‘Paint the Piece:’ Grand Junction artist promotes creativity with community project
When Dave Davis creates a piece of art, it’s the process that inspires him.
That’s why the well-known Grand Junction painter and sculptor began “Paint the Piece” five years ago. The community art project features one 66-inch-by-60-inch canvas that is continuously painted and then painted again by groups and individuals.
According to Davis, since the first painting was produced by a group of locals at The Art Center during his “retrospective show,” it has been painted 206 times and counting by 61 individuals (with the number nearing 100 when considering group paintings).
“I took it off the wall a week later and announced that we were going to repaint it,” Davis said of the project’s beginning. “I brought it home after the show, put it on an easel and I started gessoing it and making it white. Then I called Diana Woods and asked, ‘Do you want to paint this piece?’
“When you consider it, there is all this history behind layers of white paint. I want it to be painted until the time of my death. Then I want it to be placed on the southern side of a building so it’s exposed to the sun. It will start to unpaint itself, and I hope someone will take chronological photos of it until it’s destroyed.”
Woods, Davis’s friend and fellow artist, was immediately intrigued by the “Paint the Piece” concept and helped paint it early on, now upwards of five times since its inception.
“I though it was amazing, and it was a really exciting opportunity to do a community art piece,” Woods said. “It was pretty interesting to watch it evolve. Each piece was inspired from the textures underneath.”
Even so, Woods explained that “in order to really embrace the process, you have to be able to let it go.”
“You don’t want to have any preconceived ideas, and you go with the flow of the piece,” she explained. “That’s what’s so beautiful about it. … It’s transitory. You’re not doing it for anyone else.”
Nick Landrum, another Colorado artist who has painted the canvas, agreed with that sentiment.
“The best thing about ‘painting the piece’ is that you can’t think about what you’re doing and can’t paint in your style,” he said. “You do it knowing that it’s temporary, and it will be covered up right away. It’s a very liberating way to create art.
“It’s way bigger than anyone thought it would be. I hope it will go on forever.”
RULES? THERE ARE NO RULES
When an individual or group embarks on ‘painting the piece,’ all Davis asks is that one gets lost in the process of creation. He provides the materials, and the rest just happens organically.
“There are no rules,” he said. “You use the colors that you want and the brushes that you need, and there is no time limit. If you give yourself permission to be a child, you can be an artist. It’s about fun.”
Plus, anyone can come paint it.
“Art has always been about sharing,” Davis noted. “This is about participation. … When you paint that piece, there is no permanency. You walk out the door and I am going to paint it over white.”
Davis moved to Grand Junction from Boulder 40 years ago. At the time, the Colorado native was primarily focused on sculpture, and Grand Valley’s desert landscape, with ample “trash,” attracted him. Back then he often used found objects, like steal and discarded televisions, in his work.
“Boulder was rapidly becoming hip, and there was no steal, no trash,” Davis explained.
Davis also founded Grand Junction’s well-known Art on the Corner program, which features a variety of sculptures downtown.
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