Readers of this space know that we are longstanding Tim Ryan enthusiasts, particularly for his unending creativity and community spirit – see here, here and here, to name just a few. But Ryan has devotees in spades, and we can count the Marin Independent Journal among them.

In an IJ piece this week entitled “Homestead Valley man creates whimsical public art projects,” Colleen Bidwell writes, “the Homestead Valley resident, the father of the famous Fork, the giant eating utensil at the fork of Janes Street and Montford Avenue in Mill Valley, uses scrap, recyclables and found materials and often collaborates with others to create “a little magic.” Lately, the magic has been in the form of fairy doors.

“When he’s not brainstorming or working on his next idea, Ryan, a 2023 Milley Award recipient, is the senior director of strategic facility planning at San Rafael City Schools.

Ryan tells Bidwell that his love of art and design began at a very young age. “Exposure to art was a part of my family life,” he tells Bidwell. “My father was a blacksmith and my mother made costumes and we were doing community theater and building sets and all of that as long as I can remember.”

Ryan says the fairy doors began “when my best friend Megan came to me and said, “Hey, can you make me a fairy door? I’ve got a little 9-inch fairy I want to put with it.” I had been wanting to build a fairy house on Pixie Trail. I know the effort it would take, and that when you put something in public, things get taken. I just couldn’t do it. And then I made her a door and she said, “This is great, now don’t make this a thing where you start making a bunch of them.” And I was thinking, yeah, well, too late.

“When someone runs into the fairy door for the first time and you get to experience the look on their face or that moment where they’re confronted with something that is magic,” Ryan says. “Watching a 4-year-old find a fairy door or to see someone who is home from chemo treatment find a heart on the door, it’s just what comes from wanting to create that, that brief moment of magic. You never know what impact you’re going to have. And I take that into my work where I can, where I’m able to build things that create a sense of place and give kids a moment of pause.


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