About ten years ago, as I was doing an errand in a small nearby village, I discovered a small art gallery named RIPE. The moment I entered I knew I was someplace special. The art on the walls was quirky, affordable and broke the boundaries of what you would usually find in an art gallery on Long Island (seagulls, sand dunes, etc.).
The owner, Cherie Via (her name at the time) was attractive, quirky, fashionable, edgy and fun to talk to.
I think the first real show I saw there was the Valentine’s Day show which was a gallery tradition. Individual local artists submitted work on the theme of “love” from which she would make selections for the show. The place was packed; the art on the walls displayed an incredibly imaginative spectrum of variations on the theme of love.
Then suddenly, the gallery was gone. A while later, I found it again while driving to another locale nearby. There it was: the sign said RIPE, the name of her former gallery. It had to be her place…who else could it belong to?
Then I got cancer and didn’t get to visit the new version of RIPE though I continued to pass it for the past two years on my way to and from my occasional visits to the dentist; each time I either had to rush to an appointment or it was closed. But today on my way home from the same dentist I decided to treat myself to an “artist’s date.” (Thank you, Julia Cameron for the idea of an artist’s date, which means taking yourself somewhere to replenish your creative soul.)
As I walked through the door of the turquoise cottage I was thrilled to see that there was still a shop showcasing handcrafted jewelry, paintings, clothing accessories, handbags and lots and lots of remarkable doo-dads. I breathed a sigh of relief to see that although the location was different the essence of the place was unchanged.
And there was Cherie, herself, in a room behind the shop, her new framing workshop. We caught up on the past four years of her life, including her marriage to the man who made the move possible. She looked radiant and has clearly benefitted from the move in many, many ways. Business is better, lots of ideas are in the works including an organic produce farm during the cultivating months. And above all, she seems happily married.
I was given a quick tour of the actual gallery which is now housed in what had been a severely broken down barn. Her new hubbie completely refurbished the barn so that it is now a sizeable welcoming space for art to be shown.
I bought a lovely silver heart for my daughter with a chime inside it, and left feeling like I couldn’t wait to bring my daughter to see it so I’d have an excuse to get back there soon.
A little Slice of Paradise…Ripe Gallery is at 1028A, Park Ave., Huntington, NY. Come see it for yourself!