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‘Sad and beautiful world:’ Santaquin art gallery housed in abandoned home displays abstract art

By Carlene Coombs - | Jun 17, 2024
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Ryan Hymas works on an art piece in his gallery in Santaquin on Friday, June 14, 2024.
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The front of an abandoned home-turned-art gallery in Santaquin is pictured Friday, June 14, 2024.
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An art piece created by Ryan Hymas, made of materials from a barn on the same property as his art gallery in Santaquin, is pictured Friday, June 14, 2024.
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The entryway of Ryan Hymas' art gallery in Santaquin is shown Friday, June 14, 2024.
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The front of an abandoned home-turned-art gallery in Santaquin can be seen Friday, June 14, 2024.
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The front porch of Ryan Hymas' art gallery in Santaquin is pictured Friday, June 14, 2024.
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An art piece made of a wood frame built by the property owner's grandfather is pictured in Ryan Hymas' gallery in Santaquin on Friday, June 14, 2024.
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Ryan Hymas works on an art piece in his gallery in Santaquin on Friday, June 14, 2024.
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An abstract art piece created by Ryan Hymas hangs on the front porch of an art gallery in Santaquin on Friday, July 14, 2024.
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Pieces of artwork hang on the wall of Ryan Hymas' art gallery in Santaquin on Friday, June 14, 2024.
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Pieces of artwork hang on the wall of Ryan Hymas' art gallery in Santaquin on Friday, June 14, 2024.

On Main Street in Santaquin, across from the city police department, local artist Ryan Hymas turned an abandoned home into an art gallery to showcase his alternative, abstract works.

For a passerby, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the structure, with striking, colorful abstract art dotting the front porch and yard, contrasting against the home’s brown and gray exterior and yellow, dry lawn.

Hymas began renting the home, located at 218 W. Main St., when it was empty and “full of cobwebs” with the intention of rehabilitating the space into a gallery for his work.

Now, the old home is filled with colorful, eccentric art, with each corner and wall bringing a new piece or formerly unnoticed detail. The artwork is made from objects collected by Hymas, who then uses paint, markers and other mediums to complete the compositions.

“It’s a sad and beautiful world,” Hymas said, describing the gallery’s theme. As an artist, he works to acknowledge the pain in life while also seeing the beauty.

Some of the artwork is made of materials he found on the property. One piece called “Birdman of Alcatraz” is made up of old wood and other materials from the battered barn next to the house.

Another piece is a wood frame made by the property owner’s grandfather that Hymas refurbished and then used to frame an old aerial photo of the house and surrounding neighborhood, which he has gifted to the homeowner.

Hymas said he intentionally uses objects that he cares about or that have a history, so those objects bring that history and value into the artwork.

Much of the work is for sale, with a portion going toward helping people who are recovering from substance abuse. Hymas said he’s already donated some of the funds to two people trying to get back on their feet.

Hymas himself has been sober for almost 11 years, with his day job being to help people get into recovery. For him, art is a way of channeling pain into something that “brings a little hope.”

“You take drugs and alcohol out of your system, and there’s this gaping void of pain. And so you got to fill the void, one way or the other, and you can fill it with negative destruction or you can fill it with whatever makes your synapses fire. And so this is like a piece of my puzzle for recovery,” he said.

Many of the gallery’s patrons have been people who also are in recovery, Hymas said, and he’s had some substance abuse treatment centers bring groups of clients in to see his work.

“I like to explain to them a little bit about why this works for me and why it might not work for them,” he said. “People have to find their own individual pieces of the puzzle that’ll help them become healthy and happy and full. This is a piece of my puzzle, but it’s not a piece of everybody’s. So I don’t tell everybody, you know, go make art to stay sober.”

As of Friday, Hymas said he’s been able to donate about $1,200. But he also was expecting Saturday — the final day of the exhibition — to be his biggest day.

“The hope is that some of the funds from the exhibition will go to help somebody else get a step up, and, you know, then they continue to help somebody else,” he said. “We really are trying to create ripples of hope.”

This is the third exhibit Hymas has done in the home. He estimated about 400 people had come by last week through Friday, saying that aside from the artwork, conservations with guests have been his favorite part. The gallery has attracted people from across the Wasatch Front and Hymas said he’s even had a buyer from Germany come and purchase a piece.

He said that each person who comes in interprets the artwork differently, and the varied translations are what he loves about abstract artwork.

“I’ve seen people laugh at the same piece that later that day I’ve seen someone cry about,” he said. “I create what I create, but then people bring their own, you know, their own existence into the pieces.”

While the last day of the open exhibit was Saturday, Hymas said anyone can call and make an appointment to see the house and artwork.

He added that he’s hoping to put together a smaller gallery in Park City with only a few pieces to allow visitors to soak in the artwork and interpret it.

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