Today, it's a tiny, intact oasis, a survivor from the vast forest that once covered this region.
During the 1980s, Rutstein's longing for a new unity with the environment became so intense that her work sped off in a new direction. Her reshaped sensibility is much in evidence here.
And it's the combination of art-historical references and autobiography that gives Rutstein's artistry its uneasy mix of authority and idiosyncracy.
Her works are full of the stuff of rural life, inconsequential items touched with mystery and pathos. They also feature highly refined craftsmanship, painterly aplomb, and an unearthly light reinforcing the mysterious intensity of her images.
Providing the show's dramatic punch and an extension of expressive means is a canopy bed - yes, a bed - complete with recorded Crum Woods birdsong. This "surprise" encourages viewers to pause, look, listen and rest here momentarily (after removing their shoes). It's an imaginative, fascinating landscape show.
Swarthmore College's List Gallery, Swarthmore. To Jan. 12. Wednesdays noon-4, Fridays 1-5, Saturdays-Sundays 1-4. Gallery closed Dec. 24-Jan. 2. 610-328-8488.
West Chester University. With Ben Frank Moss' work in a three-artist show at West Chester, we're back on familiar ground.
This New Hampshire artist has an orthodox-looking commitment to traditional landscape painting format, means and scope. His oils and ink drawings, all 53 of them, are very small.
Sometimes, Moss can be a little too earnest. But his best paintings often burst with color, thickly applied, so that the delectability of certain high-key oil-color combinations are his pictures' most engaging element.
Such horizon views, always done from memory, are presented as endorsing footnotes that very well express Moss' own modest sense of the lyrical in nature.
Meanwhile, Elaine Crivelli, formerly of West Chester and now of Andover, Mass., shows digitally produced, layered, composite photos meant to reflect distant journeys taken.
Such pictures in mellow, grayed tonalities echo the textures of European life with a minimum of inflection. They focus on a few people living their domestic lives, partly hidden, in public spaces.
John Shipman of Greenville, Del., the third of these exhibitors, knows about trying to stand out in a crowd, which is his great theme.
This artist is, for me, the chewiest in the show. For this showing, he has created a large mural, "All I've Got to Do," directly on the wall.
Preferring a simple yet fanciful mode of expression, Shipman has used a cartoon-like style. Everything is heavily outlined. And the energy of this piece owes to its pictorial exaggeration moreso than to any highly charged subject matter.
Shipman is a skillful and forceful but subtle draftsman, and his talents are essentially graphic. He is prompted, I believe, by an awareness of primitive sources expressed as decoration. His aim with this mural is lofty: to achieve something broader and deeper than usual.
For him, nothing else will do but to attain spiritual awakening and gain further maturity in his art - in this case, with a mural that's very much like a drawing projected into space.
West Chester University's Mitchell Hall, West Chester. To Dec. 17. Mondays-Fridays 9-5. 610-436-2755.
Tyler's Produce Gallery. Showplace aesthetics, in recent decades, have usurped contemplation of the individual work of art. So now we have Produce, the only student club of many on the Tyler School of Art campus that is keyed to learning the ins and outs of exhibit-organizing.
Produce recently hired an independent curator, Alison Levy, to stage a Midwestern new-talent show, "Wiggly World." Four participants are listed by name, but no tags tell who did individual items.
Two of the artists reinforce the sensation of drama, one favoring a diary-like display about growing up in a Chicago apartment, the other a video of the complicated life of a deprived city child. Both offerings ache with sincerity.
We can admire the skill of the other two artists, a painter and sculptor, yet still wish for a lot more substance. Produce might have moved up a notch in its quest to be polished without being slick.
Produce Gallery at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park. To Dec. 18. Tuesdays-Saturdays 11-5. 215-782-2776.
Victoria Donohoe's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.