An Artistic Friendship:A Reflection and A Tribute
For Davyd Whaley
Davyd and I had a proverbial "May-December" friendship...a much younger man and a much older woman.Ostensibly, a rather "odd" blending of divergent personalities and stages of life...our friendship grew gradually out of our shared love for art and artists, painting and sculpture, and the museums we both loved so much to visit.
Davyd would be driving down Wilshire Boulevard
in Los Angeles and see a flag flying promoting,for instance, the David Smith sculpture show at LACMA, and he'd give me a call and we would meet up at the museum,and joyously spend the afternoon enjoying the lastest LACMA exhibit.
The first time we met up at LACMA, we decided to have lunch at the more "poshy" restaurant there...Ray's.Neither Davyd nor I were really "foodies", and laughed about some of the menu items we were both afraid to order for fear they might be something way too "exotic" for our much simpler "haute cuisine" tastes.One menu item of the day,"ramps", baffled us both, and long afterwards
we would tease each other about watching out for the "ramps" if they ever showed up again on a menu.Davyd's response to the hysterical menu items, including the "ramps",was: "You've got to be kidding!...you can keep the "ramps"...I'll just have a hamburger!"
But I get ahead of myself...Davyd and I first met on a street corner in Los Angeles on Alameda just off of the freeway where he and our mutual friend,artist Andy Berg who was in town from Colorado visiting Davyd,had driven from Davyd's studio to guide me (hopelessly lost) back to Davyd's new digs...his expansive,sun-filled "loft" studio at the Santa Fe Art Colony.That day was one of the best days of my life...the first day I met Davyd, and our artistic friendship began.
On that first day, the three of us, Davyd,Andy and I, first went over to the home of the "French Dip Sandwich" in L.A...Philippe's and ate lunch.We then went over to the nearby Brewery Art Colony where another of Davyd's vast array of friends,artist Magda Audifred has her studio.Davyd and I wandered around Magda's studio together looking at all of Magda's fabulous, multi-colored,multi-cultural works with a distinctly Mexican flavor and ethos...Davyd immediately honed in on one of Magda's smaller paintings hanging on the wall...Bulls Don't Fight.And before we left Magda's that day, he had purchased it.
The "Bulls Don't Fight" painting, I came to know about Davyd, was a lot like him...counterintuitive to one's conditioned,societal expectations about "how" someone should be in the world because of stereotypical thinking that limits others' creative and imaginative possibilities.Davyd was his own glorious unlimited and unfettered self...always full of the boundless blessing of a unique creative energy and artistic consciousness...both of which created a special "bonding" with all of those who knew Davyd, and who were drawn into his paintings with a sense of awe and wonderment at what he,and his chromatic dreams, magnificently created.
Over the course of the next several years, Davyd and I would meet up for lunch and visit art shows and museum exhibits together in Los Angeles and Pasadena.One year, after we got to know each other, we visited the annual Los Angeles Art Fair, and Davyd with his limitless curiosity and inquisitiveness would stop and converse so knowledgeably with the gallery representatives about all facets of the art on display...it was an adventure just to listen to and observe Davyd in his true artistic element.This visit to the L.A. Art Fair, I now see looking back on it, was also a foreshadowing of things to come for Davyd.As just a few short years later...Davyd had achieved great success with his own work, and his paintings were exhibited at this same L.A. Art Fair with his own gallery representative from Galerie Michael in Beverly Hills.Davyd was so exhilarated that his paintings were hung by Galerie Michael at the Art Fair adjacent to a beautiful floral painting by Claude Monet.Monet was Davyd's "larger than life" all-time artistic "hero".Seeing his own paintings hung near those of his artist hero,Claude Monet, brought Davyd enormous pleasure and happiness.
There were so many other "art days" with Davyd that will always remain some of "the best" and happiest days of my own life.Gradually, I learned certain "personal" things about Davyd's life that were heartbreaking in the effect they must have had on his psychological well-being and health.Davyd had some very difficult psychic burdens to bear in his life, and the wonder is that he was able to rise above so many of these psychic wounds and challenges throughout his life,and eventually create a life for himself of magnificent creativity. Davyd's wondrous creativity manifested itself both in the enormous body of brilliant artistic work he accomplished over a relatively short period of time in his later life, and in his personal relationships,both with the love of his life,Norman Buckley, and in his myriad and diverse friendships that I feel so blessed included me.And even beyond these remarkable accomplishments in his life,Davyd found ways to give so much to others in his service as a volunteer art teacher for the less fortunate who found hope and beauty in their lives because of Davyd's selflessness and generosity towards them.
Davyd was such a kind-hearted and giving being.I remember one afternoon we were walking down the street in Pasadena on our way to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory before going over to the Pasadena Museum of California Art to see the great Sam Francis retrospective there.A rather dirty-looking Rasta man in a long,brown robe with dreadlocks was panhandling on the sidewalk, and came up to Davyd and I. I,for my part, was rather annoyed at the man's encroachment on our space, but Davyd, in characteristic fashion, reached into his pocket, pulled out some folded-up bills, and handed them to the scruffy guy...who looked totally surprised at Davyd's kindness, and walked away with a delighted smile on his face.
Rather like Orpheus looking back and losing sight of Eurydice for the last time, I wish with all my heart that I could reach out and grasp Davyd...and pull him back...for just one more,as he tweeted me nine days before he passed, "museum date".
As Norman Maclean so beautifully expressed in his novella, A River Runs Through It:
So it is that we can seldom help
anybody.Either we don't know what
part to give or maybe we don't like
to give any part of ourselves.Then,
more often than not, the part that
is needed is not wanted.And even
more often, we do not have the
part that is needed.
And so it is that we come to the heartrending
realization that those we love and should know,elude us.But even so, even without the grace of complete understanding of those we love, we can love them completely, and we can take comfort in knowing that eventually, all things merge...all things merge into one, perfect consciousness.And what is lost outwardly,we can and must regain...inwardly.