Greg Ridley, Master of Copper Tooling

by K R Jackson; Constance Ridley Smith



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 6/29/2009

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 8.5x11
Page Count : 136
ISBN : 9781434380401

About the Book

O-Thy God will give thee eternity for the price of labor.

—Leonardo da Vinci


 This quote is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  Artist Greg Ridley, Jr. often cited it and used it as his mantra.

It became his legacy.

For the hire of a $30,000 grant, Greg’s masterpiece in copper repoussé now dons the Third Floor Grand Reading Room of the Ben West Public Library in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

The work took two years to complete, but culminates a lifetime of study of period forms and art making.  It has given Greg Ridley a place in artistic eternity, for the price of labor.


About the Author

Willie Kate Ridley Jackson was Greg’s most ardent supporter and the historian who preserved the record of his accomplishments throughout his career.

Both Greg (born in 1925) and his sister Willie Kate (born in 1926) were students of the renowned Aaron Douglas, the painter associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Greg majored in art, and Kate, who was interested in watercolor, majored in history and minored in art at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. She later earned a master’s degree in library service from Atlanta University. Kate became the first black librarian with professional library credentials to work at the main public library in downtown Toledo. Throughout her professional career, she also set up libraries in private schools and for various organizations. But Kate never lost her love for art nor her keen interest in Greg's journey.  Kate shared her zeal for art and her desire to codify the oral and written documentation of Greg's art with her neice, Constance Ridley Smith, musician, educator and writer.

Constance, alumnae of Tennessee State University in Nashville (B.S.,1979 and MPA, 1985) studied Honors Art Appreciation with Greg Ridley in 1977.  Upon his death in 2004, she happened upon a copy of his master's thesis and other memorabilia Greg had given to his sister over the years.  The desire to write a brochure mushroomed into four years of research,  recording oral history, preserving artifacts, compiling documentation and writing this, the official record of Greg Ridley's artistic journey.