I first remember meeting Ryan Frank at Winkleman Gallery for an exhibition he curated there called Used Books.* That show “pair[ed] the work of five visual artists with the books that played a role in each artwork’s creation.” Super tight and memorable to say the least. I still think about it, in fact.
Ryan is also involved with The Wassaic Project, which is where we met up the other day for the first part of our visit.
We talked for a while about his background in the theater and Artaud and how he came to where he is today. He described his transition into the visual arts as a result of essentially writing the actors out of the sets. Which, as a former theater major myself, I found fascinating. This background provides a well informed approach to Frank’s work, which straddles the playful yet conceptually rigorous line quite effectively. It also often blurs the lines between art, architecture and props (for lack of a better word). To put it simply, I enjoy looking at his work and thinking about its more formalist aspects. It functions effectively on multiple levels that way.
As the barn was getting chilly, we left Wassaic with some of Ryan’s work for an upcoming show in tow, and made it to the winter studio (aka his basement). But what a basement!
We talked about form and function, and his desire to create functional art (like the stool-in-progress above). Ryan embraces that functional fuzzy area much more than I am willing to.
In maybe a related example, the below piece utilizes the plastic found in fluorescent light casings:
One of the highlights was the below mailbox piece, which I took the liberty of animating (though you may have to click it/here to see?).
Anyhoo the last names of the tenants are the places where their photos were taken (FIELD, CLIFF, GLACIER, BEACH). It’s an fun reveal, to say the least. But there’s also something almost sad about it; the characters are all kind of marginal and forlorn. Yet there is still a simple joy in their discovery, which is somehow not overwrought at all.
Ok! I could go on, but think that’s it for now. I’m still getting adjusted to being back in the city and getting over a cold and have a million things piling up (gratefully). Struggling to find a witty conclusion to this one. But yeah, you’ll be able to see his work at Recession Art in a couple weeks. Do.
Seriously. Wins all around.
And thanks to Ryan for taking the time!
*We may have met before that during #class, also at Winkleman Gallery, though my recollection of that is vague.