Make It Make Sense

Two walls of the Ishibashi Gallery have once again served as canvas for a visiting artist – this time for painter and muralist Ryan Adams, who is sharing his work with the Middlesex community this winter. Opened with a reception for the artist on February 7, 2023, Mr. Adams’ exhibition, Make It Make Sense, includes both smaller, framed paintings as well as two sizeable murals that he painted directly on the sides of the gallery.

Mr. Adams’ background in traditional graffiti led him to begin creating large-scale mural work and hand-lettered design and signage. In fact, he currently co-owns and operates a hand-painted signage business, and his distinctive, vibrant designs can be found on buildings and businesses all around Portland, Maine, where he was born and raised. Already well-known and appreciated in this area, his work is now garnering attention beyond New England, too. Last summer, while he was preparing his first solo exhibition for a gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, he was one of three artists selected to paint a mural for Google in Washington, DC. Through his murals, he hopes to bring representation to often-overlooked members of the community and to make the arts more accessible to everyone.

Each work in the Ishibashi exhibition features Mr. Adams’ signature “gem” style, which he describes as a geometric breakdown of letterforms, with embedded shadows and highlights that create depth and movement throughout the pieces. Bold, colorful, and clever, each work also contains a statement – such as “We Gonna Be Alright” and “Don’t Lose You” – while the murals illustrate the exhibition’s title.

His messages are often open-ended, to be interpreted literally or figuratively – sometimes to bring attention to a social or cultural issue. As Mr. Adams reflected in an August 2022 interview with The Boston Globe, “I think the beauty of being an artist is being able to captivate people by something colorful and eye-catching that you can sneak some truth into — a truth that’s important to me or the artist working on their own piece.”