“There should be nothing to bother you in a masterpiece.” Ron Lion’s words, as told to reporter Romain Fonsegrives in a 2009 article for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, give us a glimpse of the perfectionist behind the artist. Yet, his insight is accurate. When the balance is off, when the colors distract or detract, when the individual elements of a piece unintentionally override the overall experience, the result is less than perfect. Not so with the work of Ron Lion. Never one to do anything halfway, Ron Lion wasn’t satisfied with obtaining just one degree; instead, to balance his multiple Interests, he obtained a degree in Transportation Design from the Art Center of Pasadena and a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan. His goal was to become a professional automotive designer; he achieved that by landing a job with Ford.
Lucky for us, the story didn’t end there. It takes a significant amount of bravery to change the trajectory of one’s life. The force of momentum behind a successful career is a formidable opponent. To cast aside job security in favor of a more fulfilling choice, a choice which honors the gifts one has been given, is a pursuit of a higher order. Ron Lion is a role model for the many baby boomers who sense their true calling but are frozen in place. Ron’s decision to leave his stable career and embark upon a new adventure in creating fine art took courage, but the choice has paid off. Yet, the decision felt as though it completed a journey begun long before.
Ron’s story isn’t one of youthful poverty. His family has a deep appreciation for the arts and has devoted its resources to collecting masters such as Dali and Monet. As the young Lion plodded through elementary, middle and high school, he was surrounded by an extensive fine art collection which included works by Picasso and Braque. This environment instilled within Ron both a conscious and a subconscious sense of artistry. Lion’s career with Ford benefitted from his innate feel for design; he found the work enjoyable, in particular, the challenge of achieving innovations in surface and exterior design. However this profession also mandated adherence to principles of engineering and physics, not to mention regulatory compliance. These limitations narrowed the opportunities to satisfy his artistic inclinations in a corporate environment. Through the inspiration of a celebrated yogi who has maintained verbal silence since the early 1950’s and the supportive environment of his retreat center located near Monterey Bay, Ron identified the direction he needed to go. Ultimately, he made a life-changing decision; shifting his full attention to his artwork. Ron Lion has never looked back.
The balance Ron achieved by devoting himself to this calling is reflected in his work. Ron has discovered that his affinity for clean lines works beautifully with the human form. Viewing his work from 360 degrees, one appreciates his unique vision. Ron sees not only what is present but places an even greater emphasis upon what is absent. He strives for a balance between the two but he also seeks to change the perspective of the viewer by surprising them with unexpected elements. Just when you think you have absorbed the work, you discover another nuance. He seems to embody the old saying “you zig when I zag.” Ron enjoys the process of discernment and shares it with his clients. Perhaps the inspiration of his own life, seeing what was missing, drives this perspective.
The figures he sculpts actually carve out their own space. Ron views himself often as simply a tool—he isn’t in charge of the creation—his method is more instinctive than intentional. As he discussed with Stacey Vreeken in an October 2009 edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, “the art pieces take on lives of their own during creation.” Ron is comfortable working with a format in which he is not the one in control; he respects the beauty that can result through being open to change and flexible in his process. His own life is a testament to the unexpected joy of transformation. Though to some degree the retreat center he visited utilizes the term “re-creation” as a pun in its offer of “rest and re-creation”, with regard to Ron, his experience actually re-created his life anew. Ron brings that new energy into every artistic project he undertakes.
If you have a chance to speak with a true aficionado of automotive excellence, they often salivate over the clean lines of certain models, models where the manufacturer utilized the finest construction process to enable the vehicle to live up to its original design. Ron Lion obviously respects the caliber of cars which achieve this objective but he sincerely loves working unfettered by the demands of function over form. Ron epitomizes the freedom of “art for art’s sake” and his sculptures reveal that exhilaration; but he adheres to a precise casting process to ensure that nothing detracts from the final result. After all, he seeks perfection. FineArt360 is delighted to lionize the work of Ron Lion.