RipOff Artists go-go-go Gothic

The RipOff Artists fifth anniversary Challenge concluded this week with a race to the finish, a ringing bell, and a burst of applause and cheers. The multimedia collective has been hard at work since Monday July 4 creating several works of art inspired by American Gothic by Grant Wood. As an added challenge, each artist in the collective chose their own iconic artist to imitate when “ripping off” the original piece. At 3:00 p.m. on Saturday July 9 , the time ran out on this year’s Challenge, with most artists completing their work.




Marion Trimble followed the style of Mexican painter Freida Kahlo when recreating American Gothic in mixed media. Freida and artist husband Diego Rivera replace the farming couple. Rivera holds a set of paint brushes instead of the pitchfork. The farmhouse only partially conceals Kahlo’s famous Blue House studio. Lush palm trees stand in for Iowa fields.








Kurt Hutterli, a 3-D artist specializing and found objects and recycled materials, copied the bold style of Alexander Calder. Hutterli incorporates  Calder’s palette of bright primary colours for the simple wood figures, and Calder’s love of mobiles for the clouds pverhead. 










JoAnn Turner, painting on a wooden cabinet, adopted the style of Byzantine iconography for a “diptych” of the farming couple, giving them the dark brown eyes and swarthy complexion more typical of  Byzantine art.    The drawer above was decorated with Byzantine architecture. Turner says she has more detail work to do, perhaps incorporating the delicate artwork of another medieval religious painter Hildegard of Bingen.







Encaustic artist Thea Haubrich mimicked the style of Japanese wood-block artist  Katsushika Hokusai. Hokusai is well-known for The Great Wave and several paintings of Mount Fuji. In Haubrich’s reproduction, a pagoda replaces the farmhouse in the background. In front, a Japanese lady and a grimacing samurai (in wire-frame spectacles) pose together.











Quilter Dianne Birnie experimented in the style of Gustav Klimt. She combined two separate society portraits by Klimt. She enjoyed the contrast between Klimt’s high society models and the American dustbowl setting of the dirty 30s.






Photographer Russell Work adopted the style of Salvador Dali. Work took inspiration from several of Dali’s techniques: Melting timepieces were replaced with a melting  cameo brooch and eyeglasses.  Dali’s use of wire suspension and props were used for the farmhouse and the farmer’s chin. Dali’s famous waxed mustache twirls into curled and drooping pitchfork tines. Mimicking Dali’s Mae West painting, in which the actress’ face is transformed into a stage, Russell Work similarly transforms the farmwife’s face and blouse.












Leo Pedersen admits he struggled to find an appropriate artistic style in which to reproduce American Gothic in his chosen medium: wood.  He finally settled on something very unconventional but entirely appropriate, Vancouver Sun editorial cartoonist. Len Norris. Norris was known for “skewering social mores”, much like it is supposed Grant Wood does in American Gothic. Pedersen’s work includes a typical editorial caption poking fun at the RipOff Artists, Grant Wood, and Norris himself: “…and this just when we’re through posing for that cartoonist fellow!” grumbles the farmer.











Barb Levant took her inspiration from a 1930s textile artist to recreate the apron worn in American Gothic.















In perhaps the most challenging recreation of American Gothic, fibre artist Terri Irvine knits a Picasso!







Enid Baker’s painting was inspired by the style of Modigliani, whose models are often shown with elongated bodies, oddly bent necks,  and mask-like faces. Basing her design on Modigliani’s portrait Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz, she added a wine glass in Jacques hand– much more  appealing than a pitchfork! The background is based on a separate Modigliani landscape.










Enid must have had time on her hands, because she also completed this “Gothic” version of  Charles Schultz’s  Peanuts comic. “I was tempted to add some Gothic vampire teeth,” said Baker.

Missed the show? Watch for a RipOff Artists exhibit later in the year….

 Photo credit: Penelope Johnson

RipOff Artists Reach the Peak with Mount Lefroy

During the last week of June, the South Okanagan’s  RipOff Artists attracted media coverage and crowds of curious onlookers with their fourth annual exhibit, “ripping off” Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris and his iconic Mount Lefroy. During a weeklong demonstration and exhibit, each of the ten artists in the collective interpreted the famous painting in their own medium.

Leo Pedersen’s 3-D woodworking installation in progress.

Encaustic artist Thea Haubrich recreates Mount Lefroy in hot beeswax.

JoAnn Turner turns a CD cabinet into a work of art. Can you see the drawer knobs? Or are they surreal snowballs and mountain rocks?

3-D artist Kurt Hutterli adds the finishing touches to an elaborate installation. Painted egg cartons on the floor give the illusion that his artwork is at the “pinnacle” . The whimsical climbing figures added to Harris’ landscape are adapted from a famous period photograph of Rocky Mountain alpinists.

Kurt Hutterli discusses his tongue-in-cheek demo piece with OCAC member Dot Cranston. Mount Lefroy is painted on the hood of a rusted car, cruched in the shape of a mountain peak. Hutterli wonders (with a twinkle in his eye, of course) if the car perhaps once belonged to Lawren Harris himself?

Spinner and weaver Barb Levant  recreates Mount Lefroy into an outfit a sherpa or alpinist would be proud to wear. She carefully chose colours and banded patterns to match Harris’ original painting.

Quilter Dianne Birne adds the last finishing stitches to her fabric  interpretation of the painting.

Enid Baker reinterprets the masterpiece in watercolours.

Photographer Russell Work cleverly reimagines Mount Lefroy as “two-two-two Mounts in one!” His photo installation rotates (much like some modern billboards) to switch from the Lefroy painting to a photo of artist Harris at work on Mount Lefroy.

