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Weldon Ryan’s Caribbean scenes will be featured in a solo show at the Peabody’s Rose Gallery in May.
Palm Coast Thursday, May 7, 2015 3 years ago

WELDON RYAN: CARNIVAL ON CANVAS

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by: Shanna Fortier Associate Editor

In the past year, Palm Coast-based artist Weldon Ryan has welcomed the morning light with the rooster crowing outside his studio at Salvo Art Project many times. The all-night painting sessions have been in preparation for his solo show, “Carnival at the Peabody,” set to open May 8, at the Peabody Auditorium’s Rose Room Art Gallery.

The show will bring to life the vibrant colors, extravagant costumes and sinful enticements of Carnival, the Caribbean celebration originating in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I love the subject matter, figurative realism, beautiful women,” Ryan said, noting that he has spotlighted Carnival in a couple of pieces over the years. “It’s full of life and excitement and about having a good time.”

Carnival also has a multicultural aspect to it, with many countries adopting similar festivals throughout history.
While working with the New York City Police Department, Ryan recalled watching the West Indian Day Parade and being drawn to the costumes and the fun-loving spirit of the celebration. He said this, his appreciation for old-school calypso music and his love of realism, allowed the subject matter to come almost automatically to him.

“I want a lot of movement,” he said. “The costumes, they need to be eye popping with the feathers.”
Ryan works from reference photographs he took at festivals throughout the country, not creating a new experience, but rather, documenting one that has already happened.

“There’s a lot involved in narrating a visual scene and the whole experience of Carnival,” Ryan said, adding that the expression on the individual faces is just as important as the details of the costumes.

With so much expressionism happening at Salvo and throughout Flagler County, Ryan said the realist painter is in the minority.

“No one does realism, and I want to bring that to life,” he said. “It documents happenings and the age that we’re in. To me, it’s important as an artist, as a social realist, to document, in oils, in a realistic sense, the world that we live in today.”

Documenting the daily lives of ordinary people is what drives Ryan’s art.

“I’m pushing the realism movement because it’s important,” he said. “I think it’s very important for artists today to realize that realism plays an integral part of today’s artwork.”

For the upcoming show, Ryan is experimenting with contemporary backgrounds and branching into more male figures.

Producing new works to compliment the inventory of Caribbean pieces Ryan already had, has taken him the better part of the year, having to take a break after undergoing knee replacement surgery in September. He was optimistic that he would only be out for a couple of months, but come mid-February, he had not returned to full work.

“The show upcoming forced me to really dig down and get going,” he said.

The opening reception for “Carnival at the Peabody,” which was curated by Ryan’s wife, Richlin, is aiming to bring the whole feel of Carnival to life with the reggae and calypso sounds of Steel Daddy. The opening will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 8, at 600 Auditorium Blvd., Daytona Beach. The show will be on display through June 1.

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