Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ROBERT RYAN: Baphomet & Shangri La

"Love is All", Robert Ryan

I first met Robert "Bink" Ryan when he set up a show for Crazy Dreams Band in his one-room studio slash gallery slash third floor walkup off one of Asbury Park's Cookman Street. His walls were covered in gorgeous framed works in a metaphysical-flash style and a third of one wall was entirely given over to a monochromatic cosmos mural by Daniel Higgs. Nobody at the party seemed particularly interested in our music, but Bink's fridge seemed to grow beer and everyone was pretty nice. The next day, I walked miles in a freak hailstorm to Robert's tattoo shop one town away where I received a rainbow ice cup and my clothing was dried in a laundry room filled with Chihuahua figurines. Asbury Park, New Jersey is sort of a magical wasteland in itself, and now Bink lives in the neighboring village of Ocean Grove, a plot of mansions and cottages on Methodist-owned land that closes its gates at midnight. He spearheads the musical entity Harmonize Most High and continues to execute dazzling works of art for flesh and paper.

What do you do?

I make paintings and tattoos and try to work on music as much as the painting and tattooing will allow for me to do.

What are you doing the most lately?

I feel like I have been traveling a lot lately and studying. I have been working with plant medicines and working on my posture and breathing. Of the aforementioned things I feel like tattooing has been occupying a big spot because that's what pays the bills.

How long have you done these things?

Tattooing for 14 years.
Painting for about 16 and playing music for about 23 years.

How have the things changed?
Well I feel like its always expanding
and contracting. Its always growing I'm always purging expelling all the bullshit that attaches itself to you on these paths. Earthly snares and such.

Why do you do these things?

For the Love

How does it make you feel?
Like my hero Sun Ra said "Music can be
your greatest ambassador or your worst nemesis."

What's it like when you are unable to do these things?

I feel like I
imagine a worried mother must feel like.

When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are?
When I was young I used to live in an old house that belonged to Eugene O'Neal's widow and daughter, Agnes and Una. They lived there after Una divorced Charlie Chaplin. One night my cousin and I were playing in the yard and we both saw what we thought was Eugene O' Neal's
ghost walk past us. At that moment my mind was open to anything. I was Eleven.

How has your life changed to accommodate That Moment's effect on you?
Well I figured out right away that I wasn't taking the easy way out. To see ghosts and UFOs and consume LSD or live in Hare Krishna temple might be hard to explain to your friends and loved ones yet is still worth the experience.

How has your work affected your life in return?

I could be the poster
child for what you should or what you shouldn't do with your life. It all depends on who you ask. Tattooing has shaped me as well as destroyed me, like my psychic baphomet. Music on the other hand is my Shangri La and painting might be the strongest of my personal connections.

How does your location affect what you do and who you are these days?
As you know I live between "Gods square mile" Ocean Grove & "The city by the Sea" Asbury Park. I feel as though I'm very lucky to work with some of the greatest people I know, I live four blocks from the beach and I play Frisbee with my dog almost every morning. The music scene here is so backwards and the art scene pretty much sucks despite the fact some of the best illustrators and painters I know live within 10 minutes of here. We all just exist outside our locale and I think there is something to be said about that.

What do you think of the future?

I think its an oblong oblivion.

What has David Lee Roth meant in your life?
He is like my favorite rock roll trickster. Giant Surfboards, Samurai Swords, Assless Pants, High Kicks, Monster Trucks! The guy is a Titan guarding the temple of Rock and Roll but then he gets busted buying dime bags of downtown julie brown ( middle school jersey weed slang) in Washington square park? This was a task I mastered in the 10th grade. He really is mystifying. I spent a whole summer surfing and watching the "Just a Gigolo "and "California Girls" videos on what felt like a perpetual loop.

Do you have anything you'd like to ask me?
I would like your advice on my retirement idea. Dig it! A small shack, One man (or woman) in a hazmat suit and a dogbowl on his head. He makes burritos named after the famous songs of one of the most important rock and roll bands of our generation DE EVOLUTION BURRITO! Customer: " I would like one Mongoloid with medium salsa please and can I get cheese on that? Burritista: "Yes sir we can whip it." Customer : "Oh then whip it good"

All images courtesy Robert Ryan.

Robert Ryan works at Electric Tattoo
314 Main St. Bradley Beach NJ 07720
p: 732- 988-8882

1 comment:

Pyrrhus Darwin Castello said...

Great interview! Robert is the man