Cherie Via, Owner of Ripe Art Gallery, Answers Our Questions About Art

1. What is your definition of “art”?
Well, that’s a hard question. I guess art to me is anything that elicits a visceral response. Art is visual, or music, or spoken word.

As a collector, I buy art that I respond to without really knowing why. I love the color pink in artwork. I love pictures of nuns, and women. I love graffiti. I collect art on my body as tattoos. I buy artwork that makes me think. I respond to a wide array of music because it moves me, or makes me move. Art is personal. And everyone likes something different.

2. What do you “do”?
I own an art gallery, and I represent artists for their work and their soul. I walk the line daily, of what excites me art wise, and what I can sell. I am also a custom picture framer, and thank god I have a trade. If i relied on selling art to make a living, I’d be living in my car.

3. How did you get started?
I started in the framing industry because I was a musician and I needed a job that First, didn’t suck the life out of me, and Second, that I could arrive at at 10 am, and be out of early enough to head back out for a night of playing music or attending shows. I arrived here on LI as a music teacher right out of college, and after 5 years of teaching high school band, I had had enough of working for the “man”. Framing was a relief. And I loved working with my hands. Plus it gave me the opportunity to fall in love with playing music again. That job set me down this path.

4.  What kind of artists do you feature at Ripe Gallery?
I say that RIPE specializes in folk, self-taught, and outsider artists, which we do. But we also have what people consider “Fine” artists, those with formal art training. I look for new, fresh ideas of art. Something that will excite a younger crowd. If your coming here for pictures of flowers or lighthouses, you’re in the wrong place. Our artists range from self taught abstract artists, to people who create edgy, gory art, to more established artists who are painting more interesting, less traditional subject matter. Most recently we have shown a self taught painter who paints images of Madonnas and Ballerinas on pages of the NY Times; a folk artist who makes wooden wall reliefs overflowing with action figures and hand made, found object robots; we do a yearly group show on Valentine’s Day that draws artists of all ages, from 11-80. This year’s theme was “Love Stinks”; And looking forward, a young artist, a recent grad of Cooper Union, who has made a whole show from store bought objects that he reworks with layers of paint, or stitches with dental floss.

5. Who are you currently featuring at Ripe Gallery?
Currently, until March 30, we are showing a group of 6 women who are members of The National League of PenWomen. The show is titled “Black and White, Dark and Light”, so we have b&w photos, charcoal, watercolors, collage, and the amazing pencil drawings of Jeanette Martone.

6.  What is the most beneficial part of having your gallery on Long Island?
LI supplies me with a large swath of local artists looking for real galleries to show in. I get all kinds here, and I am in the “land of the free”, in that I can pretty much show anything that I want. I’m the board of directors, the curator, and custodian of my own space, and I’m free to show any kind of art that I find worthy, thought provoking, and fresh. Long Island has seen a great many of galleries close in the past ten years or so, so there is great interest in a gallery space that is not a Not for Profit, or library, or coffeehouse.

7. Where do you get your inspiration?
Creative thinkers. Music. Fashion. Low brow art. Graffiti. Tattoos. Crazy people. The underground. Comic books. Good movies. Youth. Working out. My friends.

8. Favorite artist from Long Island?
So many……
Stanko. Love what he does in a fun, accessible POP way.
Anthony Zummo. His “free art” litters my office, and I sponsor his “free art” drops.
Grant Haffner. His landscapes are so beautiful in a technicolorful way.
Doug Reina. His subjects never cease to amuse me, and his technique is so gorgeous.
I could go on, and on, and on….

Cheire Via at RIPE Gallery

Visit Ripe Gallery’s Website for more information:

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