Westminster art photographer finds magic in the night sky and at dawn – the Baltimore sun

Ryan Brown is a local art photographer living in rural Westminster. He has been employed by 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 skills other than a sense of 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 very big influence in my life.”

ID. Batts inspired Brown said Batts inspired him to take risks with art and be fearless with 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, he was living in downtown Baltimore and working for Henry Wong, owner of An die Musik, a highly respected and intimate classical and jazz venue on Charles Street. Since An die Musik is just down the street from the Peabody Conservatory, students frequented it.

Brown met a Peabody student, Jay Say, a trumpeter.

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

They formed a band called AudioFix and between 2000 and 2006 played concerts 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 starts taking pictures.

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

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

In 2016, after having two daughters, Brown and his wife were separated. During this time apart, 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 come home,

“I had decided then that it was of the utmost importance to keep our family together,” Brown said.

He was reunited with her, returned to Westminster and is now looking after her.

“When you’re a caregiver, everything changes; you develop new insecurities, new routines, new vices. You doubt yourself, your level of empathy,” Brown said. “Every day you sacrifice something.”

These transitions in life provided time for Brown to take a closer look at the clouds by taking more photographs. He studies his photos 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 the sky. The images came to life as I studied them. I discovered another world,” Brown said.

“Going through the pandemic, I was at home a lot and there were times when I stayed up all night. If the moon was full and there were clouds, I would go outside and shoot. These photos are some of my favorites; there’s something about the moonlight. Nothing really seems like it. We are so busy, driving around, consuming, working, and the world is also moving, the sky is constantly changing. I’m just capturing a moment in time.”

He starts making series of photo appearances. 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 to shoot at night and early in the morning,” Brown said. “Capturing the rising sun can be so magical. The colors are magnificent 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 pictures,” he said. “I think these are strong 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 a piece of it is most inspiring and uplifting. Finding something beautiful is important.”

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

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

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