Visual Arts Gallery to display Irene Ritter sculptures

Release Date: 9/1/2005. Expired: 10/15/2005

After a career that included 20 years as a magazine publisher, an interior decorator and a stint as deputy mayor of Nashville, Irene Ritter turned her lifelong love of rocks into a new calling as a sculptor.

The Visual Arts Gallery at The Renaissance Center in Dickson will display a collection of Ritter’s stone sculptures Sept. 9-Oct. 15. An opening reception with the artist will be 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The exhibit is sponsored by The Bank of Dickson.

At the age of 61, Ritter held her first exhibit last fall in the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery and set a sales record for the gallery, including one piece, entitled Dumber than a Box of Rocks, purchased by TAC for its permanent collection.

Ritter began her new avocation 10 years ago when she attended a two-week course at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, which connected her with sculptor Bob Lochart. After studying with Lochart extensively and attending additional workshops to sharpen her skills, Ritter began amassing a large body of work in direct stone carving.

Collecting rocks from her travels around the world, Ritter uses them for stone carvings that generally are representational of human figures, birds and abstract forms, according to Curtis Southerland, curator for the Visual Arts Gallery.

“Although her work is different, her fine craftsmanship has already been compared to the great sculptors Henry Moore and self-taught Tennessean William Edmondson,” Southerland said. “Aside from her finely honed skills, she also tends to incorporate the sense of a soul and personality into each piece. She is a whimsical and fun-loving artist who carves for the sheer physical joy of it and to please herself aesthetically.”

“I sculpt because I enjoy the physicality of carving stone,” Ritter says. “I have an eye, a feel, an intuition for the reduction process. As I work, the specific form revels itself to me from the work piece. A touch of humor is not often encountered in the art world of today. My work is visual, cerebral and, often, humorous. Perhaps, my criterion is as simple as ‘does it please me.’”

Ritter’s early works focused on abstract forms that represented various ideas. Later works feature figures and organic shapes that depict the subject’s emotions in rock form. Many pieces have humorous titles to convey the juxtaposition of serious art from a whimsical artist.

The Visual Arts Gallery is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and admission to the exhibit and reception is free and open to the public. For more information on the Irene Ritter and other exhibits, contact Southerland at (615)740-5519 or .

The Renaissance Center is an arts and technology education center at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 25 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.

Visit the Visual Arts Gallery page for more about the gallery.

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