Santa’s True Heart: The Christmas Paintings of Chris Ryckman

November 23, 2018 through January 6, 2019

Santa’s True Heart, a new gallery of Christmas-themed oil paintings by Lancaster artist Chris Ryckman, is on display at the Jubilee Museum as part of our annual celebration of Christmas.

View a sampling of the paintings, and read Chris’s bio below.



Artist Spotlight:

Chris Ryckman is a recently retired physician. He and his wife, Therese, raised four daughters in central Ohio and carried on the tradition of their parents, i.e. making Christmas a magical time of year for the family.

His mother was a gifted artist, writer, and musician who encouraged him in art as a child. In 1990, rather than play golf, he joined a group of artists who met once a week — “I never left a golf course feeling relaxed. My expectations far exceeded my talents“– and started art lessons with Marvin Triguba, a nationally recognized portrait artist in Lancaster, Ohio. At first, his paintings centered around his family and then religious themes, often involving St. Mary’s of Lancaster, where his family attended church.

Eventually, Santa entered in. The meaning of Christmas seemed to have been stolen by commercialism that used Santa to sell goods. Santa, and his reindeer, had become the reason for Christmas. Chris himself had fallen for the gimmicks and realized this when he and his family effortlessly named all the reindeer, yet struggled to name an equal number of the disciples of Jesus. His satirical painting of Santa in the last supper, with his reindeer seated as disciples is a result of that realization. Santa is holding the world in his hand to add insult to injury.

Chris grew up loving the work of Norman Rockwell and the stories they told. Following this inspiration, Chris’s paintings try to bring Santa back to his origin of holiness, a point that should be obvious since “Santa,” in Italian, means “Holy”. Every year Chris sends Christmas cards made from his paintings, to celebrate the meaning of Christmas. The one of Santa kneeling in front of the tabernacle was painted inside St. Mary of the Assumption in Lancaster, Ohio. The altar servers are two of his daughters.

His Christmas cards are available at the Jubilee Museum.


Chris can be reached at his art site, and at 740-243-0202