He was 13 years when his parents bought banjo lessons for him from a door-to-door salesman. He moved quickly from banjo to the guitar, and was soon playing and teaching professionally in the Columbus, Ohio area. In the early 1930’s he joined The Rhythm Jesters at Radio Station WLW. In 1935, he organized a quartet in New York and began appearing in Manhattan jazz clubs.
He played guitar in the live concert by Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York on December 25, 1938. In 1939, he joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra as the guitarist and wrote the arrangements for Whiteman’s Swinging Strings, Bouncing Brass, and Sax Soctette. Ryerson joined Raymond Scott And His Orchestra in the early 1940s and began soloing on the electric guitar.
He was the first electric guitarist to perform and tour with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under the direction of James Levine. In 1975, he toured the Soviet Union as part of a program organized by the U.S. State Department.
Art Ryerson died in 2004.