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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, January 28, 2010
Loos hunts for beauty
By Saranac Hale Spencer
ALBANY COUNTY Everything is within reach for Ryland Loos.
He has made it so.
The fruit of a correspondence course that he took from the back of a hunting magazine as a boy in Southern Missouri put him through college. “I followed through, most people don’t,” he said of the classes conducted by mail.
He taught himself the art and science of taxidermy that way.
Through high school, he honed the trade. When he had to choose an elective, friends advised him to take boys’ chorus because art was too hard, but Loos couldn’t sing, he said. An art teacher saw the animals he had prepared and liked them, he said, a note of surprise in his voice five decades later.
“I saw things and could draw them the way they looked,” Loos said of what he found after taking all the art classes at his public school.
He went on to Southeast Missouri State University where he got a degree in zoology and botany, filling all his electives with art classes. Nearing graduation, his dean asked what he intended to do with his deliberately divergent curriculum. Loos answered that he would be a biological illustrator, with no intention of actually becoming one.
Looking for adventure, Loos joined the Army in 1963, before President John F. Kennedy’s death in November.
Stationed in a chemical research and development lab in Maryland, Loos spent three weeks doing ballistics tests, duplicating the Kennedy shooting by filling skulls with gelatin.
For the two years he was there, three nights a week, Loos would go to the Maryland Institute of Art where he worked on his painting.
He followed that path after leaving the Army, going to New York City to try his luck as a freelance artist and work at the famed Jonas Brothers taxidermy studio.
He lived for a year in a rented room with no telephone, peddling his portfolio up and down elevators all over the city, leaving his landlady’s phone number. He got no calls.
“That one little lady changed my whole life,” he said. He decided that he couldn’t make it as a freelance artist, and, as he was moving out of the flat, his landlady asked, “Why would you leave now? You’re so popular.” She had told all of his callers not to bother him at home, to call him at the office.
Loos had taken a job at the newly conceived campus of the University at Albany as a biological illustrator, work that he would do for years.
He drew countless diagrams and sketches for academic papers. Loos also learned to do etching and printing while at the university. Much of his work now is done in that medium.
Nestled among his own prints and paintings hung in his Altamont home are statues and pictures of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt. Like Diana, Loos is a bow hunter.
Still learning new trades, he maintains the ones he practiced for years and builds on them. With dozens of bucks from bow hunting, Loos decided to tan the skins and make clothing. He used his skills from taxidermy to whip stitch the seams.
“Most things you can learn, just from a book and just doing it,” he said.