About Us Our Mission, Vision, Objectives, and Values
Who Are We?
Judi Null, Co-founder and Gallery Director, has loved art in all its forms since she was a child. Her first submission was at age five when she drew a young child for a magazine competition and her father entered it for her. Initially, she explored sculpting, acrylics, and pottery as outlets for her creativity, and as time went on, she became interested in fashion and the culinary arts. But, having a strong social service drive, Judi decided to redirect that creativity into addressing social issues and needs.
Having served as a Jail Sergeant, a Detention Facility Inspector, and Director of the Minnesota Criminal Justice Resource Center, Judi attained state and national recognition in her efforts to establish effective criminal justice practices, reduce recidivism, address victim’s rights, and create critical training programs. Prior to moving to Ruston with her husband Randy in 2010, Judi responded to the call for patriotism following 9/11, and assisted in national security efforts through implementing risk management strategies, establishing training programs, and facilitating business solutions. After relocating from Washington DC to Ruston, Judi managed a workforce grant program for Louisiana Tech, designed business solutions for local companies, and conducted nationwide consulting.
In May 2017, Judi received a phone call from a Ruston friend informing her that she needed to look at a building that was becoming available.
“When I walked into the 203 building, I knew that we had to do something special with it. It was the perfect place for an art gallery and an event center. I have always loved people and entertaining and, of course, art has always been a part of me. So, the obvious choice was to combine those two passions and bring them together inside this amazing building.
I was only vaguely familiar with the Ruston art community but after talking with Kit Gilbert, the owner of the building and an artist who sought to promote Ruston artists, I felt compelled to jump in. What I learned is that we have so many talented people in this community, with more emerging artists joining every day. I felt they really needed a place where they could launch their art. We also have so many art aficionados’ who travel to other cities to acquire what already exists here. We just need to let them know. And, what better way to show people than over a cup of coffee, or at an exhibition, or at a social event, where art in all of its forms are represented.
Randy and I had previously reserved the name Ruston Artisans, and toyed with a variety of ideas, but when we saw this building, and met the artists, we knew what Ruston Artisans would become. And so, we welcome you to join us in celebrating the many talented artists and artisans here in Northern Louisiana. We look forward to seeing you soon!”
Randy Null, Principal and Co-founder, collected his first piece of art when he was a grad student at Louisiana Tech. It was a still life print by Yves Ganne. His next piece was an original pen and ink by Nguyen Ba Nguyen.
“While I was doing my post doctorate at University of Virginia, I took an Art Appreciation class in my spare time and became hooked. While living in Phoenix I wandered into an art gallery and made my first purchase of an original oil painting by Christian Jereczek.
Since that time I have enjoyed a very eclectic art collection from Scottsdale, AZ; Hawaii; New Hampshire; New Orleans, LA. and Ruston, LA. I appreciate many styles and just like what I like! I tend to not place a lot of meaning into the pieces and look more for those pieces that are pleasing to my eye.
It has been gratifying to know that through Ruston Artisans, we will be able to provide a platform for the many talented artists we have in this area. We encourage you to join us in celebrating that talent through your own art collection.”
In addition to being a patron of the arts, Randy has served as the Senior Director Checkpoint Solutions and Director for Strategic Business Development for the Security and Detection Systems Division of L-3 COMMUNICATIONS. He is also the Founder and Owner of Cogent Solutions, LLC, a company formed to develop company and product strategies for engagement with the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration in the areas of Security Technology. He has served as the Assistant Administrator for Operational Process & Technology/CTO/CIO within the Transportation Security Administration of the Department of Homeland Security as a direct report to the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. In this capacity, he was responsible for approximately 350 employees, 2000 contractors and an annual budget in excess of $1.5 Billion.
Following 9/11 he too responded to the patriotic call and, on assignment from Intel Corporation, served as the Assistant Administrator, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Advisory for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). He successfully deployed over 7000 explosives detection systems to 429 commercial U.S. airports, with an approximate cost exceeding $3 Billion. Between appointments with TSA, Randy served as the Federal Security Director of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona.
Prior to joining TSA, he was a Director in the Capital Mergers and Acquisitions Office, Director of Technology & Manufacturing, Director of IT Engineering, Director of Enterprise Applications, Director, Planning and Logistics Systems, and Director of Manufacturing Systems Technology at Intel Corporation. Prior to working for Intel, he was the Vice President of Memory Products and Director of Operations Services at Microchip Technology, Inc. Randy is currently a professor with Louisiana Tech University.
Monique Gourd, is the Event Coordinator for Ruston Artisans. She is also an interpreter and ESL tutor for the Lincoln Parish School Board, and a part-time Spanish teacher at Montessori School in Ruston. She received her B.A. from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2004. In 2008, after working for the Migrant Education Program in Mississippi for five years, Monique moved to Ruston where her husband, Dr. Jean Gourd, accepted a faculty position in Computer Science at Louisiana Tech University. Monique was a Spanish teacher for the Lincoln Parish School Board until 2012, when her first child, a boy, was born. Two years later, she decided to go back to work part-time as an interpreter and ESL tutor. In 2016, she had her second child, a girl. During her free time, Monique loves to travel with family and host friends and family at home. Her amazing group of friends has helped make Ruston home, and she returns the favor by helping show Ruston newcomers the wonderful things that this great city has to offer.
“Ever since we’ve moved to Ruston I’ve wished for a place that would provide an environment where people could socialize while being entertained. Our goal is to offer weekly events, intended for all age groups, that encourage people to relax, enjoy themselves, meet interesting folks, and potentially learn new things. With these events, we hope to encourage culture and diversity, while continuing to promote Ruston as a destination for entertainment, art, interaction, and fun.”
Todd Maggio, Creative Director, teaches graphic design in the School of Design at Louisiana Tech University. His specific areas of interest are screen-printing, typography, and design entrepreneurship.
Todd began his career in the Office of Public Relations at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He soon moved up to the A&M System Headquarters where his passion for higher education and public service grew. After six years on the public relations side of higher ed, he decided to pursue an MFA at the University of Washington-Seattle and dedicate his career to teaching and research.
While at the UW, Todd made several friends in the tech industry at a time when startups were launching at fever pitch. He collaborated on several projects and quickly found success with TrafficGauge®, the nation's first mobile traffic maps. The experience of nurturing a startup from infancy and developing a total brand, product and all, sparked an intense interest in design as an entrepreneurial endeavor.
Upon graduation Todd accepted a teaching position in his home state of Louisiana where he is once again advancing the cause of higher education.
Todd was commissioned by Ruston Artisans to create our logo.