current projects
an overview of selected artwork
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r e s u m e

David Nakabayashi - Artist
Ridgewood, New York


Solo Exhibitions

Available Space Pop Up Gallery, El Paso, Texas
November 2015
The Annex, Brooklyn, New York
September 2015

New Paintings
Pop Up Gallery during Bushwick Open Studios
Brooklyn Brush Studios 203, Brooklyn, New York
May 30 - June 1, 2014

David Nakabayashi In New Mexico
Pop Up Gallery at 217 North Mesa
Chalk the Block 2013, El Paso, Texas
October 2013

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
February - April 2013

Box Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
May - June 2010

From the Middle of Nowhere
Box Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
April 2008

The Polynesiac Series
Box Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
December 2007

Learning To Catch Knives
Yale Art Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
February 2007

Reflections on Gardening and Armageddon
Bridge Center for Contemporary Art, El Paso, Texas
November 1999

Mud Drawings
Myers Gallery, Living Arts of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma
October 1997

David Nakabayashi
Lincoln Arts and Cultural Center, El Paso, Texas
September 1991

David Nakabayashi
Southwest Repertory Organization Theater, El Paso, Texas
April 1991

Recent Work
University of Texas at El Paso Glass Gallery, El Paso, Texas
October 1990

David Nakabayashi
Deming Center for the Arts, Deming, New Mexico
September 1990

Ancestral Reverie
Chamizal National Memorial, El Paso, Texas
August 1987

David Nakabayashi Mixed Media Exhibit
Lincoln Arts and Cultural Center, El Paso, Texas
January 1987


Collaborative Exhibitions

Second Nature
Collaboration by Jenni Lukasiewicz & David Nakabayashi
Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, New York, New York
September 2015

Second Nature
Pop Up Gallery during Bushwick Open Studios
Brooklyn Brush Studios 203, Brooklyn, New York
June 2015

The Prayer Series
Collaboration by David Fleet and David Nakabayashi
Bridge Center for Contemporary Art, El Paso, Texas
October 2002

Artists and Writers Collaborate
Bridge Center for Contemporary Art, El Paso, Texas
March 1994


Plein-Air Painting

David Nakabayashi Paints Three Oaks & New Buffalo
Week of Plein Air & Wet Painting Sale
Judy Ferrara Gallery, Three Oaks, Michigan
July 2015

Escalante Canyons Art Festival
Escalante, Utah
September 2012

The Zion National Park Plein Air Artist Invitational 2011
Zion National Park, Utah
November 2011
(Hinton Burdick Purchase Award)

Plein Air Moab 2011
Moab, Utah
October 2011
(4th Place - Oil)

Escalante Canyons Art Festival
Escalante, Utah
September 2011
(Best of Show - Oil)

The Annual Canyon Road Paint Out and Festival
Santa Fe, New Mexico
October 2010

Escalante Canyons Art Festival
Escalante, Utah
September 2010

The Annual Canyon Road Paint Out and Festival
Santa Fe, New Mexico
October 2009
2nd Place


Group Exhibitions

Gardens of Earthly and Unearthly Delights
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas
October 2017 - January 2018

Seeking Space: BOS 2017
Beyond Studios, Brooklyn, New York
September 2017

2017 Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala Auction
SFA Schiff Fine Arts / de Pury Auctions, New York, New York
August 2017

Secret Garden Art Festival
sTudio 7 Gallery, Fort Tilden, Rockaway, New York
July 2017

Fractured Union
In-Case Art Projects, Brooklyn FireProof, Brooklyn, New York
May - July 2017

Jay Etkin Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee
April 2017

Debtfair - Occupy Museums Open Call at the Whitney Biennial
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
March – June 2017

Open Call II
Lorimoto Gallery, Ridgewood, New York
November 2016

NOMENCoLorATURE II - A Centotto simposio exhibit
Centotto Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
September - October 2016

