Ryan Brown is a local art photographer living in the Westminster countryside. Since 2019, he has been managing independent bookstore accounts in the Midwest as a customer service representative at book publisher Penguin Random House.
Brown took his standard art classes when he attended Franklin High School in Reisterstown, with no outstanding skills other than style and color. He was always surrounded by art and artistic people. His brothers Ralph and Russell are illustrators.
“My dear late friend Carlos Batts, who passed away in 2012, was also a professional photographer from Reisterstown,” Brown said. “It had a huge impact on my life.”
ID. Batts inspired Brown, Batts says, inspired him to try his luck with art and be fearless with it. Ryan didn’t start creating art and music until he was an adult.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Brown made music as a DJ. He was living in downtown Baltimore at the time and working for Henry Wong, owner of An die Musik, a highly respected and intimate classical and jazz venue on Charles Street. An die Musik was just below the Peabody Conservatory, so students used to visit it often.
Brown met a Peabody student named Jay Seay, who was a trumpet player.
“He and I started hanging out and started creating music together. “It was a mix of hip hop, improvisational jazz and fusion rock,” Brown said. “A few weeks later we met Greg Gaither, another bass player.”
They formed a band called AudioFix and performed in Baltimore, Washington, and Virginia between 2000 and 2006, including at local festivals such as Artscape and the Charles Village Festival. They recorded three CDs, one of which was recorded live at An die Musik.
After getting married in 2008, Brown and his wife moved to Westminster. At the same time, she started taking pictures.
Brown worked at the Walters Art Museum for 17 years. He met many people there and saw all the exhibits. He also had the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes activities on a daily basis.
While working for Walters, Brown was able to work across different art forms, styles, and mediums. He began choosing what he liked, preferring classical art such as Renoir, Picasso, and Klimt.
Brown and his wife separated in 2016 after they had two daughters. During this time of separation, his wife Tere suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed.
“I was under a lot of pressure and stress and feared for my family’s future,” Brown said.
After almost two years in the hospital, Brown’s wife was finally ready to return home.
“I decided then that it was very important to keep our family together,” Brown said.
He was reunited with her, returned to Westminster and is now her caretaker.
“Everything changes when you become a caregiver; You develop new insecurities, new routines, new vices. “You question yourself, your level of empathy,” Brown said. “Every day you sacrifice something.”
These life transitions gave Brown time to take a closer look at the clouds and take more pictures. He looked at his photos from previous years. He looked at everything. Brown’s photography was about isolation, and that was changing.
“My art wants to live. There is passion in the sky. As I studied them, the images came to life. I found another world,” Brown said.
“I was at home a lot during the pandemic and there were times when I was up all night. If the moon was full and there were clouds outside, I would go out and take pictures. These photos are some of my favourites; There’s something about moonlight. Nothing really looks alike. We are so busy that we drive outside, we consume, we work, and the world is also moving, the sky is constantly changing. I’m just capturing a moment.”
He started making developing photo series. One is called “Gods” because the images resemble divine figures in the sky. The “Night” series consists of moon and cloud images.
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“I like to shoot at night and early in the morning,” Brown said. “Capturing the sunrise can be so magical. The colors are gorgeous at dawn. ”
Another series he is working on is called “Trees”. These images resemble trees made of earth and industry. Brown decided to print his paintings on large canvases.
“I want to print them all. “I want the public to see my photos,” he said. “I think they are powerful images with great colors. I want people to want to decorate their homes with my prints.”
“My art is how I interact with nature. The sky is a great model. There is still natural beauty out there and being able to capture a piece of it is so inspiring and refreshing. It’s important to find something nice.”
Brown is a member of the Carroll County Arts Council. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. His column, An Eye for Art, is a regular in Life & Times.