Local artist set to paint his first mural for HBG Mural Fest

As Ryan Spahr prepares to paint his first mural at Harrisburg Mural Festival, his emotions are the same as when he inked his first tattoo nearly 20 years ago.

“I’m nervous and a bit overwhelmed, but it will be fine, it will be great,” Spahr said. “It will be a good experience.”

 Ryan Spahr is best known for his work with ethanol ink markers. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Spahr)
Ryan Spahr is best known for his work with ethanol ink markers. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Spahr)

Spahr’s mural, which is similar to the Global Angel Wings Project murals that are found in many cities across the United States and around the world, will be painted on the wall of the Pennsylvania State Store at 1200 North Third Street.

The Harrisburg resident, however, isn’t necessarily following the traditional wings format. Instead,  he’s putting his own slant on the wings project. (The concept behind the wings mural project is interactive, allowing the viewer to take a photo of their “angelic” appearance so the picture can be posted on social media websites.)

“They said you can do whatever you want with the wall, but it has to contain wings. When I heard wings, because I am an Uber nerd and an enormous Godzilla fan, I immediately thought Mothra,” Spahr said. “So it is loosely based on Mothra, which is my inspiration.”

Spahr’s bio notes that he is an accomplished artist who works in a variety of media, including marker, pen and ink, oil, pastels, photography, and tattoos. His work exhibits bold, expressive mark-making, exploration, and experimentation.

 One of Ryan Spahr’s favorite artistic formats is pen and ink.
One of Ryan Spahr’s favorite artistic formats is pen and ink.

He said he’s probably best known for the large ethanol ink markers he uses in his artwork. 

“What I’d like to work with is just plain ole pen and ink, but we don’t always get to choose what we want to do,” Spahr said. “But the marker work is what I am trying to carve out a place for myself. I like the simple black and white.”

Spahr said he is attempting to maintain a career as an artist and, thanks to his partner who has a full-time job, is able to follow his dreams.

Some of Spahr’s professional pieces can be found on cans of Zeroday Brewing beer, bags of coffee at Elementary Coffee and on the cover of TheBurg magazine, and soon on the state store on Third Street.

Editor’s Note: You can follow Spahr’s work at http://www.theblackshrine.com/ and on Instagram at @old1eye. Due to construction on Third Street, work on his piece is postponed during Harrisburg Mural Fest and probably will be completed in the coming weeks after the fest ends on Sept. 8.

This is feature is part of a series of articles profiling artists participating in the 2019 HBG Mural Fest.