Seeking Space: Making the Future
David & Schweitzer Contemporary, Brooklyn, New York
September - October 2016

Made In Ridgewood – Ridgewood Artists Coalition & Outpost Artist Resources
Outpost, Ridgewood, New York
October 2016

NOMENCoLorATURE - A Centotto simposio exhibit
Studio 10 Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
August 2016

Till Death Do Us Part
Collaboration by Jenni Lukasiewicz & David Nakabayashi
Lorimoto Gallery, Ridgewood, New York
January 2016

Open Call
Lorimoto Gallery, Ridgewood, New York
November 2015

Axle Indoors
Peters Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico
February 2015

Winter Exhibit
Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
November 2014

The Renga Project
Axle Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
June 2013 - June 2014

Whitespace Contemporary, Ogden, Utah
February - March 2014

An Expansive Regard: Selected Works from the Collection of Juan Sandoval
Gateway Gallery - El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas
October 2013 - February 2014

Just Not Yet - Dodging The Vacuum Of Meaning
Landmark Gallery - Texas Tech School of Art, Lubbock, Texas
November - December 2012

Inquisitive Eyes: El Paso Art 1960 - 2012
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas
June - August 2012

Under 35
Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
February 2012

Fine Art / Folk Art
Santa Fe Community Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
June - September 2009

Here & There: Seeing New Ground
516 Arts, Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 2009

Eudoric Eurythmy: Visual Arts Based on the Life and Works of Eudora Welty
Gallery 119, Jackson, Mississippi
April 2009

Winter Salon
Denise Bibro Fine Art, New York, New York
December 2008

The Peanut Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
October 2006

Celebration of the Mountains (Annual)
Ardovino's Desert Crossing, Sunland Park, New Mexico
September 1999 - 2008

Children of Conquest
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
September - October 2006

The Draw Off
Yale Art Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
April 2006

Sagrados Espacios/Sacred Spaces
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
December 2005 - February 2006

The Food Show - Politics, Pleasure and Pain
State Capitol of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico
October - December 2005

Art and Sol Project (Public Art)
Impact Programs of Excellence and the City of El Paso, El Paso, Texas
July 2005

Atravesando Fronteras
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
July - August 2004

Hal Marcus Gallery, El Paso, Texas
May 2002

The Desert Uncovered
University of Texas at El Paso Union Gallery, El Paso, Texas
April 2002

Deep in the Heart: A Texas Trilogy
Guadalupe Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
February 1998

The Divine Art Auction
Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, Texas
December 1997

The Rio Grande Project: A River Thirsting For Itself
College of Santa Fe Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
June - August 1997

Festival de la Frontera - Exposiciones de Artes Plasticas
Consulado Mexicano, El Paso, Texas
May - June 1997

Sacred and Passionate
Bridge Center for Contemporary Art, El Paso, Texas
June 1996

'96 Benefaid
Club 101, El Paso, Texas
February 1996

Altares de Dia de los Muertos
Chamizal National Memorial, El Paso, Texas
November 1995

New Genre Festival
Living Arts of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma
June 1995

Artists and Texas Communities
Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, Texas
February - March 1995

Drawing / Crossing the Line
DiverseWorks, Houston, Texas
May 1994

Fronteras Abiertas / Open Borders
Graham Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico
May 1994

The Crucifix Show
Artspace 2300, El Paso, Texas
April 1994

Essence of the Land: The Eye of El Paso Photographers
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas
May 1993

This Earth Where We Live
The Environmental Center of El Paso, El Paso, Texas
April 1993

Spring Art Exhibit
El Paso Community College, Trans-Mountain Campus, El Paso, Texas
March 1993

The Dynamite Xmas Show
19 Foot Gallery, El Paso, Texas
December 1992

Juntos (Juntos Art Association Annual Juried Exhibition)
Americana Museum, El Paso, Texas
July 1992

IX Annual Art Exhibit (National Institute of Fine Arts and the American Consulate General)
Museo Regional, Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico
November 1991
Museo de Belles Artes, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
October 1991

