Layered In Intensity
by Brian Goslow
Beverly Rippel’s work has many layers, both in materials and subject matter. Whether it’s her not-so-traditional still-lifes, abstract bodyscapes, dramatic renderings of seemingly unworthy cigarette lighters, matchbooks and eight-balls, ghostly white and monochromatic works and en plein air paintings from the Gloucester shore or her “big sky studio” in the woods of Easton — or her thought-provoking “Water Pistols and Cap Guns Series” — you always feel the intensity of her paintings in oil.
Projects Gallery of Miami showed her “Blue and Orange Cap Gun” from the series this past December at Aqua Art Miami, and an entire wall of the work will be displayed in Violence Transformed Exhibitions’ “Guns and Gun Violence in America” show this April at Cambridge College’s Mass. Ave. Gallery.
Her first gun painting was made in response to a 1992 shooting in Great Barrington, Mass. Wayne Lo had ordered a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition in the mail and shot 18-year-old Galen Gibson, a student at Simon’s Rock College of Bard, as he came out of the school library. “He had grown up with my two sons and they spent time together that previous summer,” said Rippel, who grew up in Brockton, where she said people regularly settled their disagreements with guns.
Through her paintings, she explores, “the blur between toy guns and real guns” as a way of figuring out her own feelings on them. “I continued to use them to explore the origins of violence. It holds them up to the light of day.”
Rippel has been painting since attending the University of Maine at Orono. “I thought I was going there to learn medicine but took studio art classes and got really excited about them,” she said. After her youngest boy started school, she enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to take life drawing courses in the evening and took painting classes two days a week with Betty Folsom, who had gone to school with Andy Warhol, at Oakes Ames Memorial Hall in North Easton. During “The Arts and Interest Classes” that were town-offered, Folsom encouraged Rippel to learn to see by painting from life.