See a video of the “revolve” in action here:

Collage artist Marion Trimble painstakingly glues strips of fabric and paper onto her piece.

And now for the finished exhibit! Marion Trimble, Enid Baker, Barbara Levant, Russell Work, JoAnn Turner, Terry Irvine (knitter), Diane Birnie, Leo Pedersen, and Thea Haubrich. Missing from photo: Kurt Hutterli.

Photo credits: Russell Work, Thea Haubrich

For more photos, visit Thea Haubrich’s Encaustic Blog:

For a fantastic video of the RipOff Artists with Mike Roberts of CHBC, take a look at

Comments about this article? Share them at We’ll post them at the bottom of this article as received. (The email method helps us avoid spammers. )

RipOff Artists Reception Monday June 28th

by Marion Trimble

The “Ripoff Artists” once again rise to the challenge as they scale new heights in lifting Lawren Harris’s “MOUNT LEFROY” during a week of open studio. So-named for their annual pilfering of a famous dead artist’s masterpiece, the Ripoffs, a “Group of Nine”, have selected the Canadian icon who was the driving force behind the formation of the Canadian, “Group of Seven”.

Lawren Harris, a major leader and influential artist of this country, was pivotal in the development of a uniquely Canadian style of landscape painting. By virtue of its isolation, he felt the Canadian landscape required a different painterly approach. This insight led him to begin simplifying his palette and forms in the belief they were capable of expressing spiritual truths. “Mount Lefroy” in it’s symbolic blues and yellows, is an example of his dramatically designed, mystical compositions.

The collective’s ringleader, fabric artist, Terry Irvine known for her functional, sometimes humorous original creations stated, “I like the simplicity of the painting, while at the same time, I’m surprised by its complexity”. “It was an easy decision in picking this year’s prey”, said paper collage artist and member, Marion Trimble. “After imitating the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt and Georgia O’Keeffe in previous years challenges, it was time to come home”.

The nine artists recreating “Mount Lefroy”, a Canadian rockies buttress on the B.C./ Alberta border, represent several different art forms. Dianne Birnie and Enid Baker are both gifted members of the Double “O” Quilters and the Fabricators. Each employs a different method of quilting that always impresses. Enid in past challenges elected to paint rather than quilt so it will be a surprise to view which of her talents she employs this year. Another surprise can be expected from multi-disciplined, fine artist, JoAnn Turner. In previous challenges, she painted her image on a non traditional surface. Chosen from any one of her mediums of pottery, jewelry, basketry or clothing design, we can expect her piece to be skillfully produced. Kurt Hutterli is a writer and artist. His imaginative 3-dimensional creations of recycled, mixed media, have delighted audiences in past exhibitions. A member of several weaver’s Guilds, including the Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers in Oliver, Barbara Levant, a weaver and spinner for over 35 years, enjoys the suspense of seeing fabric develop and colours interact as she weaves.

Another Ripoff participant since it’s inception in 2007, is encaustic artist, Thea Haubrich. An active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, her works win awards locally and nationally. As exclusive representative for Canada of the Arts Encaustic International products, she is a well-known, dedicated promoter of her art form. Pushing the boundaries of digital photography, Russell Work’s innovative images last year were an exciting addition. Known for capturing the beauty of the Okanagan Valley landscapes, he specializes in panoramic compositions. This year guest artist Leo Pedersen joins the gang. A member of the Oliver Sagebrushers, Leo is a self taught painter and woodworker who learned the basics from his grandfather and father. He now carries on a family tradition, teaching his grandchildren the love of art.

 In 1940, Harris moved to Vancouver where he spent the last 33 years of his life making an enormous contribution to contemporary art. He was a strong supporter of younger artists and influenced the direction taken by the Vancouver Art Gallery. Harris was the driving force that brought together the varying talents and temperaments which formed the Group of Seven. This week his guidance reappears to inspire our very own talented Group of Nine, the Ripoff Artists.

Visitors are welcome to view the artists’ progress as they gradually ascend the lofty goal of bringing their Mount Lefroy interpretations to conclusion. The skullduggery takes place at the Quail’s Nest Arts Centre, 34273 95th St., across from the airport in Oliver. Opening reception is Monday, June 28th, 6-8 pm. Studio times Tuesday June 29th through Saturday July 3rd from  9 am to 3 pm. Join the artists during the week as they scramble to a dramatic climax by 3 pm, Saturday, July 3rd. For information contact Terry Irvine at 250-498-4156.

Ripoff Artists Scale New Heights

The Oliver-based artists’ collective known as the Ripoff Artists are getting ready to “lift” the work of Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris, “Mount Lefroy”.

Each exhibit, the Ripoffs select one famous piece of artwork for inspiration. Each artist in the collective then works independently in their chosen medium to capture the essence of the masterpiece.  The Ripoff Artists excel in photography, wood working, 3-D, weaving, felting, quilting, encaustic (hot wax) art, mixed media collage. In previous years, the artists have “ripped off” such great artists as Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Their interpretations are always breathtaking in their creativity!

Find out the artists’ visions at the opening reception. Drop by to watch the artists at work during the week. Return for the final frenzy and the finished creations on the Saturday.

Come experience Harris’ “Mount Lefroy” with all your senses!

Monday June 28 – Saturday July 3
Quail’s Nest Arts Centre
 34274 – 95th Street, Oliver BC
Opening Reception:
Monday June 28
 6 – 8 p.m.
Daily Demonstrations in Studio:
Tuesday  to Saturday
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Comments about this article? Share them at We’ll post them at the bottom of this article as received. (The email method helps us avoid spammers. )