This open house is a rare opportunity to see the unique stone and salvaged wood residence Byrd designed and built on 12 bucolic acres in the Catskills. In near isolation, Byrd spent the last 25 years of his life constructing the home and creating hundreds of paintings and drawings, sculptures, and a book about the people, places and situations that haunted his memory. At the age of 87 Byrd saw the first public exhibition of his work. When he died, his home contained almost every work of art he ever created. With fortress-like walls and a light filled studio, the structure is an extension of Byrd’s aesthetic and a window into the artist’s reclusive life.
The exhibition offers a selection of work from all facets of Byrd’s life: a painful childhood in foster homes; scenes of Brooklyn, NY in the 1940’s; portraits of the mentally ill veterans he cared for at the V.A. Hospital from 1958 – 1988; and the everyday scenes of people and places in and around Delaware County, NY. Byrd’s artwork invites viewers to question the forces that shape a life, and how we, in turn, shape others’ lives. In Byrd’s own words, “I tried to paint because I had the remote idea that it might serve me in my behavior to others.”
Greg Kucera of Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA. says, “Here is that great anomaly in the art world: a fully formed artist, with a tremendous history of painting, untouched by the commercial world, but deserving of a place within the history of 20th century art.”
The opening of David’s Byrd’s home and studio is the first stop on David Byrd: Ten Stops, an art pilgrimage that follows the life and artistic trajectory of David Byrd from Brooklyn to Cooperstown, NY, with a final stop in Seattle. For more information about the David Byrd home call Jody Isaacson at #607-369-3059 (email: [email protected]) OR visit: www.davidbyrdestate.com to download a Ten Stops map.
About David Byrd: David Byrd, born in Springfield, Ill, was a child of the Great Depression, one of five children of a single, impoverished mother and a father who killed himself when David was a young boy. Mental illness coursed through his family. At the age of 16, he escaped to Brooklyn, NY. After serving in World War II, David attended the Ozenfant School of Fine Art in NYC on the G.I. Bill. For 30 years, Byrd balanced an art practice alongside a career at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Hospital in Montrose, NY where, as an orderly, he cared for psychiatric patients. In 1988, Byrd retired from the V.A., bought land and began building his home and studio, stone by stone. At the age of 87, he saw his first exhibition. When Byrd died, his home contained almost every work of art he ever created. In near isolation, he was finally free to paint.