One-quarter of my blood is Native Hawai’ian. Since my parents were divorced in 1970 I have had little connection to those islands, to my father or his family. I grew up in the American Desert Southwest, a different kind of ocean, in a town on the Mexican Border, a different kind of island. Over the decades I’ve visited Oahu twice, met family in California, Nevada and Indiana and sought out Hawai’ians where I’ve lived, but my cultural identity is mostly, like my art, self-taught, and it is through my art that I have been most able to express what I have learned, and imagined, about Hawai’ian history, Hawai’ian mythology and my Hawai’ian self.
Brooklyn, NY - April 2019
Land of the Free
Sometimes I think I'm free, but more often I feel trapped. I'll stay in my studio for weeks, rarely traveling more than a few blocks, but then I have to break out and I wander over to Manhattan or back out to the West. Maybe freedom is a shackle we're forever trying to break, or maybe it's just money that I'll never have, or maybe it really is the enlightened state I'm always longing for. The truth my society tells may be true to someone but it's not always real and telling the real from the myth is difficult these days. But I'm an artist so I don't need to tell the difference. My paintings and drawings and sculptures slip right in between truth and myth and flow from my past, from my country's past right into the discombobulated burning sexy future. Perhaps there is a little freedom to be found in that.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY - April 2016
David Nakabayashi and Jenni Lukasiewicz
Till Death Do Us Part
David Nakabayashi and Jenni Lukasiewicz, despite agreeing never to collaborate again, build a replica of an air strike from a variety of materials, some recycled and some new, both familiar and unfamiliar. Working together has revealed that David, normally brash and frenetic, can be meticulously obsessive and that Jenni, normally deliberate and detailed, can choose to experiment and introduce an element of complete uncertainty. The resulting artwork reflects on over-consumption, imperialism, an acceptance of permanent warfare, the insanity of love, and the boundaries, both personal and political, that we choose to respect or destroy. While some tears were shed in the process, the resulting "Air Strike" not only reveals the couple's weaknesses but also their strengths and continued commitment to one another.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY - January 2016
I keep thinking that I will see the world end, see it burn up and then watch the water come and cover all of our moments. But the world ends everyday and starts again tomorrow. So I keep looking at these paintings on my wall and how they came to me through my eyes and my hands, through my tears, through these paltry years and all the habits I've succumbed to and shed. Soon they will return to earth, but not before me.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY - June 2015
David Nakabayashi and Jenni Lukasiewicz
David Nakabayashi and Jenni Lukasiewicz collaborate to make repurposed sculpture, mixed media drawings, paintings, photography and installation which are impressions of a real forest they left behind. All of this artwork is made from mostly recycled, scavenged or salvaged materials from the streets of New York, from seven acres of wooded hillside in New Mexico and the lives that were led there by strangers, and from the artists' participation in a consumptive modern society. Jenni works with light and layered transparent materials and is meticulous and very discerning. David is brash and prolific and pursues his art as an obsession. The resulting collaboration, while not without friction, expresses a deeper reconciliation with the artists' sense of displacement, their duty as citizens of the Earth, as well as with each other.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY - August 2015
Seeking Space - Bushwick Open Studios 2015
Sometimes I paint prayers. I want to be religious, to surrender to happiness, but I don't believe in God, or happiness. I do believe in haplessness, and also optimism.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY - April 2015
Pop Up Gallery - Bushwick Open Studios 2014
After emigrating from the forest of southern New Mexico to New York City, I spent the winter into spring painting New York, the Pacific Ocean, Hawaiian mythology, disembodied hands, petrified wood, cattle wandering rooftops, antiques and tree branches outside my window. I could say that these paintings were created during a major transition, except that I'm always in transition, and despite my tendency to try to carry the past into the future, only the present matters. Painting is always about the moment you are living in.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY - May 2014
Albert's Unburnt Logs
A child of the Great Depression, my Step-Dad Albert Ogle (1920 - 2009) refused to burn the firewood he had accumulated over the 17 years I knew him because, as he stated, "we might need the wood someday." He also saved everything new, used and broken in the many closets and storerooms about his mountainside property. In honor of him I have taken several of his saved logs and adorned them with his hoarded materials including spark plugs, lightbulbs, tiles, bottle caps, nails, washers, fabric, tin and work gloves. The result is a little forest of memories. This piece could only have been created by me in this one time and place and through its creation I have learned more about Albert than he ever revealed to me during his life. Also in honor of Albert I am burning his remaining firewood during the cold winter months here in the Sacramento Mts.
