Carl Holst has been a student for over 30 years at a local place of learning that does not offer a degree or a certificate but provides its students with skills, technique, achievement and beautiful works created by their own hands.
The Ridgewood Art Institute boasts many “lifelong students” who have dedicated their time and talent to help build and preserve a unique non-profit organization while honing their own skills each week. The notable yet understated structure is a masterpiece itself which stands out--yet blends in--to the landscape at 12 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood.
As President of the organization, Carl’s hope is that the Institute continues its mission as a place celebrating art and its makers. “Our biggest goal is for people to realize that we are here,” he says. As an art major and music minor, Carl’s career path veered toward the insurance industry, but he found the Institute in 1990 and has been there to satisfy his artistic endeavors ever since. Elena Taylor, Public Relations Director adds, “most of our students have been here for a very long time.” Elena herself has been a student for over 20 years.
The group was founded in 1935 and bought an 1861-era barn on Glen Avenue to be their home in 1947,” says Rebecca Leer, a member, student and instructor at the Institute. “The community rallied around the idea and helped to raise money for the cause, which attracted renowned artists like Arthur Maynard. Maynard came to the Institute along with a breakthrough concept developed by Frank V. DuMond of the Art Students League in Manhattan called a Prismatic Palette. The Prismatic Palette clarifies several strings of colors into even steps, with the lightest values descending to the darkest tones. It is a much-used resource for artists to interpret outdoor light and to see the light progressions in the form of color temperatures and value.
As any art student will tell you, studios with north-facing windows are coveted for providing a constant silvery glow without direct sunlight moving across the room. This helps the artist have control over contrasts and the subtle color changes within a painting. “As far as we know, The Ridgewood Art Institute is the only known studio in the area where this atmosphere is available for our artists,” says Elena.
The Institute focuses on traditional American classical realism and offers classes in oils, watercolors, and drawing for people of all ages and abilities. “We teach at every level, from beginning students to art majors who have studied art and painted for years. Our classes are ongoing throughout the year and students may join at any time,” says Elena. “Ninety-year-olds work alongside nine-year-olds. It’s a beautiful give-and-take experience with everyone in the community sharing information and inspiration.”
Ed Galenkamp has been taking lessons over ten years with a particular interest in watercolor painting. “Students come here from as far away as New Brunswick, Goshen, and New York City,” he says. “This facility is very unique to the country. Several people I know have moved away and cannot find any other place like this to paint.
The non-profit covers operating costs through membership fees which are $80 per year for an individual or $600 for a lifetime membership. Instructors are paid directly by their students through class fees and are expected to donate two paintings and direct one art show per year. The rest of the organization, along with its board, are volunteers.
The month of February features the Institute's 40th Annual Juried Art Show, which is open to all artists working in a representational or traditional manner in the New York metro area. All works will be judged on an equal basis by a qualified jury.
The 68th Annual Sponsors Show is a unique opportunity to pick up an amazing piece of art for only $275. Participants purchase a limited $275 sponsorship. On the last night of the show, as their names are drawn, sponsors are able to select their favorite painting to take home.
The Ridgewood Art Institute gives back to the community through its Young People’s Scholarship exhibit when works by aspiring members and non-members are hung. Winners are selected as beneficiaries for the Institute’s scholarship fund, which spans from a Grand Scholarship for HS seniors heading into a collegiate arts program to free lessons for non-member winners.
Visitors are welcome at any time that classes are running, and there is no charge for admission. Alena advises calling before visiting to confirm. The organization accepts donations, and all of their sales proceeds benefit the organization. “We need that kind of devotion from people,” says Rebecca. "It's a very special place."
40th Annual Juried Show
February 8 - 23
Plein Air Art Show
March 2 – 20
68th Annual Sponsors Show
April 5 – May 1