Addison/Ripley Fine Art Continues to Transform Georgetown’s Art Scene
By September 21, 2023 0 571•
Since 1981, Addison/Ripley Fine Art has been a fixture in the Georgetown and Washington arts scenes. Across from Book Hill Park at 1670 Wisconsin Ave NW, the contemporary gallery has showcased local and more established artists for over 40 years.
Owners Christopher Addison and Sylvia Ripley wanted a space to highlight lesser-known, local artists in exhibits along with works from more established artists. “To be able to continue for this long — 40 years — has been more of a privilege and certainly less of a burden than I ever expected,” Addison said. “Our children learned to walk in the gallery and we lived above it at one point.”
Addison and Ripley’s three children are grown now, so the couple has started to pass on their leadership roles to people who work with them, like their gallery director, Romy Silverstein.
For many years, Addison and Ripley have been art collectors and they’re still in the process of collecting and passing on artworks to their children.
The couple and their gallery show no signs of slowing down. Christopher has been a board member for four years at Transformer DC, a non-profit art gallery on P St. NW, and also serves as head of development there. Addison/Ripley did a show with Transformer a few years ago as a prelude to Transformer’s annual auction.
Their exhibit, artist Jackie Battenfield’s “Shimmer: New Works on Mylar,” debuted September 8 and runs through October 14. The couple are close with Battenfield, and consider her a dear friend and valued artist (she’s had eight or nine shows at Addison/Ripley over the years, according to Addison). “[Jackie’s] interest in Japanese art was something that distinguished her work and drew her work to us in the first place,” Addison said. “We liked the clean approach and the direction she was going with calligraphy.”
The couple also appreciated the kinds of decisions Battenfield was making about painting on canvas and paper.
“The number of artists who work here who have reputations outside of Washington, D.C. is encouraging because that was not a feature years ago, when we got started,” Addison said. “I think the counterpoint to global art is that if you don’t pay attention to [art] locally, then you’re missing the most important point, that it can grow and be nurtured anywhere — we hope we’re part of that nurturing process.”
Battenfield, who’s known for her luminous paintings and prints of natural forces, can’t imagine doing much else with her time. “I don’t know what else I’d do if I weren’t thinking and working on a painting,” she added. “Sometimes, for some artists I guess over time, that feeling dissipates, but for me, that itch has never stopped itching.”
While Battenfield currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, she visits D.C. often. “Local artists are everywhere and important to any economy and the life and liveliness of any place,” she said. “It’s not just [visual art], it’s the performing arts too.”
Both Addison and Battenfield enjoy partaking in the D.C. arts scene. Addison and his wife are “big fans of Studio Theatre and the Hirshhorn,” he said. The couple also visit The Phillips Collection regularly. Addison also enjoys the Kreeger Museum and complimented what Jack Rasmussen at the American University Katzen Arts Center does with local artist exhibits juxtaposed with international ones.
“D.C. is full of amazing museums,” Battenfield said. “I also try to visit the local galleries as well.”
When she visits the D.C. arts scene, Battenfield always finds it a nourishing experience.