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Alan Rubin became a professional artist late in life after a long career as owner-operator of The Biograph Theatre in Washington, D.C.  The theatre became a cinema landmark showing independent and classic films for three decades.

His artwork was described in two articles in The Washington Post as:

“Bold illustrated scenes resembling nothing so much as frames from imaginary movies that look simultaneously familiar and foreign."

“His paintings often have the look of suspended animation, like frames pulled from a movie reel. His people are full of tension, caught between one highly charged moment and the next."

“The characters that inhabit his paintings seem to have secrets and hidden stories lurking just below the surface.”

Though he painted intermittently over the years he is now a full time, award-winning, accomplished artist at he height of his skills. He studied at the Pratt Institute in New York and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., and has been mentored by his friend, art professor, William Woodward. He now paints full time in his Delaplane, Virginia studio.

"I love to create art that makes the viewer look at life from many camera angles, from many viewpoints, from our collective memory and from the surreal subconscious. I would like the viewer to notice the moments that are normally fleeting and often funny, and feel their connection to the unknown moments before and after."           --Alan Rubin


  • Biograph Theatre, Washington, D.C.  1996
  • Studio Show, Delaplane, Va.    1998
  • Airlie Conference Center, Warrenton, Va. 1999
  • Humblestone Art Center, Warrenton, Va.  2000
  • Art At The Mill, Millwood, VA 1999 - present
  • Ashby Inn, Paris, Virginia   2001
  • The Art Place, Mount Jackson, Virginia  2001 
  • Fraser Gallery, Washington, D.C., 2002
  • Gallery at The Inn Shops, Washington, Va. 2003
  • Blue Ridge Windows, Warrenton, Virginia 2004
  • Lord Fairfax Community College, “Rural Routes”, 2004
  • Long View Galleries, Sperryville, VA and Washington, D.C. 2005 to Present
  • Fauquier Hospital Exhibit Hall,
    Warrenton, VA, 2006
  • Longview Gallery, Washington, D.C. 2007
  • Elan Magazine, cover story, February 2008
  • Piedmont Magazine, January 2009
  • Barrel Oak Exhibit Space, Marshall, VA   January- June, 2009 and January 2015
  • Gallery 251, Warrenton, VA
    November-December, 2010
  • The Gallery at Highland Arts Center,
    Warrenton, VA. September-October, 2012
  • Duvall Design Studio show, Millwood, VA, October 5-20, 2013
  • Piedmont Artist Showcase, Sperryville, VA October-November, 2013
  • JNA Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. 
    Sat-Sun. Dec 7-8. Paintings by artists with Parkinson's Disease.  Living Artistically with PD Art show - American Parkinson Disease Association, Los Angeles
  • Judge and participant in juried show at Artists in Middleburg (AiM) Gallery October, 2018 - present.
  • The Barns at Rose Hill, Berryville, Virginia,
    August-September 2020
  • Bunting & Nadler Gallery, Marshall, Virginia
    September- December 2020
Alan’s painting "Road To Enlightenment" won the Blue  Ribbon at the AIM Gallery in their Spring 2020 show.

Recent Articles

Read the Elan and Piedmont  articles here, by clicking the covers.

Rubin's Art Makes One Ask 'What Will Happen Next?'

By Mary Beth Martin
Staff Writer, The Fauquier Citizen

(Photo by Greg Huddleston
courtesy of The Piedmont Virginian.)

Delaplane artist Alan Rubin took up a brush 10 years ago and discovered a passion in painting.

A self-taught artist, Alan Rubin sets his own boundaries, painting scenes that look like stills from movies playing in his imagination. He refuses to explain his work and challenges viewers to discover their own interpretations.

Until recently the owner of the Biograph Theatre in Washington for 30 years, Mr. Rubin has a long connection with the cinema from which he obviously draws in composing his artwork.

His paintings share some striking similarities with films by his favorite director, Federico Fellini, whose movies fuse autobiography with fantasy. Recurring symbols in the Italian filmmaker's work include the seashore, circuses, music halls, bleak roads and deserted town squares.

Although people dominate Mr. Rubin's work, animals appear frequently with their owners. Water, circus and zoo animals, flowers and fields also play significant roles. Another more recent theme in the artist's extensive portfolio involves dream-like scenes suspended in the clouds.

Delaplane resident Peter Schwartz, who recently commissioned a portrait of his children, says, "Alan is as much a storyteller as an artist. Every one of his paintings tells a short story about the character or characters. When I look at any of his paintings, I feel like I'm reading a colorful short story."

Mr. Rubin's commissions resemble big-budget productions, but on his own, he tends toward more enigmatic images.

He began painting during a summer visit to Europe 10 years ago. He and his wife, Susan, stopped to visit William Woodward, a Fauquier County painter who spends his summers in the French province of Brittany. What started as a day of sketching extended into a week and became a passion, then a new career.

"One of the advantages of being self-taught is that I'm so far removed from being a victim of style," Mr. Rubin claims. "I promised myself from early on that I would do this for enjoyment. I just love the whole process beginning with stretching the canvas."

With a geology degree from George Washington University, he began his art education by taking classes from Warrenton photographer Sunny Reynolds and mentoring by Mr. Woodward and Middleburg artists Toni and Mecia Brohead.

