Arts & Entertainment

Ryan Scully's 'weird' art earns recognition

Succeeding in the highly competitive art world is one tough calling.

"No matter how gifted you are, you can't make it in the extremely competitive art world until you have practiced your craft for many years," said Maureen Mohatt, Hanford High art teacher.

But one of Mohatt's former students has done just that.

Ryan Scully, a 1997 Hanford High graduate, spent the past decade perfecting his art and is being internationally recognized for it in the March issue of New American Painters, an acclaimed periodical that features only the best of the best of up-and-coming American artists. He was one of 40 artists chosen from 1,000 applicants.

Scully, who moved to New York City a decade ago, is humbled by the recognition.

"It's very tough to get into this magazine, so I'm honored and excited by it all," he said in a telephone interview from New York. "I've tried to get into this publication several times but never made it, until now."

Each time he failed to get chosen for the magazine, though, he said he worked a little harder and dug deeper to stretch himself.

Four pieces of Scully's art are featured in the publication, which is now on newsstands.

The paintings are rather unique, though Scully uses a different word. "My stuff is definitely weird," he said.

What he paints or draws can be anything from trivial to poignant, depending on what inspires his imagination at the moment. The shapes look like gobs of blobs on canvas at first glance, but the abstract medium can speak volumes.

"My paintings might look weird and cause people who view it to be confused as to what it is, but it all makes sense to me in a weird kind of way," Scully joked. "Most of what I do on canvas plays out of a narrative of my own life. It's kind of hard to explain."

Mohatt isn't surprised by Scully's success. She saw his passion for art in her classroom.

"Ryan never shot from the hip, hoping for miraculous results with his art," she said. "His goal was to master perfection in the human form and its environment. Like all successful artists, he deviated from realistic renderings so that he could express his inner feelings as to how he perceived the world."

Scully credits Mohatt for fostering his deep respect for fine art.

"Mohatt was tough and disciplined," he said. "The minute I walked into her classroom as a freshman she told us to get our heads out of the clouds, that it was time to get serious about the art of fine art."

Four years under her tutelage gave him the confidence to pursue a career in art.

For the past five years, he's been the senior art producer for Warshaw Blumenthal in Manhattan, a company that provides illustration work for advertising agencies worldwide. He lives in Brooklyn with his girlfriend Molly Sisk, also a Hanford High grad.

He currently has a solo exhibition featured at the Sloan Fine Art studio in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Scully's parents, Don and Lavonne Scully of Richland, couldn't be more proud of their son, Don said.

And Scully credits his parents for their constant support of his art.

His dad is a retired chemical engineer, who Scully described as an "intensely curious" man. "Thankfully, I inherited that from my dad," he said.

Scully earned his bachelor of fine arts degree from Central Washington University, where his piece titled Legs is part of CWU's permanent collection. He then moved to New York, where he earned his master's at the New York Academy of Art.

"I decided to stay in New York City because this is where it's all happening," he said.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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