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California artist J. Ruth Gendler has been involved with writing, art and interdisciplinary collaboration for most of her life. Her experience with the rhythms of creativity is evidenced by a diverse background in art, writing, publishing, teaching, and lecturing. Gendler is the author of the bestselling The Book of Qualities and the award winning Notes on the Need for Beauty and the editor of Changing Light: The Eternal Cycle of Night and Day. Other writings include theater adaptations of Qualities, editing a health newsletter, writing book reviews, profiles of artists, personal essays, poems and articles about her work with children. Ruth’s poem "Night Becoming Water" was choreographed and presented at the national conference, Final Gifts: Care of the Dying. Gendler was a San Francisco Library Laureate in 2009.

All three of Gendler’s books have featured her art work. After the publication of Notes on the Need for Beauty, Gendler felt like she had written her way into the studio and focused more seriously on printmaking.  A long time member of the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, Gendler has participated in many of their juried exhibits and had three solo shows at the Loft, most recently the online exhibit Angels, Allies, and Ancestors.

Gendler has also exhibited her art at HarperCollins (NY), Google (SF), Oakopolis in the Oakland Art Murmur, the Dream Institute,  the Abrams Claghorn Gallery, the Pacific Grove Art Center, among other places. Gendler is a member of the California Society of Printmakers and Friends of Calligraphy. 

“Creativity is not rare but it is precious and needs nourishing.” As a teaching artist for over 35 years, Gendler has gathered an extraordinary collection of children’s art and writing. In the exhibit and talk “Befriending the Imagination” at the Commonwealth Club of California, Gendler showed selected work that celebrated the immensity, wisdom and beauty of the imagination. Gendler has taught through California Poets in the Schools and Young Audiences and offered a a variety of classes for adults, including special programs for teachers and nurses.

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Gendler has  given workshops and talks on writing, creativity and qualities in venues including the UC Berkeley School of Education, Wellesley College, the Nebraska Shared Arts team,  Joslyn Art Museum, Seattle Women’s University Club, Grace Cathedral, the New York Open Center, the Omega Institute as well as many synagogues and churches.


Gendler’s current workshops include “Befriending the Imagination,” “The Wisdom of Beauty,” and “Writing for Artists.”

In 2009 Gendler was a San Francisco Library Laureate. The City of Berkeley recognized Gendler’s contributions to the arts by declaring January 30, 2018, J. Ruth Gendler Day.

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