Group Show
Artists League of El Paso Gallery, El Paso, Texas
July 1991

Juntos (Juntos Art Association Annual Juried Exhibition)
Juntos Art Association Gallery, El Paso, Texas
July 1991

Dos Encuentros (Juntos Art Association)
El Paso City Hall Gallery, El Paso, Texas
April 1991

Sierra Medical Center's Annual El Paso Art Association Exhibition
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas
May 1990

Art Aid (El Paso Hospice)
University of Texas at El Paso Glass Gallery, El Paso, Texas
April 1990

Member's Exhibit (North Bank Arts Guild)
Universal-Community Center for the Arts, Casa del Arte, Las Cruces, New Mexico
January 1990

Sublime Revolution: Life on the Border (North Bank Arts Guild)
Two-Sha Gallery, Columbus, New Mexico
January 1990

Juntos (Juntos Art Association Annual Juried Exhibition)
Americana Museum, El Paso, Texas
July 1989

Ya Basta! (Border Peace Coalition Touring Exhibit)
El Paso, Austin and Nacogdoches, Texas
May - November 1988

Member's Exhibit (North Bank Arts Guild)
El Paso Centennial Museum, El Paso, Texas
September 1986

Member's Exhibit (North Bank Arts Guild)
The Kokehouse Gallery, El Paso, Texas
September 1985

Naked or Nude (North Bank Arts Guild)
The Kokehouse Gallery, El Paso, Texas
November 1984

Arts Pub (The El Paso Art Alliance)
The Kokehouse Gallery, El Paso, Texas
July 1984

Inhumanity (North Bank Arts Guild)
El Paso Civic Center, Jewish Community Center, University of Texas El Paso,
El Paso Community College, El Paso, Texas
April - July 1984


Installation and Performance

Central Nervous System
Various Performance Venues, West Texas and Southern New Mexico
September 1995 - July 1996 
A group experimenting with original musical compositions, spoken word and performance art.

Shell Station Ruins
Utility Easement between Radford St. and Pershing St., Ft. Bliss, Texas
May 1994
Site-specific installation using on-site materials.

Pacific Ocean, Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico
October 1993
A series of seashell and sand designs executed in the ocean at a depth of 15 feet.

Two Rivers
Pioneer Plaza, El Paso, Texas
April 1993
Drawing of the Rio Grande and Amazon rivers merging into a symbol North and South American unity.

La Migra
El Paso, Texas
July 1992
Various temporary installations and performances using a Border Patrol effigy to monitor citizens.

Hueco Circle
Hueco Mountains, El Paso, Texas
June - November 1992
Various site-specific installations using found objects and on-site materials to create shrines in the desert.

Sunset Art Park
Vacant Lots Between Prospect St. and Santa Fe St., El Paso, Texas
June - October 1992
Collaborative project enlisting over 70 people to use art and performance to revitalize neglected downtown real estate.

Brown Bridge
Brown Railroad Bridge over the Rio Grande, El Paso, Texas
February 1992
Installations and drawings celebrating the river and the lives of illegal immigrants who use the bridge as a border crossing.

Ancestral Reverie
Interstate 10 between Sunland Park Blvd. and Santa Fe St., El Paso, Texas
August 1988 - August 1989
Illegal graffiti murals based on the ancient rock art panels of the Fremont People of Southeastern Utah.


