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David deVillier’s Paintings Speak of Finding Balance in a Fraught World
Friday, September 3, 2021


David deVillier, like so many, felt a little unsettled during much of the pandemic.

“The world has felt like it was deconstructed, unlovely, crumbling, full of anger, frustration, sickness. We have climate change with forests on fire, ice melting. And our leaders are bickering amidst mean, divisive politics and conspiracy theories. It really made me stop and think about things in a lot more depth.”

Finally, the artist in him came to the rescue. And it was birds—"intelligent birds”—that emerged in his paintings to rebuild the trees and forests, to lead the way back to a beautiful future. He will show them tonight—from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3--at Gail Severn Gallery as part of the Wagon Days Gallery Walk.

“It’s amazing that the human race survives,” said deVillier, who lived in Sun Valley for 25 years before he moved to Culver, Ind., to marry a high school teacher he met online. “I think about my own place in the world and how art, music, other culture helps us survive.”

DeVillier’s exhibition at Gail Severn Gallery features 30 pieces that he has created during the past two years.

One, titled “Precision Work,” shows birds using string to measure as they figure out how to rebuild trees that have been lost to forest fire or some other calamity. It’s semi-realistic, metaphorical. DeVillier got the idea while watching a logging operation near property he and his wife own in Oregon near Hells Canyon.

“The idea is that nature can rebuild itself after forest fires. In this case the birds are trying to redesign things, but they don’t know how. They’re trying to figure that out,” he said.

DeVillier has painted big heads before. Some of his newest feature masks--something clearly influenced by the pandemic.

A bright red Adam titled “Adam’s Surprise” and blue Eve titled “Eve’s Surmise” are trying to figure out how together, attached by a string held by two birds. Multiple faces in the paintings evoke the idea of  considering various scenarios.

“I’ve been looking at Egyptian art as a way of forming heads. The Egyptians did not have a lot of perspective in their art. They had direct profiles, images elegantly designed but simple, bold eyes. You might say these big heads also go back to my childhood growing up in New Orleans where they march big faces in Mardi Gras parades.”

One painting, “Peckered,” features a woodpecker who has pounded holes on a face that displays big bold Egyptian-like eyes. It’s based on acorn woodpeckers who peck holes close together to store acorns  in trees.

“It feels very pandemic related—it sometimes feels like we’re being attacked from so many places.”

“The Birds Who Belong Together”--the first he did as the pandemic shut down the word—shows birds trying to figure out how to connect.

A cubist painting titled “Finding Balance” shows two figures balanced on a beam. Birds are playing tug of war as a black hand reaches out to a white hand in a display of cooperation.

Yet another painting is titled “When Thanks You Meets Please.”

“One of the things getting lost in world is a sense of politeness,” said deVillier. “If I can remind people to be thoughtful, that makes me happy.”

DeViller gives his wife Susan a lot of credit for helping him to see that there is still good in the world.

“For most of my life I have been an optimistic positive guy, but I was less prolific during the pandemic—the pandemic made me angry because of the politics involved. My wife helped me destroy my discouragement and realize I didn’t want to be angry but thoughtful. I decided I want to be colorful. I want to make happy, thoughtful art.”


  • Kneeland Gallery, 271 N. 1st Ave. N., is displaying Jean Richardson’s large-scale acrylic on canvas paintings that take the image of a horse and use it as metaphor for the unbridled, striving and sometimes heroic human spirit. The gallery is also featuring Mark Gibson’s teepees, which are constructed in a way that they move the viewer’s eye around the entire piece. And James Moore captures a blend of realism in his minute bronze figures with handmade stone effects.
  • Friesen Gallery, 320 N. 1st Ave., is showing Barbara Vaughn’s “Upon Further Reflection,” which involves the calming beauty of water and the freedom of working in plein air with her camera.

    She created the work during a time of global upheaval in circumstances that prompted her to re-evaluate many aspects of her life. And the deprivation and monotony of sheltering-in-place induced a thirst for new excitement that led to her experimenting with new mediums, process and techniques.

    Vaughn will be in attendance during Gallery Walk.

  • Gail Severn Gallery, 400 1st Ave. N., is featuring a solo expedition of Marcia Myers’, in addition to the one of David deVillier’s. Myers utilized the formal elements of artistic expression—color, light, texture, shape, and space--to capture the essence of an experience. Through the artist’s reconsideration of Italian Fresco, the viewer is propelled into a realm where past and present commingle.

The gallery is also showcasing Kathy Moss’s gesso and paint bodies from Renaissance recipes,  Julie Speidel’s hand-rubbed oil monoprints on Japanese paper and Jun Kaneko’s glazed and Raku-fired ceramics.


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