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Artist Biography

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 international recognition.

Her major awards include: the Michelangelo Prize 2021 in Rome, International Prize - 2019 Artist of the Year presented in Mantua, Italy in June, 2019, "WAA 2019 "Womens' Essence" at the Venice Biennale in May 2019, Art Tour International Magazine’s “Top 60 Contemporary Masters, the Leonardo DaVinci prize and the Oxford University Alumni Prize at the “Art of the Mind” exhibition at the Chianciano Art Museum in Tuscany.

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, Central 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.

Always an artist, she postponed her art career to raise her family and hold a job. While working in Washington DC as CEO of Very Special Arts, an educational affiliate of the JF Kennedy Center, which provides arts programs for disabled children and youth, she was fortunate to meet internationally acclaimed artist, Paul Jenkins.

This was a life-changing experience. Jenkins became a friend and mentor, encouraging the artist to work large and focus on color, space and time. He once jokingly referred to his paintings as “chaos” and Ridgeway’s as “controlled chaos”.

Ridgeway took Jenkins’ advice and has spent the last 30 years developing her signature technique in which she uses many layers of thin, transparent acrylics on linen and canvas to produce a fluidity and viscosity similar to traditional watercolor. The effect is both sensual and powerful.

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. The work is also included in many public and private collections including the John Deere Corporate Collection, the Federal Reserve Bank, Criteria Communications, the Mayo Clinic and Northwest College.

In the catalog for the artist’s 2000 Millennium Exhibition in NYC, the late Laurence F. Johnson, AACR, Curator of the John Deere Corporate Collection wrote, “Alpha” the centerpiece of the exhibition really stunned me. It went off in my head with a psychedelic big-bang, forming a universe of kaleidoscopic stop-frame action of a thousand frames a millisecond. A billion light years of searching sound filled the hemispheres of my mind”. The Deere Collection has acquired 3 large Ridgeway poured paintings over the years.

“Layering color on a variety of surfaces with transparent color combinations presents me with incredible challenges,” says Ridgeway, “along with very deep rewards”.