Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Building Bridges

When I walked into the Bouabana Art Space on the rue de Marseille in Tunis last October there were paintings on the walls that looked like mine. When I took a closer look I discovered they were mine. Someone had painted new versions of my work! If I had been in America I would have called my lawyer. The Tunisian artists who were waiting to attend my workshops had downloaded photographs of my paintings from my website and used them to inspire new paintings as a welcoming gift. I do not speak French or Arabic and the artists did not speak English so we hugged each other.

That was six months ago. I have just returned from a second visit with my Tunisian artist friends. We are still hugging and also laughing and singing. When I asked the artists why they paint, one of them said, “To exhaust my disappointment.” As artists we have the same hopes and dreams, and anxieties. And the same excitement when something appears on canvas which has just sprung from our soul.

I want to return the hospitality of my Tunisian artist friends, so I have invited them to America. I want my fellow American artists to experience making art in a group where all that matters is the wonder of creating with other human beings. Our traveling exhibition will be called Building Bridges: An Exhibition of Paintings Created Collaboratively by American and Tunisian Artists.

Just before I left Tunis I collaborated on a painting with Mourad Zerai, one of the artists who will participate in the tour. We called it “Building Bridges.” The painting measures 10 feet by 8 feet, just big enough to bridge the gap between America and Tunisia.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


My last words to you, dear readers, were “You will find me in the nearest bar.” That was May 6th, 2008. You might think I am still waiting for you. Not so. Four of my paintings are hanging in the official Residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia thanks to the ART in Embassies Program of our State Department. Last October the Ambassador invited me to Tunis to conduct workshops with Tunisian artists. The artists invited me to do a Group Painting according to Tunisian rules:

One person is given the honor of starting the painting. (That’s me).

Anyone can paint at any time and anyone can erase anyone else’s work.

I was also given the honor of deciding when the painting was finished which I did after three hours. Our painting looked like it had been done by a single artist. We called it "A Night in Tunisia."

"A Night in Tunisia" appeared on the front pages of the French and Arabic newspapers next to the election of Obama. The State Department was pleased. They told me, “The universal language of artists helps to bridge gaps in understanding as no treaty or aid package can.”

The Tunisian artists have invited me back for more painting. I leave next week. I will let you know what happens next.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


When I was producing Broadway shows I spent opening night in the nearest bar. I was afraid to watch in case the actors forgot their lines. Afterwards at the opening night party everyone was excited. Then the press agent whispered the reviews were no good and it was up to me to tell the investors. The party became a wake. Opening night for an art exhibition is more fun. My paintings don’t forget their lines and if I get nervous I don’t have to go anywhere. The gallery is the nearest bar! Best of all if a critic doesn’t like my paintings they don’t get destroyed like the set of a Broadway flop. I can take them home and hang them on my walls and show them again in the next exhibition. So please come, dear friends, to opening night for my New York Paintings on Thursday May 8th from six to nine at Denise Bibro Fine Art, 529 West 20th street in Chelsea. You will find me in the nearest bar.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Forgive me, dear friends, for my silence. I have been out looking for a New York gallery, and guess what? I found one! I am having a solo exhibition at Denise Bibro Fine Art at 529 West 20th Street in Chelsea. The opening reception is Thursday May 8th. The exhibition is called David Black New York Paintings and it runs through May 31st.

My show is called David Black New York Paintings. Denise’s gallery is on West 20th Street and when I was born my parents were living on East 20th Street. They were too far east to be entitled to a key to Gramercy Park. My earliest childhood memory is staring through the railings at the other children playing in the park. I wondered why I wasn’t
allowed to play with them.

See you opening night!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Less Is More

When I was seven I put on a show in my grandfather’s living room. I called it The Greatest Show Off Earth! In the first act I played the violin. In the second I sang a song, and in the third I made a speech about saving the world. The title came from The Greatest Show On Earth! which was (and is) the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. I was in love with the circus and that love affair is still going on.

I recently did a painting called Trapeze where the audience was reduced to a primordial state which I suppose a therapist would say represented my childhood. I repeated this treatment of the audience in paintings of baseball, basketball and football games. Yankee Stadium was reproduced in Connecticut Magazine and then I received an offer to have reproductions of my sports paintings in a major motion picture! It was a great way to end this year and it all goes to prove what I have always suspected: Less is more.

Friday, August 03, 2007

How Producing Broadway Shows Drove Me To A Painting Career

A few weeks ago The Men’s Group of Stonington invited me to perform How Producing Broadway Shows Drove Me To A Painting Career (the story of my life which I keep updating). Act One involves growing up with a father who did not believe in God and a mother who laughed whenever I tried to accomplish anything. Act Two deals with well known stars and directors who helped me lose money and my mind while producing eighteen Broadway shows; and Act Three tells the story of a painting I threw in the garbage that was later sold to the vice president of Lloyds of London.

I needed to find a new ending and I thought of a painting of mine called The Backer’s Audition which combined painting and producing. The painting shows how I raised money for a Broadway show. Singers are performing excerpts from the show for would be angels. I remembered that The New York Times had reviewed the painting and had written “the bilious crowd in The Backer’s Audition...” Curious about the word “bilious,” I checked the dictionary and it said: “experiencing gastric distress, especially in color,” a perfect description of my days as a Broadway producer.”

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Path

At a recent exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art I heard a teacher say to her students, “Art is a language which helps us understand the world.”

The next day I was looking at my paintings. There was a path down the middle of one of the landscapes. In Shopping the floor of the store narrowed and disappeared in the distance. In The Wedding the view was from behind the bride and groom. In front of them was a path leading to the altar. Why all these paths?

I thought of The Ethical Culture Society where my father used to preach. “Most religions promise hell or heaven if you’re bad or good,” said my father, “but the truth is there is no after life! Man makes his own hell or heaven right here on earth. There is no God with a long white beard who will solve the problems of the world!” I was seven years old and I sat at the back of the church. In front of me the center aisle led between the pews to a raised platform where my father stood. There were flowers at his feet and over his head letters in gold said, “The Place Where Men Meet To Seek The Highest Is Holy Ground.”

The path to my father was long and difficult. I traveled it many times but I never reached my destination. The teacher in the museum might also have said, “Art is a language which helps us understand ourselves.”

The Path will be auctioned Saturday, April 14, at Art for Life, The Alliance for Living benefit at The Mystic Arts Center in Mystic, CT. For details go to www.Allianceforliving.org