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Artist has love affair with Ridgefield

Son commissions paintings in memory of his dad.

Wayne Addessi commissioned this picture and two others by Paul Siegel in memory of his father, Rick Addessi, who died earlier this year. His dad can be seen sweeping snow off the sidewalk in front of Addessi Jewelers.

Paul Siegel is having a love affair with Ridgefield’s Main Street, so much so that he has painted more than a dozen views of it.

“How can you miss with a town like Ridgefield?” he asked. “I don’t think we have any town in the area with a Main Street like this one.”

Mr. Siegel’s latest portraits of his hometown are featured in the windows of Addessi Jewelers this season.

They show the west side of Main Street’s business district in two sections — south and north of Catoonah Street.

The pair are a departure from what Mr. Siegel and other artists have typically done in the village — the east side, with buildings like the town hall, Masonic Hall, Bissell’s, the old Bedient’s Hardware.

“I didn’t realize how nice it was until I started looking at it,” Mr. Siegel said of the west side.

He started looking because Wayne Addessi, who had seen some of Mr. Siegel’s works exhibited at Eats on Main, commissioned him to do the west-side views.

Mr. Addessi had three paintings done, all in memory of his father, Rick Addessi, who died earlier this year and who had opened the jewelry store in 1966. Mr. Addessi worked with Mr. Siegel on many details, and wanted the pictures to express the love Rick Addessi had for Ridgefield and its people.

“I truly wanted to create my windows for all to enjoy this season in memory of dad,” Mr. Addessi said.

Paul Siegel at work in his studio, using a computer tablet to which he had transferred sketches of his subject.

As is typical in Mr. Siegel’s work, artistic licenses have been taken. In the painting showing Addessi’s, Ridgefield Hardware, Deborah Ann’s and other shops, sizable Christmas trees have been added, and the Ridgefield firehouse moved a few hundred feet closer to Main. (In another of his paintings, “The Historic Ladies of Main Street,” Mr. Siegel has the Aldrich Museum, Community Center, 1713 Hauley House, and Keeler Tavern all next to each other.)

He has done paintings of the east side of Main Street, in various seasons and eras — one, “Ridgefield, 1908, the First Motor Car Arrives in Town,” shows the village from what’s now Books on the Common to Bissell House in a colorful, summery scene full of people and old vehicles — even a biplane overhead.

He often populates his pictures with people. “I like to show Ridgefield as a really human town,” said the 35-year resident.

His Addessi picture depicts Holiday Stroll shoppers, a Santa, lots of children, Dickensian carolers — and even a Scrooge with “Humbug” on his nightshirt.

A close inspection of the picture will reveal Rick Addessi, in the Tyrolean hat he was known for, sweeping snow off the sidewalk in front of his store.

Mr. Siegel, who is 67 and retired, spent his career as an industrial and graphic designer. He started out as an illustration major in art school but switched over to design as a sophomore.

Retirement has allowed him to focus on art again. Though he does many sailing and Cape Cod scenes, he often paints his hometown.

Mr. Siegel started focusing on Ridgefield after visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. There, he saw Mr. Rockwell’s famous painting “Stockbridge, Mass., Christmas” and decided that Ridgefield on canvas would be just as beautiful as Stockbridge.

“I just think Ridgefield is such a knockout,” he said. Main Street, he added, “has really changed little in 100 years.”

Wayne Addessi had an ornament made from Paul Siegel’s painting..

While his scenes are very traditional, the way he creates them is not.

Mr. Siegel’s career, involving using computers in design, has led him to “paint without paint” — all his works are created on a computer, using a specialized tablet as a “canvas.” Each picture has dozens of layers, allowing him to meticulously fine-tune every aspect, including the positions of each individual, the tones of snowflakes, and the amount of glow from the lights.

Images are produced on his own wide-format, fine arts printer, using archival inks and papers.

“As a designer, I worked in the traditional media of the 70s and 80s to create realistic paintings of whatever products I was working on,” Mr. Siegel said. “In a couple of hours I could usually create a pretty flashy rendering using pastels, markers, colored pencils, and pens.”

Today, he said, “I still like to do the original sketching with pad and pencil but then transfer the drawing to a computer paint program where I paint in the color, shadows, highlights, and other details. I have even designed my own custom brushes for the look of watercolor, acrylic or oils.”

“On a Macintosh,” he added, “I love the ease of making changes. It allows for infinitely greater creative experimentation.”

The retiree also admits to enjoying his new life.

“I’m having so much fun doing this,” he said. “It’s like the best retirement in the world.”


Mr. Siegel’s work may be seen in the halls of the Recreation Center during December, and on his website, paulsiegelstudio.com. Most prints on archival paper run $250 to $135. Mr. Addessi has limited-edition ceramic tree ornaments with the south village scene for $24.95.

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