Eric Rippert: Landscapes in the Public Realm
It can all be traced to the small, dour old man. He was a cheat, seated silently next to the bid sheet. The auction was over. He waited for that pronouncement and slowly stood, turned around, and scribbled his only bid onto the auction sheet. He stole the Rippert photograph, depriving SPACES of additional income, the honest, open bidders from a delightfully heated bidding contest, and me of the artwork. This was my first exposure to Eric Rippert’s artwork: a large 20×24 Polaroid of a small ceramic dog. This annoying moment fortunately led to a 18-year association with Eric as a friend, collector, client, supporter and advocate for his art.
Since that aggravating moment in 1995, Eric has gone on to exhibit throughout the United States and Europe and has works in the permanent collections of The Progressive Art Collection, The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum of Art. With a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Rippert spent many years in New York, refining his technique with commercial and fashion work, before relocating to Cleveland in the mid-90s to teach and work on his particular approach to photography. This approach typically incorporates a mysterious figure in his images, leading to an ambiguous and intriguing narrative. Whether a brilliantly executed, referential and reverent riff on Winston Link’s train images, a similarly respectful homage to the Bechers, or a lovingly presented tableau encompassing the Cleveland skyline, Eric’s work can be distant, thoughtful, beautiful and challenging but always with consummate attention to detail and quality.
Sometime this fall, four exquisite color images will bring a commanding presence to one of Cleveland’s most unique neighborhoods: Tremont. As part of a national competition, conducted by the non-profit LAND Studio on behalf of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Eric was among three artists selected from over 150 submittals considered for three commissions. The works are to be installed in three locations in Tremont as part of the new Innerbelt bridge project.
Eric’s four photographs, representing the four seasons, distill his prior work into elegant, simple images that will occupy a grand scale: each will be 10 feet by 40 feet. The billboard-sized photographs have a horizon line that echoes the landscape where they will be installed. The ambiguous figure in the images, the protagonist, will elicit a personal narrative from the viewer, allowing for a shared idea of place. When one views an image of a landscape, it’s simply a landscape; when one views an image of a landscape that incorporates a person, there begins a story: who is this person, why are they here and what are they doing? Thus, the artist has engaged the viewer to become part of the artwork. The viewer’s own narrative completes the installation.
Cleveland should look forward to engaging with Eric’s work at such a monumental scale. Personally, I’m thrilled to see the work of a dear friend presented in such a major public installation. I anticipate standing in front of the photographs, feeling as though I am looking out a window into a landscape that is familiar yet dreamlike and cinematic. I look forward to imagining my own storyline, becoming part of the narrative and installation. Ultimately, I would also hope that the small, dour old man feels welcome to sit beneath the photograph, his back to the image, coveting and protecting the large Rippert for as long as he wishes. We all win with this installation.
Tower Press Building
1900 Superior Ave #107
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Eric Rippert Photography
Opening January 4
Maria Neil Art Project
15813 Waterloo Rd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44110