Since he lost the theatre lease in 1996, the Delaplane artist has worked in his studio for four to five hours, six days a week. "I never thought I would be a working artist," he confesses. "I never enjoyed anything more. I can't wait to get at it every day."

"I often try to evoke nostalgia, by painting something out of this time, but try to avoid being sentimental," he explains. Like Mr. Fellini, whose films affirm life, Mr. Rubin's paintings do as well. The theater-owner-turned-artist admits, "I like to capture a moment in life," and many of his paintings look like time standing still.

A recent one-man show at Humblestone Inn chronicled his refinement in technical skill and more sophisticated use of paint and color, says inn owner, Jenifer Trovato. "His work is very cinematic and causes people to stop and ask, 'What will happen next?'"

Mr. Rubin's work qualifies as American realism, but in the art world, he has carved out his own niche. He will exhibit his work at the upcoming "Art at the Mill" show in Millwood from April 28 to May 13 and at The Plains arts festival from May 18 to 20.

Provocative, whimsical, fantastic show of Rubin's paintings opens
   September 19, 2012

(Photo by Greg Huddleston)

“As I approach my 400th painting, the images are still very realistic, but the ideas and meanings are abstract,” Delaplane artist Alan Rubin says.

By Greg Huddleston
FauquierNow.com Contributor

Delaplane artist Alan Rubin never has much to say to fans of his paintings who want to know what to make of his canvases, and he must get questions all the time:

“What does this symbolize?” 

“Where did you get this idea?” 

“What are you suggesting with this one?” 

Typically, Mr. Rubin will answer that he has been influenced by film and the way the movies use pictures to tell stories. After all, he used to be one of the owners of the well-known Biograph Theater in Georgetown and certainly qualifies as a film buff.

He might elaborate that he just visualizes or imagines a scene and then puts paint to canvas.

Is there a back story or deeper meaning? A subtext? An insightful psychological observation being made? Who knows?

Mr. Rubin often says that the viewer is free to draw his or her own conclusions. 

Local art lovers will have that opportunity this Saturday evening at the opening reception of an exhibition of Mr. Rubin’s paintings at the Gallery at Highland Center for the Arts. The exhibition — very attractively hung by Diane vonGoellner-Suppa, assistant to the independent Warrenton school’s artistic director and gallery chair — will feature 60 of Mr. Rubin’s paintings, old and new.

Mr. Rubin says the show includes a couple of large triptychs never exhibited before because of space considerations, as well as some older pieces never shown before.

“As I approach my 400th painting, the images are still very realistic, but the ideas and meanings are abstract,” he says.

One can try to put Alan Rubin’s work in a box, and the label might say “Contemporary American Realism.” But that doesn’t really do it.

While his paintings are realistic, most of them challenge the viewer to come up with his or her own story, a story that might more accurately be described as a fantasy, a dream or a blurred memory – somewhere other than in reality. For instance, an earlier canvas named “Contemplating the Deep” shows a young mother and daughter standing on the edge of a swimming pool bordered by a white picket fence. The mother’s bathing suit is reminiscent of one my own mother might have worn in the 1950s. As a result, my appreciation of this painting is awash with childhood memories of summer afternoons spent by the pool, including the time I had to be rescued from drowning in the deep end. 

In other paintings, Mr. Rubin clearly has tongue in cheek and paints to tickle the funny bone, often in a punny way. His canvas entitled “Drum Roll,” shows a worker rolling an empty drum (perhaps once filled with oil? Industrial solvent?) down a concrete walkway. Behind the drum roller, a huge wall of stacked-up drums provides colorful backdrop.

In other works, Mr. Rubin’s gift for whimsy is evident. “Hero” shows a proud St. Bernard named “Brandy,” complete with keg, standing on a pedestal while surrounded by an admiring legion of lesser canines. But, what is one to make of the pair of flanking elephants? The flock of geese? The penguins? The raccoon? The standoffish cat?

Mr. Rubin has always spent time drawing or making things, but he became a full-time artist somewhat late in life. Although his college education began at Pratt Institute in pursuit of a degree and career in architecture, he soon realized that he was “Frank Lloyd Wrong.”

He transferred to Brooklyn College and earned a degree in geology with a minor in art. Mr. Rubin headed to Washington, D.C., and got a job at the U. S. Geological Survey, which led to a job with the Army Map Service, later to become part of the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Kennedy administration. At about the same time, he enrolled in graduate studies at George Washington University, but soon discovered that he was “tired of working for the government” and, along with a friend, got the idea of opening a movie theater.

With one thing leading to another, Mr. Rubin and partners found themselves the owners of the Biograph in Georgetown. Life’s journey led him to marry Susan (she had worked part-time in the Biograph office for 20 years) and to eventually move to the country, giving up his career in theatre management to become a full-time artist in 1996. 

“It was hard selling my paintings at first; it was like selling a piece of my heart,” Mr. Rubin wrote in an article for The Piedmont Virginian (winter 2009). “Now, I find I like the idea of people having a little piece of my heart.”

Don’t miss the Alan Rubin exhibit at Highland. Each painting on display clearly reveals a little piece of the artist’s heart – a very large heart, indeed.

Article in Country ZEST and Style Magazine, Winter, 2020
(Click this LINK to article online; see Page 40)