Artist David Craig Ellis’ current show at Venticinque, 162 Fifth Ave Brooklyn NY, is a fascinating rare view into his working process. The show is entirely a collection of morning drawings taken from his sketchbook and framed and presented on the walls of this Park Slope Cafe.
When the Mafia proposes a prospect to be a “made man” it is said that “they opened the books for him.” While David Craig Ellis is not a Mafioso, he did at one time own and operate a pizza joint, and for that matter, was a regular at many Soprano’s cast events so I will run with this metaphor for better or worse. Dave is a dichotomy with almost child like whimsy combining a highly disciplined edge of a proficient and profound draftsman who is hardworking not only in his commitment to the volume of his work, but to also engage your attention and to impart his audience with emotions and lessons within his paintings and drawings.
For many years now David begins his day with a strong cup of coffee and several pages of writing and a spontaneous drawing. Morning pages a la Julia Cameron’s bible for creative recovery “The Artist’s Way.” If you are not familiar with Cameron’s book let’s just say that she does for the artist what Lao Tzu did for the warrior.
Dave’s current show is a collection of 20 of his favorite drawings from his morning pages. He has sifted down from 700 or so to these 20 strong examples of what he can do with his pencil, pens and sketchbook. Drawing his inspiration from such diverse sources as Charles Schultz and R. Crumb. His drawings are engaging and mildly disturbing in a most engaging fashion. Dave has also participated in The Sketchbook Project, the largest online aggregation of sketch book images that has ever been undertaken, http://www.sketchbookproject.com/. His ID # is S145934
You will see in this show a collection of nasty characters living on the edge of Dave’s grizzly world. Case in point “It’s Done”, complete with cross hatch modeling which is a trademark of Dave’s work. Within the drawing a street wise misfit with white gloves sits on the street surrounded by bottles with a smoke of something nefarious drooping from his mouth. A sign in his hand proclaims “It’s Done.”
Several motifs run through many of these drawing, binding them together 1)a bottle of spirits. 2) The word “God” sometimes camouflaged in text or within a drawing. 3) A cup a coffee. Ever reminding us that these images are created at first light while the artist is enjoying clearing his cobwebs with a morning joe.
Separation Anxiety features a woman of questionable morals and a cup of coffee is clearly pictured in it. How appropriate that this show is hosted by a fine coffee bar! All of the images have their own appeal and I strongly recommend that you make the trip to Park Slope to have an espresso and take the show in it’s entirety. The show will be up through October 16th. Some of the drawings are available for sale and they are going fast so don’t delay.