Westminster art photographer finds magic in the night sky and dawn: Baltimore Sun

Ryan Brown is a local art photographer living in rural Westminster. She has been working at book publisher Penguin Random House since 2019 as a customer service representative, managing independent bookstore accounts in the Midwest.

Brown took standard art classes when he attended Franklin High School in Reisterstown, with no outstanding abilities other than having an eye for style and color. He was always surrounded by art and artistic people. His brothers Ralph and Russell are illustrators.

“My dear late friend Carlos Batts, who passed away in 2012, was also a professional photographer from Reisterstown,” Brown said. “He was a huge influence in my life.”

id. Batts inspired Brown said Batts inspired him to take risks with art and not be afraid of it. Ryan didn’t start creating art and music until he was an adult.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Brown made music as a DJ. At the time, I was living in downtown Baltimore and working for Henry Wong, owner of An die Musik, a well-respected and intimate classical and jazz venue on Charles Street. Since An die Musik is right down the street from the Peabody Conservatory, students frequented it often.

Brown met a fellow Peabody student, Jay Seay, a trumpet player.

“He and I started going out and started making music together. It was a mix of music that includes hip hop, improvisational jazz and fusion rock,” Brown said. “A few weeks later, we met Greg Gaither, another musician who played bass.”

They formed a band called AudioFix and between 2000 and 2006 played shows in Baltimore, Washington and Virginia, including local festivals such as Artscape and the Charles Village Festival. They recorded three CDs, one of which was recorded live at An die Musik.

After marrying in 2008, Brown and his wife moved to Westminster. At the same time, he started taking photographs.

Brown worked at the Walters Art Museum for 17 years. There he met many people and saw all the exhibitions. He also had the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes activities on a daily basis.

While working for the Walters, Brown was able to study different art forms, styles and media. He began to choose what he liked, preferring classical art such as Renoir, Picasso and Klimt.

In 2016, after having two daughters, Brown and his wife separated. During this time of separation, his wife Tere suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed.

“I was under a lot of pressure and stress, and I was afraid for my family’s future,” Brown said.

After nearly two years in the hospital, Brown’s wife was finally ready to go home.

“I had decided then that it was paramount to keep our family together,” Brown said.

He reunited with her, moved to Westminster and is now her carer.

“When you are a carer, everything changes; you develop new insecurities, new routines, new vices. You question yourself, your level of empathy,” Brown said. “You sacrifice something every day.”

These vital transitions gave Brown time to look at the clouds more closely and take more photos. He studied his photographs from previous years. He looked at everything. Brown’s photography was about isolation and that was changing.

“My art wants to live. There is passion in heaven. The images came to life as I studied them. I found another world,” Brown said.

“Going through the pandemic, I was at home a lot and there were times when I was up all night. If the moon was full and there were clouds outside, I would go outside and take pictures. These photos are some of my favorites; there’s something about the moonlight. Nothing is really alike. We are so busy, out there driving, consuming, working, and the world is moving too, the skies are constantly changing. I’m just catching a moment in time.”

He began to develop photographic series. One is called “Deities” because the images look like divine figures in the sky. The “Night” series consists of images of the moon and clouds.

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“I like shooting at night and early in the morning,” Brown said. “Catching the rising sun can be so magical. The colors are gorgeous at dawn.”

Another series he is working on is called “Trees”. These images resemble trees made of earth and industry. Brown decided to print his images on large canvases.

“I want to print them all. I want the public to see my photographs,” he said. “I think they are powerful images with great colors. I want people to want to decorate their homes with my prints.”

“My art is how I interact with nature. The sky is a great model. There is still natural beauty and being able to capture some of it is very inspiring and uplifting. Finding anything beautiful is important.”

Brown is a member of the Carroll County Arts Council. He can be reached at [email protected]

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. His column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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