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Meet K Ryan Henisey of TAG Gallery in Miracle Mile, West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to K Ryan Henisey.

K Ryan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
You know, the best part about our personal stories is that they are constantly changing. Who I am today is a far cry from who I was (or even thought I would be) five years ago.

Now, I am an exhibiting artist, looking forward to international representation at the Guangzhou Art Fair in 2020, and president at TAG Gallery. Recently, I procured a separate show-and-work space at TAG, where I’ll be featuring a different artist each month. And most imminent on my personal calendar are two upcoming exhibitions, my solo show ‘installations’ and a curated collection of Queer art-themed ‘My Youth.’ Both shows open at TAG, November 23, 6-9 pm.

How did I get there? With a lot of hard work, pivots, but most importantly by taking my art seriously.

I spend a good deal of time each week shared between the physical creation of works and the business of exhibiting them. Part of the means accepting the transactional nature of arts participation: completing forms, paying fees, conducting research, social media, blogging, and etc. But by spending a portion of my “art time” on the management of my work, I am able to consistently exhibit and generate sales.

The other half of my time is spent on the craft itself. This helps me develop my artistic skills, maintain a consistent practice, and eventually leads to the formation of full collections. A minimum of at least 15 minutes each day is dedicated to being an artist (that’s on top of a nine-to-five job and other responsibilities). But most days, I give over an hour or two. After all, it is in the pursuit of my own happiness.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think we all have personal struggles. Some of those are commonplace but everyone experiences them in their own way. There’s imposter syndrome or that moment (every artist feels it) where you hate what you are making. But for the most part, I can quiet those personal devils.

I struggle most with the external devils: jealousy, spite, bigotry. Homophobia has been a common theme throughout my life—from playground teasing to attempts at professional and creative sabotage. In the moment, I tend to react head-on, calling out the unnecessary negativity. I learned long ago not to let things sit.

But for the most part, I try to only accept projects that increase my positive energy. I believe in additive output—meaning that I can keep adding things to my plate as long as they continue to elevate my personal joy. It took years of hard work to build to that place—and it always needs tweaks—but it works for me.

What else should we know?
Next up for me is ‘installations’ and ‘My Youth.’ Both exhibitions—the first a solo show and second a curated opportunity—are on display at TAG Gallery from November 19-December 14, 2019.

‘installations’ invites viewers to become participants, embedding a piece of themselves in the art. Paper hearts and my familiar use of mixed patterns are central to interactive displays, perfect for photographs, selfies and boomerangs.

With ‘installations,’ I want you to make the final object of art. Using collage as my medium, I’ve created backdrops and paper sets that invite you in. The exhibition is deeply queer, selfie-centric, and there’s a lot of me in it—bits of my 80s-era childhood, favorite song lyrics, and my body.

I am is fascinated with the intersection of social media and creative presence. The use of paper hearts is intended to play foil to the human side of social “likes,” reminding that behind the object (and internet) is a living, emotional being.

Concurrent with ‘installations,’ I am showing a collection of Queer art. ‘My Youth’ was selected with artist and curator Eugene Huffman. Together, we chose a visual narrative that speaks to the triumph over tribulation that many Queer people continue to face today as they come of age. Thirty artists across the LGBTQ alphabet are included.

I’ll also have a piece in LAAA’s Open Show later this year and will show with them and Mazillion Gallery in China, 2020. And I’ve opened a work-and-show space at TAG Gallery. I’ll feature a favorite artist each month there, so stop by. I have served as president of TAG, and artist cooperative, since May 2019.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love Los Angeles’ variety. There is always something fresh, someone new, or something interesting to experience. From art galleries to food, I find LA to be a feast of the senses.

Los Angeles is also a great inspiration for my art. Urban landscapes and the city’s history often work their way into my objects.

I have a love-hate relationship with traffic. And that’s all I think anyone born to the area ever needs to say.

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