LEWIS_RUDOLPH_1_THE_FUGITIVETHE FUGITIVE (above) and other paintings by the late Red Bank-based artist Lewis Lanza Rudolph (below) are represented in a major retrospective, opening with a Friday evening reception at Lincroft’s Monmouth Museum.

Lewis Lanza Rudolph low-res“By choice, in the early 1990’s Lewis Lanza Rudolph withdrew from the art scene and into his studio,” reads a press statement for a major retrospective on the work of the lifelong Red Bank resident. “Why he stopped exhibiting his work is a mystery.”

Writing on a website dedicated to the life and work of the late artist (1949-2012), Rudolph’s sister Denise Ecenroad confirms that her older brother was a reclusive type who “never owned a credit card, computer, or cell phone…(he) kept his phone unplugged unless he was anticipating a phone call. This means I would need to write him and mail a letter in advance to ask if I could visit or to arrange a phone call with him.”

But while he made his living as a security guard, Rudolph was first and foremost a passionate and prolific painter who exhibited his work in NYC galleries in the late 1970s and early 80s; who traveled to Paris and other arts-friendly ports of call; who won a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1983, and whose self-described “Abstractions” will be receiving their first major hometown solo-show exposure, beginning with a public-welcome reception this Friday, May 20 at the Monmouth Museum.

Lewis Lanza Rudolph france_low-resLewis Lanza Rudolph is pictured in Paris, in an undated photo.

Scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. inside the Main Gallery of the museum on the grounds of Brookdale Community College, the exhibit collects a decades-spanning body of abstract paintings and charcoal sketches, many of them never seen in a public setting, by the artist who was quoted as saying “I paint two paintings, one for myself and one for the audience. The painting for the audience is abstract. The painting for myself is a fantasy world vision, a surrealistic vision.”

On view at the Monmouth Museum through September 4, the show is also a tribute to the tireless efforts of Ecenroad, plus various supportive family members and art-world consultants. The registered nurse has made it a mission to honor her brother’s memory and promote awareness of his work, both via a comprehensive online gallery and real-world exposure of pieces that “are as fresh and alive as the day they were painted.” While the retrospective also includes some early works that depict recognizable scenes of the Navesink River, the focus is on the abstract method that Rudolph’s friend and fellow artist Franc Palaia described as “a painting style, although unique and all his own, that was a sly but honest and respectful blend of late Picasso, late deKooning and lesser known Max Weber.”

As Ecenroad explains, some of those works “have sustained damage from being left uncovered in his basement, attic, and upstairs bedrooms, but there were many that he protected to the best of his ability in a dark garage.” While selected pieces have been professionally framed (including for a 2014 Rudolph solo show at Mulberry Art Studios in Lancaster, PA), others have been preserved in the more “raw” state that they were left in by their creator, a man who apparently wasn’t averse to recycling materials from time to time.

Admission to Friday’s reception is free of charge, and the Lewis Lanza Rudolph: Fantasy World Visions show remains on display during regular museum hours (Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 12 – 5 p.m.). Admission during regular hours is $8.00 per person; free with valid student or staff ID from Brookdale Community College.