THE 22: Can you tell me a little about growing up in South Dakota and how you ended up in Colorado?
DAVID BAILIN: I had a typical family life. We lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a small Midwestern city built on German and northern European foundations. We were part of a very small Jewish congregation, and I was aware of that distinction. My father was a lawyer, active as an A.C.LU. lawyer and in civic affairs. My mother left a teaching job to raise my sister, brother, and me until we were all in junior high, when she earned a master's and started working as a speech pathologist. Upon graduating from high school in 1972. I went to the University of Colorado, Boulder, to earn a B.F.A. I focused on studio art.
Qn: In one of your interviews you mention bringing an image of Ludwig von Drake, from the comic books, to your father that you had drawn from reference. Were comic books a big influence for you? Were there any other influences from childhood that helped shape you artistically?
DB: Actually. I never read comic books, just the Sunday funnies. I am told that my teacher scolded me in class for allegedly tracing a turkey image for a classroom decoration. When my parents went to the school for a conference and noticed that my turkey wasn't up, they were outraged and brought me into the classroom to draw the duck cartoon to prove to the teacher that I didn't need to trace. My turkey appeared on the wall the next day and I was forever after recruited for school art projects. I think, early on, my parents saw that I had a talent for art and enrolled me in painting classes at the local arts center and later hired college professors as my private tutors. My lessons covered art history and drawing. My last tutor was Carl Grupp a big, burly, redheaded, Norwegian master printer and Augustana College professor who reminded me of Rembrandt. Every year I studied with him I’d ask him to teach me how to paint. Every time he replied that when I learned to draw, he would teach me to paint. He never did teach me to paint, and I think the reason I draw exclusively now is that I'm still learning to draw. I looked at art books a lot. I still have my first art history book. I received the Time Life Library of Art series and ART news and Art in America. I was confused about the work being produced in the sixties and never was able to integrate it into my studies. I liked pop art for the imagery, but I was never talented at color. I never had the patience to learn about it.
Qn: Your father was an in in the war. Did this influence you as an artist?
DB: My athletic father served during WWIl in the army as a mortarman trained as a gunner. In other words, he was an infantry soldier who looked through the mortar sights and aligned them with the aiming post during firing. The army experience left his nerves, and therefore his dream to become a doctor, in tatters, so he began his career as a lawyer. At six or seven I had little interest in anything; I didn't play, and I didn't read, but when asked about what I wanted to be I'd say a lawyer who played catcher in college and handled a big gun in the army. My parents worried about my inactivity, and they determined that my talents weren't athletic or lawyerly but artistic. When I met the local arts center director, Robert Aldern, he became my mentor, introduced me to painting and drawing, set me up with tutors, and advocated for my art career with mv parents.
Qn: You mention not really reading your first book until the sixth grade and it was called Shag: Last of the Plains Buffalo. I’ve only seen the cover, but the aesthetic reference definitely seems to be there in your work. Can you explain what influence this book had on you, if any?
DB: Robert McClung wrote the book with illustrations by Louis Darling. It had a picture on every page, the text didn't get in the way of the story, and I read it from cover to cover- notable for that accomplishment since I had no interest in reading anything. Darling's drawings are wonderful - luscious black and white lithographic drawings, with elements of revision in the work and some rather funny elements (like the small fleck of a bird drawn on the cover illustration in the upper right-hand corner on the same diagonal of Shag's head or the cartoonish white man countering the noble Indian). If there is a drawing influence, I wasn't aware of it. However. I have always felt that color adds an extraneous element to image making - a distraction and a visual complication I wasn't interested in spending time working through.
Qn: Talk a little about your time in Colorado. Were there any major influences or experiences that occurred there to affect your work?
DB: I was not a receptive student. I had had studio lessons for years and I wasn't about to sit through basic coursework. I was completely focused on art, took only the required intro classes in all other fields (to my current regret), and didn’t notice the Rocky Mountains until my senior year. But while I wasn't interested in basics. I was aware that the art department faculty was hungry for recognition. This created a sense of urgency an energy in the department that I haven't witnessed anywhere since. This faculty was consuming art magazines, discussing with their students the latest critical and pictorial developments, and we got caught up in it. During the early seventies, there was an interest in Bay Area Figurative, Chicago Imagists. The Hairy Who, and some installation and performance work tempered with a distinctively punk/glitter flair. I went through the typical art student rebellion, moving through approaches and negations-pseudo-Jack Levine political painting. pseudo-Jasper Johns color field paintings with attached shoes and objects, pseudo-Edward Hopper existential paintings, and eventually arrived at a perfect blend of anti-painting techniques (read finger painting), conceptual diagrams, and anti-intellectualism to produce large-scale paintings with blotches of pure tube paint that looked like skin diseases and documented my life. The paintings were identified with prosaic titles My House in Sioux Falls and Girlfriends from 1968-1972. Even then I was working through narrative structure, trying to find a way through the desert of conceptualism. minimalism, and the next inevitable step.
