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  • Wednesday, October 14, 2020
    David Byrne Leads Online Charity Exhibition of Drawings via Pace Gallery to Promote Unity Ahead of US Election
    Pace Gallery

    David Byrne—whose Broadway show American Utopia, filmed by Spike Lee, will premiere on HBO and HBO Max this Saturday—has launched an online exhibition via Pace Gallery of fifty unique, hand-drawn illustrations he made this year while he was solitarily isolating in his Manhattan apartment. The Dingbats drawings explore themes and preoccupations associated with daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, from uncanny scenes of domestic life to surreal figurative illustrations, seeped in metaphor of a mind plagued by loneliness, boredom, and anxiety brought on by quarantine. While some drawings are entirely literal, others are a subtle evocation of the longstanding inequities and injustices exposed by the pandemic. The Dingbats are Byrne’s response—an imaginative way of expressing hope, a desire for connection, and the power of community.

    The drawings, each priced at $3,000, will be released in five series of ten works published every Monday and Thursday from October 15 to November 2, 2020. A rotating series of ten drawings, reflecting the most recent selection in the online presentation, will also be on view at Pace’s New York location at 540 West 25th Street for the duration of the project.

    All sales proceeds from the exhibition will benefit the Arbutus Foundation, Byrne’s non-profit organization dedicated to re-imagining the world through projects that inspire and educate. The drawings were created as part of We Art Not Divided, a collaborative, in-depth digital journalism project dedicated to telling the stories that show humans are not as divided as we might think, in turn promoting a message of unity and bridging divides leading up to the U.S. election this November. The We Art Not Divided project is a series of the online “solutions journalism” platform, Reasons to be Cheerful, the inaugural program of Arbutus.

    The idea for the Dingbats works came about when Byrne’s colleagues at Reasons to Be Cheerful suggested he make a series of illustrations to accompany the articles published for the We Are Not Divided campaign. Byrne immediately thought about dingbats—or drawings—used in the New Yorker and other publications to visually break up imposing blocks of text to make reading more digestible. However, unlike the negative connotation usually associated with “dingbat”, which to many implies a lack of intelligence, these drawings echo a unifying message through their sympathetic and humorous reflections on these tumultuous and uncertain times.

    As Byrne states: “We like markers as we read—paragraph indents, spaces, chapters—and stars or a tiny drawing of a flowerpot—they all do the same thing. I got a bit carried away and made them quite a bit more elaborate than the typical dingbat. I decided to give them titles too, and I soon realized that the titles became integral to the meaning of the drawings. Humor sometimes allows us to say the unspeakable. To diffuse the nightmare and yet still somehow view it face on. So these seem to be about how it is to live right now. In this New World. They allow me to say things visually that it might be too hard to say in person.”

    The Dingbats online exhibition extends Byrne’s long-term relationship with Pace, marking the artist’s seventh collaboration with the gallery since 2003. In addition to presenting a number of exhibitions with the gallery, including TightSpot—a site-specific installation designed to inaugurate Pace’s then newly-acquired location at 510 W 25th Street in 2011, which the gallery still owns and operates—Pace has supported several of the artist’s public art initiatives over the years, such as Playing the Building, a major commission by Creative Time in 2008 for which the artist transformed the interior of the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan into a massive sound sculpture. Dingbats is Pace’s eighteenth exhibition to be published online as part of a series of projects that includes solo presentations unveiling new works by artists from the gallery’s contemporary program and thematic presentations curated exclusively for the online platform.

    On the occasion of the exhibition, David Byrne will participate in a fireside chat and storytelling event during the week of October 26, 2020, one week ahead of Election Day. The event will be streamed live on Pace’s Instagram as part of the gallery’s online program, which focuses on conversations with artists. Further details on how to participate by submitting a story will be available soon on pacegallery.com.

