Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ryan Claytor Artist Lecture and Exhibit at Mott Community College

If you're interested in comics, graphic novels, or visual arts, you might want to head up to Flint this weekend to catch Ryan Claytor's Artist Lecture at Mott Community College. (Noon, Friday, October 7th; Visual Art and Design Building, Rm #129; 1401 E. Court Street; Flint, MI 48503.) The lecture is accompanied by an exhibit of his work that's running until Tuesday, October 11.

Those of you who have dropped by the ol' Patio Boat before have heard me plug Ryan and his autobiographical And Then One Day series. But if you haven't heard of him, his work ranges from funny and telling anecdotes to some very interesting examinations of comic art itself. He also doubles as a comic studio art instructor at Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Flint, and Mott Community College, and his classes have consistently produced some of the more interesting self-published student work I've seen.

Whether you've run into Ryan before or not, he always has insightful things to say about comics, art, and the challenges of being a working artist. So, it'll be well worth your time to stop by the lecture. Alas, Monique and I will be off at a wedding this weekend, so I won't get to hear what he has to say. However, I did manage to shake free from work last Friday afternoon to drive up to Flint to check it out. So I can at least share a quick review of this excellent exhibit of Ryan's work.

First off, let me assure anybody who remembers the raging controversy from the positioning of Ryan's exhibit in the Small Press Spotlight exhibit at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum that the restrooms are far, far away from this exhibit. Inconveniently so, really ... at least a hundred feet away. You practically need to take a taxi to get there.  You can barely see them even with the zoom lens pointing down the hallway from the entrance:

(Click on any of the images to enlarge them.)

So, instead of a wall next to the restroom, Ryan has an entire gallery room all his own, and he makes great use of it.  Two of the walls are covered with sequences of original artwork from his books:

Another wall has a fabulous piece of his titled "Ceci n'est pas une intervalle de temps" which is based on René Magritte's famous painting "La trahison des images" ("The Treachery of Images").

This is the piece in this exhibit that really hit me. I had come across it before in one of Ryan's books, but for some reason I had mistakenly thought that the original was on standard comic art board. So you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the full height of the wall! It's a great, thought-provoking piece, and I spent a good deal of time looking it over from several different angles. The full size suits it.

The far wall of the exhibit also contains some very interesting work, a series of the three posters that Ryan created for the last three MSU Comics Forums with both the original art and the finished poster presented side-by-side:

Of greatest interest in this particular poster is that it represents an entirely new phase in Ryan's work. This is the period in which he abandoned a career built on bright, insightful autobiographical visual narrative to instead latch onto the coattails of America's #1 Internet Superstar Canine, Katie the Beagle!

Obviously this is a dramatic shift to commercial opportunism for Ryan.  I expect that from here on out his work will mostly consist of portraits of the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Lassie, and other members of the glitterazzi who move in Katie the Beagle's circles.

By the way, if you're wondering how these sorts of exhibits collect up these series of works, they rely on the generosity of keen patrons of the arts:

I must say, this in particular tickled me. I've always seen these little cards thanking the donors who made an exhibit possible. But when I started to collect up a few bits of comic art that I liked, I never in a million years imagined that I'd one day be a patron of the arts with a piece that would be needed for an exhibit.

Ahhh, "The Magee Collection." Yeah, I like the sound of that: the Rockefeller Collection, the Getty Collection, the Magee Collection....

If you want to check out the work on loan from the Magee Collection, or other (obviously lesser) Ryan Claytor works that haven't come from such luminous heights, you have until Tuesday, Oct. 11. Your best bet if you're running up to Flint is to do it Friday and catch Ryan's lunchtime lecture, too.

After October 11th you're out of luck. Unless you have access to the fabled Magee Collection, that is.
Ryan Claytor Artist Lecture
Friday, October 7th, 2011 at Noon
Mott Community College
Visual Art and Design Building, Rm #129
1401 E. Court Street
Flint, MI 48503

~and also~

Ryan Claytor Gallery Exhibition: Comics and Visual Narrative
Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 – Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Gallery Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Mott Community College
Visual Art and Design Building, Fine Art Gallery
1401 E. Court Street
Flint, MI 48503

1 comment:

  1. Ha-ha! Thanks for the great write-up, John, and for loaning your piece to the exhibition. :)