Cloaked creativity

“Painting is like a hero in a movie who everyone thinks is dead, but really is not,” said Frank Ryan. Through his words that come from experience, Ryan both inspired and peaked the interest of many art majors and art appreciators in the University Library Art Gallery at Sonoma State University 

It was a tight fit at the art gallery on Thursday as various art students and people from the art community came to meet Ryan and enjoy his interesting sculptures and paintings.

Ryan, a former SSU student, whom attended the school between the years of 1995-2001, showcased his artwork, discussed how he became interested in art and described his struggles as an artist.

 “It’s inspiring to see an alumni from SSU become a successful artist,” said senior Victoria Bevington.

Ryan became interested in art at the age four, when he began drawing pictures of dinosaurs with his father. As he grew older,  he had acquired an interest in special effects through his interest in “Star Wars” movies and other films. 

He would often find himself pausing his favorite scenes in movies, such as “Predator” and “Robocop,” and sketch those scenes.

Ryan also spoke about how his struggles with majoring in art and the lack of support art majors sometimes experience from their family.

“Art as a career is challenging,” said Ryan, “because you kind of have to figure things out on your own.”

Ryan discussed the multitude of jobs that he does in order to have a studio and keep creating. 

One of his side jobs includes working as a canvas stretcher, a task that many artist do not enjoy doing nowadays. 

For Ryan, the jobs that he does on the side are what keep him going financially. 

Despite the struggles, Ryan enjoys what he does and pays no attention to what others say because he will always continue to do what he loves.

“It would be a nightmare to be doing work that I don’t love to make money,” said Ryan. “I’d rather be poor.”

Ryan’s exhibit is titled “CLOAK: Iterations of a Draped Figure.” 

This exhibit features a series of paintings and sculptures of cloaks that were draped over his body and inspired during Ryan’s two and a half week residency at Chalk Hill, an artist residency in Healdsburg.

During his residency he proposed his sculptures and various artist help him with his creations. 

“Everything about the sculptures were completely my choice,” said Ryan. 

These cloak-like sculptures were created from various materials, including tablecloths from his wedding, melted wax, bronze, to name a few.

Despite the fact there are a few holes in the sculptures, which he states can be seen as errors; he learned to appreciate them despite the fact he is a perfectionist. 

The paintings that are seen in the exhibit were created after the sculptures had been made. 

He was inspired by the sculptures and found various items to give the cloaks shape and make it appear as though they are concealing something or someone. 

 He created the sculptures with the intent that other people would love to draw them. The medium for his paintings was terra-cotta clay with water, giving it a rich and earthy feel.  

Through his brush strokes one can see the creases and the shadows with the cloak. 

This accentuates the idea of concealing something, while also drawing the idea that something is absent in these paintings.

“This has been a wonderful experience,” said senior Dane Singh. “To be able to sit with an artist in a room full of work, while he is describing it has been great.”

Aside from making these series of paintings and sculptures, inspired by cloaks, Frank has also learned to find his inspiration within his surroundings. 

When he moved to Los Angeles 11 years ago, he sold his car and rode his bike almost everywhere. From doing so, he was able to get inspiration from his surroundings. 

Ryan would often paint, draw or photograph what he would see and would sometimes pay homeless people to sit while he would draw them.

To view more artwork from Ryan for pure enjoyment or inspiration, one can visit his website, frankryanstudios.com. 

This former SSU alumni has proven to many that it’s possible to do what one loves, and has shared this idea through his artwork on campus.