His art calls him Davoth. His mom calls him David. Having been the result of what he believes was a sexual encounter in Chicago and spending a few years there, his parents dragged him to Kansas. There he learned how to feel awkward in church. Drawing, dark humor, a secret imagination and, eventually, shenanigans were his escapes from a tight upbringing and the malaise of boredom. As time went on, he began to put most of his energy into subtly fighting organization and authority; his sketching grew toward the macabre. He eventually grew old and self-assured enough to get the hell out of Kansas and shot west for the mountains.
R: What do enjoy about living in Colorado?
D: I came to Colorado to interact with the mountains and rivers in every way that I could. I’ve been all over this state with my trusty “Wiley Toyotee” pickup and Colorado will likely always be my home. As time went on and intellectual and artistic endeavors grew more important to me, I moved to Denver. My amazing lady friend and I bought a house recently and I feel so at home in my urban life, while still getting to the mountains whenever possible for the sake of grounding and remembering how to relax.
R: How were you introduced to the paintbrush and other art materials?
D: A random conversation with Southern Colorado art god Rodney Wood got me thinking about making art for galleries. I built a sculpture for an upcoming show in a hurried burst, met internationally shown artist, artistic mentor and local Coloradoan Sean O’Mealie in the show and won a small award for my piece. The gallery went out of business soon after, but that began my relationship with the art life.
R: Have you always enjoyed making art? Why?
D: Art is a sexy and fickle love master. The process, for me, goes from ecstatic to frustrating and then to a feeling of accomplishment and relief when a show is up. That feeling sometimes only manifests as comfort when the show is installed and I’ve seen it complete. I definitely feel good while in process, but only when I reflect on a recent series am I able to truly have clear feelings about that body of work. In the end, I will always feel compelled to have some sort of creative outlet or get sucked into the ether with the other lunatics. Art is how I prefer my lunacy to manifest.
R: What’s you preferred medium for all those awesome layers in your paintings?
D: I’ve ebbed from sculpture and poetry to painting, and I focus mostly on acrylic, oil stick and various forms of ink and graphite pencil, all in a lecherous pile. It all starts from a very simple set of line drawings; things get covered up and added as the layers come to exist.
R: Do you drink a lot of coffee?
D: I love coffee! It kickstarts my mind in the morning and helps my idea box to open and spew out its vomitous beauty! It obviously needs to be followed by good food for sustainability. I’m a food nerd on all levels.
R: Is art your career or your hobby?
D: I would love to be free to create all the time, but I actually am more productive when I have less time. I’m too relaxed when I have all the time in the world to complete projects. Art is my part-time job for now.
R: Do you make enough money off of your work to fully support your lifestyle?
D: My work comes in flurries of activity as does the income from it. I also have a hard time wanting to promote myself. It feels unnatural to me.
R: Do you enjoy painting to music? If so, what genre or artists?
D: The majority of my day has music as a backdrop, if not as its centerpiece. All artistic and creative things feed other creative things. During the painting process, I mostly listen to roots-based rock and roll, art noise and ambient experimental punk. I look for musical energy and creativity when I’m painting. When I’m not painting, I have very broad tastes, from mellow, earthy stuff like Bon Iver and Herman Düne to Son House, Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Big Black, Modest Mouse, The Black Angels, Deerhoof, Sunset Rubdown, The Locust, Tame Impala … I could go on all day. Music is central to my life.
R: In your paintings there are a lot of colors, shapes, lines and objects that co-exist and are connected in some fashion, providing a feeling of raw energy. Please tell us a little bit about your method of creation.
D: I touched on my process earlier, but I could talk about my process all day. I am an artist, right? Art is always self-indulgent, to some degree. I would hope for that to be partially a good point in my work, if at all possible. Art is certainly introspective for me. I want to bring up problems that I see in the world, but be self-aware enough to know that if it bothers me, there’s a good chance that some of that problem is found in me. What I’m saying is that I want to bring up issues and topics without demanding a specific response or pointing fingers without being aware of my own shortcomings and aware of being implicated in the world’s problems. We’re all connected. As for the physical creation of the work, I try to let things happen fluidly, without thinking too much. I want to work to understand the mechanics of paint application, be aware of composition and theories of color interplay, but let the rest happen mostly subconsciously.
R: How many hours go into your work on a painting?
D: I spend a lot of time staring at a painting, reading what is happening as I go, but I likely spend about 30 hours total on a medium-sized painting, canvas building included.
R: Specific influences or influencers on your work?
D: As far as style goes, the work of mid-century avant garde artists such as Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg have inspired me a lot to listen to the parts of me that I’m nearly unaware of. Jean-Michel Basquiat and a few other graffiti-based artists have steered my style a lot. I also take a lot of deeper, less-thought-about food from Picasso, Dali, Hieronymus Bosch and Egon Schiele. Art feeds art in so many ways.
R: How does traveling affect your design mind and style?
D: Our global and instantly connectable culture is definitely in the back of my mind as I work. The more I have learned about how other people live, the easier it is to understand my fellow man. I also am drawn by things that are new to me, especially if they seem bizarre. What a strange and beautiful world we live in.
R: If you could only use a paintbrush with a gallon of paint to paint a message to the world on a wall, what might you paint?
D: “Sorry. We tried to fix it but we were too late.”
R: Your paintings seem like they are fun for you to create? Lots of colors, lots of thoughts and lots going on. Are they as fun for you to create as they appear?
D: When working on a piece, I often have moments of laughing out loud when I add something ridiculous and unplanned. Sometimes a seemingly random thought or action will totally redirect the theme of the piece from what I thought it would be. Often at the end, it’s hard for me to imagine the piece having gone any other way. Humor and childlike colors also help me soften viewers up and slowly pull them into reading deeper into the themes of the work.
R: Your website says, “May you never lose the child within you.” Can you elaborate on this message?
D: It’s so easy to forget how to see the world around us without all the prejudice we have been taught and the lack of interest we teach ourselves through constant indulgence. I would hope that we continue to notice the beauty and tragedy around us that we see every day and be excited about fresh new things we come across. We need to remember that being happy is more important than making piles of money or beating that minivan to the stoplight.
R: What message to the world would you like to send to anyone creative out there that might be intimidated to share their work with the world?
D: It’s scary to put something so personal as artwork out there for people to dig or disrespect. First: Take small steps to get your stuff out there. Coffee shops and restaurants are still fun places for me to show. Check a place out. Know what style of work they show. Find a place that is at your level. Take good photos and bring a piece or two with you. If you get bad response, ask somewhere else. Sometimes “no” is the motivation you need to grow your skills.
R: Where can people go to check out your art? Any galleries or shows coming up?
D: Folks can check out my work at Corvus Coffee on South Broadway in Denver right now. Also, my website, which is forwarding to a WordPress page until I get web issues resolved, is www.davothart.com. Since life feeds art, I also don’t mind folks checking out my personal page at www.facebook.com/davothart, or just search Dave Voth.
R: Any shout-outs, folks to give thanks to or wisdom to leave with us?
D: My ladyfriend and life partner, Heather, is my backbone when my regular one goes limp. She makes the messy part of life not take such a bite. She supports me in all I do and finds me to be a good teammate.
Cars, truck or bike: Bike! Sunny or Cloudy weather: Sunshine! Black & White, or Color: Always color! Dog or Cat: My dog is biting God's ass in heaven. Food Choice: Root Down! Beer: New Belgium Colors of clothing: All colors Powder or Ice: Powder and sun? Illegal Pete's or Wahoo's: Dive bars and fine dining