Qn: From Colorado you went to New York. Hunter College, correct? What caused you to head to New York and what was your experience there?
DB: During my last summer in Colorado, I took a cross-country trip to several art capitals. I always figured that if I was serious about being an artist, New York was where I had to go. I visited Chicago. Washington, D.C. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston just to make sure. I decided on New York because I got a free ride. A gallery needed volunteers to deliver art back to artists in New York, so I left with two other friends in a large truck. We arrived at Canal Street in lower Manhattan at noon after an all-night drive and I felt like I was hit in the chest. I'd been to New York before - I had relatives in Queens - but I had never experienced it knowing that I was going to live there. I met up with a Prate Institute grad and we rented (along with purchasing the improvements) a loft on Bowery Street. After a couple of months, I got a job at Hunter College and then discovered that Robert Morris and Rosalind Krauss taught there. I enrolled and began my master's degree work. Morris began his class informing us that he was not going to be looking at any painting or drawing. Nothing ‘diagrammatic.’ We could do sculpture or performance. That gave me the push to translate my narrative paintings into performance pieces. I gave four performances, each using a minimum of props (cot, window, wooden chair, tape recorder, clip-on lights) and always working from my notes (I wasn't approaching this work as theater or as an actor). I wrote in the style of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, which had just come out. Fragmented. journalistic, and filled with angst - typical youthful fodder. The final piece was an ensemble piece called Kidnapping by Psychological Questionnaire (the assassination of Italian Premier Aldo Moro had just occurred) that included independent scripts for each character and resolved when the kidnappers killed the captive. By that time, I had started taking a theater directing class at Hunter College offered by Harold Clurman, founder of the Group Theatre, and had started to see a lot of downtown theater. That was where I discovered Richard Foreman.
Qn: How did you first get involved with Geoffrey King, Richard Foreman, and the Ontological-Hysteric Theater?
DB: I took a leave from my master's program to become Foreman's stage manager for Madness and Tranquility (My Head Was a Sledgehammer). Until that point I was working the graveyard shift at U.P.S. off 42rd Street, going to classes in the mornings, sleeping a couple of hours, working in Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theater on West Broadway until midnight, and then going back to sleep for two hours until I left for work. After weeks of somnambulism. I convinced Foreman to hire me for a hundred dollars a week so that I could quit my U.P.S. job. The most interesting assignment I had from Foreman was searching for the face of God in lower Manhattan. I learned everything about theater from him: script building, stagecraft, directing the actors, sound, and lighting. I found myself so stimulated that I began to construct my own script using the fragments of old performance scripts as a basis and then turning to newspapers and magazines that I began to tear up for material. Foreman didn't assign characters to his lines until he staged them; I translated that freedom into assigning text to images while I composed on cardboard. One image simply had to be connected with one line of text at a time. Those storyboards evolved directly from a process I discovered by watching Foreman work. I began to see how language could be manipulated in visual terms (I was reading a lot of Barthes, Levi-Strauss, and October articles at the time). I started working with non-sequiturs and started to think of those sequences as space between responses-i.e., the less logical or expected the response to a sentence the greater the psychological ‘space.’ Linking one image extracted from one context to another image extracted from another context was like linking one line to another. The secret was matching the temporal and spatial leap. My scripts were an attempt to move the action through disparate parts, not story line. I wasn't looking for stories: I was looking for a certain kind of text and image that had a sense of weight to them and that, when placed with and opposed to each other, moved the play forward.
When Foreman announced to the cast and crew that he was closing the production to sell-off the theater space so that he could complete Strong Medicine, a movie he filmed earlier that year. I asked him if I could have his bleacher system and any of the lights and electrical cord I could pack up. Storing the stuff in my Blocker Street loft, I drew up plans to contact the actors left behind and bring my own play into production. While I went to art shows and openings all through that period, I remember feeling that the most vital art being created in downtown New York was in theater: The Performing Garage, Squat Theatre, Mabou Mines, Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Robert Wilson, the performance artists Stuart Sherman, Laurie Anderson, and Meredith Monk. and the composers Phillip Glass and Robert Ashley.
