St. John’s breeds greatness

Prepare to get dizzy off of the 3-dimensional, labyrinth of barbed wire webs and derelict, almost forgotten amusement parks. Like a murky nightmare after a long night at Coney Island, Bill Ronalds’ graphic work will haunt anyone who casts his or her gaze upon his forceful yet delicate art which is currently on display in Sun Yat Sen Hall’s Yeh Art Gallery.
Bill Ronalds retired from his post as a professor of the Department of Fine Arts at St. John’s University in 2004. On recollecting how he became an artist, he commented, “I had no choice…it was the only thing I did right as a kid. I flunked algebra and threw like a girl.”

Apparently, failing math and poor athletics are the two main ingredients for great artistry, combined with a pinch of the following: “drive, desire, or luxury to cultivate and nurture that impulse [to be an artist].” Stir and bake at 350∞ every day of your natural born life or until golden brown. Cool and enjoy.

How does a man of such palpable talent begin with a blank page and end up with an eye-crossing maze of pipes and wires?

“My work process is, actually, rather obvious and uncomplicated,” Ronalds said. “I’m constantly working a marker on napkins, concert programs, church bulletins, even sketchbooks. Out of this enormous pile…emerges, now and then, something that kicks me in the head and demands further development.”

And the inspiration behind the doodles: “Decayed infrastructure, antiquated amusement parks, pinball…advertising references as a metaphor…and the cultural, ecological, spiritual, and political dystopia we have created…Sometimes, though, I am simply mesmerized by macrocosm/microcosm, surfaces, patina, planes, and grids. The work has no profound significance beyond that fascination.” In short, just about everything.

From these “doodles” Ronalds has produced enigmatic pieces of art that demand the onlooker’s undivided attention. The majority of the work being featured in the Yeh Art Gallery consists of “dynamic [images] that change with the viewers’ distance, drawing them in to reveal surprises and subtly concealed content,” says Ronalds.

“To paraphrase Paul Klee, I hope my work ‘takes your mind for a walk,'” proclaimed Ronalds in his Artist’s Statement.

St. John’s University is not the first place to show off Bill Ronalds’ artwork. His work has been shown throughout the New York Metropolitan area and also at the Inx Group Exhibition in Oaxaca, Mexico. In his career as an artist, he has done artwork for numerous publications including Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Buddah Records, and many more. There is no doubt that his artwork will continue appeal to the eyes of many more spectators.

Bill Ronalds will be giving a lecture about his artwork at 4:30 p.m. on March 5th at the Dr. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery in Sun Yat Sen Hall.