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Ryan Hadley: Monstrosity

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


With nearly a decade of experience under his belt, Fort Wayne native Ryan Hadley, the self taught fine artist and tattoo artist, is expanding his scope even further into the art world by turning Ryan Hadley Studio into one of Fort Wayne's most exciting gallery spaces. Located on the second floor of 821 Calhoun Street (above the Loaf and Ladle), the space is one of the most metropolitan and genuinely refreshing downtown interiors you’ll find in the area. Ryan Hadley Studio's all black, faux stone floored, red lighted, loft space is not only incredibly well suited to providing a great tattoo experience, but it’s perfect for art exhibitions.

Hadley's upcoming exhibition, "Monstrosity," is a tribute to the “classic” horror films, meaning pretty much anything prior to the 1980's; Hadley describes them as having a stronger psychological horror than the blood baths of today. "Monstrosity" boasts an impressive list of contributing artists, including Damon Conklin (owner of SuperGenius Tattoo of Seattle); Josh Duffy (California); Durb Morrison (Hell City Tattoo Festival, Columbus, OH); and locals like Dusty Neal, Ricco Diamante, Maxwell Egy, Nate Click, Donny Manco, and Mike Stow.

While most of these artists are known for their impressive tattooing abilities, they represent the greater trend of the merging Fine Art and Tattoo worlds. Examples of how this can work as a business model include Invisible NYC and Last Rights Gallery in New York; Transcend Gallery in Connecticut (Hadley was included in the "100 Faces of Mary" exhibition, which later became a publication); and Howl in Fort Meyers, Florida, which both successfully act as galleries and studios. Locally, the fringe art world elements of the tattoo communities are collaborating with fine artist and art spaces in stronger and more prolific ways, and it is creating a great deal of activity. For years now, many of Fort Wayne's tattoo artists have been actively involved in our arts communities, and in many cases are great supporters. Also, tattoo artistry is giving graphic design a run for its money at being the surefire way of making a living off of that art degree.

After having his studio space for nearly one year, Hadley hopes that the Ryan Hadley Studio can make part of that transition into a duel model after "Monstrosity," when he can begin to take the fine art aspect of what he would like to do a bit more seriously. Eventually, Hadley anticipates that the art gallery side of his business may even become more prominent. Hadley says,"...the fine art side of the tattoo world is unstoppable". The kind of art Hadley wishes to present will be consistent with the "new pop" which the tattoo/street infusions of the art world are creating, and which can be seen in publications like High Fructose and Beautiful Decay. Hadley's main focus is actually on fine art, a pursuit which he has been interested in longer than tattooing, and he explains that painting and tattooing are sort of like a crop rotation for him, going back and forth between them to keep a creative edge.

Hadley's own art is primarily painting and drawing, and takes from the genres of both photo-realism and surrealism, which fit perfectly with "Monstrosity"'s horror movie theme. While other tattoo artists are certainly influences, Hadley finds his main influence through fine art. In "Bella" and "Carrie" Hadley represents incredibly realistic representations of extremely hyperbolic situations. The psychological effects that his images have are indistinguishable from the physical art. They make the viewer itch with both the graphic nature of what is being depicted, and the ridiculous amount of detail provided in the making of the image. Hadley's interest in art originally stems from his grandmother, who was an artist. These early experiences transitioned into tattooing relatively early on through a friend. Being inexperienced but wanting to begin learning, Hadley began tattooing himself, and taught himself through this form of trial and error (Hadley lightly raised his blacked arm as a testament to some of these early trials).

As an even stronger testament to Hadley's humble nature and self-discipline, he fully intends on basing himself in Fort Wayne, where his family is, and continuing to make a name for himself nationally. In doing so, he hopes that he can open the door to others in Fort Wayne, and help them realize their potential. Fort Wayne, especially our downtown, is lucky to have people like Ryan Hadley, who see this place as a viable market for their skills, and who are willing to extend a hand to others. Ryan Hadley Studio will no doubt continue to grow its local following while it continues to bring artists and enthusiasts in from across the nation for his exhibitions, some of which Hadley says are actually interested in Fort Wayne, because it is so different from the coasts. It may be a niche market, and one that some have issues with, but Ryan Hadley is developing a cultural tourist market that is in many ways stronger than those we currently have through our more established institutions.

"Monstrosity" will open at 7pm, Saturday, October 16th, at Ryan Hadley Studio, 821 S. Calhoun Street.
For more information, visit www.ryanhadley.com or call 260-413-1039.

ALSO: Be sure to visit Artlink between now and October 20th for "The Fort Exhibition", an exhibition of 6 installations created by Marie Gardeski, John Hartman, Justin Jackson, Sommer Starks, Clare Christian Tarr, and Josef Zimmerman. "The Fort Exhibition" is part of a new program by Artlink, called the Annual Local Vignette Series, which is meant to highlight local artists. The current exhibition is a great outlet for most of the artists involved because installation works are not traditionally supported by Fort Wayne's galleries.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.