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Gavin's Underground

Gallery Stroll: Ryan Harrington & Troy Henderson

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2011-09-18 -
As we enter fall and deal with the slow decay of the seasons, it figures that the night of Gallery Stroll we'd be introduced to an old friend who'd avoided us most of the summer: rain. And not just a few little drops or some roaming showers, it was a damned deluge -- I got caught in the downpour twice! So, of course, because so few art lovers own umbrellas, the turnout for Stroll was cut in half because of people who didn't like the storm.
But that didn't stop me as I made my way down 4th South to recent staff-choice Arty winner Blonde Grizzly to check out its show this month. Three artists took over the walls, each with their own designated area to showcase their material. Our buddy David Habben took over one section, along with Ryan Harrington and Troy Henderson, who sat next to each other on the east wall. We chat with the later two about their work and the show, as well as their thoughts on local art, all with pictures for you to check out in this gallery here.

Ryan Harrington

Gavin: Hey, Ryan. First off, tell us a bit about yourself.

Ryan: I have lived in Utah for about 15 years. I currently live in Murray with my wife and two children. I work at Brushworks Gallery in Salt Lake City doing framing and design. I like to work on art and skateboard in my downtime.

Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Ryan: I started to form my own opinions about art when I got into skateboarding and music in my early teens. Robert Williams's artwork for Thrasher Magazine and Jim Phillips's skateboard graphics were some of the first images that I really liked.
Gavin: Did you seek out any education for your art or were you more self-taught.

Ryan: I took a few art classes in high school and then studied some basic art and design at SLCC. The classes I took definitely helped with some technical aspects in producing art and giving me an idea of what I want to focus my energy into.

Gavin: What drew you toward working with acrylics and glass works?

Ryan: I have access to a lot of scrap materials at my day job, Plexiglass being one of them. I started painting on it and really liked the look of it. The acrylics seem to bond well with the Plexi and they are easy to set up and clean up.
Gavin: Considering the work involved and the medium itself, does it feel like a difficult form of art to grasp and work with?

Ryan: For me, it just feels like a good medium to work with right now. I have my struggles with certain parts of the process, but I think all mediums have their challenges.

Gavin: What's the process like for you in creating a new piece, from start to final concept?

Ryan: It is really different for each piece. Sometimes the objective is really obvious to me, and sometimes I just get inspired to start building and details work themselves out as the piece gets finished.
Gavin: You've also just started getting into sculpture work. What influenced you to start creating those kind of works?

Ryan: I like taking things out of their original context, and using found objects in my artwork gives me the opportunity to do that. I am just not limiting myself to any one specific medium. I am looking forward to integrating the building with the painting in my work.

Gavin: How does the creative process differ for you when you create a new sculpture piece, and how do you decide what you're going to use to create each one?

Ryan: I am a hoarder of "art materials" so I have a good surplus of stuff to pull from at home, and I am constantly collecting items to add to my collection. Sometimes I look for items specifically for a piece, and sometimes I gather things knowing that I’ll use them later.
Gavin: You recently did the giant window display for Kayo with the children hooked to the television monitors. What was the inspiration behind that and what kind of reaction did you get?

Ryan: The inspiration for that was overstimulation. It's something I see everyday in society and I guess I was just making fun of it. I got some positive feedback.

Gavin: Tell us about the works you have on display for this Stroll.

Ryan: For this show, I will have some paintings on Plexiglass as well as some mixed media works, too. There is a series that I had a lot of fun making that I am calling my Weapons of Mass Distraction. It's sort of a satirical look at how I spend my free time.
Gavin: What's your take on being displayed at Blonde Grizzly along with David and Troy?

Ryan: It's great; I am looking forward to seeing what they have been working on. I have seen their work at other shows and really like both of their styles.

Gavin: Touching on local art, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Ryan: I think it's a great scene. It seems to be growing.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make things more prominent?

Ryan: Awareness? Just letting people know what's going on. I have met a lot of people that have no idea that Gallery Strolls exist.

Gavin: Speaking of, what's your opinion on Gallery Stroll today and the work being displayed each month?

Ryan: I always enjoy going to check out the new art. Even if I don't necessarily like the art at a particular show, I can appreciate the time and effort it takes to put it together.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of this year?

