Hudson Valley artist Ryan Cronin made his entrance into the world, almost ironically, on a hot June night 1972 in Katonah, NY: in the front seat of a ‘60s Plymouth Station Wagon. His daring arrival set the tone for his entire life. From a young age, Cronin’s father instilled in him the belief:
You can be a garbageman. You can be the President. And so Cronin chose to be an artist, and he has filled more than two decades-worth of boards, suitcases, walls, and more with Rust-Oleum paint, the staple ingredient in his original and bold works of art.
Since the early 1990s, he has been approaching his practice from a place of inclusivity and cultural awareness. Engaging in a dialogue surrounding the accessibility of art, Ryan expands on the legacies of Robert Indiana, Philip Guston, and David Hockney. With his distinct signature style and a desire to assimilate icons from his New York community into a visual vocabulary, he draws upon street signs and cultural markers as sources of inspiration. As a painter, sculptor, muralist, and product designer he appropriates text and figures from his surroundings to reconfigure the world through art.
Cronin's Give Back.
As passionate and global-minded philanthropists, Melanie and Ryan founded 12 Months of Giving to give back to causes close to their hearts. Each year, different charities are chosen to be beneficiaries to support the work that they do as agents of change.
What He's Been Up To.
Cronin just finished a month-long artists’ residency at Thread through the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Senegal, West Africa. This summer he collaborated with ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located at the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, as they celebrate their 50th Anniversary of the original Woodstock. Cronin custom-wrapped a Moke, a street-legal, electric leisure car, that is being raffled off to raise funds and awareness for Bethel Woods’ historical preservation initiatives and programming. Staying true to his passion for infusing art into all aspects of life, Cronin collaborated with Yard Owl Brewery to create a label for their summer beer release and completed a public art installation for the interior of an Exxon Mobil.
THE BOXWhat Is It?
A revolutionary intersection of art and medicine, “The Box” is a socially-conscious, collaborative, public art installation created by Artist Ryan Cronin of CronArtUSA, alongside Go Doc Go Founder Maggie Carpenter, MD. “The Box” enables participants to circumvent the traditional, in-person pap smear method to screen for cervical cancer. Part self-collection space, part art space, “The Box” is a free standing structure that acts as privacy booth installed in a public location that gives participants a safe place to independently swab a sample to be tested for the HPV virus, the leading cause of cervical cancer. “The Box” bypasses institutionalized medical routes: No exam is necessary.
How It Began.
Dr. Carpenter and Cronin first began working with one another through Cronin’s charitable fund 12 Months of Giving. The fund supports the work of nonprofit organizations whose missions are to be agents of change. For the past five years Go Doc Go has focused its efforts on preventing cervical cancer in low and middle income countries; however, with cervical cancer on the rise in the United States, Dr. Carpenter felt the need to take action on the homefront as well. Traditionally, cervical cancer screening has been done with a pap smear, which requires a doctor’s visit. Now HPV testing is an established alternative to pap smear screening in individuals 30 to 65. Studies have shown that people are capable of self-collecting their samples and “The Box” provides a safe, private place for women to do so.
EXPECT A BIKE AHEAD
It all started with Art.
In September of 2016 Gaby O’Shea was struck by a vehicle and suffered life-threatening injuries. The New Paltz community quickly gathered around Gaby and her family and organized a fundraiser to aid in her recovery and to spark dialogue between motorist and cyclist regarding bike safety. Ryan Cronin offered to create a piece of art and sell it with a portion of the sale going directly to Gaby and her family. ‘Expect A Bike Ahead’ was born and was sold before the paint was dry to one of Cronin’s collectors.
Art for the world we live in.
Fast forward several months and Cronin was approached by the Bike Ped Committee and Gaby’s father, Stephen O’Shea asking to use the image for a project they had in mind. Ryan Cronin agreed. He’s a firm believer that art should be in and of the world we live in. It should be a part of our everyday experience, offering us new ways to view the world, and ultimately inspiring dialogue. Turning his piece ‘Expect A Bike’ into a real sign, felt like a really good opportunity to demonstrate this.
The conversation is growing.
Two years after creating the artwork, it has been turned in to lawn signs that people are seeing all around town, thanks to the support of O’Connor & Partners, PLLC. There are conversations all over social media and in the community; “What is this sign?”, “Where did it come from?”, “Where can I get one for my driveway?” Some are appalled by it, others embrace it. Cronin is less concerned about people’s responses and is focused on how the image has created a whirlwind of good, bad, and ugly dialogue. In his mind, the piece has accomplished exactly what he intended it to do; get people to pay attention and talk.
The power of the ‘Expect A Bike’ painting lies in the act of collaboration with the community and the social by-product more than in the physical work itself— in essence, the social interaction is the art and the impact of the project goes beyond the original piece. We didn’t set out to create a sign but all of Ryan’s work is intended to strike a dialogue and conversation. We are very happy with the power of this piece to do just that.
Ryan just finished a month-long artists’ residency at Thread through the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Senegal, West Africa. Upon his arrival in Senegal, he was greeted by the staff from the residency and the one other artist in residence for September, Tanja Kirst. Together they embarked on a seven hour journey to Thread.
A residency program and cultural center, conceived and funded by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in collaboration with a local leader in Sinthian, is a place for the locals to gather and a space for artists to create. Designed by Acclaimed New York-based architect Toshiko Mori, it houses two artists’ dwellings, as well as ample indoor and outdoor studio space.
Josef and Anni Albers
Two extraordinary artists and human beings, both of them renowned for their work at the Bauhaus School in Germany prior to its closing in 1933. That year, they moved to the U.S., where they lived for the rest of their lives. Anni, primarily a textile artist, was the first in her field to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1949, and Josef, a color theorist, painter and teacher, was the first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in 1970.
The artistic program for Thread is inspired both by Anni’s belief in the vital value of “starting at zero” and Josef’s lifelong desire “to open eyes.” Anni used to say that “you can go anywhere from anywhere,” and Josef made it a perpetual goal to employ "minimal means for maximum effect.” Those beliefs are fundamental to Thread, which otherwise has no fixed artistic program—and Ryan’s onboard with all of it.
“That one line of Anni’s—you can go anywhere from anywhere—really resonated with me,” says Ryan. “Just to have this space and time to create is really unique, and perfect for me right now. I want to make the best of it.”