This is the blog for, the art site of Ryan Callis. Here is where I post about influences, and the stories behind my art. To see the art that this blog refers to, visit

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mystery painting becomes an inspired portrait of the Reverend Ethan Acres

God has been making with the funnies lately. I have a show coming up that I call "Are You Ready To Testify" which for you MC5ers, you will remember being shouted as the band is introduced for their amazing live album. So the title comes from my desire to make a series of work testifying about my experience recently of God really talking to me. I am bad at putting my experiences with God and Jesus into words and verbal persuasions, hence testifying through the visual. As I have been making them I have been making tons of fun mental connections which turn into rabbit holes of thought that lead to visual connections for myself to translate for the viewer, but all revolving and those and that which testifies of God's awesomness.
The story of this painting is thus. I started painting this and have been working on it for a couple of weeks and for the life of me I didn't know why. It's not like anything I have done and was driving me nuts but I put all else aside and knew I had to finish it. Today it hits me.
Yesterday Doug Harvey graced the class I teach at Biola with a lecture on his work which was great. He has influenced a good deal on the games I play with myself on associations. He mentions that the Reverend Ethan Acres will be giving a sermon at the closing of Mel's Hole, a show Doug curated, and that I should introduce my class to his work. Word, I say. I love the Rev's work. Then on the way home it hits me, introduce his work, hell, I'll ask him to come talk to my class since he'll be out from Alabama at the end of the month. I email him, he awesomally accepts my invitation and I am stoked. So today i am finishing up this piece and I am hit once more. This is a portrait of Ethan. The reverend himself, testifying. It was all connected and meant to be.
The background behind the figures have a stain glassed effect which I associate with his Church of the Holy Fool in Alabama, or like, generally a church. Then I'm like, naked, why naked. When I think of Moses and the burning bush, or Jacob wresting God, I think of them nude, like when we're born, born again, etc. Then me thinks if the sign of the modern man (woman) is that we look within instead of up or out, this is a modern mirror testifier, like myself or my painted Ethan. Acres is bald(er) and bearded as well. The top panel is my geometric, again "modern" geometeric Heaven (the numeric value of the line lengths actually spell out "the holy testament of God"), that the clapping hands and blood of Christ (red drop under the clapping hands) can lead the viewer to. A "trinity" of panels. I've also been thinking about Mattise a lot lately and he did portraits of other artists. Shit man, this is my Mother Mary (or Libarace) in a tortilla. Funny eh?
If you don't know the Rev look him up for a few sermons on youtube, and a link to his site, and his "Sermon on the Hole" will be Oct. 19th at Grand Central in Santa Ana . Doug Harvey is in the link section of my blog.


  1. Awesome painting dude! You must be doing something right!