After five years as the co-owner of Knew Conscious, a gallery and electronic-music after-hours social club, Ryan Joseph Connell has sold his share and is parting ways with founder Kurt Redeker to start a new venture: the Ryan Joseph Gallery, a Highland-based gallery that will showcase eclectic artworks from around the world.
"I put in a lot of work at Knew Conscious. Without getting into too much detail, some things were coming up where it was becoming apparent it was time to make the decision to take the jump and step away," says Connell. "I had done a few pop-up exhibitions under my brand the past couple years. I was heavily encouraged by artists that I work with and close friends to focus on my own vision and brand rather than using my own vision to build someone else’s brand."
One of those things was Redeker floating the idea of exhibiting only his own artwork at Knew Conscious. While Connell ultimately supported that notion for the club, it was not what he was interested in doing, he explains, not after spending years bringing international art into the three spaces that Knew Conscious occupied.
"Kurt was focused on the after-hours venue side of things," says Connell. "His artwork goes well with the nightclub vibe. He’s going to be doing the nightclub and his artwork, and the art is going to Ryan Joseph Gallery."
While the new gallery will include some of the psychedelic, abstract and surreal art that Connell showcased at Knew Conscious, his space will not have a nightclub vibe. Instead, the focus will be on exhibiting and celebrating new works.
Connell signed the lease at 2647 West 38th Avenue in January, spent the winter updating the space, and held a soft launch in late April. The grand opening will take place on May 15 with Natura Naturans, a solo exhibition by Andrew Davis, whose paintings explore nature and Jungian takes on myth and dreams through portraiture.
Connell's is not the only new gallery to open in the area during the COVID-19 crisis. Artemesia Galerie and Gallery 6 recently launched, and Beacon, an immersive arts bar, is debuting this summer in RiNo.
While Connell acknowledges that opening a new gallery during a pandemic comes with some risks, he's confident that with his already strong lineup of collectors and artists, the new business will boom. Even before the opening, the Davis show has proved to be a success; half the works have already sold.
When he brings artists to town, Connell plans to set up mural commissions for them a couple of weeks in advance of their openings, so that they can have additional work that might attract new customers to the gallery.
"If people are vibing with it," says Connell, "it will give them an opportunity to see what that artist can do on a smaller scale on a couple of canvases as well."
What else will they see when they come in to Ryan Joseph Gallery?
"I hope they would expect to see some art they haven’t seen before," explains Connell. "They'll be exposed to art that they didn’t know existed in a pretty enjoyable way. There will be a diverse range of artists and aesthetics I enjoy myself. When I curate my shows, I work only with artists I would want to put on my own walls at home."
Nature Naturans opens at Ryan Joseph Gallery, 2647 West 38th Avenue, with a reception on Saturday, May 15, that includes an artist talk at 5 p.m. and runs through 11 p.m. The show will be up through June 9.
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