Lorna Ritz Lorna Ritz Artisan
Amherst, MA 01002
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Lorna Ritz


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I received a BFA from Pratt Institute, changing the course of my painting life into pure abstraction, under the instruction of painter James Gahagan, who was a very important teacher for me. I received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, both in painting and sculpture, (working the 2-D concepts into 6’ welded steel, and casting in bronze). I taught at R.I. School of Design, Brown University, University of Minnesota, and Dartmouth College, and have been a continuous "Guest Critic" at the Vermont Studio Center since 1991, including 2009. I have taught as an adjunct lecturer painting, drawing and art history for six years at Western New England University, (my present position.) I have offered lectures at the Instituto de Belles Artes, (Medellin, Colombia); American University, (D.C. and in Italy); Humboldt State University, (CA); The New York Studio School, and the Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, (France). I have traveled through the U.S. Information Agency to Malta and Honduras to teach at the universities there, and my paintings have been exhibited through the Art-in-Embassies Program in D.C. in Africa and Guatemala, and presently Caracus, as well as at the Divinity Center at Yale University, the Bowery Gallery in NYC, Hillyer Gallery at Smith College, the Fine Arts Center's ‘The Contemporary Art Museum” at the University of Massachusetts; the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, and the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, MA. I had a solo exhibition at the Huntington Museum in Windsor, Connecticut. My paintings were exhibited at "The Painting Center," 2011, NYC, and at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum in 2003, and were included in a group exhibition at The Washington Art Association in Washington Depot, CT., in 2003. I had a solo exhibition at The Oxbow Gallery in Northampton, MA. 2004, and 2007. I had a solo show at ‘The Creative Center’ in Chelsea, NYC, in June, 2006, and another solo at Gallery Anthony Curtis, Boston, Massachusetts , 2007, the ‘Firehouse Gallery’ in Newburyport, Massachusetts, (2008), the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery of Johnson State College, Vermont, and I will have a solo exhibition at the Hopper House in Nyack, New York in 2012. My paintings have recently been exhibited at the American Embassy in Caracas, 2011, Kathryn Schultz Gallery, Cambridge, MA.,2011, (curated by Theodore Stebbins,, Curator of American Art at Harvard University's Fogg Museum), and at the Alan Klotz Gallery in NYC, 2011. My paintings are collected by Hale and Dorr Law Firm, (Boston), Bank of Boston, Johnson and Johnson, (N.J.), Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, (N.M.), the Burnham Institute, (CA.), and Veridex, (NJ), The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Childrens’ Hospital, Boston, Nataxix Global Asset Management, Boston, and Thompson Financial Management, Northampton, MA. I have three times received the Pollock-Krasner Grant Award, as well as a Kittredge Fund Grant from Harvard University. In 2001, I taught painting through the American University, (D.C.). in Umbria, Italy. In April 2004 I lectured at The New York Studio School, and taught a “Drawing Marathon” in October, 2004, and presently teach painting at Western New England University in Springfield, MA. I have been a “Guest Critic” at The Vermont Studio Center since 1991-2009 and I was ‘cultural ambassador,’ (through the International Residency Program ‘at the Augusta Savage Gallery at U.Mass), to exchange ideas with artists in South Africa , 2007, a recipient of The Puffin Foundation Grant to work with prisoners, (teaching a painting workshop), a George Sugarman Foundation Grant Award, 2007, an Artists’ Fellowship, NYC, 2008 and 2011, and The Haven Foundation Award, Maine 2008 & 2011.

My Artist Statement

I am an abstract painter whose paintings feel like landscapes and bring the outdoors inside. The paintings are like windows that peer deeply into space beyond the four edges. My paintings come from the things around me that I see, such as ancient mountains, (the Holyoke range formed by glaciers), cast shadows of clouds on these mountains, the open hayfields where I live, and memories of shapes and colors that rise up unexpectedly from memorized places where I have traveled. It is how colors relate that always guides me. My color combinations come directly from landscape, or from architecture when I am amongst structures as inspiring as the Alhambra, with it’s bodies of water strategically flowing that are companions to them. My painting is ‘edited memory’ of some one event based on a visual experience, combined with life experiences over time.
The physicality of oil paint lends itself to well to my applying paint both thinly and thickly, scraping and reapplying paint. The surfaces of my paintings resemble ancient walls, in that there is a sense of history alive in them, through the repetition of the "placement and replacement" of paint many times over. (I try to convince my students that they can’t expect to get it right the first hundred times, that it is necessary to go through the search process). I feel like I am at a construction site breathing life onto the canvas through a simultaneous building up and a tearing down of color. I love to see open, breathing, moving space create entry way inside the picture plane of the flat surface of linen. It is the act of breathing life onto the canvas that enables the painting’s surface to be like windows or mirrors into which to look. It is the architectural construction of a painting that moves me. A painting gets born when it has a specific presence that comes alive in it, that seems, for me, to come together only at the very end through the last accoutrements that come along so naturally and pleasurably, and fine-tune all that is already compositionally holding together, rhythmically tied.
My paintings are not objectified; they don’t hold objects, but they do hold spirit, souls, and memory, all of which rise up in a form conducive to be said in paint. The paint finds it before even I do, that makes how colors relate be everything. My paintings 'sing' through the light that emanates from the color combinations themselves.
I explore ideas just as an improvisational musician finds his "lines." The dialog between ideas lives in me like a fascinating story I'm telling. The painting has to have a life of it's own unlike any previous painting’s life. I want to see what happens through the "chance encounters" I have with paint, ‘in the moment.’ Free like this, invention surges up and I paint out of curiosity: a problem area in the painting becomes a foreign country in which to travel. I continue to strengthen the major concept as it is forming it's way to becoming "whole." I can never quite get there, but I get closer as I develop my skill, over time. I enjoy the struggle and the search, reaching for the inaccessible, referential to landscape that is not overtly stated, but implied. A familiar shape worked out in the last painting gets obliterated in the new one, for it cannot have a name that has already been spoken. My painting process is always unsettling, completely passionate, radical, and driven, but it is the paint itself that guides me to a place of wonder. The painting has to be better than the idea, which was the painting’s original intent.
Each of my paintings represents a crystallized chunk of formal experience, as well as being very personal at the same time. My paintings are earthy, rock-like and weighty, and yet they have in them the rhythm of the sea. I am a nature painter; the nature "out there" coupled with my own internal landscape. My "inner" finds the equivalent "out there."
I have a need to communicate personal experience, to send waves of emotion that look like the painting got painted with little conscious effort, having a quality of a time distortion effect, even though the painting took months of concentration to pull together into what whole impact it finally becomes. The journey is never over; I always see more to do, but then, knowing when it is time to move on to a new painting is an art form unto itself.

My Location

I am located in Amherst, MA.

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