The story of Ginny Ruffner's cruelly interrupted career—by a brain- and body- damaging 1991 car crash—is well known in the Seattle art world, where this loving documentary portrait will find many admirers. Heartfelt testimonials are offered from those who figured in her rise to glass-art prominence in the '80s, including Dale Chihuly, Tom Robbins, and William Traver. During that decade, Ruffner was arguably Seattle's breakout national art star, creating intricate colored-glass tangles and tableaux. Clips from old TV interviews show a warm, bubbly personality that made her a vital presence in the local art scene. (To help pay the rent, she also taught aerobics classes "with legwarmers and Flashdance and all that," she laughs.) Directed by Karen Stanton, A Not So Still Life makes no attempt to separate the heroism of Ruffner's partial recovery from her art. (You can see the latest example, a five-ton flowerpot sculpture at Seventh and Union, to be dedicated on Thursday.) The film offers tribute, not criticism, which is fine. Many artists age out of favor with critics and galleries; trendy young art stars can fade into bitterness, irrelevance, and worse. But as she continues to paint and create in her Ballard home studio today, Ruffner seems happily engaged in her work. "I talk funny, I walk slow," she says. "But so what?"
The artist with one of her creations.
Runs at SIFF Cinema, Fri., July 22â€“Thurs., July 28. Not rated. 82 minutes.