Artexpo New York 2021, taking place October 28-31, will feature hundreds of talented artists and galleries from around the world. The event, held at Pier 36, is bringing back its popular Spotlight Artist program this year, awarding six cutting-edge artists for their skills and achievements.
Meet Michele Riche, one of Artexpo New York’s Spotlight Artists.
Q: Introduce yourself — who you are and what you do?
A: My name is Michele Riche. I work out of a studio in Bridgeport, CT. I recently moved to the area from NYC. I’m a contemporary realist painter. I paint still lifes and figurative work in oil on canvas.
Q: What is your background?
A: I studied studio art as a child and in college, and then stopped making art for many years. I was living in NYC and working in the fashion industry, and then started a family. When my daughter started going to school, I found myself with time on my hands, so I began taking painting classes, first at the Art Students League and then at SVA. This was my first experience using oil paint, and I loved it! I eventually went back to work in fundraising for a non-profit. During this time period, I was continuing to take classes and paint in my spare time, and that’s where my heart was. So I left my 9-5 grind almost 4 years ago and started pursuing my painting full time. It was the best decision I ever made.
Q: How do you work?
A: With my figurative paintings I work primarily from my own photographs that I take wherever I go. I find an image that I have an emotional response to and that has good compositional potential and then I sketch it out in pencil. I try to work a lot from that sketch, so I don’t get too wrapped up in the exact likeness. It frees me up a bit. With the flowers, I work from life, which is really fun and fast. My mom has amazing gardens which have inspired me this past summer. I have to work quickly because the object I’m painting is changing and fading as I go, so there’s more of an urgency that I enjoy. The backgrounds are imagined or abstracted, and that’s a fun change for me. I’m enjoying that freedom. As a realist painter it’s easy for me to get tight and exact and I’m trying to move away from that a little bit. I’d like to have a good mix of precision and freedom in my practice. Everything I paint has an emotional connection to me. The flowers aren’t just flowers, they’re about my relationship with the person who grew the flowers. Even if I’m painting a stranger, it’s a familiar feeling that brought me to that image. I get very lost in these thoughts while I’m working, it’s completely immersive.
Q: What art do you most identify with?
A: I lean towards figurative and landscape painting. I’m captured by color, mark, making, and mood.
Q: What artist(s) inspires you?
A: For a long time I’ve been inspired by the work of Edward Hopper, Alice Neel, and Lucien Freud. More recently I’ve been looking quite a bit at Cedric Morris and Alex Katz.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?
A: ‘Dare to be fearless’ and ‘toughen it up’. These words ring in my ears as I paint. I’m working on it!
Q: When you are not working, where can we find you?
A: When I’m not working I’m usually walking my dog. I have a 12 year old husky / shepherd rescue. We take a lot of walks together. I love the quiet and observing the changes of light in our neighborhood. We live by the beach so it’s very therapeutic and beautiful.
Q: What does exhibiting at Artexpo New York 2021 mean to you?
A: I’m really excited for Artexpo. I moved away from NYC in May to help with some family obligations. I miss the energy and the people in New York. Their intellect, their sophistication, their style, their audacity. Artexpo New York is an opportunity to engage with all of that. NYC is like a best friend to me, it’s great to be coming home!
Don’t miss Michele Riche at Artexpo New York 2021. Booth #S704.