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Conversations with the Inspiring Beverly Rippel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beverly Rippel.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As early as I can remember, I wanted to be a ballerina. I studied classical ballet as a young girl with the Alicia Langford School of Ballet in Boston. I also liked to draw a lot. In 4th grade, it was discovered that I really needed eyeglasses. When I first put on my new glasses, I couldn’t believe that I could see leaves on trees! From that day on, I never stopped looking at the world around me.

When I was twelve, my parents gave me the gift of music lessons at the Longy School in Cambridge, MA, and when I was 17, I earned my Preparatory Certificate in classical piano and music theory. Both my ballet and music classes taught me much about discipline, commitment, and joys of the Arts. I was probably about thirteen when I took classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. My father was teaching at Harvard Dental School on Saturday mornings and he let me walk to the MFA for a ceramics/clay class. The class was barely memorable, but it was the walk through the galleries to the upstairs classroom that may have determined my future life as an artist. There was this huge John Singer Sargent painting on the wall of a woman in a floor-length dress with pointed, light blue satin slippers on her feet. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I wondered how Sargent ‘made’ the shine on those satin shoes! Alone in that room, I paced the wooden floor – getting close enough to those slippers that the shine revealed a simple squiggle of white paint… and then backing up to find that the squiggle had turned into a ‘shine’. I remember finding the exact spot on the floor revealing this miraculous transformation! (I have told this story to all of my students throughout my 25 years of teaching ‘from life’, observational drawing and painting classes.)

I went to the University of Maine in Orono thinking that I would pursue a medical career, but I ended up with a Major in Fine Arts and a Minor in Anthropology. (The Viet Nam War was on and it was then that I first began thinking of guns as ‘cultural artifacts’. I have been using the toy water pistol and cap gun image in paintings since 1992, and continue to revisit this theme.)

I met my love/life partner the first weekend of my freshman year at college, and we started a family right after graduation. While at home, in the important early years of motherhood, I kept my hand in drawing while taking classes at Rhode Island School of Design. When my youngest son went off to grade school, I began a studio painting practice. I started teaching children’s and adult art classes and workshops and held weekend painting retreats in South of Boston art centers. I had a great group of students in the 15 years I held classes at the local Council on Aging where I was awarded several MA Cultural Council Grants.

I see my artist/life as a Compass Rose. I have allowed my painting to spring from this experiential background nub of dance, music, visual arts, cultural anthropology, Nature, and motherhood as I continue to follow outward directional paths that fascinate me. For nearly 40 years, I have developed several bodies of work in different locations I call my ‘studios’. I paint in Nature in my “Studio-by-the-Sea” in Gloucester, MA, and in my “Big Sky Studio” in the gardens at home. I have a working studio in an old boot factory in Stoughton, MA, and for 7 years now I have had a studio/business gallery in Boston’s South End. Daily I am in my “mind studio” on meditative walks where I gather up colors and sensory observations of the day. Looking back, I see that I have been developing a personal paint language that described narrative subject matter. Now -looking at the newest work- I see an emerging transition of the importance of a nearly pure hieroglyphic paint vocabulary.

I exhibit my work in national exhibitions, museums, and galleries, and have received encouragement and awards of merit from art critics as well as curators from MoMA, the Whitney, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and others. The best thing about the Boston Open Studio Events is sharing and listening to what visitors and students see in my work. It is the best!

Has it been a smooth road?
For all of us, time is precious. There have been blocks of time when I wanted and needed to be available for elder parent care and medical emergencies involving my children and grandchildren. In the end, these times away from the studio and from teaching jobs actually enriched my life – and in a way – my work. It’s hard to advise anyone -really- but I would offer that sometimes our windows of opportunity come and go quite quickly. Keep that in mind when you make a permanent decision to open or close a door to an experience whether it be a job offer, travel, a relationship or motherhood.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into your business story. Tell us more about the business.
I am a working artist. I am probably known mostly for my 2 D paintings, but I work in 3 D assemblage and recently with photography and other media when it is called for conceptually. My monumentally -sized water pistols and cap gun paintings have been included in several national and museum exhibitions including the Portland Museum of Art Biennial 2011 ( Portland, ME) and the University of Maine Museum of Art Triennial, 2010, (Bangor, ME). In 1998, my painting, “Just Once” was selected for Cambridge Art’s First National Prize Show by Malcolm Rogers, Director Emeritus at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Rogers gave this painting the $2000.00 “Best in Show” Award from 4000 entered works. I don’t know any other artist who deals with the topic of gun violence in the same manner as I do. These exhibition experiences, along with positive commentary by our then Boston Globe Pulitzer Art Critic, Sebastian Smee, regarding “Pink Cap Gun I” in the PMA Biennial, has given me additional confidence to continue with my work.

I welcome visitors at my studio # 401 B for “First Fridays” from 5-9 p.m., on many Sundays from noon-3, and by appointment at my 450 Harrison Ave, Boston studio. I post regularly on Facebook and Instagram.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Wilson Hunt, Steve Gyurina Photography, Ron Rippel, Beverly Rippel

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