Qn: Tell me a little about the creation of the Abreaction Theater and the shows that you developed there.
DB: Geoffrey King and I created the Abreaction Theater to present our collaborative works. After completing my play and transcribing the collages, I sent my script to a friend, who in turn gave a copy to King, a composition graduate student from the New England Conservatory of Music. He created an electronic/vocal piece entitled “Radio Sonata" and, with the success of its premier in 1979 at the Conservatory, we decided to produce the play. I was the director, writer, set designer and prop carpenter, the painter, the lighting director, and the electrician. King was the composer and audio technician and ran the complex sound production during the play.
At that time, New York City loft space was not hard to come by, at least outside of the Soho art district. My biggest concern was the commitment to a one-year lease (I figured that I would deal with that later). The Crosby Street space was perfect. It had a freight elevator and easy access to the downtown crowd. The electrical system was upgraded as part of the lease deal, so we had more than enough power to run the production. The walls were unencumbered by surface decorations. Most importantly, the building wasn't residential (our neighbors were sweatshops), so our sound system could be optimized. After installing Foreman's bleacher system, the loft started to look like a theater. I used my savings to pay for construction and painting supplies. lights and additional wiring and went to work preparing the space. It was great fun.
We produced Disparate Acts: At a Distance in the winter of 1979. We were lucky that season that Richard Foreman and Robert Wilson and other downtown companies weren't active, and the performance was favorably compared to other downtown productions. We ran with full houses. After a good run, we abandoned the loft, put our bleachers into a friend's loft for storage, and moved to Boston to work on our next play.
I never considered myself in theater even while I produced the play. I viewed the work in terms of visual arts - specifically in line with the current practice at the time of installation, conceptual and performance art. Foreman's plays came the closest to that practice and his ability to combine techniques from film editing. Brechtian aesthetics, and pre-recorded audio to create his staging was exciting to me. While I was interested in making a name for myself. I didn’t think in terms of permanence as much as sustaining the aesthetic “high" of producing the Gesamtkunstwerk.
This need to create the total work of art failed me in the next effort, Confessions of a Conformist, for a few reasons: the script was too long and too visually complicated, my rehearsal and construction schedule was impractical and underestimated and therefore too time-consuming, locating and securing a space in downtown NY was nearly impossible after Soho became upscale, and my collaboration with King was problematic, to say the least. Within two years, the NY scene had changed, and I wasn't prepared to adapt. Cutting edge performances took place in small venues with quick production times. Texts were moving towards narrative again and the East Village art scene had exploded.
Qn: If you could present one piece again today, which one would it be and why?
DB: My most successful theater piece was Disparate Acts: At A Distance because it had a solid foundation and fulfilled my intentions. I'd prefer to present Confessions again because it had a superior collage foundation, a more interesting premise, and deserved a better outcome. But I'm no longer interested in theater. I moved all my attention to drawing and the themes developed in Confessions are still a vital part of my work.
Qn: Tell me a little about your ideas on deconstruction as an art form.
DB: While deconstruction is a method for clarifying the particulars of an art form, it is not the basis for effective or powerful art. Creating powerful art is not a theoretical position but an instinctual one. Solely pushing the boundaries or testing limits is spectacle, which is fine as far as it goes, but limited unless it is the result of working through the ideas and materials. I can't think of a single work of art that has retained its vitality solely on pushing boundaries or breaking taboos. Even Duchamp's Fountain worked because it was an elegant combination of idea, intention, and material. I have lived long enough to see elements of sixties, seventies, and eighties art appear in current artistic practice as if they were newly discovered and invented, but I'm not cynical. I think the current environment is as exciting and challenging as it was during my coming of age in the seventies. As my friend Warren Criswell puts it, ..."sometimes were ambushed by our own unique truth, and that's where the trouble begins."
Qn: Are you currently still involved with theater in New York?
DB: I am involved only through friends I met during my Abreaction Theater days. They keep me posted on their work and interesting developments.
Qn: In talking about your work, you mention that it is never good to start a work with a metaphor, but instead to start with the mark and let the metaphor develop out of it. Can you talk about this method and why you think it is the most effective?
