It was a strangely quiet morning on 23rd Street, I was sleeping in, recuperating from a late night session of photo editing when the phone rang. It was David Craig Ellis. “Paul, I have the angle for your new piece, it’s David Craig Ellis Shits His Pants.” I said “ok,” slowly realizing what I was agreeing to. “We’ll talk it over in the studio this afternoon.” I hung up thinking, this can’t be good.
Later that afternoon, catching up with Ellis in his Dumbo studio, he had reflections about growing older and wiser. “Five grand a year I spend on coffee, so it’s inevitable I’m gonna shit my pants once in a while. The worst is when you’re on the turnpike- just trapped in a diarrhea soaked seat. Last week it was on Front Street after a blackeye with bad half and half.” He continued. “Just this morning, waiting for the water taxi I realized I wouldn’t make it unless I acted fast. I bolted to a friends condo in the nearby Edge building and went both number one and number two in luxury. Thank God, I thought to call a friend. Major relief, although I felt bad ’cause it dawned on me I still had yet to return some of his Tupperware from a dinner party, after he had sent me home with some anchovies…Oh, ya, so lemme give you a tour of the studio.”
So if you are wondering what this has to do with the hot mess in Dave’s black jeans consider for a moment that Dave can be as childish and visceral as his paintings, with sensibilities honed by living on the streets of Toronto, by years as an itinerant rock and roller, and by seeing ALL of his worldly possessions stolen from his car within 24 hours of hitting The Big Apple. While I am on the subject, Dave’s new studio (the point of this piece) is more of a mixed media playground than a studio. It’s a magnet for creativity calling out to other artists to drop by roll up their sleeves and get busy making art.
Following Dave into his studio, sporting Beatles Yellow Submarine sneakers, you pass through basement electric and water meter rooms giving the feel of a turn of the century steam punk venue. On entering you will see a tournament quality ping pong table, covered with butcher paper with scrolling calculations of numbers and notes. Even though ping pong paddles and a ball stand at the ready the table doubles as a work table and a place to share ideas just as Dave and I were engaged in with the photographer Holger Keifel, who has photographed Dave for German Marie Claire and had stopped in to knock off a few pictures of Dave in between sips of coffee and elaborations of atheistic realities.
Dave has also been photographed by Terry Richardson forHysteric Glamour and even once made Donald Trump dance in his appearance on The Apprentice. He devotes a large wall to framed press pieces going back to his Toronto days 30 years ago.
The back wall contains an impressive graphics studio. Two 1500 watt soft lights provide “daylight” for painting or can be used in front of a seamless background for photography or video. Also available is a complete silk screen setup with darkroom and a two color silk screen press. On a hanging rack are a bevy of Dave’s notable T-shirts which will be rebranded with iconoclastic new colliding images as part of a project that is underway.
Adding to the photo studio are an enviable assortment of analog cameras and working Polaroids. Behind double glass doors lies the jewel in the crown of this multimedia playground, a full on recording studio. Dave has designed and built Grammy Award winning recording studios, but this is what he has brought into play for himself and his collaborators: A Pearl drum kit finished in Ringo Blue. Gibson custom guitars which includes a three pick up Peter Frampton model complete with a Talkbox, Marshall Amps with a full PA system and Shure microphones.
Opposite to the entry of the sound studio is a display wall filled with oil and acrylic paintings rotating in and out of shows quite often at The Greenpoint Gallery. I noticed that a few of the paintings featured left over silver paint from the recording studio. Waste not!
Coming soon as additions to the lounge area are a sit down version of the classic ’80s video game Frogger made famous in a Seinfield Episode. A working mock up of a Starbucks with a live uniformed barrista serving an assortment of beverages rebranded as Starfuckers, will be a conceptual piece in itself (uh-oh more coffee). So if all you collaborators and co-conspirators would like to visit Ellis Island Studio try not to soil yourselves and feel free to call the studio @ 718-643-9444. Please check out David Craig Ellis’ new work on his website www.davidcraigellisart.com