Ryan James


Photo by Stephanie Passantino

Ryan James’ elementary school art teacher, Mrs. Johnson, made a big impression on him. She taught her students how to read the composition of an art piece — a skill that would shape James’ life. As the owner of Ryan James Fine Arts gallery in Kirkland, James spends the majority of his day surrounded by art pieces. He prefers it that way. He doesn’t fancy himself an artist. “Although I did not excel as an artist, which I knew at a very early age, the appreciation of art always stuck with me. As a small child, when adults would ask, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I always answered I wanted to own an art gallery,” he said. Today, he’s living his dream. Ryan James Fine Arts represents modern, abstract, and conceptual Washington artists. Every day, when he walks into work, the room is filled with art — all waiting to be read. 

Favorite places

To relax Bellevue Arts Museum

For coffee I always have my Starbucks venti mocha frappuccino double blend no whip, two to three times a day.

Courtesy Le Grand Bistro

Courtesy Le Grand Bistro

For dinner Le Grand Bistro Américain in Kirkland — a glass of chardonnay and a wonderful cheese plate assembled by Gwen, the bartender.

To buy clothes David Lawrence at The Shops at the Bravern in Bellevue. I’m eagerly waiting for Calvin Klein Collection by Raf Simons to hit the shop.

To workout Columbia Athletic Club in Kirkland

To let loose I love big parties — they’re so intimate. (Ode to The Great Gasby).

Inspiration Board

TV Tie between Ugly Betty and Absolutely Fabulous. Currently watching Schitt’s Creek.

Movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Music ’90s Madonna. Ray of Light is her best album.

Reading Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim. It’s the story of the pioneering collectors and artists behind the Guggenheim’s radical collection.

“NUMBER 31” ©2008 lcrf, creative commons

“NUMBER 31” ©2008 lcrf, creative commons

Favorite artist Jackson Pollock

Favorite art piece in your house? “Forest for the Trees,” an engraved encaustic collage piece by Ballard artist Joan Stuart Ross

Quote “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
— Andy Warhol

Who inspires you? Coco Chanel. Our gallery logo was designed in black and white as homage to her.


Why is art important to a community? Art is the soul of a community, representing views of the past and present and creating a lasting impression for future generations to explore.

Are you an artist? No, I am an appreciator. As viewers, we have the benefit of interpreting a piece, imparting our connection to the work while understanding the message the artist is presenting.

What’s something about the gallery readers might not know? We offer an art subscription service that enables clients to try out pieces in their home before buying.

is the managing editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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