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February 11, 2016 • Headline News
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Family looking for lost paintings

Mary Mattingly

A family that grew up in Milan is hoping to gather more original paintings by their late mother in the hope to pass her work on to their next generations as well as to share with the public with special exhibits. The Ritchie family has about 50 originals from Lucinda Ritchie, their mother who was a prolific painter during her lifetime, and has documented them on a public website.

Lucinda Ritchie paintingSUBMITTED PHOTO
This is Lucinda Ritchie’s painting of Pipe Stem Bridge in Ripley County. An exhibition of Lucinda Ritchie’s paintings will be at the Milan Public Library Feb. 15-22.

She was born in 1913 in Kentucky and died in 2008 in Milan at the age of 94. She and husband Ishmael brought their four children and moved in 1945 to a farm in Milan, which is now addressed as E CR 700 N, north of Pierceville. Greg Holt bought the property and actually has stored a collection of 11 Lucinda Ritchie paintings from the family of Johnnie Gayheart of Batesville, and shows off a few in his Reservation restaurant in Milan. Holt is a good friend of the family and lives in the 100 year old house the four Ritchie kids grew up in. The Gayheart heirs thought the Ritchie family might want these 11 paintings. And, they were right. Many of the impressionistic scenes were of Ripley County, specifically Milan and Sunman. She was a frequent exhibitor and blue ribbon winner at the Versailles Pumpkin Show art contest.

“She gave away so many and sold some too,” Harold, 77, said. “They are scattered about but we kids would love to have a few.” All four Ritchie kids graduated from Milan, with Harold and his twin brother Phil in 1956, older brother Roger in 1955, and sister Patricia in 1960 . The family has since moved away, some in Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington, but these paintings give them a connection they’d like to share with Lucinda’s 10 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grandchildren.

A few were painted in the 40s and 50s, but most were painted in the late 60s and 70s. Her art reflects her love of her country surroundings. “She was a delightful, kind-hearted woman,” Harold said of his mother. There wasn’t a sick bird, opossum or raccoon she didn’t take in, he added. Self-taught, Lucinda could reproduce images from photos, some being from trips from family vacations, and some portraits. One of his favorites that is lost is of the stone bridge over Laughery Creek. “I loved it!” There was also a blue ink drawing of deer grazing that has been lost. He thinks it was one of her first ones. Signed often “Lou R” in upper and lowercase letters, she also painted still life, birds, landscapes, flowers, and ones of the old homestead and barn. Local people would probably enjoy seeing her rendition of the covered bridge at Pipe Stem at various seasons.

The Ritchies don’t want to see their mothers work lost in a pile at a garage sale, so if anyone has a painting they’d like to get rid of, or even if they want to keep it, contact them and they can at least get a photograph of the piece and log it on the website for posterity sake. “We soooo hope that people we don’t know will tell us they have one of her paintings. My mom was very talented and very humble about her talent.  She told me the reason she began to sign her paintings ‘lou r’ in lower case was she did not want any glory to go to her...that it should go to God for giving her the talent,” said Patricia. They have 86 photos of her artwork on the website. Contact Harold by email at or call Holt at 812-871-4382. A Ritchie exhibition will be at the Milan library next week.

Local Bulletin Board

SEIRD announces student scholarship

The Southeastern Indiana Recycling District (SEIRD) is pleased to announce the 2015 - 2016 “Students Making an Environmental Difference Scholarship” for graduating high school seniors. For details pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican dated February 11 and read pg. 2.

Sheriff scholarships announced
Ripley Co. Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth announced that Indiana Sheriff’s Association would again be awarding college scholarships to qualified high school seniors or college students who are pursuing a degree in criminal justice. For details pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican dated February 11 and read page 3.

Art classes to be offered at Versailles State Park in April
Art classes will be open to the public of all ages, and include photography, birdhouse painting, watercolors, woodworking, recycled art, mixed media art, and beginning guitar. More information is available on page 3 of The Versailles Republican dated January 21.

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