Judith B. Carducci, Hudson's own portrait artist, has added another figurative notch in her accomplishment belt. The Portrait Society of America has awarded her with its new "Signature Status" designation.
"I was in Istanbul when I got the call about the award," Carducci said.
She said she was so thrilled about it that she didn't even mind being awakened by the call at 2 a.m.
"I have so much respect for the Portrait Society," she added.
The newly inaugurated "Signature Status" recognizes those practicing and accomplished artists who are dedicated to the educational mission and high aesthetic standards of the Portrait Society of America. The artist must consistently demonstrate a high level of skill and sophistication of aesthetics.
The award was presented to Carducci in April at the group's international conference banquet in Washington, D.C. She was one of three artists honored.
Carducci, PSA, can now add the PSS designation to her name. Just one more honor in a string of major awards and accomplishments she has achieved in the art world in the last 20 years.
Hudson residents are familiar with Carducci's portraits of Hudson mayors, that hang in the City Council Chambers in the town hall.
Carducci's achievements are even more remarkable when you consider that the artist, soon to be 80 years old, abandoned her art work for 35 years.
"I started taking art lessons at age 5 and by the time I was in high school I was a professional artist," she said.
She was accepted at the Rhode Island School of Design, the most highly regarded art school of the time, but turned down their offer after visiting the school.
"They were just throwing paint at walls," she recalled. "It was all abstract art."
She said her art was "ridiculed."
Carducci went to college, then graduate school and became a psychiatric social worker. She married her husband, Duili (Dewey) and when she had her son, David, she became a full-time mother and homemaker.
"For 35 years I didn't paint," she said. "I never picked up a brush until I did portrait sketches for the Hudson Montessori School's Pumpkin Patch."
She said many Hudson residents have told her they still have those sketches hanging in their homes.
When her son went to school she went to work for the Veterans Administration Medical Center as a full-time psychiatric social worker. Only after she retired, at 60, did she pick up her paint brush again.
And started racking up the honors, becoming a highly regarded teacher and commissioned artist.
In the last two decades she has conducted painting workshops all over the world, including an annual workshop in southern France, Puerto Rico, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and even South Africa.
"I go where I am invited," she said. "Others set up the workshops and I just show up."
She tells an amusing story of being asked to critique a portrait of Archbishop Desmond Tutu being painted by a fellow artist in South Africa. After assisting her friend she was asked to come to South Africa to lead a workshop.
"Some of my friends from the Akron Society of Artists took me to the airport. They asked if I would get to see Archbishop Tutu. I told them there wasn't much chance of that," Carducci said. "I told them it would be like someone coming to America for a visit and meeting President Obama."
When Carducci had a 9-hour layover in London's Heathrow Airport she began to fret that she would miss her connection. When her plane was finally called she was the last one to get on the plane, save one.
"I heard running behind me, I turned and looked and it was Archbishop Tutu," she said.
The Portrait Society of America was founded in 1998 to foster and enhance understanding of the practice of traditional fine art portraiture and figurative works. It has more than 3,000 members worldwide.
Carducci's portrait of an Akron student and his mother won Best of Show in the Society's first international competition in 1999.
She was recently featured on the PBS Ideastream program, "Applause."
"It's been quite an experience," the artist modestly admitted.
Images of her work, and slated workshops may be seen at www.judithcarducci.com.