David Byrne Is Selling His Dingbat Drawings
American Utopia is back in the news because the amazing show is currently shown on HBO, but David Byrne is also doing something else out of the ordinary for a musician. However Byrne is a multifaceted individual, he is not only a musician, but he is also a writer and he can also draw. A new online exhibit at Pace Gallery proposes a series of unique illustrations that David Byrne drew this year while isolating in his Manhattan apartment.
‘I am selling a bunch of drawings (50, over the course of a few weeks) that I did for the Reasons To Be Cheerful journalism project We Are Not Divided,’ wrote Byrne. We Are Not Divided, a collaborative journalism project that explores the human capacity to overcome division, ‘has been promoting a message of unity and bridging divides leading up to the U.S. election this November.’
Byrne calls his work, a series of 50 illustrations to accompany articles of the publication, ‘the dingbat drawings.’ ‘I said I couldn’t draw to order,’ he wrote, ‘but I could provide a library of images to draw from.’
I looked at the website, and it seems that all the drawings currently in view are already sold, but more of them will be offered later this month. This is a very good thing as each one will cost you $3,000, and all the sales proceeds will benefit the Arbutus Foundation. ‘They’re not cheap,’ Byrne continues, ‘but the money goes to this project which I have to say is somewhat astounding, AND you get a tax write off for the cost of the drawing, as Arbutus is a non profit!’
The Pace Gallery is online, but if you are in NYC, a small physical exhibition will be on display at their place on 25th street.
So, what are these dingbat drawings about? You can see a few of them below (and more on their website), and they are simple ink-drawn vignettes with a satirical side and a poetic eye. They explore with humor our current preoccupations with daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are scenes of domestic life with a surreal and cartoonish vision, bringing to mind plenty of metaphors around the themes of loneliness, isolation, human connection (or rather lack of), they are thoughts on rumination or anxiety and subtle socio-political messages… The dingbats are Byrne’s reaction to the current situation.
Two sets of 10 drawings have already been released on Thursday, Oct 15 and Monday, Oct 19 (and everything is already sold out) but more drawings will be released on Thursday, Oct 22, Monday, Oct 26 and Thursday, Oct 29. Be ready, they apparently go very fast.