Art Fairs

6th Annual Art Aspen
Patrajdas Contemporary (Ogden, Utah)
Aspen, Colorado  August 2015

Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair
Patrajdas Contemporary (Ogden, Utah)
San Diego, California  November 2013



Texas Master Naturalist - Trans-Pecos Chapter
Environment Training & Volunteer Service
El Paso, Texas 2003 - 2005

Letters to the Editor
El Paso Times
El Paso, Texas 1995 - 2005

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park
Center for Environmental Resource Management
Brochure Series Design & Illustration
El Paso, Texas 2004

El Paso Bicycle Coalition
Advocate & Volunteer
El Paso, Texas 2003

The Art Corner
Downtown Revitalization through the Arts in Various Public & Commercial Venues
El Paso, Texas 1995 - 2001

Bridge Center for Contemporary Art
Selection Committee & Artist Advisory Board
El Paso, Texas 1995 - 1996

Junk Man
Recycled Art Workshops
El Paso Independent School District
El Paso, Texas 1994

North Bank Arts Guild
El Paso, Texas 1989 - 1990



El Paso Museum of Art - El Paso, Texas

El Paso International Airport - El Paso, Texas

University Medical Center Foundation - El Paso, Texas

Sandy Besser - Santa Fe, New Mexico

Juan A. Sandoval - El Paso, Texas

Allen Gilmer – Austin, Texas



"Til Death Do Us Part at Lorimoto, a Marriage of Art"
Art Fuse Blog,
January 13, 2016 by Etty Yaniv

"Grand Opening of the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture"
September 17, 2015 by Stacey Delikat

"Nature Re-Imagined: Yaniv, Nakabayashi and Lukasiewicz"
Arts-In-Bushwick Blog,
September 18, 2015 by Catherine Kirkpatrick

"Plein Air Painting The Towns - An artist spends a week capturing local beauty"
The Harbor Country News,
July 31, 2015 by David Johnson

"Axle Indoors"
THE Magazine
, April 2015 by Richard Tobin

"Artist Airs Out Passion On Streets Of Ridgewood"
NY1 Time Warner Cable News
, October 11,  2014 by Agnes Chung

"Ridgewood Impresje"
Kurier Plus #1046
, September 2014 by Weronika Kwiatkowska

"Painting Helps Connect Ridgewood Resident To his Home"
Queens Courier Sun
, September 1, 2014 by Salvatore Licata

"Profile: David Nakabayashi"
Newspapertree, December 14, 2013 by Richard Baron

"David Nakabayashi: "Presentiment" at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art"
Art ltd. Magazine, May 2013 by Jon Carver

"David Nakabayashi - Studio Art"
KNACK Magazine, Issue 1 - 1, Edited by Will Smith, Andrea Vaca and Sarah Rodgers

"Desert Modern and Beyond - El Paso Art 1960 - 2012"
El Paso Museum of Art, 2012, Edited by Patrick Shaw Cable

"Paintings - David Nakabayashi"
The Labletter 14th Edition, 2012, Edited by Robert Kotchen

"Under Thirty-Five"
THE Magazine, April 2012 by Diane Armitage

"Making, Art"
Santa Fe Reporter, Feb 28, 2012 by Michael Irwin

"Winterstate by David Nakabayashi"
Unlikely 2.0 on, July 2010, Edited by Jonathan Penton

"David Nakabayashi: Winterstate"
THE Magazine, June 2010 by Kathryn M. Davis

"David Nakabayashi at Box Gallery"
Visual Art Source on, May 2010 by Alex Ross

"Brush With Death"
Santa Fe Reporter, May 26, 2010 by John Photos

"Bleak House"
Pasatiempo - The New Mexican, May 7 – 13, 2010 by Paul Weideman

"Sun City Salute"
El Pasoan, Issue 10/Vol 1, August 2007 by Cassandra Yardeni

"El Paso's Own Ciclovia"
The Newspaper Tree, April 19, 2007 by Beto O'Rourke

El Paso Times, July 9, 2005 by Kim Roedl

"Atravesando Fronteras – Lines That Unite / Lines That Divide"
THE Magazine, Aug 2004 by Diane Armitage

"Hands Across the Border" (Photography)
Planning Magazine, August - September 2003 by James B. Goodno

"Mayor unveils plan to revamp rail yard" (Design and Illustration)
El Paso Times, Nov 11, 2002 by Tammy Fonce-Olivas

