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Artist By Happenchance

While walking around downtown Ste. Genevieve, I popped into a small art gallery. I was surprised to find the artist, busy painting away, working on her latest creation. So I asked her a few questions, and it immediately became clear that there was much more to this lady, a lot more, in fact. So I asked to make some pics. (I don't usually do that, but I had a camera in my trunk) Meet Jean Rissover and her long journey to become an artist - by happenchance.

Jean Rissover artist with painting took some nerve (and a wide optimistic streak) to decide that, at age 70, I was going to become a painter.

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A native St. Louisan, I grew up in North County, attended Washington U., and lived for a time in Gaslight Square (anyone remember that fabulous, crazy area?), then in Old Town Chicago. I also spent a couple of years in Minneapolis and later in Iowa City. After settling in Kirkwood for a dozen years in the early 1980s, I found my way to Ste. Genevieve County.

Jean Rissover holding painting

Along the way, I've been an English teacher, event organizer, theater customer, phone huckster, social worker, Ph.D. student, associate professor, hospital administrator, proprietor of a small-time marketing and publishing business, antique shop owner, and finally retired after a dozen or so years as managing editor of the Ste. Genevieve Herald. But never an artist. So when I retired about seven years ago, it took some nerve (and a wide optimistic streak) to decide that, at age 70, I was going to become a painter.

Over the next couple of years, I benefited greatly from my contact with Jim Wilson, who was then head of the MAC art department, as well as other artists in the area, including those in the Cape Girardeau Visual Arts Cooperative.

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My art is mostly narrative...indeed, I am primarily a storyteller. People--mainly women--are the focus of my work. It's not portraiture; I don't use models or photos. Some of the paintings likely have their roots in people I've known or seen somewhere and in the stories of people I've encountered, but it's not a conscious process. The characters who populate the paintings never represent specific individuals or situations. The figures I paint live in my head and act out their lives there.

Jean Rissover artist with painting
My art is mostly narrative...indeed, I am primarily a storyteller.

If you visit E•KleK•TiX, my small studio/gallery space in an 1860s building in downtown Ste. Genevieve. E*Klek*TiX, located at 130 North Main Street, you'll find paintings and some fun and sometimes funky accent pieces, many by artisans in faraway places I'd like to visit someday. There's a chance my traveling days will be limited. There are plenty of people and stories right here in 573—definitely enough to create new pictures in my head—so many that I'll never run out of people and stories to paint.

Art Gallery with paintings on the wall

Get Out There!  Build something. Join something. Listen to something. Make a painting. Do something. Do anything. What one person can do, another can do. That sunken sofa will be fine without you. 

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