faces.

Rossman served as president of the National Watercolor Society from 1974 to 1975 and in 1979 helped found the Venice Art Walk, where she exhibited annually.

She also had one-woman shows at the Heritage Gallery in Los Angeles and exhibited in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and what is now known as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Her paintings are included in the 1987 book "The California Romantics: Harbingers of Watercolor."

Born in Brooklyn as Ruth Scharff, she moved with her parents to Canton, Ohio, as a child. She earned degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Art and at what is now Case Western Reserve University, where she met her future husband, Phillip, then a medical student.

After World War II, the Rossmans moved to Los Angeles, where he established a Westside medical practice and eventually set up the Venice Family Clinic to serve the needy. His wife became a full-time artist.

Widowed in 1990, Rossman is survived by their daughter, Joanna Morgan; two sisters, Bess Leven and Charlotte Harrison; and two grandchildren.

The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to the Venice Family Clinic.

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