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.
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.
I’ve been photographing graffiti covrup for a few years. I particularly enjoy this one. I captured this image in an alleyway I traverse daily between home and Grey Tiger. Here I find myself very relaxed. It’s my me time, away from everyone and everything. I find solace in alleyways in general. It’s quiet there. …
This is Becky papering the walls in our washrooms. The streetart back-and-forth we had in front of the shop – you know, the vandals and making art to coverup their tags – inspired her to create this really great repeat pattern. And it turned out to be a really cheap and easy way to make our washrooms pretty delightful. (It just took time, basic laser copies and homemade wheatpaste.)
In a way, the whole thing was a kind of blessing, so to speak. I mean, without that engagement, we wouldn’t have this awesome design. And what’s even more interesting, the streetart thing actually helped us develop our brand. It helped us visually articulate the magical energy behind the project. It helped us maintain a certain ceative edge, too, which is essential and not always easy to achieve when you’re up to your eyeballs in drywall and plywood.
Really, we’re quite grateful to have magic in our lives and to be rooted in creativity and not just running a business in a total business frame of mind. We’re artists and Grey Tiger is truly a labour of intense love and devotion to a shared concept. It’s a magical collaboration. It’s blood, sweat, tears and screams of joy all in a space of our own making. You can feel it when you walk into it.
And that doesn’t happen everyday in the hospitality industry. So we’re pretty ezcited to bring that to the public. To open our place up to good people who want to interact with a special vibe, to be one with it, and to participate in its positive growth. I know it’s a day-dreamy kind of perspective to have as a business owner. But it’s crucial. We’re artists first and foremost – and that’s what’s gonna make a successful space.
It’s the only way we’re gonna be happy and keep the magic stoked.