Artist David King Digs Into Vintage Edgewater Shots for a New Perspective on Isolation

David King, a Cleveland artist and teacher who was born in Stow, Ohio and received his MFA in painting from Kent State University, has been producing his latest series, “Social Distance,” using a surprising device to illustrate the concep:, a kiddie pool.

One day after doing his community service of jury duty King found himself in the photo archives department of the Cleveland Public Library in search of old photographs of people gathering when he came upon images of Clevelanders from the 1930s and 1940s congregating at Edgewater Beach.

“I was preparing for my one man show at Bay Arts and revisited a painting from my “Time Travel” series titled, “Gene Pool” with a kiddie pool…I saw the kiddie pool as a metaphor for the situation we’re all facing. I started doing some figure studies from the Edgewater photos and placing them in kiddie pools. Because of the quarantine, it felt like we were all trapped in our own little kiddie pool. Now I’m starting to combine some of the figures together and create new narratives. I don’t really know how long I will be pursuing this series. I’m sure it will merge into something new but related. This series will surely inform the next body of work in one way or another.”

King, who is represented by HEDGE Gallery located in 78th Street Studios and currently leans towards working with oil paint due to its “creamy viscosity,” says he loves the smell of the oils and feels the colors to be “magical.” This “Social Distance” series is executed in the intense vibration of impressionistic style exhibiting masterful skill, capturing these human figures as they contemplate living from the tiny “island” habitat of the kiddie pool. The colors are as vivid as the subjects and the thickly applied brush strokes ‘bounce’ off of the canvas with the energy of a kangaroo. His pallet is reminiscent of Marshall Crossman’s Beach Series, while King’s kinetic application of paint and balance of light and shadows reminds me of the work of follow Ohioan, George Bellows.

I asked King what his thoughts are on social distancing and he had this to say: “People don’t like the feeling of being alone. I think that’s why they’re willing to risk catching Covid-19. People are used to being around people. They want to get in a routine again. That’s why they are ignoring the 'Second Wave' theory. Social distancing saves lives. It’s as simple as that. I’m surprised to see photos of so many people in crowded public places acting like there’s nothing wrong…”

King’s teaching career began in 1984 when he taught middle school art in Portage County before stepping into the ranks of high school art teacher with Chagrin Falls High and retiring from there in 2014. He continued his passion for education at Case Western Reserve University where he currently supervises Student Teachers and teaches a drawing class.

“The first thing a good teacher needs to be is a good student. The students probably teach me more than I teach them. They teach me what they want to learn. I love getting all of the positive energy from my students. I guess I like teaching because I like learning. If you really want to learn something, teach it…”

How would you like to get one of King’s paintings for free? King has been doing painting giveaways. From the TV in his studio, occasionally he will grab an image he is attracted to and paint a small rendition of this. “I have quite a few and thought it might be fun to see if anyone recognizes the face and can figure out what show they’re from. The people with the most correct answers get to choose a painting from the group. Some of the images are from classic movies and some are from newer movies or series.”

Aside from this latest series and the giveaways, one can tell that King is a busy guy as he balances being on the Exhibition Committee for Heights Arts where he assists in choosing exhibiting artists and curating shows; being a founding board member of ARTFUL Cleveland, which is a grassroots organization providing affordable studio spaces to Eastside Cleveland artists; and fulfilling his newly acquired duties at Case.

His wife, Sarah Curry, and King will be in the next show at Heights Arts, which will be titled, “Evolution,” which is about "artists who have shown there, comparing what their work looked like when it was first exhibited and what it looks like now.”

From King’s bio: “King has received numerous accolades as his work continues to be exhibited in many juried shows including “Full Fathom Five” at Progressive Insurance, The CAN Triennial, The May Show at LCC, The NEO Show-Cleveland Creates, The Utah Arts Alliance, Salt Lake City Utah, and The Faculty Show at Case Western Reserve University. His work is in many collections including Progressive Insurance, Aetna Insurance, Erie Insurance, The Ohio State University, The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, The Ohio Education Association, The Parkersburg Art Museum, The Cleveland Administration Building, Cleveland Metro Health Center and many more.”

Visit King’s website to view his latest work.
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