It’s Day 358 and I can’t believe my project is coming to an end. It’s also Christmas eve and I think my plan is to try and relax tonight! My arm is hurting and last night we had a holiday get together with friends. I’m ready to give my elbow a huge rest in the new year! BUT today I spent a large portion of my day tackling my painting. It was extremely challenging and difficult. One of my favorite artists and one of the most difficult in my opinion regarding his style and the materials I dealt with. Please join me in honoring Mark Ryden today.
Mark Ryden (born January 20, 1963) is an American painter, part of the Lowbrow (or Pop Surrealist) art movement. He was dubbed “the god-father of pop surrealism” by Interview Magazine. Ryden’s aesthetic is developed from subtle amalgams of many sources: from Ingres, David and other French classicists to Little Golden Books. Ryden also draws his inspiration from anything that will evoke mystery; old toys, anatomical models, stuffed animals, skeletons and religious ephemera found in flea markets.
Ryden was born in Medford, Oregon on January 20, 1963, but raised in Southern California. Ryden is the son of Barbara and Keith Ryden. His
father made a living painting, restoring and customizing cars. He has two sisters and two brothers, one a fellow artist named Keyth Ryden, who works under the name KRK. Ryden graduated from the Art Center College of Design inPasadena, in 1987.
From 1988 to 1998 Ryden made his living as a commercial artist. During this period Ryden created numerous album covers including, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute, and Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator.
Also during this time, Ryden created book covers including Stephen King’s novel Desperation and The Regulators. Ryden made a living as a commercial artist until his work was taken up by Robert Williams, a former member of the Zap Comix collective, who in 1994 put it on the cover of Juxtapoz, a magazine devoted to “lowbrow art”.
Ryden’s solo debut show entitled “The Meat Show” was in Pasadena, California in 1998. Meat is a reoccurring theme in Ryden’s work. Ryden observes the disconnect in our contemporary culture between meat we use for food and the living, breathing creature it comes from. “I suppose it is this contradiction that
brings me to return to meat in my art.” According to Ryden, meat is the physical substance that makes all of us alive and through which we exist in this reality. All of us are wearing our bodies, which are like a garment of meat.
A midcareer retrospective, “Wondertoonel,” which refers to a cabinet of curiosities or Wunderkammer (“wonder-room”), was co-organized in 2004 by the Frye Museum in Seattle and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. It was the best attended exhibition since the Frye Art Museum opened in 1952, and also broke attendance records in Pasadena. Debra Byrne, curator at the Frye at the time of Ryden’s exhibition, placed Ryden’s work in the camp of the
carnivalesque—a strain of visual culture rooted in such works as Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. According to the Russian author and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975), there are three forms of carnivalesque art—the ritualized spectacle, the comic composition and various genres of billingsgate (foul language)—all three of which are interwoven in Ryden’s work.
In 2009, Ryden’s exhibition “The Snow Yak Show” was shown at the Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo. In this
exhibition Ryden’s compositions were more serene and suggestive of solitude, peacefulness and introspection.
In 2010, “The Gay 90’s: Old Tyme Art Show” debuted at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York. The central theme the show referenced the idealism and sentimentalism of the 1890s while addressing the role of kitsch and nostalgia in our current culture. Here Ryden explores the line between attraction and repulsion to kitsch. According to The New York Times, “Ryden’s pictures hint at the psychic stuff that pullulates beneath the sentimental, nostalgic and naïve surface of modern kitsch.”
Ryden’s “The Tree of Life” painting was included in the exhibition “The Artist’s Museum, Los Angeles Artists 1980-2010” at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). The exhibition showcased artists who have helped shape the artistic dialogue in Los Angeles since the founding of MOCA over 30 years ago. Ryden hung on the same wall as Robert Williams.
On May 13, 2014, Ryden released an album entitled ‘The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell,’ that features Tyler the Creator,Weird Al, Katy Perry, Stan Ridgway of Wall Of Voodoo, and Danny Elfman, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Nick Cave, Kirk Hammettof Metallica, and Everlast, all giving a different rendition of the same song, Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two). The proceeds from the signed and limited edition record, benefited Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit that supports musical education in disadvantaged elementary schools.
Ryden has two children, Rosie and Jasper. In 2009 he married artist Marion Peck in the Pacific Northwest rainforest. He currently lives in Eagle Rock, California, where he shares a studio with his wife.
Biography is from wikipedia.
“There is a very dark and painful side to life, but that is natural. People in our culture think they should never be unhappy. They think that being unhappy is unnatural. They try to make it go away. They take pills or they go to therapy to “fix” themselves. They blame themselves or others for their suffering. We need to understand that sadness is as much a part of life as joy. It would be easy just to get bitter and cold while focusing on the dark side, but there is also an amazing, wonderful side of life. If you look for it, there is true magic all around us. Maybe that sounds trite to the hardened, self-protective modern ego, but there is magiv in this miraculous life. If you open yourself up, you do make yourself vulnerable to pain but the deeper the pain you experience, the deeper joy you have.” ― Mark Ryden
I decided to do a simple Mark Ryden tribute…painting on the wood was a little more challenging than I expected. Again, I’m using acrylics and not oils so blending was hard and I don’t think I primed and prepped the wood as good I as I could’ve. His paintings have such a soft look to them which for me is especially hard to emulate. But I did something! I think it turned out okay. 🙂 I’m sad, but also kind of excited to have this project end soon. I think my body and brain need a rest and to get back to doing some of my other passions…like writing!
I will see you tomorrow on Day 359! Best, Linda