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David Byrne Leads Online Charity Exhibition of Drawings via Pace Gallery to Promote Unity Ahead of US Election

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on October 14, 2020 - 10:30am
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Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 10:30
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David Byrne launches an online exhibition via Pace Gallery of fifty unique, hand-drawn illustrations he made this year while isolating in his Manhattan apartment. The Dingbats drawings explore themes and preoccupations associated with daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic—Byrne's way of expressing hope, a desire for connection, and the power of community. All proceeds from the exhibition will benefit the Arbutus Foundation, Byrne’s non-profit organization dedicated to re-imagining the world through projects that inspire and educate.

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David Byrne—whose Broadway show American Utopia, filmed by Spike Lee, will premiere on HBO and HBO Max this Saturday—has launched an online exhibition via Pace Gallery of fifty unique, hand-drawn illustrations he made this year while he was solitarily isolating in his Manhattan apartment. The Dingbats drawings explore themes and preoccupations associated with daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, from uncanny scenes of domestic life to surreal figurative illustrations, seeped in metaphor of a mind plagued by loneliness, boredom, and anxiety brought on by quarantine. While some drawings are entirely literal, others are a subtle evocation of the longstanding inequities and injustices exposed by the pandemic. The Dingbats are Byrne’s response—an imaginative way of expressing hope, a desire for connection, and the power of community.

The drawings, each priced at $3,000, will be released in five series of ten works published every Monday and Thursday from October 15 to November 2, 2020. A rotating series of ten drawings, reflecting the most recent selection in the online presentation, will also be on view at Pace’s New York location at 540 West 25th Street for the duration of the project.

All sales proceeds from the exhibition will benefit the Arbutus Foundation, Byrne’s non-profit organization dedicated to re-imagining the world through projects that inspire and educate. The drawings were created as part of We Art Not Divided, a collaborative, in-depth digital journalism project dedicated to telling the stories that show humans are not as divided as we might think, in turn promoting a message of unity and bridging divides leading up to the U.S. election this November. The We Art Not Divided project is a series of the online “solutions journalism” platform, Reasons to be Cheerful, the inaugural program of Arbutus.

The idea for the Dingbats works came about when Byrne’s colleagues at Reasons to Be Cheerful suggested he make a series of illustrations to accompany the articles published for the We Are Not Divided campaign. Byrne immediately thought about dingbats—or drawings—used in the New Yorker and other publications to visually break up imposing blocks of text to make reading more digestible. However, unlike the negative connotation usually associated with “dingbat”, which to many implies a lack of intelligence, these drawings echo a unifying message through their sympathetic and humorous reflections on these tumultuous and uncertain times.

As Byrne states: “We like markers as we read—paragraph indents, spaces, chapters—and stars or a tiny drawing of a flowerpot—they all do the same thing. I got a bit carried away and made them quite a bit more elaborate than the typical dingbat. I decided to give them titles too, and I soon realized that the titles became integral to the meaning of the drawings. Humor sometimes allows us to say the unspeakable. To diffuse the nightmare and yet still somehow view it face on. So these seem to be about how it is to live right now. In this New World. They allow me to say things visually that it might be too hard to say in person.”

The Dingbats online exhibition extends Byrne’s long-term relationship with Pace, marking the artist’s seventh collaboration with the gallery since 2003. In addition to presenting a number of exhibitions with the gallery, including TightSpot—a site-specific installation designed to inaugurate Pace’s then newly-acquired location at 510 W 25th Street in 2011, which the gallery still owns and operates—Pace has supported several of the artist’s public art initiatives over the years, such as Playing the Building, a major commission by Creative Time in 2008 for which the artist transformed the interior of the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan into a massive sound sculpture. Dingbats is Pace’s eighteenth exhibition to be published online as part of a series of projects that includes solo presentations unveiling new works by artists from the gallery’s contemporary program and thematic presentations curated exclusively for the online platform.

On the occasion of the exhibition, David Byrne will participate in a fireside chat and storytelling event during the week of October 26, 2020, one week ahead of Election Day. The event will be streamed live on Pace’s Instagram as part of the gallery’s online program, which focuses on conversations with artists. Further details on how to participate by submitting a story will be available soon on pacegallery.com.

featuredimage: 
David Byrne: "Dingbats," Pace Gallery, October 2020

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