"Los Dos Davids"
El Bridge, October/Nov 2002 by Shane Wiggs

"Texas Avenue: Can its best days still be ahead?"
El Paso Scene, May 2002 by Lisa Kay Tate

"City embraces artist's plan for marketplace Downtown"
El Paso Times, March 17, 2002 by Maribel Villalva

"Critical Mass – A Proposal For An Artist Marketplace"
Stanton Street Weekly, Feb 21, 2002 by David Nakabayashi

"Huge spheres to aim for El Paso when 'Art and Sol' project starts"
El Paso Times, Feb 20, 2002 by Maribel Villalva

"New Bohemians"
El Paso Times, Sept 17, 2001 by Leonard Martinez

"Kitchen artistry: Once a restaurant manager, Central woman now cooks up aromatic homemade soaps "
El Paso Times, July 9, 2001 by Leonard Martinez

"David Fleet: Dreams, Art and Other Messages"
Bridge, February / March 2000 by David Nakabayashi

"Reflections On Gardening And Armageddon"
Bridge, Fall 1999 by David Nakabayashi

"'Deep In The Heart' stirs creative juices for Texans"
Santa Fe New Mexican, February 6, 1998 by Craig Smith

"The Rio Grande Project: A River Thirsting For Itself"
THE Magazine, August 1997 by Christine Hemp

"'Mud Drawings' Exhibit Relies on Inspiration, Bucket of Dirt"
Tulsa World, September 28, 1997 by James D. Watts Jr.

"Advice To Artists: Don't Give Up Your Day Job"
El Paso Herald-Post, August 15, 1996 by Deborah Martin

"15 artists share visions in "Sacred" and "Profiles" exhibits"
El Paso Times, June 13, 1996 by Sandy Salinas

"Computer by day… Paintbrush by night"
El Paso Times, April 28, 1996 by Paula Monarez Diaz

"Works In Progress"
Tulsa World, June 4, 1995 by James D. Watts Jr.

"Swan Song: Requiem for an Art Gallery"
NuCity, Volume 3 Issue 21, May 1994 by Wesley Pulkka

"Three Strong Shows Close Out Art Venues - Graham Gallery Ends 7 Years In Downtown"
Albuquerque Journal, June 12, 1994 by Wesley Pulkka

"Crossing / Drawing the Line"
Exhibition Catalogue, May 1994 by Bernard Brunon

"Museum of Art displays photos of the scenic Southwest"
El Paso Times, May 14, 1993 by Robert Nelson

"Environment affects artwork: Artist uses surroundings to understand world around him"
El Paso Herald-Post,, April 8, 1993 by Laurie Gallardo

"Artist, neighborhood kids transform lot"
El Paso Herald-Post, October 5, 1992 by Robbie Farley-Villalobos

"Art blesses vacant lot"
El Paso Herald-Post, June 18, 1992 by Robbie Farley-Villalobos

"Art for a park"
El Paso Herald-Post, June 16, 1992 by Billy Calzada

"A light in dark themes"
El Paso Herald-Post, July 18, 1991 by Deborah Martin

"A Fight Over Art - El Pasoan's piece brings issue of censorship home"
El Paso Times, October 20, 1990 by Louise Palmer

"Casual Conviction, Guild helps artists help each other"
El Paso Times, Feb 14, 1990 by O'Dette Havel

"Art exhibit explores ravages of war"
El Paso Times, April 2, 1988 by Guadalupe Silva



David Nakabayashi is self-taught. He briefly studied engineering at the University of Texas, and also took two basic drawing and design classes. While he took art in the 8th grade, he chose concert band throughout High School. His pursuit of an art career, like his interest in music, graphic design, urban design, political activism and small business has since been entirely self-motivated.

