Check out The Contributor vendors on canvas


A painter in Nashville has raised money and awareness for his local street paper, INSP member The Contributor, by painting portraits of its vendors for a charity exhibition.

When Ryan Wagner moved to Nashville two years ago, he was surprised to see people on the city’s street corners selling newspapers.

“We were out house-hunting and I saw this guy – I didn’t even know what The Contributor was,” said Ryan.

“I didn’t know people still sold newspapers. I was immediately fascinated and I wanted to find out more so I bought a paper one day.”

Ryan was so taken by the street paper vendors he met that he decided to paint their portraits to help spread the word about the street paper and its mission to support those who sell it.

The next time he bought a copy of The Contributor, he found himself a subject. After that, his project quickly snowballed.

“Denise was the third vendor I painted,” Ryan said.

“I had a long conversation with her and that really inspired me. It was about that time that I decided this was going to be something bigger. I decided to do this whole series of 10 portraits and now here we are.”

In “The Lovely Denise” Ryan also incorporates pages from the street paper he bought from Denise, pasted into the background of the portrait.


In December, Ryan debuted his series of vendor portraits in a local gallery as a unique fundraising event for The Contributor Inc., the non-profit organization that publishes the street paper.

“Fifty percent of the proceeds from the paintings will go to the newspaper,” he said.

“I have also made a limited-edition print that includes all 10 of the images. Hopefully I can use this as a launching pad for doing even more cool stuff like this. I’d like to do a project like this every year.”

This is a summary of an original article written by Joe Nolan for The Contributor.