DB: My working method hasn't changed much from that developed for my theater. I still begin with images and while working in theater I considered the approach to be drawing, while working in drawing I think of the paper as a stage and animate it. I have a character that stands in for me. His activities are also like the activities to which I subjected my actors: listing, cataloging, recording, filing, searching, inventorying, and hiding. For a show I had at the Koplin Del Rio Gallery in 2007 I prepared a list of my "confessions" that sum up my "working method:"
1. I admit that I like enclosed places without natural light.
2. I admit that I like filing cabinets, bookshelves, newspapers, manuscripts and books, lamps, cables and desks, stools, and wooden chairs.
3. I admit that I like rifling through boxes of clipped newspaper articles and images.
5. l admit that I have habits of behavior.
6. The way things are arranged is meaningful.
7. Order is unavoidable.
8. I admit that objects in the room interfere with my behavior.
9. While I am in the room, I admit that I feel vulnerable.
10. Locks are a necessity.
11. Escape is binding.
I don't finish drawings. I exhaust the possibilities in each rendering. I revise and rework and more than likely destroy drawings. The last couple of years, only three drawings survived. I draw until the figure and the environment have weight - plasticity and narrative. I draw until I find a hook that sustains my viewing for more than a couple of days. If that hook doesn’t last, then I go back to revising. Whatever began the drawing - the studies, the images from my boxes - is started again when I pick up my piece of charcoal. Because the mark is not the idea. I must battle what making that mark means. Does it define the outside or the inside of the object? Is it defining a texture, a contour, or a tone? Since all of us have mark making down, we think it's automatic. At its fundamental level, a drawing is a progressively complex listing of strokes. Nothing more. To assume that you can go to a metaphor before controlling and manipulating the material is ridiculous. That's not to say that you don't have a start. I have plenty of starts, plenty of ideas, but once you are on the paper it's a whole different game.
Qn: Talking about some of your early paintings, you mention chat they are "like candy" in that their element of perfection is also their downfall.
DB: Regarding painting. I can paint; I just don't like to. I have no color sense, but that isn’t necessary for painting. I use a universal mud theory - any color will work if it contains trace amounts of any other color in the painting - and a well-drawn understudy. Together they allow me to paint as well as anybody. The problem is with the act of painting. In periods when I did paint and I had everything under control - my palette, my brush - I seemed to go into a trance. Nothing I mixed was wrong, every brush stroke and position was spot on, and the painting developed without any hesitation. While I didn't dislike the paintings, there was no resistance to their development and if there was no resistance, no feedback, no blow-back, then there was no meaningful experience in the process - no life. If there was no meaningful experience other than the technical finesse, then how could I expect my viewers to have one? The process tasted good but had no substance.
Milton Resnick talked about the pit artists fall into when their work ceases to have meaning. The artist remembers that anxiety and trauma and seeks anything to keep out of that pit. For some the development of gimmicks or tricks keeps them from the pit, but once the artist uses those tricks to avoid the pit, he dies as an artist. I felt like painting was avoiding the real issues of making art. If define myself as an artist, then my approach must be a constant battle with the pit.
Qn: Tell me a little about your idea of expression and emotion in work and how it is tied to the expressive or "human" mark (ideas like scratching, smoothing, rubbing, etc.). Do you think leaving a "trail" is the most effective form of human communication?
DB: As a child I saw a Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Bugs, dressed in an artist smock and beret and dipping a large brush into a bucket of paint, paints the Mona Lisa in two passes of his hand. This was an amazing thing to watch. I could never figure out how he did that. Every time I lifted a brush it appeared to be so limited. Later I realized what that joke really meant for the artist -create the greatest amount of significance with the least amount of effort. You see it in masterful work. It only seems like the piece just appeared fully formed and effortless.
While studying art history in Italy. I visited a monastery. Walking into a dark cell from a long, sun-drenched corridor. it took a while for my eyes to adjust, and I noticed that I could only make out parts of a fresco. As I waited for the image to fully appear, I made out a crown of thorns, a stick, and then a bloody gash. To my astonishment, I realized that there was no complete image. The artist had created a painting that ever monk could complete in his own way. This unknown artist had produced the most devotional piece of art I have ever seen.
Both of those experiences came to define my approach to art. For me, that meant finding out what was extraneous to image making, discovering how far could I go towards developing a story without losing an image. That meant no color, no printmaking process, no chemical/digital processes at all, just simple mark making.
