“Deal with the space around the model,” minimalist artist Brice Marden told a young David Einstein in a life drawing class. That advice, Einstein says, was a turning point for him and the genesis of his half-century adventure of light, color and line.
All of these are on display at the Triton’s current exhibit, David Einstein: Works on Paper.
Triton Director Preston Metcalf says Einstein’s work is like “a rock in a Zen garden. He wants you to look at his drawings and go someplace. It may not be the same thing as another person [experiences], but you’ve both experienced something and that connects you.”
Einstein’s work is all about lines and shapes that create movement.
“The images create rhythm that keeps the eye moving, letting people see the space around art itself,” Metcalf said.
Einstein is considered an Abstract Expressionist in the style of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollack,* and his work has been called “gestural abstraction.”
But Einstein himself doesn’t use these words if you ask him about his style. He calls himself a “colorist and mark-maker.”
“My philosophy is to make a mark every day,” he said.
He has always been an independent spirit.
“You don’t want to be doing what everyone else does,” he said.
Avoiding the trendy path is, in his words, “What I’ve been doing for 55 years.”
“You read about certain artists in all the periodicals,” Einstein continued. “They have shows and then you never see them again. Brice Marden told me to, ‘Swim with the barracudas.’ Stay true to who you are.”
Einstein grew up in Detroit — in the same neighborhood as Stevie Wonder — attending Oakland University in Michigan, and earning advanced degrees from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Maine Michigan’s Wayne State University. He also traveled and studied in Asia, which had a marked influence on his work, some of which recalls Asian calligraphy.
In the 1980s Einstein moved to Palm Springs where he taught at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert.
His work has regularly been on exhibit at the Triton, but this exhibit marks an historic occasion in the museum’s history: Einstein has designated the Triton as the repository for his work.
“It’s an educational museum,” he said. “It’s on an educational mission of making [art]work available to people.”
This is a feather in the Triton’s cap, says Director Metcalf.
“It adds to the museum’s prestige and increases our ability to build our collection and raise funds,” said Metcalf.
It is also part of the museum’s journey back from the COVID pandemic.
“We’re not just surviving — we’re thriving,” Metcalf said. “Donors continued to support us and we have gained new donors. People buy memberships because they love the museum. Events are coming back.”
The Triton Museum is at 1505 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and closed Mondays and holidays. Admission and parking are always free.
The David Einstein show runs through May 7, 2023.
*Abstract Expressionism is an American art movement that became a dominant trend in painting in the mid-20th century.