Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

James "Jim" R. Ryan (1898-1962)

James Ryan was born in New Jersey on November 6, 1898. Although born in New Jersey, Mr. Ryan's family moved to New York City when the children were small and he spent his youth. Most of his education was done in New York. Ryan came from a family of artists, his sister having been well known in art circles of New York. His sister gave over 17 "one woman" showings before he death. Ryan's brother had been with Tiffany's of New York in the silverware design and stationery department.

James Ryan attended the Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York City. He later went to Paris, France where he studied at the Grande Chaumier Academy and also the Colarozzi Portrait school. Ryan apparently enjoyed extensive traveling.

He came to Birney, Montana where he homesteaded in 1923. He designed his studio and cabin which he also built overlooking the Tongue River.


Elling William "Bill" Gollings personal diary dated July 14, 1931

Elling William "Bill" Gollings personal diary dated July 21, 1931

[The reference to Jim Ryan staying at Engles was John Engle who was the manager of the Mutual Motor Company, Chevrolet Sales and Service at 316 North Main in Sheridan, Wyoming. John and Lois Engle lived at 541 South Thurmond in Sheridan, Wyoming. Source: Polk's 1930 Sheridan City Directory.]

Professional Children’s School of New York City, New York

The Professional Children’s School was founded in 1914 by Jane Harris Hall and Jean Greer Robinson. The two women regularly attended the theater productions and soon realized the concerns for the children working in it. Private and public schools would not work with the stage children causing their education skills to falter.

The two women on January 6, 1914, admitted its two first students. Within the first year, the school attendance went to over one hundred students. The first commencement exercises were on June 8, 1916.

The school in 1927 rented three floors of a newly constructed commercial building. Children actors were becoming respected on Broadway. Soon other vocations such as children in the areas of classical music, ballet and athletics became part of the student body.

After forty years of renting, the school purchased a seven-story building in 1956. Soon the Juilliard School and the School of American Ballet located nearby. Having celebrated one hundred years in 2014, the school currently enrolls 200 students.

One of the directors of the school came to the Quarter Circle U guest ranch and met Jim Ryan who happened to be out for the summer. Peter Liveright knew Jim Ryan as early as 1934 as he was twelve years old. Peter’s mother would often have Jim Ryan over to their house for dinner. Peter told me how he loved cowboys and drawing. He would pester Jim Ryan with questions about his drawing and would often go to his studio.

Jim Ryan did commercial work for the Union Pacific Railroad and his work would often appear in Vogue Magazine.

There was a girl, a year older, in school who would also play the guitar. They would often play and sing their guitars concentrating on the music of Tex Ritter. This girl’s mother arranged for Tex Ritter to come to their house for her birthday. They also included Jim Ryan. They all stayed up late and sang many fine western tunes.

Jim Ryan only taught at the school for about two years. He also had rented an art studio on Union Square near 17th Street not far from 5th Avenue and Broadway. According to Peter, Jim Ryan worked in watercolor, etchings, stone lithographs and, pen and ink.


Signature attributed to 1945.

James Ryan conducted many art classes throughout southern Montana and New York. He lectured and did murals in Denver, Colorado and for many local ranchers of the Birney area. He was known for his book and magazine illustrations. In 1961, Ryan began conducting classwork in sketching, oils and other media at the Sheridan College.

Source: "Attack Kills Artist Here", Sheridan Press; December 3, 1962.

Source: Forsyth Independent; August 17, 1962

Source: Sheridan County Fulmer Library, Wyoming Room, Sheridan, Wyoming

James Ryan passed away on December 2, 1962.

Readers' Viewpoints
December 3, 1962

Editor of Press:

"Sunday's beautiful autumn weather lifted the spirits of all; but today, Monday, even nature weeps.

The soul of James R. Ryan, artist, has left his beloved adopted home in Absaraka region to dwell in greater beauty, beauty the glimpses of which he brought to the world not alone in his art but in his philosophical reflections, too.

To know Jim Ryan was to know peace. Pope or plain folk, tycoon or tot, Jim Ryan spoke with them with the greatest generosity of spirit and painted them with a most sensitive understanding of harmony in Creation.

To know Jim Ryan was to love him. Never has anyone had a greater teacher than was Jim Ryan. In tribute may we regard this shadow which his passing has cast over our lives as he would want us to regard it. Always Jim Ryan taught his art students: Study the shadows, search the shadows, for the shadows live. There is much light in the shadows. Find it and your art will live.

Edythe K. Araas."

Marylee Moreland commented to me how Jim Ryan was instrumental in her career as an artist. While still in high school in Sheridan, Wyoming, her counselor told her because of her grades she would only be able to attend a trade school. Jim Ryan stepped in and told her how a land grant college in Montana had to accept her. She went on to receive her degree from Montana State University in Bozeman. Her course in life was well aided by Jim Ryan.

We are actively seeking works by Jim Ryan. The following are examples of works by Jim Ryan and are not for sale.