Analog and neon artist Dave Quick
Santa Monica artist Dave Quick’s artworks have appeared in approximately 100 exhibitions of varying themes: kinetics, assemblage of found objects, politics (notably anti-war and the environment), neon, humor, performance, portraiture and other curatorial mandates.
Quick’s investigations began in the late Sixties/early Seventies, when many other California artists were working in abstraction. Quick’s art is a reminder of a parallel universe alternative to abstraction: West Coast artists working in narrative.
Edward Kienholz is a good example from that era. The history and collection of narrative art in general will presumably get a huge boost with the 2021 opening of the $1 billion “George Lucas’ Museum of Narrative Art” in Los Angeles.
While many artists are eager to embrace and explore the ever-emerging opportunities presented by “high tech,” Quick has become a stalwart advocate of “low tech”. His mission is to celebrate all things analog, and his body of work is purposefully true to eschewing all things digital. Quick sees himself as a storyteller/elder, informing younger generations of a time when phones had cords, games were pre-electronic, and robots existed only in Fifties Sci-Fi movies.
Quick’s abiding question is as old as technology itself: “is man the tool user or tool the man user – whose show is it?”, and nowhere is the question more poignant than the threat of nuclear annihilation.
Quick’s landmark anti-war work “Little Nuke” (1979) arrived just in time for the Reagan era nuclear build-up. Push a button, and a rubber chicken in a high tech setting slowly lowers an egg. An alarm sounds, “Evacuate Nuclear Accident” lights and bam, a photo flash simulates an atomic blast!
On a lighter note, in 1984, Quick paired with photovoltaic engineer Greg Glen to create “Pullus Galactus”, a formal proposal to NASA to use the Space Shuttle to launch a rubber chicken satellite into low-Earth orbit, perhaps unknowing precursor the Elon Musk’s launch of a Tesla roadster into deep space? NASA formally refused the request. A similar inquiry was also refused by the Japanese Space Agency, as was a request to have a rubber chicken on board Voyager on its epic first non-stop non-refueled 1986 flight around the world.
For an exhibition held concurrent with the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Quick created “Homage to Busby Berkeley”, a large array of 16 white plastic bulls that “dance” in synchronization in celebration of Director Berkeley’s “extravaganza” movies of the Thirties. By coincidence, during the Opening Ceremony of the ’84 Games. at one point the action shifted to 56 white pianos at the peristyle end of the Coliseum, homage to Busby Berkeley’s Gold Diggers of 1935.
Quick cites a number of other predecessors that serve as inspiration including Joseph Cornell, and to find company in absurdity, Marcel Duchamp. In fact, Quick’s “Pig Descending a Staircase” is a working, three-dimensional reference to one of Duchamp’s most famous paintings.
What’s next? Alarmed by the rapid transformation of Santa Monica from a sleepy seaside village into a major metropolis, in recent years Quick has been working on “weapons of mass construction”, a look at cement trucks in the lives of local residents. His “Official Bird of Santa Monica”, a flying cement truck sculpture dropping concrete coprolites on the people below, will debut at the Museum of Neon Art in late 2018.
And then there is Quick’s obsession with “analog punk,” a nascent movement to celebrate the “analog look” akin to steam punk.