Ohio pulmonologist establishes artists' retreat

An interest in painting, combined with a large house purchase, leads a physician to bring artists together. He rents out the property for weddings, too.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted July 19, 2010

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Chris Ryckman, MD

Specialty: Pulmonology and critical care medicine

Location: Lancaster, Ohio

Company: Little Brook Meadows. The retreat is too new for its own website, but Dr. Ryckman has sold and exhibited art through his website (link).

Annual revenue: The retreat held its first workshop in May. Dr. Ryckman said it was too soon to discuss revenue.

Why he started the business: Dr. Ryckman has been painting since 1990 and has traveled to artists' retreats across the country to improve his craft. In 2009, he bought a 50-acre property with a 6,900-square-foot house and a 20-horse-stall barn. He thought it would be a good home for himself, his wife and his four daughters and also a place for artists, so he wouldn't have to travel so far.

Much of the house and barn will be a wedding venue and artists' retreat. Painter C. Michael Dudash was in residence in May and hosted a weekend workshop for 14 people.

"I have always wanted to do something like this," Dr. Ryckman said. "People came to watch [Dudash] paint. This retreat makes it possible for those in the area to be exposed to the best artists without having to travel much."

Another retreat is being planned. Dr. Ryckman also hopes to hold an artists' retreat for physicians.

In addition, the first weddings will be held at the property this summer. The weddings and receptions will be in the barn, and about 30 people are able to stay overnight in the house.

Why he keeps practicing: "I like medicine. The population is aging, and the demand is going up. There's just so much work to do," Dr. Ryckman said.

Words of wisdom: If someone wants to start an artists' retreat "to make money, I think they are not doing it for the right reasons. If they absolutely love art and want to bring the world to them, then it makes sense," he said.

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