We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Ritter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, what inspires you?
My new series “Women of the Wild Wes”t are artworks inspired my unique place in history. Born in 1956, I was instilled with an awareness of the wild west history of my family in Oklahoma, grew up on stories about Marshalls, Sheriffs and Native Americans who in habited the legends and history of my family. Overlaid on my own history was the myths of the Old West in movies and on TV. Simultaneously, I was witnessing the race to space, the rumors of UFO’s and the televising of sci-fi series like Star Trek. we played in a world of jumbled imagery. Super heroes, police, robbers, Native Americans, cowboys, astronauts and aliens might all appear in our make-believe playtime. In a time when kids didn’t have many toys, we used what motley props we could assemble: homemade wooden swords and slingshots, secret decoder rings, ray guns, cork guns, and x-ray eyeglasses. Our costumes were whatever old clothing our parents would let us use: hats and aprons and old work gloves. A kitchen pot might become a helmet, a witch’s cauldron or a drum. An old towel might become a flying carpet or used to wrap up imaginary wounds. In our minds, these were transformed into the real thing and we were transformed into smart capable adults, too! Imagination still plays a huge part in my life and is reflected in my work. I drive an art car, so I am in a parade all the time, even on the way to the grocery. I still love to play dress up and love the Art Car Ball every year…I hope it will be able to return soon.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I chose the art quilt as my medium. I fell in love with antique quilts first, being the proud owner of several antique family quilts. I started out by buying antique tops that were unquieted and learned how to make a tiny 12-14 stitches an inch by hand. When I moved to London in 1991, I enrolled in a patchwork class, not r realizing that the City and Guilds certificate would change my life. It met every Friday all year long for 6 hours for two years straight. By the end I realized I wanted to be an quilt artist, not a traditional quiltmaker. I took a chance and started entering national and international shows and was met with a bit of overnight success, taking prizes at the Uk’s Patchwork Championship and at the American Quilt Associations international show. I was hooked and have never looked back!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love to have people visit Houston, because we are not the town people expect. My favorite time of year to have visitors is for the annual Art Car Ball and Art Car Parade in April. We pull a trailer that matches our art car Hallowheels, an apocalypse railroad themed entry, so that we can invite our friends to ride in the parade! We get them to ear costumes for the ball and parade and people leave Houston with a sense of exhilaration and fun! I also love to take people “Quilts: A World of Beauty” in the fall. One of the biggest quilt shows in the world, people are blown away by the range and variety of work, traditional and innovative. And the vendors are a big draw as well.
I love a trip to shop on 19th St in the Heights and then a quick pop down Heights Blvd to the Art Car Museum. I love their quirky exhibitions and often know some of the artists!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Orange Show Center for the Visionary Arts which puts on the Art Car Parade every year under the auspices of Marilyn Oshman is such a wonderful addition to Houston life. Their mission is to encourage creative life. VISION Encouraging creative self-expression. They are also the caretakers of some of the most iconic visionary art experiences in the Houston are including The Orange Show Monument, Smither Park and the Beer Can Art The Beer Can House. Their cultural programing includes the annual Art Car Parade and The Orange Show Concert & Event Series