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

Open Sesame

We opened tonight. I mean, last night. It’s 3am. Going to bed. Gotta be back tomorrow morning for the Big on Bloor street fest. Tired. Great first night. Super positive.


So. Tired. …..zzzzzzzzzzzzz……..

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Kelly wrote on Aug 31:

WOW! Looks so beautiful!

enrique wrote on Aug 29:

gray tiger is a beautiful name! mucho éxito compañero !!

Matt wrote on Aug 25:

For sure Ryan.

milena kosec wrote on Aug 25:

I am hapy with you. Good luck!

Ryan wrote on Aug 24:

Thanks! Drop by sometime! Would love to meet you in real life!

Matt wrote on Aug 24:

Congrats Ryan, Looks great!



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Ryan wrote on Aug 15:

Oh yes, I am. I took this #selfie at City Lights in San Francisco, an historic shop I'd wanted to go to since I was a teenager, and I was feeling very serious.

milena kosec wrote on Aug 3:

What a serious face? Aren't you enyoy on hiatus?


Barkeep: I´ll have a Manhattan, if you will.

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In Between

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. …

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This Inspires That

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. 



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shinobu wrote on Aug 25:

This is interesting, isn't it? Being an artist first and foremost is the only way to be happy and keep the magic stoked even when you are working on an "on-hiatus from art" project. Lots to think about.... (wish this writing came with the picture when we first shared it on our page!)



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Back in Toronto

So renovations are almost done. We’re now into product development and finishing touches. Feels good. We’re just two weeks away from opening – for realsies this time! 

(Pictured below: Becky restoring the mural we discovered behind the wall.)

(Below: Daiquiri time!)

On another note: Last week we had a bunch of friends over to help us taste beers for the new menu. That was fun. Reminded me of why I do what I do – in art and in my bar practice. I love hosting. I love getting people together for activities and facilitating social interplay. We had a really good time discussing the beers and it was great to have people activate the space! And to boot we discovered some really great beers!

It reminds me of a series of beer-tastings I held a couple years back. I would choose a bunch of beers, research them, and invite people, privately or at social gatherings, to taste and discuss beers. But moreso, it was a great way to gather people together who otherwise wouldn’t interact and get them talking about taste memories and the like. The beer, and beer appreciation, is more than just tasting beer. It allows for conversations about memory and such things. It’s a facinating way to see how people think and talk about their life experiences. For instance, a certain flavour in the beer might remind one of a childhood memory, which may spark a particular memory for someone else in the group and on and on. It’s such a great way to get to know each other.

This week, Becky and I went on a special fieldtrip to San Francisco. We hit up a bunch of cafes, roasteries, bars and resaturants. It was really eye-opening. And now we’re back, inspired, and ready to rock! We learned so much and are so excited to incorporate our renewed energy and creative flare into our Grey Tiger mission!


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Where It´s At

It’s been a while. Too long. I’ve been deep in renovations. But we’re definitely way into the homestretch. Much of the big-build stuff has been finished. The floors are installed, furniture is in, equipment is trickling in. Feels good. There’s still a ton of stuff to do, yes, but it’s starting to feel much less grueling. 

We’re just a few weeks away from a soft opening. I’m excited and nervous all at once but keeping my head down and getting things done. It’s one day at a time. And most important, everyday we remind ourselves that we’ll be ready when we’re ready. And when we’re ready, we won’t be fully formed. We just have to open up with manageable offerings and build from there. It will take time for Grey Tiger to come into its own. There will be an extended period of growth. Learning and growing and becoming great is a process. We just have to remember to be true to our vision, go forth with great joy and love what we do. That will shine through in what we do. The place alrwdy looks and feels incredibly special. Together with our friends and family we’ve built a beautiful space that we’re excited to have many people call home. 

As we approach the opening – which, as I said, is weeks away – I’m reminded of this.feeling I have when building art experiences. That excitement and feeling of great purpose I have felt when getting ready to do a big party or a public perfoemancw or group expedition. The deep feeling of happiness I always got just knowing that soon the space – ephemeral or not – I was preparing would soon be populated and activated by people. I love building spaces for social interplay. My main purpose in life, whether in art proper, or behind the bar, is to bring people together for meaningful experiences. And in some way, Grey Tiger is a very important evolutionary expression of that love and commitment – that joyous feeling of social purpose. It seems to be a thing I’ve been working toward all these years but didn’t know it until it was happening.

I can’t wait to discover more!

Leave a Comment (2)

Ryan wrote on May 2:

Thanks! We're so close!

milena kosec wrote on May 2:

I wish you a realy great opening week.


The Art Battle Continues

So vandals hit us again. More tags. And bleeding cat eyes. (The cat eyes happened while I was working in the shop. I stepped out to grab a coffee, locked the door, and when I turned around the black paint was still leaking down the wall.) So we hit back with more paste-up action – and Illuminati Cat was born! Bam!

While it’s a bit annoying – all this back-and-forth with facelace brats – (jeez, I sound like a crotchety old man) – we’ve quite enjoyed the battle. It’s caused a lot of interest from passers-by on the street, a bit of online buzz, and helped us further define our general Grey Tiger vision. It’s even inspired fresh ideas for decorating our washrooms. 

In some way – and this is most interesting – it’s helped to make the artistic part of this whole endeavour come more to the fore. It’s helped to soften the edges of the project – you know, paying bills and all that – and serves as a reminder that art – actually being artistically engaged through the process – is crucial. We’re artists. Which means being aware of and engaged with our surroundings – not just inside our shop, not just with the business, but with the neighbourhood itself – the city and its people, faceless or not – in a very particular way. 

On another level it makes me think about – and be more sensitive to – how we are helping to gentrify our neighbourhood – something I once railed against as a younger artist – and how certain people feel feel and react to the changing face of Bloordale. We’re in a position of great responsibility and influence. While we’re doing something good – not just for us but, in the eyes of many of our neighbours, the neighbourhood – we are also helping to usher-in a kind of unwelcomed change for some other neighbours. 

That’s some heavy stuff, to say the least. I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. 

Funny: the so-called vandals seem to have have done us a favour. They’ve helped to remind us of our position and direction. They’ve inspired a lot of interesting conversation and contemplation. And they’ve inadvertantly become participants in the making of Grey Tiger. …

Anyway, yeah, so that happened. And there’s more to come. More amazing, mysterious, creative activities, thoughts and feelings to report very soon. …


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Ryan wrote on Apr 21:

Yes. A very special conversation indeed. A special happening. A lot of our neighbours think it's a fun and healthy response to tagging. And very other day, it seems, from inside we hear people talk about it as they pass by our shop, or we catch people being photographed in front of it.

milena kosec wrote on Apr 18:

I don’t feel this as the art battle but as very special conversation with the neighborhood. Probable it will and as friendship.


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