Ryan: After this show, I am planning on doing a piece for the Classic Monster Show at Blonde Grizzly in October, and then I’ll see what else I can get into after that.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Ryan: Blonde Grizzly! Now! And Kayo in Sept. 2012! And, hopefully, something in between? I'll keep you posted.


Troy Henderson

Gavin: Hey, Troy. First off, tell us a bit about yourself.

Troy: Hey, Gavin! Thanks for the opportunity. Well, I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to draw, listen to music, eat pizza and make fun of things -- a lot like my 15-year-old self except nowadays my beard is grayer and my belly bigger. And lucky for me, I’ve learned a few things since then and have a beautiful family to show for it.

Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Troy: Well, my Grandma had a large part in raising me. I spent a lot of time with her and she was always painting, knitting or making something. She was my earliest creative influence. As a kid, I liked re-creating comic books. This, along with my quiet personality, led me to drawing. Some of my earliest inspirations were comic books, early skateboard graphics and horror movies.
Gavin: Did you seek out any education for your art or were you more self-taught?

Troy: I’m entirely self-taught. There were plenty of dreams about art school, but nothing I ever acted on. Whether it was a lack of confidence, motivation or money, I was forced to become self-reliant. Anytime I wanted to learn something, I’d find a book, research, then a lot of trial and error. I still do this. At this point in my life, I’m enjoying my process and the trials of my techniques. It’s been rewarding.

Gavin: What specifically got you interested in illustration and drawing, and what was it like for you trying to perfect your craft to the kind of detail you do on some of your work?

Troy: Illustration is the most natural for me. I like the simplicity of the pencil and paper. My attention to detail evolved over time, I guess; a lot of patience and practice. I feel like I’m more focused and balanced now than I’ve ever been, so maybe that allows this ability to come through. But, I’m also really just a detail whore. I observe intensely and expect a lot from myself.
Gavin: Of the two styles you've displayed, do you prefer working in stencil and paint or freehand penciling?

Troy: Right now, definitely pencil and ink. I also really enjoy my canvas. A few years ago, I began looking at wood and cardboard and exploring what I could do with it. It’s been quite a process and has added a unique element to my work. People seem to like it. I build my own frames, too.

Gavin: What's the process like for you when drawing a new piece, from the original idea to the final product?

Troy: I get hyper-focused when I’m starting a piece. It’s both relaxing and invigorating -- quite the natural high. I anticipate the finished product but, at the same time, the process can be even more fulfilling.
Gavin: Do you tend to alter or play around with it before you finish, or are you very strict on yourself and stick to the original design?

Troy: I’m pretty strict to the original design. There are times when I tend to overwork a piece. It’s almost like I have to keep the process going so I don’t allow the finish to come. So, sometimes I have to force myself to walk away.

Gavin: A good portion of the work you do is from pop culture, both in celebrities and fictional characters. What influenced you to do those kinds of works?

Troy: You know, sometimes I’m not sure. A lot of these subjects are part of me, things I like, music I like, a message I relate to. Or sometimes just a challenging subject.
Gavin: How has it been for you breaking into the local art scene and receiving recognition for your work?

Troy: Showing my work and having people respond positively has been really, really good.

Gavin: Tell us about the works you have on display for this Stroll.

Troy: I feel like it’s a mix of some of my abilities. I have a few of the detailed portraits we’ve talked about and some new ideas I’ve been playing with. I really had a good time painting a section on one of the walls in Blonde Grizzly, and I’m excited with how it turned out. I hope people will check it out before it gets covered up!
Gavin: What's your take on being displayed at Blonde Grizzly along with Ryan and David?

Troy: It’s always great to be a part of a Blonde Grizzly event. Caleb and Hillary are way nice and make me feel at home. And I definitely look forward to meeting Ryan and David and seeing their talents!

Gavin: Moving onto local art, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Troy: I’m not really sure. I’m just happy people are making art. It’s a fact that we have a lot of talented people in Utah.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Troy: I will tell you that I’d like to see more collective art events.

Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll and the work being displayed each month?

Troy: I honestly wish I got out more, but the work I’ve been able to see I’ve enjoyed. I definitely support the idea of Gallery Stroll.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?

Troy: I’ve got some stuff working. Same execution. I think I’m getting to the point where I’m able to share more about what’s going on in my head.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Troy: Ponies rule!


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