1962 - Wurzburg, Bavaria, Germany
Father: Herman Masaichi Nakabayashi from Hana, Maui, Hawaii
Mother: Helen Blanche Gardner from Lone Wolf, Oklahoma

Eastpoint Elementary School, El Paso, Texas
Christ the King Elementary School, Okinawa, Japan
Loma Terrace Elementary School, El Paso, Texas
Wilson Elementary School, Altus, Oklahoma
Edison Elementary School, Mangum, Oklahoma
Tomlinson Junior High School, Lawton, Oklahoma
Eastwood Junior High School, El Paso, Texas
Eastwood High School, El Paso, Texas
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas

Waiter - Hotel Franklin Coffee Shop, Mangum, Oklahoma
Cotton Chopper - Rio Grande Valley, Acala, Texas
Door-to-door Advertiser - Eastside of El Paso, Texas
Cook - Various Suburban Restaurant Chains in Texas & Colorado
Shop Assistant, Truck Driver, Laborer - Jancar Construction Co., Clint, Texas
Art Supply Salesman - The Art Center, El Paso, Texas
Technical Illustrator - U.S. Army Dept. of Training Aids & Doctrine, Fort Bliss, Texas
Freelance Illustrator - Various Publications, El Paso, Texas
Graphic Designer - Perrault & Associates Advertising, El Paso, Texas
Teacher - "Junk Man" Recycled Art Workshops, El Paso Independent Scool District
Exhibit Muralist - El Paso Zoo Tropical Pavillion, El Paso, Texas
Artist - Studio Art, Welding, Metal, Wood & Recycled Materials Fabrication, Research, Conception
Homeowner - Carpentry, Sheetrock, Electrical, Plumbing, Roofing, Sheet Metal, Landscaping
Graphics Technician - City of El Paso, Texas, Department of Planning & Urban Development
Entrepreneur - Buddha Head Arts (Design, Advertising & Architectural Rendering), El Paso, Texas
Junk Salesman - Altura Avenue Driveway, El Paso, Texas
Urban Designer - City of El Paso, Texas, Office of Mayor Raymond Caballero
Advocate - Alternative Transportation, Smart Growth, Native Plants & Open Space
Musician - Guitar, Bass, Trumpet, Mandolin, Shakuhachie, Piano, Percussion, Recording Engineer
Texas Master Naturalist - Trans-Pecos Chapter, El Paso, Texas
Handcrafted Soap Apprentice - Cactus Mary's Soap, El Paso, Texas
Handy Man - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Deliveryman - Edible Arrangements, Santa Fe, New Mexico
House Sitter - Santa Fe County, New Mexico
Elderly Caretaker – High Rolls, New Mexico
Artist, Laborer - Lemur Media Services, Inc., New York City


Army Brat
A radio announced the assassination of John F. Kennedy while my family waited on the pier to board the boat for the Atlantic crossing from Germany to America. My first memory of Texas is watching my dad burn the dead grass in our suburban backyard. For my fifth birthday I received a plastic combat helmet and double six-shooter cap guns. I wore a gray suit to Catholic school in Okinawa and spent my days being chased around the playground by little Asian girls.

My friends and I played in the Shinto shrine near my house where a stream came out of a hole in the cliff. We thought a witch lived in the hole. On Halloween my brother had to explain that I was white or the Americans wouldn't give me any candy. My parents divorced when I was seven. I refused to say goodbye to my dad. The plane home from Japan stopped on tiny Truk Atoll. On take-off it ran off the end of the runway and sank briefly, the ocean just below my window, before slowly climbing into the sky.

Little Brown Kid
On Nanakuli Beach a wave knocked me down and sucked me into the undertow while my grandmother sat knitting nearby. A grinning Hawaiian man plucked me out of the water and set me upon the sand saving my life. When I was eight I was walking in the east El Paso desert near my house when three boys approached throwing dirt clods and shouted for me to go back to Mexico. When I told them I was white we became buddies.