The mark is fundamental to human communication - forming letters into words, into sentences, and into symbols, into images. In fact, for me, the most important part of my drawings isn't the final image but all the pentimenti: the traces of the underdrawings, the wipe-outs, the erasures, the revisions. Those pentimenti are closer to ideas than fully formed drawings. Recently I've taken to photographing chose traces. Someday I may feel courageous enough to create a body of work just of pentimenti.
Qn: Some of your stories read something like psychological fables and some of them directly reference historical or religious stories. Can you talk a little about these, particularly the "Midrash" series? Do they have anything to do with a Jewish background?
DB: My current work has more to do with Keaton and Kafka than with Jewish tradition. If I had a film genre it would be black and white silent comedies. Combine the main character of Buster Keaton with a storyline by Franz Kafka and that pretty much sums up my work. I have a streak of anxiety about me-a feeling that at any moment the Cossacks could come and destroy everything I hold dear. And every time I go to bed, I say to myself. "Well, you old fart, nothing happened. You've lived your life." And then I get up in the morning and think. "Today is the day."
So, l am the character in the drawings who continually shifts the boxes around, searches for or files away pieces of paper until there is no space left. Whether this is heroic like a Keaton film or just tragic like Kafka I don't know, but I find it funny.
The "Midrash' series came about because in the late eighties Ronald Feldman, director of the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York, told me that my work was going nowhere because there was no personal stake in it, and I agreed somewhat and started to think about a personal stake. I was never religious or a practicing Jew, but I am tied to and proud of my family's heritage.
I began a series on small city life, then one on the Holocaust, and in 1993 I read The Book of J by Harold Bloom (translated by David Rosenberg). It got me thinking about how God was depicted in my years of Sunday school, and I remembered that there were several stories that bothered me: Lot's wife, Noah, Job, Cain, Adam, and Moses. I decided to create stage-like large drawings with life-sized figures. This series was a solution to the dynamic of handling a full-time job, having five children, and trying to do my artwork. I decided to work larger because that seemed like the logical way to do create art when you didn't have a lot of time. If I started a piece that couldn't possibly be finished during the weekend, then I’d have something to work on when I got back, and during the week I could plan my next steps. It also alleviated the problem of trying to get a gallery since no one would be able to show the work anyway.
Each of the pieces took six or more months to complete. During the process, I created and revised the drawings and reconciled my version of the story with the biblical one. So, for instance, in the flood story what was traumatic for me was what was left out. Dove signals land, everyone departs, and everything is beautiful (until Lot's time). In the drawing called Bone [Noah], I depict the holocaust after the flood - Noah, looking over the hillside, has just realized the cost of his survival, while his wife waters a plant with water carried up the mountain from the valley. Technically, as the series progresses, my drawing style changes from carful rendering of the elements and a theatrical presentation to a drawing almost entirely comprised with pentimenti like in Pyramid [Moses and Aaron].
Qn: Some of your other pieces sometimes have an "office" quality or "family" elements, and I just wonder in general if some of these works were the documenting of your change from an artist in New York to a teacher in the South?
DB: Unlike many of my friends in New York. I had no skills in carpentry, plumbing. or electricity (although I could do it for my own loft when necessary). I didn’t have the coordination to wait on tables or the design skills to work in publishing. I discovered that I did have an ability to work in offices – filing, typing invoices, light typing, and bookkeeping. It was all hand done, before the introduction of computers and word processors. Because it was part-time, it permitted me to work on my plays and other writing. Bookkeeping was the best artist job I ever had since the work involved tidying up the past and leaving everything at zero; I could come to the studio without any lingering issues. That experience did influence my work. Of course, there is something mindless and numbing about filing and entering numbers into ledgers. I don't believe any of the papers or lodgers were ever seen again after I stored them. For a couple of years, I worked in two "Kafkaesque" offices: a law office in mid-town and an insurance company located in the Upper East Side. In Saramago's All the Names, any clerk who wanted to seek out a document from the storage labyrinth had to tie a string around his waist before being permitted to enter. Sometimes walking down, the hallways of New York office buildings felt similar.
