For over 50 years, John Norwood, the 81-year-old College Point artist, sculptor and model maker, has made the northeast Queens area his home and art studio. I had the privilege recently of revisiting him and his pediatrician wife, Ruby.
Their home sits on College Point’s waterfront facing one of LaGuardia Airport’s two runways, providing great sunsets and the soaring sight of planes rising from the Earth minute after minute. Ruby assured me their new windows keep the constant roar of jets from disturbing them and they never tire of living with their unique views.
In fact, it inspires them — and although their kids want them to downsize their 16,000 sq. ft. home/gallery. But they’re devoted to where they are, so I don’t see them moving, even after surviving a devastating fire in 2009 that left them homeless and much of his work destroyed. They simply rebuilt and John continued creating!
I met them both many years ago shortly after I had created the Whitestone/College Point Courier in my living room. It was 1985 and I was introduced to the unique couple who left an immense impression on me, because of their devotion and passion for what they do. It’s just as strong today, with both of them still doing what they love!
John had worked for 25 years with the world renowned architect, I.M. Pei, creating scale models of Pei’s enormous projects like the designs of the Javits Center and The Pyramid of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
When he retired, John became a full-time artist using recycled materials — including, remarkably, cigarettes, matches and the boxes that held them. He also used objects washed up near their waterfront property. He makes trash into treasure.
There is now the John Norwood Museum featuring his work for the world to visit and view – tripadvisor.com gave him 5 stars!
This visit I brought with me Sally Tallant, the new director of the Queens Museum, and artist Kia Eshghi and his wife Pouran. I was delighted to meet Ruby and John’s daughter, Erica, a teacher and, in her spare time, a talented portrait artist.
John and Ruby are gems who share their passions with us making our world a better place. I feel privileged to know them.
You can visit the Norwood Museum by visiting johnnorwood.com. Visits are by appointment only.