A friend of mine had told me about an artist named Dan who makes the most interesting pieces of art out of old salvaged materials. You may know him from the old gray SAAB with the orange racing stripe down the top, and the orange hubcaps. Or you may have seen his work in one of many galleries around New England. Either way, he's definitely someone to know. Between his passion for living simply and using what's available, and his completely innovative thinking with art making or just daily life, he is an inspirational artist and person. I spent a dreary December morning with him, and as we chatted over coffee and tea, I couldn't help but feel really fortunate to have met Dan, and felt even more fortunate that he let me photograph him in his home and studio.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I am an assemblage artist, photographer, installation artist and sculptor. I am interested in objects, materials and people-and their histories.
What is your earliest memory of art or art making?
I started drawing at a very young age (probably 4 or 5). I drew landscapes early on and my grandmother said she had memories of my hands always being busy making something.
How did using discarded objects and materials work their way into your art?
I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. There was a dump in town and my father would bring me and my siblings with him. I loved the search and looking for something in the metal and burn piles. When I moved to Phippsburg I was thrilled that there was a similar dump/transfer station. I love objects that have developed patinas that record their age/use/life. I search for objects in the woods and on the shore as well. I am always looking.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever created and why?
I think it would be a painting I did of a temporary sculpture on a hillside. I created it in a painting class I took during a period in my life when I wasn't creating much. I wanted to loosen up as a painter, be painterly, make a beautiful mess.
Tell us a bit how your aesthetic in creating art carries through in your life in terms of style, fashion, home design, etc.?
Creating and decorating are things that I have always just done. I think it's important to surround yourself with things you are inspired by.
Was there any one extraordinary moment in your life that helped shaped the artist and individual you have become today?
I can't think of a specific moment, but I do credit my high school art teacher Mrs. Weed with exposing me to different mediums and building my love of Maine. She summers on Little Deer Isle and was always taking classes at Haystack and creating still lifes with objects from Maine.
Tell us a little bit about your studio space? Does it function well for you? If there’s something you could change about it, what would it be?
My studio space is part of my house. It was used as a sleeping porch by the previous owners. It does function well for me, but being a lover of objects it can become overfilled time to time. Sometimes I wish it had a higher ceiling.
Where do you show your work and how do people find you?
I have shown my work in Maine and Massachusetts predominately and in a few small museums across the country. I have had solo exhibits at USM/Portland, ME and Coleman Burke Gallery in Brunswick, ME. I have been included in exhibitions at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, East Boothbay, ME, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, ME, June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland, ME, Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA and Fuller Museum in Brockton, MA and others. People find me through my website and people find me...funny...I hope.
If there is anything you could change about your life, what would it be?
I wish I was more fearless.
What is one thing about yourself that people may not know?
That I love to grow plants from seed.