We moved to Oklahoma when I was nine. Rather than let the kids make fun of my Japanese name I told my third grade class that I was a Comanche Indian. I played in the wheat fields surrounding uncle Tom's house until he suddenly died that year of heart failure. In the coffin his skin was blue. One summer I was playing with matches and started a grass fire. As I ran away I saw Uncle Clarence race by in a fire truck. Later Mom and I drove by the fire and I saw a man with a garden hose trying to keep the flames from reaching his house.

I liked playing with girls and one day I was caught in a closet with a half-naked Sherry Shepherd. Her mom called my mom and I wasn't allowed to play with Sherry anymore. On Saturdays I assembled epic battlegrounds in the living room of our trailer house using toys. One day I saw TV images of an airport full of frantic Vietnamese scrambling to evacuate Saigon. Too many clung to an American transport plane causing it to crash in a rice paddy. Soldiers walked through a field strewn with body parts looking for survivors, of which there were none.  

Don't Tell Me What To Do
My mother and I lived in the first federal apartment complex in east El Paso, Texas. Sometimes I had my friend's drop me off after school a block from my house so they wouldn't discover I lived in the projects. My mom worked in a beauty shop and sometimes I would wash her customer's hair. In high school I drew unicorns on t-shirts and made bongs out of whiskey bottles to sell for extra money. Sometimes mom took me to Dutch and Gerry's in the Black Range near Lake Valley, New Mexico. I would wander the hills and canyons alone from sunrise to sunset. Dutch showed me how to trap coyotes and grow grapes.

My parents told me to join the army so I went downtown, scored 98 on the exam and stood in line with naked young men coughing while a doctor felt my balls. I didn't join. I studied engineering in college but dropped out to follow Tamara to Colorado. She owned a Fiat convertible in which we sped through the Rocky Mountains. Her husband was in prison in Arizona and I thought she was leaving him for me, but she wasn't.

Civil Service
I went to work illustrating Army training manuals at Fort Bliss. My friends and I were civilians hired to replace four enlisted soldiers, who were told to sit there until the Army found them new jobs, which took six months. One day a helicopter flew over and soldiers began jumping out of it on ropes. One soldier fell too fast and hit the ground so hard that he died.

I fell in love with Mary the first time I saw her, through a take-out window at Red Lobster in El Paso. Mary and I used to stay in my apartment that had no phone or television. After several days alone in there we decided to go to Juarez, Mexico. It took us seven hours to re-cross the river because, while Mary and I had been oblivious in my bed, DEA agent Enrique Camarena had been kidnapped and U.S. Customs had shut down the Mexican border.

In Hawaii I would swim in the ocean, spear fish and drag them through the water hoping to attract a shark but one never came. On my last day on the island I came upon five topless girls on the beach. I thought I had stumbled into heaven until I realized they were all lesbians on shore leave from the US Navy. I was recruited to work in 1980's porn but when I got to San Francisco the woman who had recruited me from a Waikiki nightclub was still on vacation. I didn't want to spend all my money waiting a week for her to show up so I went to Utah instead.

I found my brother DeWayne drunk in Oklahoma City living out of two milk crates on his friend's back porch. We retrieved his bass guitar from the pawnshop and went to Austin where he joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Mary came to Austin and we used to lay around naked on Lake Travis. While snorkeling in Florida we floated in the clear surf watching millions of tiny mollusks buried in the sand extend their mouths into the waves.

It was too humid in the south so we went to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. I crossed the path barrier and walked to the edge of a thousand-foot cliff. I stood there looking down, mesmerized, unable to hear Mary shouting for me to come back. I felt like maybe I could fly but I didn't try it. Mary and I got married in front of a judge in the El Paso County Courthouse. One summer we were hiking in the Gila Wilderness during a thunderstorm when we felt electricity in the air, saw a bright flash and heard an instant boom as a bolt of lighting exploded a nearby tree.

