ABOUT RIPRAP LLC
RipRap LLC is dedicated to rejuvenating historic buildings and repurposing them as mixed-use creative spaces. RipRap LLC opened in March 2015 and marks the beginning of Thomas Burr Dodd and his wife Pearl Son-Dodd’s journey into Newburgh, NY after two decades of successfully running their company in Brooklyn, NY; Brooklyn Fire Proof.
RipRap is set to build and market spaces that can operate as studio, exhibition space, office, meeting room or a combination of all of the above. The Hudson Valley already has an artist and entrepreneur population that just needs the infrastructure and some assistance kickstarting their projects. Artists, artisans and small business owners in New York City have faced losing battles for decades to retain their creative spaces in the city, and many are ready to seek opportunities outside of the five boroughs. We need to encourage and promote the micro-manufacturers and makers who can fill the void left by the larger industries that have disappeared from Newburgh and the U.S. as a whole.
The Dodds do not want to promote a rapid gentrification of the region that displaces locals. They like Newburgh just as it is now. There is an energy to this beautiful city that Thomas and Pearl recognized immediately. They want to provide mentorship and renewal to Newburgh to raise it up without destroying its unique character. By instilling enthusiasm, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and a DIY attitude, the Dodds feel that they will help to create jobs and opportunities for new and existing residents. Thomas and Pearl are extremely excited to restore stunning buildings and explore Newburgh’s rich and deep history. This city needs to be preserved so future generations can be reminded of the “can-do” spirit this country was founded on.
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS
Thomas Burwell Dodd, “Burr”
Thomas was born in Connecticut and raised there and in Colorado. He graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in photography, having developed a deep love of abstract art and old buildings. When he moved to New York City in the early 90s, Thomas was confronted with a cold, exclusive art world which at the time was migrating from Soho to Chelsea. Longing for a more open, accepting and experimental environment, Thomas started his gallery Brooklyn Fire Proof in Williamsburg as a place to showcase artwork he loved, much of which was outside of what established galleries deemed salable and would not show. When he moved the business to Bushwick, it was with the intention of creating jobs and building a community so that makers of all kinds and persuasions could survive and thrive.
After a seven-year-hiatus dedicated to building Brooklyn Fire Proof, Thomas Burr Dodd has returned to his own art-making practice, and is fully aware of the difficulty of balancing creation and the requirements of paying bills. As an insider to the art world, rather than an outside developer, Thomas has earned trust from his community in Bushwick and East Williamsburg, and is now determined to help others survive and prosper in this challenging economic environment. BFP is both a victim and a beneficiary of gentrification, and Thomas has been actively searching for possible solutions to maintain the integrity of the creative incubators that have made New York City the center of the artistic galaxy.
Pearl considers herself to be a New York City native even though she was born and raised in a small suburban town in Connecticut. Her parents immigrated from Korea to become doctors of medicine, but they greatly appreciated art and culture and they raised their eight children with a love for the arts as well. Throughout her childhood, Pearl’s parents planned trips into New York City; to museum shows, Broadway openings, performances at Lincoln Center, often followed by late night dinners in Chinatown. Her family outings and the city itself deeply inspired her. After completing her BA at Cornell University, she came to New York to pursue a second degree in fashion design at Parsons School of Design.
Fashion became her life, but after 9/11 and a decade-long career working for Ralph Lauren, she was looking for a change. She took her first subway ride out to Brooklyn one night with a friend who introduced her to Thomas Dodd. Her life changed soon after. At first she volunteered at Thomas’ art gallery Brooklyn Fire Proof in Williamsburg while still moonlighting in fashion. Nine years later, Pearl and Thomas moved the company to Bushwick and expanded, working together in every step as a couple and a tag-team. Shortly after that, they started a family and are now raising their two children while running Brooklyn Fire Proof. Pearl and Thomas have settled into a wonderful community in Brooklyn, which continues to be their home base today.
WHAT IS RIPRAP?
The name of the company was inspired by the diverse blend of broken stones piled up to protect the edges of the Hudson river, called “riprap.” The strength in this type of fortification is that its diversification allows the forces of water and ice to flow through it and bend around it, rather than trying to keep them out.
The Dodds want to build a similarly strong foundation that also works with the forces around it. Newburgh needs assistance, and they feel that the strongest foundation for a bright, creative, evolving future is by using the diverse parts, history and talent that already exist in the city.