Pushing the boundaries of light, color and design, Bette Ridgeway is best known for her large-scale, luminous poured canvases, which, in recent years have garnered notable international recognition. The artist’s recognition is as much identified with the process of controlled paint-pouring and canvas manipulation as with the gem-like veils of transparent and translucent color which have characterized her work since the early 1980s.
Bette has won many awards for her work, most recently including the Michelangelo International Prize in January 2021. Bette has been selected to be a participating artist in the 2021 Basel International Fine Art Biennale in Switzerland and the Barcelona International Art Fair in Spain in October of 2021.
Her three decades of mentorship by the acclaimed Abstract Expressionist Paul Jenkins set her on her lifetime journey of non-objective painting on large canvas. She explores the interrelation and change of color in various conditions and on a variety of surfaces. Her artistic foundations in line drawing, watercolor, graphic design, and oils gave way to acrylics, which she found to be more versatile for her layering technique. Ridgeway has spent the last 30 years developing her signature technique, called “layering light,” in which she uses many layers of thin, transparent acrylics on linen and canvas to produce a fluidity and viscosity similar to traditional watercolor. Delving further, Ridgeway expanded her work into 3D, joining paint and resin to aluminum and steel with sculptures of minimal towers. A critical essay has been written by Salvatore Russo, a world renowned Italian curator and art critic in 2021.
Art Tour International Magazine has awarded Ridgeway “Top 60 Contemporary Masters 2017” and in 2016 she received the prestigious Leonardo DaVinci prize in Rome, Italy. In addition she won the Oxford University Alumni Prize at the “Art of the Mind” exhibition at the Chianciano Art Museum in Tuscany in 2012. She participated in the inaugural London Art Biennale in January of 2013 and at the Gagliardi Gallery in London in April 2013.
Trained as a watercolorist, the artist’s love affair with water media began as a youngster growing up in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York (only a few miles from Canada) where she was surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Informed by this early experience, she has traveled the globe, studying, painting, teaching and exhibiting her work, while embracing the customs and colors of the diverse cultures of Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, Mexico and South America. Ridgeway’s formal art studies at Russell Sage College, New York School of Interior Design and the Art Students League gave her the basic tools in the use of materials and technique. Her personal style, however, was a long time in development.
Born in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Ridgeway’s education preceding her four-decade art career began with graphic design at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. Professional designer with Reuben H. Donnelley Advertising Corporation was her first position. Next came the School of Interior Design Art and the Art Students League, both in New York City. Studies continued abroad: painting, exhibiting, teaching, immersed in the cultures of Madagascar, Australia and Chile.
Returning to the United States, her fine art and professional careers continued. Visual arts specialist for the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission and Executive Director and CEO of Very Special Arts an educational affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, were amongst her positions.
1970s- Acclaimed Abstract Expressionist painter Paul Jenkins, saw a light in Ridgeway and closely mentored her over several decades. Forty years hence, her signature technique of “Layering Light” on large-scale, luminous poured canvases and metal sculptures has been perfected.
Mid-1990s-current Ridgeway has been creating and residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Global exhibitions include 80+ museums, universities and galleries, including: Palais Royale, Paris, Embassy of Madagascar and London Art Biennale.
Mayo Clinic and Federal Reserve Bank are amongst Ridgeway’s many permanent public placements.
The artist’s paintings are featured in many books, among them: “International Contemporary Masters 2010” published by World Wide Art Books, “100 Artists of the Southwest,” published by Schiffer Books, “Masters of Today” and “100 Famous Contemporary Artists” both published by WOA Publishing, Stockholm Sweden. Ridgeway has also penned several books about art and process.