Artist Glenn A. Ridler passed away on December 1, 2020 at home. He was born in Paterson New Jersey in 1942 to Mildred Ridler (nee Decker) and Kenneth Ridler. He grew up in working class Paterson in the duplex his family shared with his maternal aunt Hazel and uncle Frank Polizzi and their two sons Frances and Donald. He attended Central High School where he was on the basketball and baseball team and was involved in the chess club and excelled in art. Ridler enrolled at Montclair State College in 1960 as the first member of his family to go to college. He graduated with a BFA in Art Education in 1964. He married Pat Morse after graduation and the couple moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Ridler attended graduate school at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland California and earned his MFA in painting in 1967. While in California he taught at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Ridler returned to the East Coast buying a house and property on Patten Hill in Shelburne Massachusetts in 1968 and began teaching art at the Middle School in Greenfield MA. He and Morse divorced in 1970.
Ridler began to build his large-scale living art work and the locally famous Little Big House in 1972. It was imagined as simple and archetypal house, the way a child might draw a house, with a centered front door flanked by two windows. When viewed from the road the house’s scale creates an optical illusion of a little cottage, thus it was dubbed, the Little Big House. The house became a family home, an art gallery and showcase for Ridler’s art. He married Christine Baronas of South Deerfield in 1980 and their daughter Morgan Ridler was born in 1984. He began teaching art at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in the 1980s until he retired from full time teaching in 2002. Ridler was an inspiring teacher in his wide variety of painting, sculpting architecture and design classes that encouraged countless students in their pursuits of creative ventures. He was an accepting and supportive mentor to many across Franklin county. After retirement he returned to Mohawk to teach chess to a new generation.
In 2006 Ridler and Baronas opened the Little Big House Gallery where they exhibited the work of Ridler, family, and friends. The home and gallery has been featured in The New York Times and The Chronicle on WCVB5 Boston. Ridler is survived by his wife Christine, daughter Morgan and son-in-law Brian Hecht of Sleepy Hollow, New York. Upon his death he made an Anatomical Gift to the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Donations can be made in Glenn’s memory to the Community Action’s Family Center, which will benefit their arts program. Checks can be sent to Community Action Pioneer Valley, 393 Main Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 or at the www.communityaction.us/giving.
Members of the Connecticut Valley Region Chapter of the Veteran's Motor Car Club of America visit Little Big House, August 7, 2016.