Kathleen Ryan in New York, NY

When I was in New York, I was super excited to see there was a Kathleen Ryan show at Karma gallery. I absolutely adored the New York-based Ryan’s work at Art Basel in 2019.

Unfortunately, I was only able to see one of the three Karma venues. Timing was tight and I was hellbent on seeing Ryan’s beaded fruit. I snuck in the show as I was heading to the airport.

“Several recent sculptures from the artist’s 2018– “Bad Fruit” series—including three lemons and four cherries, two of them conjoined—rest on pedestals in the smaller venue. Oversize and encrusted with semiprecious stones that convincingly simulate spreading mold, the sculptures reinforce the vanitas motifs found in much of Ryan’s work to date, efficiently merging symbols of fleeting sensual pleasure and material wealth.” (Karma)

“Although Ryan’s sculptures share thematic ground with seventeenth-century Dutch still life paintings, their morphological origins lie elsewhere, in the beaded fruit kits marketed to homemakers in postwar America. By pinning plastic beads and sequins onto Styrofoam balls, crafty consumers could easily create glittering replicas of ripe fruit for tabletop displays. While remaining faithful to that basic technique, Ryan carves much larger polystyrene armatures for her sculptures, vastly increases the number of pinned elements, and supplements acrylic beads with all manner of semiprecious stones, which are catalogued in her checklists. These upgrades facilitate a remarkable degree of detail and realism, especially where the multicolored gems suggest patches of microbial growth. Given that many vintage beaded fruits were once treasured tchotchkes that now gather dust on thrift store shelves, Ryan’s faux fungi not only imply the passage of time, but also seem to manifest the nostalgia that can cling to the kitsch object.” (Karma)

Bad Lemon (Sea Witch), 2020
Aventurine, serpentine, prehnite, chrysoprase, rhyolite, agate, moss agate, jasper, peridot, moonstone, magnesite, lilac stone, turquoise, citrine, calcite, feldspar, ruby in zoisite, labradorite, swarovski crystal, quartz, mother of pearl, freshwater pearls, glass, steel pins on coated polystyrene
16 1⁄2” x 18” x 20 in
Bad Lemon (Sour Blush), 2020
Aventurine, smokey quartz, rhodonite, calcite, quartz, labradorite, green line jasper, kambaba jasper, pink opal, citrine, amethyst, rose quartz, agate, serpentine, pink lep- idolite, malachite, mother of pearl, freshwater pearl, bone, glass, acrylic, steel pins on coated polystyrene
28” x 19 1/2” x 18 1/⁄2 in

I rarely share my personal collection with you, but thought I’d break my rule and share a photo of my beaded fruit and vegetables. I have over 400 pieces (but stopped counting years ago). I haven’t bought a new piece in as long as I can remember, as honestly I think I have enough. I started collecting well before Ebay was a thing, and it was always a thrill to find some at an antique market or vintage store. If anyone sees a beaded mushroom, let me know. It is the only piece I’ve seen made that I do not have.

2 thoughts on “Kathleen Ryan in New York, NY

  1. such beautiful mold on her lemons and cherries! You’ve found a great way to display your bounty. I remember it adorning the living room mantlepiece in Glen Ridge, or was it in the dining room? or both?

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