Don Rubbo not only taught us about making art but became like a father to us as well. Many other outstanding Puertorrican artists were touched by his genius in one way or another.
Carlos Ortiz Suenos and I have talked many times about organizing a group show of all the artists that Don influenced during his sojourn in our beautiful island. Unfortunately we have never been able to follow through with our wish to pay homage to our teacher. This is why your reating a web site for him seems such a good idea! I know that you can count on us to support with your effort in this matter.
Although I do not remember all, I will try to recount my experience with your father as best I can. I first met him in front of the Centro Nacional de las Artes ( National Arts Center ) in old San Juan around 1973. This was an old 3 or 4 story building that the Franciscan priests had made available to artists to use as studios etc. At the time it was run by Carlos Irizarry who was already a pretty well known artist. He and Don were having an argument about whether your father could teach art there or not, because he was an American,or something to that effect?! Don argued that he did not need to teach there or anywhere else for that matter because he could teach anyone with just a piece of paper and a pencil.
Your father struck me as a character, with his unkempt appearance. He had a nicotine stained white beard and wore a Derby hat that I think he wore even to bed! I joined the conversation when they were done and told your father that I would give him the opportunity to prove his point by teaching me. I thought at the time that I could not learn to draw even if it killed me! To make the long story short, he took me under his wing and we began a relationship which I think molded me into the artist that I am today.
I could go on and on but I just realized I am not going to be able to do this in one sitting . I will say that the price that I had to pay to learn from him was to listen to his life story over and over again. It was worth it! The first thing he told me was that he was in Puerto Rico to teach art to Puertorrican kids because he thought that puertorrican children had amazing talents. He ascertained this in a previous trip to the island. He told me that he had had an open heart surgery (and showed me the scar on his chest!) and that he did not have but 10 months to live! I spent the next few weeks with him on the streets drawing people. He said that the best models were the ones that were not posing because that would develop your eye hand coordination in such a way that you could draw anything anytime you wanted.
It worked and even I learned that I could draw!
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