High Rolls, NM - February 2013
pre·sen·ti·ment - noun :
a feeling that something will or is about to happen.
I move through time and space as a visitor. I linger. I observe. I never stay. I stumble upon situations and strangers: innocent or not so innocent, perhaps dangerous, mostly benign, and from all walks of life. Each unique encounter starts with a mysterious feeling that something is about to happen. The impact of such interactions on my life can be metaphysical, but is mostly insignificant. Yet, I still suspect that every group of people I encounter is on the verge of insurrection and I am addicted to that feeling. I want even the smallest gesture, glance or quiet observation to contain a truth that changes history. The moment I stop moving life resumes its state of predictable melancholy. And so I wait until I can escape once again into uncertainty.
High Rolls, NM - June 2012
In 2009 I began to use up my family photos in a series of collage pieces called "Family Reunion". I decided that rather than keep the photographic documentation of my childhood, and my family heritage, in a box I would use it up, like paint. These works illustrate a strange universal narrative that has little to do with me anymore. That same year my mother's husband Albert died. He spent his entire life in New Mexico except for four years in the Army during WWII. He also saved everything. As I have spent the last year sorting through his collection I've discovered some inspiring materials from old documents, heirlooms and photographs to fishing tackle, hats, used wallets and broken watches. I've begun to reinterpret this material through my artwork, including works on paper and found wood, sculpture and installation, and in the process give new life to this otherwise meaningless history. I've blurred the past even further by including my own mementos with his. This continuing project is called "Memento". I have come to know Albert, a very quiet man, more than I ever did while he was alive and for that I am grateful.
High Rolls, NM - March 2012
I've been wandering around this land since I was a child and have been trying to paint it since I was 12. I rebelled against my normal life for decades by escaping to the desert until I finally escaped by giving up my normal life. So in return the land has filtered into all my endeavors. All my expressions of human connection and disconnection, of culture and of art cannot exist without the land. And on the day that I die I will regret not having been able to capture it.
High Rolls, NM - April 2011
In January 2009 I was driving through Ohio during an ice storm when an out-of-control car came spinning into my lane from the other side of the freeway. A moment later I was standing alone next to my totaled car on a snow-covered embankment. A short while later I sat in a truck-stop restaurant looking out the window, the whole country seeming to pass me by. I sat reflecting on where I have been and the people I have met and realized that all my experiences had led me to that moment standing alone in the snow.
Santa Fe, NM - February 2010
Here & There: Seeing New Ground
I make art like I think a nomad would. I move through space looking at everything. I talk to people and get them to reveal their secrets. I gather things and take them to a working place. I think about it all for long days until all the different images and stories and feelings begin to overlap. I float in this gathering state of mind until the time is right and then the paintings all come out in a frenzy. When it is over I leave again. This practice is a reflection of my life that I have lived as if I was always on my way to somewhere else. I don't know where home is anymore.
Santa Fe, NM - May 2009
Learning To Catch Knives
My artwork is filled with metaphors for the personal challenges encountered during a time of great change including the expectations of family, the pain of lost love, the struggle of new love and the search for cultural identity. My images are both accessible and cryptic, highly personal yet connected to the world around me. While the viewer is inclined to decipher these images, one need not understand the meaning of the icons and the situations in which they appear to appreciate their beauty and the skill with which they have been rendered.
Santa Fe, NM - July 2007