ABOUT DAVE NEWMAN
Growing up in the shadow of Disneyland, perhaps it was inevitable that artist Dave Newman would develop a fascination for neon lights, signs and the past. In Newman’s mixed media collage work, one catches a glimpse of a world where the signs and spectacle that populate the landscape are more important than the landscape itself. The imagery will trigger a sense of nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s in those who experienced the age when the automobile and the newly-built freeway system made it possible for the nation’s citizens to experience the vast stretches of the West from the comfort of a speeding automobile.
Newman was born in Long Beach, CA, in 1956, but he grew up in Anaheim, where his family moved the year after Disneyland opened. The artist recalls a childhood filled with adventure and fun. “In addition to growing up next to Disneyland,” Newman recalls, “we would often visit the beach, and Knott’s Berry Farm. The weather was almost always perfect, though we did have the occasional earthquake to keep things interesting.”
There was nothing in Newman’s childhood to indicate that he would become an artist.
“Our family was about as far as you could be from art or any art related visits to museums, or galleries, “ says Newman. “I don't recall having any kind of art in our home and I think we went to the LA County Museum of Art only once when our relatives visited from NYC. (I think to try and impress them that we were cultured out in California!)”
Instead, Newman was fascinated by cars and motorcycles and got involved in the culture that sprung up around customizing hot-rods and bikes. Newman’s father encouraged him to go to college, but never an attentive student, Newman instead went to work, spending time as a bellman at the Sheraton, Anaheim hotel.
In 1978, Newman met his future wife Donna, and the two of them began a silk screen business and turned it into a successful enterprise. It was during this period, when Dave turned 32, that he discovered art.
“I started seeing the silk screen infused art of Andy Warhol,” says Newman, “ and the work of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and other pop artists. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I starting going to museums and galleries, reading about other artists and teaching myself art history. I saw an exhibition in LA of Frank Stella's giant wall sculptures of wood, metal, paint and other objects and it really hit me.”
Though he didn’t have any formal art training, Newman took what he had learned from working on cars and from his silk screen business and began creating dimensional, multi-media collage work.
“I feel the subject matter picked me,” says the artist. “Growing up in Southern California in that time, I was bombarded with art and graphics in all the signage with the bright flashy neon, the strawberry fields and orange groves that surrounded our neighborhood. The car and motorcycle culture added to the exciting imagery that was everywhere. These pictures still are very vivid in my memory and have shaped my vision.”
At first Newman created work on the side while continuing to work in the silk screening business, but as demand started to fall, the budding artist found himself devoting more and more time to his art, while Donna started a costume jewelry business.
At first Newman experimented by printing silk screens on wood and canvas. Soon he began incorporating other collage elements, including found objects that he and Donna would discover as they collected antiques and “other weird stuff.” Soon, Newman's unique style emerged, a blend of painting and collage.
Newman feels free to draw inspiration from the pop artists - Warhol, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and others, but he has also grown to love the work of a wide variety of other artists. “Van Gogh, Picasso, Maynard Dixon and Basquiat are among my favorites.”
Newman began showing his work in art festivals and shows, and the work quickly began to sell. Collectors were drawn to the bold compositions of Newman’s work and the memories the work evokes.
Over time, Newman’s style steadily evolved and he refined and simplified his work. Newman now show’s his work in major galleries across the western United States and is has the work in collections around the world.
“My mission,” says Newman, “is to continue creating art for the rest of my life. I hope to contribute something that will be relevant after I am gone - a slice of life in the present that will be a marker or a time capsule in the future.”
The artist and his wife travel extensively, collecting antiques and objects that will become a part of his work. While travel is an artistic imperative, Newman says that he would travel even if it weren’t. “I love the open road,” says the artist, “and I want to share that love through my work.”