CODA Gallery opened on El Paseo 32 years ago with an exhibition featuring paintings by David Dornan. The gallery presents his latest works in an exhibition running Dec. 7-28, and the Utah artist will attend the opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 7 in conjunction with El Paseo Art Walk/Palm Desert First Weekend.
David Dornan’s goal is to inspire people to “look around and see what’s right there rather than go off in search of beauty. I am interested in providing an outlet for the unnoticed,” he says.
Residing in the small town of Helper, Utah, David turns his talent to objects that people don’t expect to be the subject of a painting — perhaps something as mundane as a roll of wire. One of his first paintings had its genesis on a rainy day when he pulled off his boots and set them on a table.
“I don’t search very far for my subjects,” he notes. Indeed, his oil paintings often include what he calls the “detritus” of his studio: used paint cans and brushes. Recent work includes paintings within paintings, so that the viewer is “in the studio looking at the painting being created.”
“I am fascinated with the process of making paint behave,” David says. “I like to let the painting be out of control and bring it back under control. My objects become ultimately ‘real,’ but I am very concerned that the viewer get a sense of the integrity of the materials.”
He typically paints from reference photographs, in part because he is working on 20 to 25 canvases at a time, but also for practical purposes — for example, when the subjects are sunflowers and roses he has nurtured in his own yard.
Above the prestige of having noteworthy collectors and winning awards and grants, David recollects the kind of moment he considers more important.
“Years ago, a farmer from Nebraska who had never bought a painting purchased one I did of a paint can. He said it reminded him of his dad. It feels good when my work is a springboard for someone’s spirit, like it is for mine.”