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.


...it took some nerve (and a wide optimistic streak) to decide that, at age 70, I was going to become a painter.

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. Also spent a couple of years in Minneapolis, later in Iowa City, and after settling in Kirkwood for a dozen years, in the early 1980s, I found my way to Ste. Genevieve County.



Along the way, I've been an English teacher, event organizer, theater costumer, 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 then head of the MAC art department Jim Wilson, as well as other artists in the area, including those in the Cape Girardeau Visual Arts Cooperative.


My art is mostly narrative...indeed, I am primarily a storyteller.

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 are never representations of specific individuals or situations. The figures I paint live in my head and act out their lives there.



I paint pretty much every day, and paintings do pile up. So last year I decided to find a space that would get the 150 or so paintings stored in my basement someplace where they'd be seen. The result was E•KleK•TiX, a small studio/gallery space in a 1860s building in downtown Ste. Genevieve. E*Klek*TiX located at 130 North Main Street.

There are plenty of people and stories right here in 573. Definitely enough to create new pictures in my head.

If you visit, you'll find about 75 paintings, and some fun and sometimes funky accent pieces, many by artisans in faraway places I'd like to visit someday. I'll turn 76 in June of this year, so 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.