Betsy Ritz enrolled at Milwaukee State Teachers College (MSTC) in 1928 and graduated in 1932 with a degree in art education. She excelled in drawing, lettering and fashion design, and showed promise as an illustrator. She preferred a linear style, employing black and white rather than color to structure her work, but the delicate tints she employed for emphasis and to create pattern show that she had a sensitive color palette at her command. Her pen and ink and graphite drawings, along with her linocuts and etchings, demonstrate her masterful, fluid line and sophisticated compositional skills. Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Ritz exhibited in local and state juried exhibitions, won prizes, and served as secretary of the Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors.
In 1937 Betsy Ritz married Joseph Friebert (1908-2002), a licensed pharmacist who was embarking on his own artistic career. In 1941, when Joseph enrolled at MSTC to get a degree in art and their first child was born, the couple decided that the family could afford only one career in art; that of Joseph. Into the late 1950s, Betsy did occasional pro-bono art projects and served as her husband's closest artistic advisor. She planned to return to art full-time when her two daughters were grown, but she died of cancer in 1963, at age 53. Her work has been featured in four exhibitions in Milwaukee since her death: at the Charles Allis Library in 1984; Studio 613 in 2000; the Mary Nohl Galleries, UW-M School of Fine Art in 2003; and the Elaine Erickson Gallery in 2008.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2003Works on Paper by Joseph Friebert and Betsy Ritz Friebert,
Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee