Last February I attended a 2 day lecture/roundtable discussion hosted by SMoCA. The subject was the People’s Biennial.
People’s Biennial I learned, is an experimental, local community-based exhibition that will come to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, in the fall of 2011. Curators, Harrell Fletcher and Jens Hoffman were present and looking for … remarkable, under-appreciated work by anyone and everyone, especially people who may not be considered a part of the art world. This could include a child who makes dazzling science fair projects; a sign painter who creates fascinating window displays; innovative motorcycle designers; etc.
I immediately thought of my friend Dave, and his calendar drawings.
David is a Cardiologist. He has 26 years of calendars, that he filled with colorful, narrative drawings.
When Dave was 8, his dad brought home a calendar, a hardcover, desktop ledger. Father asked son if he wanted to use it. Dave began the usual gesture of crossing off days, sometimes writing a note. One day, a friend, who had a bent towards comic book art, drew a series of pictures in the calendar. Eventually those sketches would trigger in Dave a desire to begin drawing an image a day. Gradually they evolved into a portrayal of the day’s events or his reaction to them.
As Dave says, it quickly turned into a compulsive obsession. More importantly, it became a time for reflection of his life. He’ll admit the act of drawing became the best part of the day. The images eventually become portrayals of his inner life. He layed out symbols of his own codified language, meant to be hidden from the casual viewer, but clear in meaning to him.
Impressing me most, is that this went on for nearly 26 years. As his life got busier; family, work, and needed rest took over, and the drawing came to an end. I can’t imagine drawing time coming to an end. Clearly our intentions are different, but it still makes me think. I prefer to imagine, that like Louise Bourgeois, who just died at the ripe age of 98… I will pass in my studio, at a ripe old age, and maybe… drawing.
My first visit to their home, was to discuss a family portrait Dave and his wife, Dominique were commissioning from me. I saw a years worth of drawings, matted and framed, up on their wall. Through them, I learned a bit about the couples personal history. He then pulled out a box that contained all the years of these calendars. I couldn’t believe my eyes, a real hidden treasure. I have on the occasion, spoken to Dave about sharing them.
Last Saturday, at SMoCA, one of the curators from the People’s biennial was present for an open call, to consider work. Yes…Dave took his calendars. I find them to be wonderful visual statements. Framed of course, they’re cool. But the box of them, are an incredible statement, a marking of time; a day in the life, a week in the life, a month…26 years in the life of an ordinary man. They cause me to wonder about my husband, my father, my brother, male friends, every man…and his every day life.
I communicated with Dave this morning. We continue our conversation, he says … “On Sunday I actually sat down with the calendars to try and organize them a bit more and browse a little bit. Although they go from 1970 through 1996, they start thinning out about 1990 and then the last 3 have only a few random drawings….although I knew it was coming to an end because I was so busy, it took almost 3 years to admit to myself that “no, I am not going back to fill them in…” Stubborn, eh? Then the last page of the last calendar has the statement: “The Last Calendar”. That felt very heavy…”
They’re very light actually, and remarkable. Good luck Dave.
* The commission: I did take some of Dave’s calendar art and reproduced them as framework and compositional elements within the family portrait. Click here to see the post.
JULY UPDATE: Dave’s calendar art was accepted into the People’s Biennial!
Gallery 4, SMoCA
October 15, 2011- January 15, 2012
Seven Arizona artists are featured in People’s Biennial: Gary Freitas, Jim Grosbach, David Hoelzinger, Beatrice Moore, Joseph Perez (a.k.a. Sentrock), Andrea Sweet and Paul Wilson.