Mark Ryan describes himself as a father of three young boys who has a second job as the director of collections and operations at the Plains Art Museum. For that second job, Ryan maintains the permanent collection and aids in exhibition preparation, doing behind-the-scenes work vital to the proper preservation and display of all artwork at the museum. When we caught up with him (above) he was working on storage of donated prints from Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky.
Ryan also volunteers on the Lake Region Arts Council, and he encourages readers to visit their website and check out the variety of services and grants available through the council to support artists in the region.
“I firmly adhere to the notion that access to the arts is vital to the well being (economic, social, you name it) of any community,” Ryan says, “and I count myself lucky to live and work in as vibrant an arts community as I do.” That’s a perfect attitude to bring to our What Gets Me Going community profile series.
What book, music, movie, artwork, etc., really gets you going? Why?
I love most non-fiction work in all media forms, really. I’m a total documenta-head. I think, in general, life/history/the here and now–whatever–is way more interesting than any possible thing anyone could dream up. That said, I am partial to the occasional zombie/apocalyptica flick/read that finds its way into my field of view. Within reality, I really get into works on travel. Tim Cahill and Bill Bryson are among my all time favorites – I was born with the itch to travel – and reading about/planning future trips is what keeps me occupied with the free time that happens to drop in my lap now and then.
What artist, musician, etc., inspires you the most? Why?
As far as music goes, as a child of the 80s and 90’s I’m partial to the outdated and meaningless moniker of “alternative” music, specifically the drippy, melancholic musings of Mr. Sad Pants Morrissey – though I am also a huge fan of industrial music as well – having recently seen KMFDM for the eighth time this past spring – whooo-hoooo!
I know, it’s a big span from the Smiths to someone like Skinny Puppy, but I really do like most types of music. I think early practitioners of a given specific genre are something that I tend to focus on, and bands like Skinny Puppy were putting forth some really weird stuff back when no one expected it. I guess I like to get struck by the unexpected rather than seek something out specifically. There are so few actual surprises in life, so I like to kick back and revel in the unexpected/unknowns.
What’s something you saw or heard recently that you would recommend to others?
I was out in Salt Lake City earlier this month and got to see Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (a massive land art sculpture built in 1970 on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake). It’s waaaaaaay out of town, down dirt roads and located off the shore of a little spit of land in the great salt lake basin, but it’s worth the trip. It’s isolated, hard to get to, unexpected, and makes you wonder why – which is exactly why it’s cool and interesting. It’s a surprise.
What local artist, musician, writer, etc., do you admire, and why?
As far as local music, I really like Michael Pink – we’re lucky to have such a talented song writer and musician in our midst. He’s awesome. I also have to mention Fargo-Moorhead’s hardest working drummer and musical impresario Frank McDaniels and the Deb Jenkins Band/Stage Door Johnny. As far as visual artists go, there are a lot of artists whose work I admire, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many through my involvement and employment in the arts. We really do have a wealth of talent in our home town.
Any guilty pleasures you’d like to share?
Hmm … I really like to bust out the LEGO and play with my three sons. It brings me back to when I nerded out for hours at a time building crazy stuff. I really dig that.
Images, from top: Mark Ryan in the collections work area at Plains Art Museum, where he oversees the storage and maintenance of the museum’s 3,000+ permanent collection pieces, photo by the author; photo via Wikipedia.