THE WONDERFUL ART OF PAT RYAN
WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL ART OF PAT RYAN
Welcome to the wonderful art of Pat Ryan, a legend and pioneer in the world of rock and roll art, cannabis rights, Native American Portraiture, and graphic illustration.
ABOUT PAT RYAN
An analog artist in a digital age
Pat Ryan was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1941 and raised in Levittown on Long Island, eventually migrating to Los Angeles in 1962, where he attended Art Center School of Design. He worked for various advertising agencies on Sunset Boulevard as a young art director with clients as diverse as Mattel and Chisa Record Productions for Hugh Masekela
In 1971 he packed up his belongings and young family, which included his beautiful and powerful soul singer wife Cyretta, their four young children, two cats and a dog, and moved to the small town of Fairfax in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco.
Pat soon met and befriended the greatest California rock poster artists in the area; Alton Kelley, Stanley ‘Mouse’ Miller, Victor Moscoso, Larry Noggle, Linda Miller, Tim Harris, Enid Hansen, and Dave Sheridan and together they rented a building on the corner of 2nd and B Streets in San Rafael where they were collectively known as the “Peanut Gallery". To document the group, Pat Ryan painted the Concrete Foundation of Fine Art (C.F.F.A.) poster, which can be seen in an historical context in Paul Grushkin’s book, “The Art of Rock.”
It was also during the Peanut Gallery era that Pat exhaustively researched and painted 12 designs known as the Wounded Knee Memorial Series, depicting native American tribes.
“When I first arrived in the Bay Area in 1971, that was about the time the Native Americans had taken over Alcatraz and I met a lot of people in the movement who were very active politically. It’s the kind of thing you can give lots of support to, but the situation’s never going to change. It’s a very sad part of our history, very, very sad. I’ve always had empathy for the native cause. As a kid I’d go to the movies and root for the Native Americans, always. I was really into the Native American culture, making bows and arrows, tents and teepees. My first paintings of American Natives were made when I was about eight. I remember one that I did of an Native American brave with a knife in his hand, confronting a charging mountain lion. As I grew up, I did a lot of reading and researching, and came to have a new-found respect for the native tribal cultures I encountered. It all started with a mural on canvas in 1974 that is 7’ high and 16 1/2’ wide. It was of the Navajo in Monument Valley making turquoise jewelry. There’s this old man, a wise elder, having some vision of all the dancers from history coming out of the clouds. It’s a really cool piece, and it got me started painting again. Before that, I’d been doing graphics, underground comics, and that kind of thing. I worked on Hit the Road, a hitchhiking comic, and Yellow Dog Comix, plus ‘The Leather Nun’ with Dave Sheridan. When I started the mural in 1974, it changed my life totally. I did this mural in two months, then started working on the Wounded Knee Memorial series doing T-shirt designs and just couldn’t stop. The last thing that I did was a big round multi tribe Mandala which took three years to complete.”
In 1980 Pat Ryan and Dave Sheridan brought their formidable talents together to form C.O.D. Graphics, which spawned the Artista art gang. At its peak Artista boasted more than 700 members and friends, including rock impresarios Bill Graham and Chet Helms. They had their own softball team and sported custom-made satin gang jackets with the Artista symbol on the back — a rainbow dragon emerging from a tube of paint with a lightning bolt in its clutches. Ryan created that striking image with Dave Sheridan, and Alton Kelley, one of the big five psychedelic poster artists. Ryan’s jacket was embroidered with the title Grambo, a nickname his grandchildren gave him that’s befitting his position as one of the founding fathers of Artista and The California Homegrowers Association which was revolutionary in the campaign to end Cannabis prohibition in California. Pat also worked with writer, actor and comedian Don Novello helping to shape his Father Guido Sarducci character by donating to Mr Novello his first priestly robe.
Pat Ryan is widely considered The Godfather of Cannabis Art and has been profiled and interviewed in High Times and Califari as well as being a revered guest and artist in residence for the Emerald Cup.
Pat was in the business of rock poster art for 5 decades and his list of artists he depicted graphically and in fine art include The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, The Tubes, The Wailers, Black Uhuru, The Reggae on the River and Sierra Music Festivals, Van Morrison, Earth Wind and Fire, The Sons Of Champlin and many many more.
In December of 2020 Pat Ryan lost a valiant battle with Cancer and past away surrounded by his family and beautiful art peacefully in his home. He is survived by his children and grandchildren who are committed to bringing his art to the world. This website is a tribute and a furthering of his legacy.
There will be limited editions of his art available here on patryanart.com as well as other related things of interest as time goes on and the estate discovers and releases his prodigious output.
"If you can't have fun, why bother?"