Jack Ryan

At age 74 I’ve finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up – an artist. And I am well aware of the fact that not every artist is able to draw well, as well as the fact that not everybody that can draw is an artist.

I’ve been able to draw likenesses of people or things since grade school, but art was never anything I enjoyed doing for any length of time and nothing I ever allowed myself to take seriously. In high school, it always meant assignments, year book, posters, etc., always with deadlines, and I constantly seemed to be in trouble for some unfinished work on my drawing board. Yet, it was something I wrestled with throughout my life, the fact I was “given this gift,” and not using it. “Good old Irish Catholic guilt” some people call it.

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I went to college to become a priest but left that and got married, and into a career, 27 years in law enforcement. Twenty two of them as an FBI Agent, moving around the country. I’ve always been drawn to art – other’s art. Every city I’ve ever visited I’ve been in their art museum. I’ve gone through art books, even had a subscription to American Artist once.

I took a summer class, using mostly pastels when I was in college, then a few years later a watercolor class. I took a couple other single classes throughout the years. I never had a real place to work, it was impossible when raising kids.

Then two years ago, while house and animal setting for a friend in Eureka, IL, I began to see a strange beauty in the mostly flat Midwestern countryside, with our full range of seasons, and how different way things look at different times of the day. I was especially impressed by the stark contrast of the enormous grain elevator I would pass to and from my home in Peoria. Throw in the boredom of this solitary retreat, I decided to draw, then draw again, then paint this monster, emphasizing its contrast to the flat surroundings. Plus, it’s hard to make a grain elevator uglier than it already is. From there I rented a studio at the Contemporary Art Center, and even had a business card printed.