Ryan Ringer, Canada

Residency Period: 1 November 2014 - 31 October 2015


Ryan Ringer is a multidisciplinary performance artist who was the founding director of Methinks, a community-based production group, and Project 165, an artist-run gallery and studio space in Toronto. His work has been featured on CBC Radio and Television, Canadian Art Magazine, the Toronto Star, and other media outlets and has been exhibited throughout Canada and the US. Ryan resides in Toronto.

URL: ryanringer.com

On-hiatus Proposal Summary

After many years of running an art space (Project 165) while tirelessly directing various overlapping and back-to-back collaborative and independent projects, Ryan decided to break from the art game for a while to get his personal life together. While not wanting to be creating art per se, yet still desiring a creative outlet, Ryan decided to focus on becoming a more mindful bartender and drink-maker. During his hiatus, Ryan and his fiance will open a cafe-cocktail bar in Toronto called Grey Tiger. He will document the process of building and opening Grey Tiger, examining the creative aspects of this process and the connection between his art practice and hospitality career. Or, more to the point: he will examine the fine art of living as an artist on hiatus while taking a good look at where he's been, where he's at, and where he's going. He will paint a portrait of an individual finding his way back to art - or, rather, redefining his practice - by getting lost and finding himself through hard work and meditation.

Final Report




recent comments

Out Here, On Hiatus

Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? These are questions I’ll explore here. More specifically, I’ll focus on my artistic practice – at least the one I maintained up until a few years ago – and how it relates to my drink-mixing craft/hospitality career, and moreover I’ll look at how these positions connect to my current entrepreneurial venture. (I’m opening a beverage house/snack bar – Grey Tiger – with my fiance, Becky.) 

Side note: When I was eight-years-young, I decided that I would grow up to be two things: a bartender and an artist.

Until a few years ago (pre-hiatus), I maintained a hyperactive art practice – a sort of social convener-art director-raconteur-performance artist-hybrid. I juggled multiple projects simultaneously – complex collaborations which involved a lot of risk and uncertainty. I worked with little more than a week of rest between projects. These were challenging times. I also directed a space for a good part of this period – a gallery-clubhouse-studio-wormhole kind of operation. To pay the bills – aside from the occasional paid art gig – I bartended and waited tables. 

Problem was – much as I loved this lifestyle – I was so focused on work, my personal life suffered greatly. Consequently, I had to walk away from it all for a while. I’d let my “personal life” slide and needed to regroup. Financially, too, I was spent. And I’d grown tired of doing projects on less than a shoestring budget. I was tired of sacrificing my own personal/emotional/financial wellbeing for the sake of creating life-altering experiences for other people. Community-building, collaboration, teamwork – especially the kind of super-DIY kind I was involved in – it’s tough work. So much as it’s full of beauty and fun and positivity, it’s fraught with disappointment, conflicting expectations and sore feelings. I needed to start giving back to myself. It was time for a change.

So I closed the artspace, let go of all the other projects, and decided to reevaluate my position. I didn’t want to give up art completely. And a big part of me still wanted to do what I loved most – facilitating intimacy, shaping social space, hosting and showing people a good time. What could I do?

After some thought, it was clear. There was another half of me, a part that was just waiting for me to grow it iinto something great. My bartender-self. I was a bartender to my core. There was tons of potential there for me to be creative and really take my childhood dream to new heights.

So I decided to focus more intently on becoming a more mindful bar-host and drink-mixer. Everything I really loved was there. Eating, drinking, socializing, stories, all the good stuff. I jumped right in – studying drinks history, technique, products, flavours, all that – and found a whole new world of possibility in the middle of a booming global cocktail revolution!

And now I’m opening Grey Tiger! … 

I feel I just said a mouthful. And I only skimmed the surface. I’ll return later with a little update. We’re about a month-and-a-half away from opening – with the support of great friends and family. It’s exciting and scary and all kinds of WHAT? But most of all, it’s turning out to be an amazing journey. It’s a perfect opportunity to combine all my loves. Though I also recognize that it could very well be just as consuming as the world I left for hiatus. But this time I’m not alone in leading the charge.

Until next time, enjoy some pics from the Grey Tiger journey ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

Demolition. Plans of attack.

Shadows of things happening.

Layers of time.

Detail of a mural we found behind a wall. We’re keeping it!

Leave a Comment (7)

shinobu wrote on Jan 27:

Hey Ryan, I think everyone'd love to see the "heady work and lots to do" part as a part of your on-hiatus project here! Do we have to wait til you open?? (;

Ryan wrote on Jan 26:

Enrique - Great quote. Thanks for that.

Kelly - Thanks for the link. Very helpful and poignant.

Mary - I'm well-versed in the classics. I look forward to mixing a bone-dry Martini for you.

Shinobu - Now you know where we are. Looking forward to meeting you and sharing a drink.

Milena - We're past much of the heavy work now. Still lots to do to open by the end of February, but we're making good progress and already the space has a warmth about it, very much cultivated by our friends coming together to make the renovation process something more than work; sharing and bonding and visualizing, anticipating great things to be.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

enrique wrote on Jan 9:

open-ended, yesss!
"The new paradigm is also likely to alter the shape of the ensuing career. Just as everyone, we’re told, will have five or six jobs, in five or six fields, during the course of their working life, so will the career of the multiplatform, entrepreneurial artist be more vagrant and less cumulative than under the previous models. No climactic masterwork of deep maturity, no King Lear or Faust, but rather many shifting interests and directions as the winds of market forces blow you here or there."
thanks for sharing this article !

Kelly wrote on Jan 5:

One of my favorite creative couples owns a restaurant near where I live. They work like crazy but there's a passion and love in the work that is enviable. I recently came across this article I thought you might like: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/01/the-death-of-the-artist-and-the-birth-of-the-creative-entrepreneur/383497/

Mary Kroetsch wrote on Jan 1:

Wow! Looking at your photographs takes me back to when we did our Pub restorations, not once, but twice. I have to say I loved this part of setting up the business the best. I got real good at dry walling.

I am guessing the space was once a Travel Agency judging by the Lufthansa mural.

How are your skills at making a dry martini? I venture into Toronto at least once a month and would love to drop by once you open.

shinobu wrote on Dec 23:

Ryan, I was in the area and must have passed by so many times not noticing it - dah

milena kosec wrote on Dec 23:

Heavy work. Good luck with renovation!