Who here ‘hearts’ Seattle?  Just in time for Vday weekend, Seattleite Ryan Henry Ward shows MPLS some love from the west coast.  There is a special relationship between the two cities–we have the same politics, though our bigger cousin is a bit more progressive.  We enjoy outdoor sports in every kind of weather, though Seattle’s mountains and oceans and whales are a bit more majestic than our lakes and walleye.  We enjoy coffee just as much, we LOVE plaid…if our cities were people they would totally date.  And who can think of the movie Singles without singing Paul Westerberg’s 90s anthem ‘Waiting for Somebody‘?

You can’t sneeze in Seattle without seeing a ‘Henry’ mural.  The first time I encountered one was November, 2011.  I happened upon a giant Yeti…A nice yet sad yeti….

Then I found another, and another while driving around randomly…

It became a game, and I had to stop and snap a pic every time I saw one.  I finally Googled ‘Henry Seattle’ and found a wealth of information, namely a Seattle Weekly article, and an interactive map of where his murals are around the city.

Through the wonders of social media, I contacted him and we met at a local coffee shop where he sells his work.  I felt more than a bit star struck at this point.  We chatted and I invited him to come to Minneapolis to see the town, paint and have a show.  We worked out June of 2012, but that fell through.  The only other opening I had was for February of 2013, and now, here we are, and Ryan Henry Ward is among us!

He is a considerably brave man, coming to Minnesota during historically the worst time of year, but he said he is glad to experience it.  One for the record books of his life, as he put it.  He is comfy in the Ikea foam mattress I procured for him, sleeping at CSG and painting all night and all day.  He is enjoying the art scene here, meeting all the local icons, hobnobbing with our frigid yet warm Midwest mentality.  Comparatively, he said, our scene seems more diverse, and more welcoming than Seattle’s.  I am still starstruck.

In ten days, Ryan has produced 20 paintings, with tons more canvasses to go.  He has been commissioned for a few murals, and will be coming back in June to do some outdoor work.  He said he is so visible in Seattle, he may be wearing out is welcome a bit, as people love to rag on his work for being ‘too colorful, too cheery’ and simultaneously, ‘too sad,’ as none of his characters are ever smiling.  What I love about his work is the overall Buddhist ethos of happiness and love.   Art should be uplifting, especially public art.  There is enough pain and suffering in our society.

 

Ryan will be working everyday at CSG until his show.  If you would like to set up a studio visit, or commission, please feel fee to call the gallery to set something up!

Saturday, February 16th, 2013, 7-1 am

Ryan Henry Ward Solo: Henry ♥s MPLS

Through March 1st.