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  • Natalie Taylor

TODAY’S ARTIST OF SAN MIGUEL: An artist with a wandering spirit

David Delany doesn’t stay in one place for long, and that wandering spirit fuels his imagination and his artistic output. “My goal is to continually experiment and grow personally,” he says, then explains that the reward for art “is the evolution of the artist.”

David, shown surrounded by some of his latest works in progress. To his right hangs a pan with solidified bee’s wax; the large canvas spread out on the table has already been imbued with wax, and is ready for the application of different materials to create a pattern. Two completed canvases hang behind him, and to his left.

David was born in Ithaca, New York, but by the age of five the family moved to Berkley, California. He was a Liberal Studies graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara College, in Art Studio, History, and Anthropology. But he soon found that his true passion was art. When he discovered silk printing tubs of color in the print room, he would sneak into the shop at night through a window. He was discovered by a janitor who reported him to the professor: “The boy is climbing through the window. We can’t have that!” But the professor’s response was: “Is this art school or a military academy?” The man became David’s hero.

This rebel spirit is something that David is aware of, and fosters. He recognizes that “revolutionary spirit” in men he has admired: Walt Whitman, Kandinsky, Picasso, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, Ignacio Ramírez “El Nigromante” and Bob Dylan.

David’s next foray into art was figure drawing, and then sculpture. At first he was molding in clay, but found it difficult to control in the kiln. Someone suggested he try metal, and he began doing bronze figures using the lost wax technique. Then he moved on to painting with acrylics, creating works inspired by his imagination.

When he lived in India, he was captivated by the brilliant colors everywhere. It was here that he perfected drawing, because photography was not allowed in the temples which he visited. An example of the brilliant colors that appeared in David’s work—an influence of his time in India, is shown in the painting below.

Though he remained based in Santa Barbara, David has traveled extensively. He lived in Spain, Italy, South America, and India. In 2019 he sailed along the Pacific coast to Mexico, first living in Baja, then down to San Miguel de Allende, where he is currently living. It was here, at the Casa del Nigromante where I first came across his current exhibit. The former home of poet and philosopher Ignacio Ramirez, native son of San Miguel who has been called “the Mexican Voltaire,” is where David Delaney’s latest collection of works is currently shown.

The exhibit, titled “Light and Her Obstacles,” is a fascinating study of how light interacts with a work of art, how light deals with obstacles in its path. With this particular body of work, David begins with a piece of canvas which he impregnates with bee’s wax, then creates images by applying various vegetable-based materials, forming bands of color.

He uses anything from coffee grounds to turmeric to achieve patterns. On the left he is shown before a table covered with coffee grounds; simply strews about at this point, drying, they will become part of some imaginative creation.

These are then displayed as banners allowing either natural light to filter through, or with LED lights in the back of the canvas. The translucency generates an interesting interplay between light and dark. It is an apt interpretation of David’s philosophy: "To see the light one must know the darkness.”

Samples of work appearing in the exhibit: The two works on the left are placed before a window, allowing sunlight to filter through. The two on the left, have LED light illumination. Whether a pattern, symbols, or words, the translucent fabric produces a special effect.

David has lived his life accepting, and embracing change. His works have evolved through different mediums and styles. He wants to “continually experiment and grow personally.” His art, and his life is “flexible,” and always evolving.

Only days after our interview, David let me know that he will be leaving San Miguel de Allende in search of new horizons. We wish him well on his journey, and in the meantime, we can still enjoy his exhibit which will be at Casa Nigromante for another month.

It is a unique, intriguing exhibit, demonstrating how light filters through a particular work of art, partnering with the artist to produce a one of a kind piece. There is no place “where light does not enter,” according to David.

“Light and its Obstacles” at Casa Nigromante, at Umaran 38. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10am to 5pm. Saturdays 10am to 2pm. Through mid-May.

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