Thinking Out Loud

June 20, 2016

Profile: Artist James Ruddle

James Ruddle Henderson Bridge

Henderson MuralThis one has an interesting story. It started with our oldest son, who moved into a townhouse complex about two blocks from where he had been living before, at Tyndale University. As we got to know the area we noticed a very large mural under a railway bridge, and on one occasion, walking to get some pizza, we took some pictures. My youngest son tried to match the pose of one figure — he missed the whole leg crossing thing — but put it on his Facebook page. (The picture at the top only shows half of it, the rest wraps around the corner.)

But it just so happened he was standing next to the name of the artist who had painted the mural; no small feat considering the size of the thing. One of his friends posted, “James Ruddle is an awesome Christian artist! Love his work.”

It was like someone activated the push-button starter on the journalist in me. I was determined to know more. So I checked out JamesRuddle.com and clicking on ‘Community Projects’ found the story of how the bridge mural was painted over six days.

Then I clicked on ‘Christian Art,’ which was, after all, the object of my search, only to discover we’ve encountered him before here on the blog, just not by name. He was the artistic director for the centerpiece of “The Gospel” a video we featured here to highlight the performing arts efforts of a local church east of Toronto, C4; which also became an art installation in the main lobby of the church.

C4 Church - Gospel Video Cross

The video bears another look, so…

His Wikipedia page also caught my interest, describing the time he spent 72 hours in a box to paint the walls and ceiling of the McMaster University Student Center. A story on a large triptych in a local church describes his unusual technique which blends both art and welding skills.

James is definitely a one-of-a-kind artist. You can follow his various projects on Twitter @jamesruddle and on his YouTube channel, The James Show (where you can see his blowtorch technique in action) and at Deviant Art (where you can see his latest project, portraits of the Royal Family.)


It’s amazing how your story can partially overlap on someone else’s journey. Two of the churches mentioned in links in this piece — Carruther’s Creek (aka C4) and Forest Brook Community Church — are both located in the eastern part of the Greater Toronto Area, and are both churches that until recently we would get to visit every summer. We attended C4 for two years, and were married in the church for which Forest Brook is a ‘daughter-church.’ (They didn’t speak of ‘plants’ back then, but rather used the more interesting term, ‘hiving off.’) If you know someone who lives in Scarborough, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby or doesn’t mind driving a distance; we recommend both churches.

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June 17, 2016

Profile: Christian Actor Jason Hildebrand

Jason HildebrandFor years, I kept hearing this guy’s name but our paths never crossed until this past weekend, when I got to see Jason Hildebrand’s one-man, three-act performance based on the story of The Prodigal Son, one of many such shows he does throughout Canada and the U.S.

The performance was an outdoor event, a challenge for even the best actors. I’ve been to dozens of the Church in the Park events in my hometown, and I was really surprised at how the crowd was engaged and how Jason even held the attention of many of the children in the audience.

Introducing himself first as the younger son, then the elder son and finally as the father, I found myself listening as though hearing this story for the first time. While on one level, it was a very familiar narrative, but because it’s so rich, no number of sermons can make this story get old.

I was able to speak with Jason after the service. He told me he has been at his craft for 20 years now, and the past 16 of those have been full-time.  The program that I saw has also been filmed and was highlighted six years ago in this 8-minute Christian TV feature:

It’s interesting — and a little bit disturbing — to see the audience reaction of people who were unfamiliar with the story of the wayward son and the loving father. He has other productions based on the life of King David, the life of Job and on the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. He also uses his training to help others, providing coaching to not-for-profit and commercial organizations.

One of his latest projects is Breathe, a collaboration with musician Mike Janzen based on the book Close Enough to Hear God Breathe (Thomas Nelson) by Greg Paul who pastors Sanctuary, a church in downtown Toronto. Here’s a 2-minute teaser:

There’s another earlier trailer at this link.

Jason Hildebrand CobourgOn a personal level, I think much of Jason’s work resonates because I know what it’s like to be a one-man ministry. Based in Toronto, he works both sides of the Canada/US border regularly. If you have an upcoming project or an event that would benefit from an element of drama, this would be a great contact.

Learn more at JasonHildebrand.com


Pics: Upper from Jason’s website
Lower: All dressed up to play 2 sons and a father at Victoria Park’s Bandshell in Cobourg, Ontario from Twitter, @jasonhildebrand

 

 

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