CronArtUSA to Partner with LEAP!
Artist Ryan Cronin has never been too precious about his own work, or too invested in the hierarchy of the artworld. Sure, he has struggled with his identity as an artist, and questioned his right to claim that title for himself, but 30+ years in, he has come to the understanding that his yearning to create supersedes all doubt.
The path that led Ryan to pick up a paint brush in the early 1990’s was not linear, and certainly not conventional. A camera gifted to him in his turbulent teens by his folks, was not given as part of some creative culture within his family, but rather to provide a distraction, or an outlet for what was considered to be “too much” of something in him. I do not mean to suggest that the Cronin family had no appreciation for the arts, just that it was not part of their day-to-day lives. For Ryan this stands out as something he was lacking in his young life, and maybe part of the reason why he had such a hard time identifying himself as an artist.
Central to Ryan’s practice is his mission to remove barriers, and increase inclusivity in the rarefied arts community. For him, this has meant a lot of things. It is what led him, and his wife, Melanie, to open The Cronin Gallery 7 years ago. The gallery, located at the Water Street Market in New Paltz, NY, had become a community hub, offering a rotating exhibit of Cronin’s original work, and a gift shop featuring a product line driven by his bold iconography. There is literally something for everyone, from a keychain to large-scale original paintings, and everything in between. This is by design, as Ryan and Melanie were keen to have everyone “be part of the art.” Beyond that, the Cronin’s have shown a generation of small-town kids how art can be the thing that both fuels and feeds you, something a young Ryan would have benefited from knowing.
When Ryan, and Melanie opened the gallery doors in 2015, they committed themselves to using Ryan’s art for good. Their 12 Months of Giving Fund, founded in 2017, made good on that commitment, and has since been woven into every facet of their business. Over the years the Cronin’s have partnered with countless organizations and change-makers in support of initiatives that are close to their hearts.
The Cronin’s were introduced to LEAP (Learning Through an Expanded Arts Program) in 2017, when they had the chance to check out their public art exhibit, A View from the Lunch Table: Students Bringing Issues to the Table at Union Square Park. LEAP’s mission to provide educational arts programs that promote access and equity for New York City students underserved in the arts, resonated with the Cronin’s, and aligned with their desire to promote direct access to art in all forms, especially for children.
Some years, and a global pandemic later, Ryan and Melanie had the opportunity to sit down with some members of the LEAP team to discuss ways in which they could collaborate to promote their shared vision. At the end of a very high-spirited and productive meeting, the two groups came away with a plan to build a bridge between NYC and Hudson Valley youth with a public art project tentatively titled LEAP Upstate.