Mo Ryan - Surf Art

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - November 14, 2008


Mo Ryan - Surf Art

The refreshing thing about artist Mo Ryan’s surf art is what separates it from simple scenic paintings. Each work includes the beach, water and, of course, some kind of surf element. But what makes Ryan’s paintings special are the subjects that make a juxtaposition between the scenery and the focal point.

“Of course I’m attracted to surf art, yet I want to take it one step further to make the viewer think about the piece,“says Ryan, who regularly gets out on the waves herself.“It’s not like I’m trying to convey a certain message, I’m leaving it up to the viewer to come up with what they think.”

In one, Ryan paints a couple of businessmen in suits standing on the sand watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon (Seize the Day). In another, she paints bus passengers in black and white while out the window is a colorful and vibrant beach scene (Perspective).

“When I went to art school in California, the one thing they really pushed was,‘Don’t paint a painting that somebody’s just going to look at and then walk away. Make them stay in front of your painting,’” Ryan explains.

She attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, earning her business degree and a minor in art in the mid-1990s. She later earned a degree in art from Sonoma State, emphasizing sculpting and painting .

As far as inspiration is concerned, Ryan looks no further than the beach and its regulars.“There are so many characters who are surfers,“says Ryan, who has been painting full time for the last five years.“They usually end up giving me the ideas, or just how people cruise around in golf carts on the North Shore (the subject of her painting Options).”

Though her paintings sell rather well, Ryan says she wants to start focusing more on her sculpture, which is usually based in or around water. She says the only trouble is getting the pieces into a gallery. “It is hard to find a gallery that wants anything to do with a sculpture that sits in water, you know?“she says with a laugh, mentioning how she likes building custom installation pieces that have to do with the elements, mainly water. “I like the movement of a piece cause it changes over time.”

All of Ryan’s works can be found on her website,, and possibly some island galleries in the near future, she says.


Healing Art

Even though it’s too late to attend the Louis Vuitton Creative Arts Program art sale and exhibition Art from the Heart, which took place on Nov. 13, it’s never too late to help with the program’s art classes at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific.

“We can always use more volunteers,” says program director Ellen Matsumoto.“There’s many behind-the-scene things volunteers can do.“She lists making canvases, helping with instruction and doing paper work as a few ways to help.

The art classes are for current and former patients in the hospital recovering from illnesses or accidents that require therapy.

“The patients (with experience) learn to adapt,“says Matsumoto. “Those who don’t have experience, they just develop (as artists). It’s amazing.”

The program began in 1994 with several patients who were artists, and was supported by an annual golf tournament held by Louis Vuitton, which recently stopped.

“This is our primary fundraiser now,” says Matsumoto of the art sale and exhibition. “Louis Vuitton is still behind us, but they had to change their venues so there will be no more golf tournaments. They look for new creative ways to help us, but we’re trying to find ways to supplement that.”

Since Matsumoto and art teacher Ruben Young started in 2001,the program has grown from about 15 participants to more than 35, each with varying levels of art experience.“Most of them haven’t had any art experience,”

Matsumoto says. “It’s great, the artists become like family. They support each other,encourage each other even disagree with each other.”

The students learn how to hold a brush and how to polish their technique, depending on their disability. “Julia Lee had a stroke and got pretty advanced arthritis,“says Matsumoto of one of the patients in the program. “Holding a brush was difficult,but now she can do beautiful paintings with basically a palette knife.”

Though the task for some of the patients is difficult - a few of them have to use their mouths to hold brushes - Matsumoto says they all do a great job.“Their work is a little rough at first,” she says. “But once they start getting the feel of what to do and how to do it, it’s not a problem.”

Classes are 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Monday and Friday for past and present patients, and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday for in-patients only.“It’s a smaller group, they’ll get more attention from Ruben,” Matsumoto says.

For more information on the group, call Matsumoto at 566-

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