Inspired By Motorcycle Travel – An Interview with Ron Connors

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by Chris Palahniuk

American painter opens a new art gallery in Hanoi

ronconnors.com

Number 35, Area 5, Tan Tay Do Urban Area, Hoai Duc District, Hanoi, Vietnam

Last month a new exhibition space called Ron Art Gallery, opened in Hanoi. Situated on the outskirts of the city, and taking up 4 floors of a townhouse, the gallery is run by the artist Ron Connors, who paints and exhibits his own work there, abstract pictures that are mainly inspired by his travels by motorcycle (usually a Harley). Last week I visited and asked him a few questions:

As an artist, who are your main influences?

My father and grandfather, who were both artists. They were into Van Gogh, Picasso and Charles M Russell, an artist from my hometown of Great Falls, Montana, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

(Looking at Ron’s paintings) What about Abstract Expressionism?

Yes. Tancredi in particular. I paint abstract because of the desire to shape things and express thoughts and feelings I have while travelling by motorcycle. When I’m riding my motorbike I feel like I’m in a different reality that inspires me.

Why open an art gallery in this location?

One of the things being an expat allows us to do is begin a business that we truly want to do with a bit less risk than in our home countries. The cost of running this gallery is about 1/10 of what it would be in my hometown of Great Falls, Montana, which is still a lot less than it would be in a major city.

(Pointing to one of the paintings) This is the same painting shown in the photograph on the sign outside the gallery, right? Can you tell me about it?

Yes. This one is called “Mind Garden 18”. In Nice I used to go to the Matisse and Chagall museums very often. This picture is a reflection on the time I spent looking at those paintings. I used to come out of the museums with my head full of shapes and colours and feeling tremendously fulfilled.

Why do you think that travellers should visit Vietnam over other countries? What does it have that is unique?

Cultural things that make being an artist here so interesting. The natural beauty is reflected in the art and culture.

What should a first time visitor to Vietnam not miss?

Visitors should land in Hanoi and travel around some of the more remote areas in the North.

What is a little known gem you would like to tell us about?

Apart from Ron Art Gallery? For me it’s the little town of Meo Bac and the secret is that one can go on a very interesting trek.

What is your favourite Vietnamese dish?

Banh Kuon (crispy cracker crust roll with shrimp and pork filling).

What is an  unmissable experience for someone visiting Vietnam?

A road trip into the Northern Highlands.

What is your favourite festival and why?

Tet, because the people seem to be very relaxed and happy wherever you go. I was told not to travel during Tet years ago, but I found it the best time to travel because people are more relaxed and friendly.

Where would you like to visit next(outside of Vietnam)?

I will be going to Europe this summer and hope to drive a motorcycle from Vietnam to Lisbon, Portugal some day.

Ron Connors was born and raised in Montana and went to the University of California in Santa Barbara. He has been living and working abroad for many years, including in Mexico, France, Japan and Thailand. As well as being a painter, he works as the head of Humanities at an international school in Hanoi, where he has lived for the last 4 years.

You can find out more about Ron and view more of his work at www.ronconnors.com or if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by his gallery:

Number 35, Area 5, Tan Tay Do Urban Area, Hoai Duc District, Hanoi, Vietnam