The lifestyle change from New York to Little Rock was dramatic but not traumatic. In New York I appreciated being close to so much activity. Even if you didn't take part in half the stuff, it rubbed off on you. Looking for avant-garde film? Check out B movies in Alphabet City. Traveling on the F-line to Times Square? Discover a Keith Haring on the subway wall. Stuart Sherman is set up on the Staten Island Ferry. Charles Ludlam has opened a new play in the West Village and Phillip Glass is playing at St. Marks Church - Ginsberg is reading there later. It was a lifestyle for sure, but it wore you out. This was especially true if you hadn't made it yet. So Little Rock allowed me to slow down and start work I never had time to create in New York.
This last spring, I had the opportunity to travel around Arkansas meeting artists in their studios for a show I was curating. Their work was as eclectic and their commitment to exhibiting it as important as that of any artist I had met in Boston or New York. Since moving to Little Rock, I have witnessed the development of a sophisticated artist scene and while many of us complain that serious collectors tend to purchase our art in galleries outside of the state and that, except for one professional art supply store, we must mail order supplies, most of us have thrived here. The cost of living, the beautiful land, the long and sustaining friendships with other Arkansas artists: Sammy Peters, an extraordinary abstract painter, and Warren Criswell, a kind of Renaissance artist using all kinds of media to pursue his psychological and metaphysical realism, to name just two. A friend of mine from Hunter College commented on my choice to leave NY as detrimental to my career and questioned my seriousness as an artist. It is typical to draw a line marking territory but difficult to understand why. I did not enjoy living in NY or Boston. It had nothing to do with my art, but it affected everything about my art. I don’t believe that making art is an easier in one place or another. As to missing out on the chance of fame, fortune, and influence? It's kind of like waking up every morning and thinking. "Today is the day." I’ll let you know in fifty years.
Qn: IOn that note, can you talk a little about how you ended up in Arkansas?
DB: When my wife, Amy Stewart, accepted a clerkship with the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Arkansas, we figured it was a two-year commitment and then we would move back to the East Coast. While I was concerned about moving to the South, my work was never predicated on a location. It was a fortuitous opportunity that when I applied for a bookkeeper job at the Arkansas Arts Center, I was offered the position of Museum School Director instead. Directing a school with faculty and facilities for pottery. glass blowing. Woodworking, jewelry making, photography, printmaking, painting, and drawing was a dream position but, more importantly, it gave me proximity to the Arts Center's collection of master and contemporary drawings. The Arts Center's collection was curated and sustained by its director, Townsend Wolfe, from whose connoisseurship I learned a great deal. It was a unique and comprehensive collection by any museum standard, and I had access to its riches for daily study. In the end, Little Rock proved to be a perfect situation. Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster recruited Amy to join the Rose Law Firm, and my work at the Arts Center was the perfect job at the right time in my career, so we decided to stay.
Qn: Are you currently teaching and, if so, where? What are some of the most important lessons you would suggest for a theater artist or painter/drawer respectively?
DB: I am currently an adjunct professor at Hendrix College and an instructor at the University of Central Arkansas, both located in Conway, Arkansas. Teaching keeps my mind functioning outside of the studio and requires me to define and articulate the drawing techniques for my students.
My lessons for an artist:
1. Don’t make wallpaper
2. Don't contemplate your navel.
3. Be hungry.
Qn: What are your current projects or upcoming shows?
DB: I am drawing and thinking about repositories, and I am preparing for a show at the Koplin Del Rio Gallery this summer. In addition to curating the "Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Legacy Art Exhibition," (Petit Jean Mountain. Arkansas), I am jurying the "Irene Rosenzweig 2011 Biennial Exhibition at the Arts and Science Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and exhibiting as Delta winner in this year's "54th Annual Delta Arkansas Arts Center Show."
Qn: What currently inspires you as an artist?
DB: News and found photographs.
Qn: What currently disturbs you as an artist?
DB: A tea party without tea … and other political extremists.
Qn: You mention that, for you as an artist, to not work would be more painful than doing the work. Where do you think this drive or desire comes from, particularly with artists? Does it harken back to the idea of human expression and the need to communicate directly?
DB: I have defined myself in many ways, but the core has always been my work. My studio is not my friend. I avoid going into my studio, but I know that if I don't open the studio doors, walk in, and confront the work, I will be lost. It's one thing to think romantically of the idea of human expression but, frankly, the world doesn't really need any new pieces of art and that certainly goes for my new pieces. But I need new work - it's not about communication or expression or fame or fortune. It's about moving all the anxiety, all the joy, all the thoughts, feelings, and inspiration out of me and into something tangible. I don't know if it has meaning or is meaningful, but if, through hacking away at a drawing. I can live some more, then there it is.