Ryan ’03 to Conduct Painting Demo in Castle on Feb. 28

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 20, 2014

In 2007, Arcadia University Assistant Professor of studio art Abbey Ryan ’03 began producing daily paintings, but about once a year since 2011, the Philadelphia-based artist and blogger invites the whole world to watch and participate as she honors the memory of a dear friend.

On Friday, Feb. 28, Ryan will conduct a live demonstration of her daily oil painting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Grey Towers Castle to benefit the Jami Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship. The session is open to the public and will stream live on Arcadia’s UStream channel. The final work will be auctioned off with all proceeds benefiting the scholarship, but anyone may donate online or give a gift toward the scholarship during Ryan’s painting demo.

Jami Rodriguez ’00, well-known for her lively and engaging personality, died suddenly in 2000 after a brief illness, just after completing student teaching abroad in London. She was very active in student life and community service and had become friends with Ryan while they were both Fine Art students and members of Arcadia’s Student Alumni Association (SAA).

Recently recognized by BoostBlogTraffic.com as #5 on the list of “49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art,” Ryan gets plenty of publicity. She has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, Seth Godin’s bestselling Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, BoingBoing.net, and many other publications. Through her blog, Ryan’s paintings are in more than 800 private and public collections all over the world. While grateful for the recognition she receives as an artist, Ryan prefers to use the live demo event at Arcadia as a way bring more awareness about Jami to the University community.

Ryan remembers Jami as a talented and generous person who hardly slept to make sure neither her extracurricular involvement and or academics went lacking. “She was always laughing and making others laugh, just really funny and fun to be around. She made everyone feel special, and she was always doing or making something nice for people,” recalls Ryan, who still wears the ring Jami, a metals and jewelry student, created for her.

Ryan was inspired to use the live demo event as a way to raise funds for the scholarship while serving on a committee formed to endow the scholarship. The committee was successful in their efforts: The Jami Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship—awarded annually to a current full-time undergraduate who demonstrates service, leadership, and engagement in the life of the University and/or community—was endowed in 2011. Fine Arts majors are preferred candidates, but all students of junior and senior standing are welcome to apply.

“I think it is so important for alumni and the larger Arcadia community to remember Jami’s legacy —as well as each and every unique Arcadia and Beaver alumni story,” Ryan explains. “When I received the Ruth C. Grant Award Distinguished Achievement Award in the Fine Arts as an undergraduate, Ruth Grant ’37 was there. I got to meet her, take a picture with her, and put a face with the name and the award. With Jami’s scholarship, recipients don’t get that chance, so this painting demo is a way to bring Jami back to campus each year.”

Photo by Kara Wright ’14