Posts Tagged 'Elizabeth Ryder'

Betty Ann Sutton – Artist Profile

Betty Ann Sutton and a new Pastel at the Donkey Barn Reunion Show

Betty Ann Sutton is known by many names – Elizabeth Ryder Sutton, E Ryder Sutton, Betty Ann.  Then there are the less personal but equally as distinctive monikers – owner of Donkey Barn Studio, proprietor of Mr. Ryder & Company, rescuer for Forgotten Felines, organizer of the Graton Pet Parade, sponsor of the Mr. Ryder Spay and Neuter Fund at the Sonoma County Humane Society.  I could go on and on about the many contributions that Betty Ann has made to our community.   But this column is about artists and their art and I want to give appropriate emphasis to the artist who has given so much to many.

Betty Ann is such a recognized personality in the West Sonoma County world that I would never have guessed that she came to us via Florida and Southern California.  With a minor in Art from the University of Miami, Betty Ann traveled to Los Angeles and began her career as a teacher of art.  She eventually relocated to South San Francisco where she continued to be involved in the artist community.  She taught at Fort Mason for two years.  She migrated from the paintings of her early training to pastels where she has exclusively focused her efforts since arriving in Sonoma County in 1990.  In her first years in Camp Meeker, Betty Ann met a broad spectrum of animal lovers and helped a great many cats by volunteering with Forgotten Felines.  In 1993 Betty Ann purchased a desirable property east of Occidental with a small cottage and much wanted space.  Her animal family of cats and the much beloved Mr. Ryder was expanded by two donkeys.

A barn was built.  The intended purpose of the barn was to have studio space for Betty Ann since the home had no room.  When Betty Ann’s vision was realized, the space was far greater than she could fill and invited others to join her.  Soon there were 20 local artists painting weekly.  It started with a few friends painting for a few hours – then the potluck lunch was added – next was a band to keep the creative juices flowing – finally a professional model was part of the package.  Figurative art flowed.  Betty Ann engaged her pastels and enhanced the subject with wonderful hats and demure dresses.  The last of the Donkey Barn Studio gatherings was in 2002.  But these festive events are still in the minds of all who inhaled the euphoria of the day and created beautiful memories as well as drawings.  This group of friends and colleagues include artists whom I have included in this column – MaryLu Downing, Jack Stuppins and Jerrold Ballaine.

Painting by MaryLu Downing at Reunion Show

Betty Ann, MaryLu and Diane Senia are planning to recreate the camaraderie with a reunion showing at the Occidental Center for the Arts this month.   The Donkey Barn Reunion Art Show runs from August 5 to September 4.  The opening reception is Sunday, August 7 from 3 to 6.  You will have the opportunity to view the works of some of Sonoma County’s most acclaimed artists and take in Occidental and all it has to offer.  If you have not been to the Occidental Center for the Arts, it is located at the old Harmony School across the street from the Occidental Community Center. This beautiful venue opened earlier this year and has quickly become a successful location for art, music and theater.  The trip to Occidental is an invitation to eat the local fare, browse the shops and take in the overall beauty of the area.

A wonderful side effect of this Show is that Betty Ann has picked up her pastels and has created a new body of work.  Friends within the animal rescue community have benefited from Betty Ann’s talents with portraits of their beloved pets.  Mr. Ryder is no longer sitting watch over the antique shop but he is captured beautifully in many representations.  In 2001, Betty Ann participated in The Object of My Affection, an ensemble of Pastels and writings on the relationship between humans and pets at Quicksilver Mine Co.  Some of you may know of Betty Ann’s art through Art Trails in which she participated for nine years.  Her new pastels depict nostalgic scenes of family, home and nature which come from the pictures and memories of youth.  You will not want to miss them.  Whether it is starting a gallery, teaching a class or decorating her home and store, Betty Ann is in the thick of creativity in Sonoma County.

I greatly enjoyed getting to know yet another terrific person through this column.   Thank you, Betty Ann for allowing me into your home.


September 2021


Previous Posts

Other Topics Covered

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 737 other followers