Lsno/fog
30°
Lsno/fog
Hi 31° | Lo 25°

Hancock

An artist’s life on the page

Hancock Library: Retired Peterborough illustrator exhibits work

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • In Wally Tripp's illustration titled "Mozart's Lost Trio," the composer performs with a rabbit and a fox.

    In Wally Tripp's illustration titled "Mozart's Lost Trio," the composer performs with a rabbit and a fox.

  • A calendar illustration by Wally Tripp features a bloodhound Sherlock Holmes.

    A calendar illustration by Wally Tripp features a bloodhound Sherlock Holmes.

  • "Virgin on the Ridiculous" will be among the works of Wally Tripp on display this month at the Hancock Library.

    "Virgin on the Ridiculous" will be among the works of Wally Tripp on display this month at the Hancock Library.

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • In Wally Tripp's illustration titled "Mozart's Lost Trio," the composer performs with a rabbit and a fox.
  • A calendar illustration by Wally Tripp features a bloodhound Sherlock Holmes.
  • "Virgin on the Ridiculous" will be among the works of Wally Tripp on display this month at the Hancock Library.
  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Works by retired illustrator Wally Tripp will be on display at a show starting this week at the Hancock library.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

The colorful and clever paintings of artist Wally Tripp have adorned the pages of nine children’s books that Tripp wrote himself. He’s also illustrated dozens of works by other authors, including two of Peggy Parish’s “Amelia Bedelia” series and a popular edition of “Casey at the Bat.” And his whimsical anthropomorphic animals were staples of the popular Pawprints line of greeting cards sold nationwide in the 1970s and ’80s.

But the Pawprints building off Route 202 in Jaffrey that once housed 10 workers helping Tripp run his greeting card business now holds two other businesses, including the warehousing, customer service and accounting departments for David R. Godine, Publisher . The cards are rarely found, although collectors sell some online. And many of the books are out of print. Tripp, who is 73 years old, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 20 years ago, and soon after he gave up illustration, retiring for good in 2000.

Now his work will be seen again, in an exhibit being organized by Tripp’s friend, Rita Farhm of Francestown, with help from Sandy Taylor of Hancock. Several of his original paintings, as well as samples of posters he created and a collection of his favorite Pawprints cards, will be on display in the Daniels Room at the Hancock Town Library from Saturday through July 25.

Tripp and Farhm visited the Ledger-Transcript on Tuesday, where they shared recollections of his career and his life in New Hampshire. Speaking haltingly, due to his Parkinson’s condition, Tripp recalled getting started as an artist as a youngster.

“I always liked animals,” Tripp said. “I’d draw giraffes and monkeys. Most kids draw, but few of them continue. I did. I used to do comic books for my grandfather.”

“He had talent,” Farhm added. “His mother pushed him ahead a year in school, which he always resented.”

Tripp was born in Boston, but his family spent summers in Peterborough, where his grandfather was a minister. Farhm and Tripp dated each other while they attended Peterborough High School in the mid-1950s.

“What I remember from high school was his sense of humor,” Farhm said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t get the joke until after he’d already gone home for the evening.”

Tripp went off after high school to study graphic arts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He then attended Keene State College, where he got a bachelor’s degree in education. After that, he studied English at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Farhm said she and Tripp had renewed their acquaintance when he returned to the area.

“But we went our separate ways,” she said. “We both got married and had families. My husband died several years ago, and Wally got divorced. We got back together.”

Tripp spent three years as an assistant professor of English at UNH, but that career didn’t last.

“I couldn’t stand teaching. It was horrible,” he said. He estimated that only about 10 percent of the students seemed to have any interest in the subjects they were supposedly studying. So while still living in Durham, he decided to try to make a living as an illustrator.

“I put together a portfolio and pounded the pavement of New York City,” Tripp said. “At first, I had to do other people’s books. I did that for about 10 years.”

Between 1965 and 1970, Tripp illustrated 17 children’s books by 17 different authors for eight different publishers. The first book he both wrote and illustrated, “The Tale of a Pig: A Caucasian Folktale,” was published in 1968, but he really started focusing on his own books in the 1970s.

“‘Granf a’ Grig Had a Pig’ and ‘Wurst Seller’ were very successful,” Farhm said.

He also started the Pawprints greeting card business in the 1970s, turning out greeting cards and calendars featuring well-dressed mice, rabbits, squirrels, bears and lions with simple but clever messages inside.

“It was quite a successful business for a long time,” Farhm said.

The Pawprints business was sold, Farhm said, after Tripp found his disease made it impossible to paint.

“I couldn’t keep my hands steady,” he said.

Farhm said Tripp’s situation is somewhat unique, because he didn’t develop the tremors that are found with many Parkinson’s patients. But in 2000, doctors implanted a deep brain stimulator device — an electrode implanted in the brain and connected by a wire under the skin to a neurostimulator battery implanted in Tripp’s chest. It blocks electrical signals from targeted areas in the brain and is used for patients whose symptoms require more aggressive treatment than just medications.

“He’s basically battery-operated now,” Farhm joked.

Over the years, Tripp has lived in Hancock, Jaffrey, Peterborough and Francestown.

“You told me you’ve moved about 18 times,” Farhm said.

He now lives in Peterborough for much of the year, but he and Farhm spend summers in Francestown in a camp on Pleasant Pond.

“He can play his music as loud as he likes, and listen to the loons,” Farhm said.

A lover of classical music, Tripp was also a pilot. For many years, he built and flew radio-controlled model planes — “Which he always managed to smash,” Farhm said.

Except for visits to his three children, who all live in California, Tripp doesn’t travel widely any more. He does try to stay fit; Farhm said he’s become an avid user of the rowing machines at Performance Health & Fitness in Peterborough.

“I’ve always had an enthusiasm for exercise,” Tripp said. “I had a very sedentary job. Now I have Parkinson’s, and there’s no cure, except exercise.”

Tripp isn’t planning a public appearance at the Hancock exhibit; his Parkinson’s issues make speaking difficult. But Taylor, who helped put together the show, is looking forward to seeing Tripp’s work again and said visitors are sure to enjoy seeing his familiar images.

“I had such fond memories of the Monadnock Music posters he’d done,” Taylor said last week. “As I’ve been telling people about this show, so many of them just smile. They all remember his work, which they haven’t seen for years.”

The show can be viewed during regular library hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since the Daniels Room is sometimes reserved for community meetings, it is recommended to call the library at 525-4411 before visiting the exhibit.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.