Born in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, home of Carnival and the Steel Drum; Weldon Ryan came to the United States at the age of six. He grew up in the Bronx where he spent most of his childhood. His Mother noticed at a young age, his talent for art, so she encouraged him.
Weldon was accepted into The High School of Art and Design in 1977 where he was among other talented young budding artists. Weldon’s palette originated from Max Ginsburg, his painting teacher. He graduated in 1981 and then attended the State University of New York at New Paltz where he studied fine arts under John Frank. In 1982, hungry to be closer to the Mecca of Commercial art, Weldon then attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Although primarily know for its fashion design and fashion illustration, the fledgling general illustration program was well worth its weight in gold. “We drew every minute of the day. “Says Weldon. Peter Cox, Barbara Nessim and Radu Vero were amount his instructors. He received an A. A. Degree in General Illustration and continued to take other courses in computer graphics and other enriching arts studies. He was lucky enough to even take a class with the late Gene ‘The Dean’ Colon of the comic book world. He also took classes at The Art Students League of New York with Jack Farragosso, a disciple of Frank Reilly. He pounded the pavement for freelance illustration jobs while doing Paste-up and mechanical as well as marker comps for ad agencies. Freelance came to a pause in 1987 when he took a job as an Urban Park Ranger for the NYC Parks Department where he did the murals for the Pelham Bay Environmental Nature Center. Two years later Weldon joined the NYPD.
”Nineteen eighty nine was a violent year in NYC. With the crack epidemic in full bloom crime was rampant. Subsequent to that my academy class was assigned in strategic locations in Drug riddled locations. I was assigned to field training in Washington Heights Manhattan with the clean heights Initiative. I was dispatched from the infamous 30 “the Dirty Thirty” precinct. My first night on the street I had a pick-up of an assault. It was a stabbing. The man was practically bleeding on my boots. The victim lived but the perpetrator wasn’t caught that night. I lived in the Bronx and saw my share of violence but never like this. Funny how I assumed the hero roll and ran toward shots in my career as the crowds stampeded away from the victims.”
Ten months later he was assigned to the 32 precinct in Harlem, NY. With the pressures of crime fighting, art took a back seat once more until he was able to secure a spot and was appointed to the renowned NYPD Forensic Artist Unit. Coincidentally Weldon replaced a former Graduate of the H.S. of Art and Design, RobertPhilios, who retired two years before. “During my time in the unit I worked with two of the most amazing artists. Steve Mancusi and Juan Perez. We made an amazing team doing hundreds of sketches in a span of almost ten years. We averaged approximately 350 sketches a year with numerous hits of perpetrators”.
After solving numerous crimes with his drawing skills he retired on December 1, 2004 and relocated to Palm Coast, Florida where he resides with his wife Richlin, who is an Art Director and Graphic Artist. His three children are also budding artists.
Weldon’s art is a representation of his life experiences. Although his artwork is realistically illustrative he allows for a bit of serendipity. He is engaged in the use of texture as well as the use of color. Weldon says “To be successful an artist has to have the clarity to know what he is doing when he chooses to create. Through understanding of technique I can safely assume what the end result would be. Of course we sometimes veer off to a change or two. But to control your experience is to know when something different from the norm happens. At that point we as artist choose to accept the change and go with the flow to see where we end up. That’s my scientist side. We must know technique and experiment with it. The importance of clarity is that you are not confused as to what to do.”
Weldon Ryan is the first African American to be appointed to the New York City Police Department Composite Artist Unit.
During his Tenure his sketches were responsible for the arrest of perpetrators that committed the most terrible crimes. It was so rewarding that his extensive training in anatomy and his countless hours drawing the human form was used in such a manner that he beams with pride serving the City of New York and working with the finest Law Enforcement Men and Women in the world.
Weldon has exhibited at The Fashion Institute of Technology, The Bronx River Art Center, The Salmagundi, The Harlem State Office Building in New York City, One Police Plaza, Permanent Diorama at the Pelham Bay Environmental Nature Center which he did with Anne Arrowsmith, The Skylight Gallery in Bed-Sty, Brooklyn NY, The Flagler Art League, The Hollingsworth Gallery, Mary McLeodBethune PACVAG, and The Fulton Street Art Fair. He has appeared on The Riki Lake Show for his art skills (before the reality TV. kick took hold). His art has been shown on The Geraldo Rivera Show, CNN, Nature of The Arts BCAT and has appeared in the April 1999 issue of Nickelodeon Magazine. He was instrumental as President of the Flagler County Art League in increasing membership, moving FCAL to its Cypress Point location joining the Hollingsworth Gallery in their Second Saturday Art Walk.