Mary and I raised and buried two dogs, five cats, five birds and fifty-three fish. One day we sat on the roof watching a springtime dust storm roll over El Paso from the west. It came towards us slowly like a brown wall until it engulfed everything and we had to climb down. After 25 years Mary and I got divorced.

Reinventing Myself
I met Sarahummingbird. On our first road trip we went to Three Rivers to look at rock art where I fell down and dislocated my pinky finger. She instantly grabbed my finger and yanked it back into place with a loud pop. I immigrated to Santa Fe but Sarahummingbird stayed in El Paso. I lived in a garage. One day, as I watched from my easel, a coyote came walking out of the acequia and trotted down the road.

Don hired me to take care of his animals in Arroyo del Agua for the winter. I burned wood to keep warm and got my drinking water from a spring a few miles up Coyote Canyon. One day I walked out onto the mesa to look for arrowheads and clear my mind. I searched for hours and finally laid down in the dirt. A gray fox sat down nearby. The fox circled me, took a crap and eventually laid down about 15 feet away. We watched each other for awhile then the fox suddenly strode off into the trees. I followed but could not find him and gave up. When I looked down I found a perfect obsidian arrowhead by my foot.

The day after Christmas Don suddenly told me to get out. For three weeks I defied him and was afraid he might shoot me. I made an effigy of myself in the bed and slept on the floor with my gun. Finally, I called Mary to help me move with her van. As we drove out a wild turkey ran onto the road, hopped up on the fence, looked at me and flew away.

Myrtle Beach
Sarahummingbird and I went on a long road trip. There is a pier jutting into the Atlantic Ocean at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Every morning Sarahummingbird and I would hang out with the retirees as they started their day of fishing. I learned that in spring fish migrate north and in autumn they swim south. I spotted a blue shadow in the distance that turned out to be five large stingrays swimming in a row, eating breakfast in the rich waters.

My Old Folks At Home
I moved up into the Sacramento Mountains to help my aging mother and stepfather. Albert got pneumonia and was hospitalized for weeks, including a ride in an emergency helicopter. When he got out he proceeded to go crazy and sat at the table, not eating and talking crazy for 36 hours. I took him back to the emergency room where he gave me his confession. He was convinced that Jesus was calling him to heaven to be by his side for eternity. Weeks later he said I saved his life and bought me a car. Albert lived another year and then died shortly after his 89th birthday.

I took a road trip and encountered an ice storm in Ohio. At Exit 85 a woman lost control of her car and spun across the median. A semi hit her and broke her car in two. The front half came towards me and I swerved into the median to miss it. The semi lost control and slid into the median almost crushing me as we both slid into oncoming traffic. I hit a car and totaled mine. Nobody was injured. I stood there in the snow and realized that I was alone for the first time in my life. I made it to Washington anyway. On Inauguration Day, Chuck and I walked through 1.2 million people to see Barack Obama.

Southern Hospitality
In Birmingham the artist Lonnie Holley showed me the 16th St. Baptist Church. We ate soul food at Magic City Grille and then I bought him a flash card for his digital camera so he could document all his junk. I met Diane in Jackson, Mississippi and we went to New Orleans, where, after a long night of jazz and exploration, we saw a guy walking down a dark street with his pony. One night Diane got sad and stalked back to the hotel in anger. Later I found the hallway door mysteriously locked and thought she might have killed herself. I stood under the balcony, like Stanley Kowalski, begging Diane to let me in. I finally smashed through the door to find her snoring sweetly in bed, with earplugs.

New Mexico Is The Center Of The Universe
Jennifer had buffalo sauce on her lips when we met. She introduced me to her dog and then fell through a window. The first time she drove my car I made her take a remote muddy road through the Sangre de Cristo foothills during a rainstorm, which she did without getting stuck. One day Jennifer and I hiked to Pueblo Alto from Chaco Canyon. We overestimated the daylight and found ourselves sometimes running the last two miles in order to scurry down the cliff before it got too dark to do so. Jennifer is afraid of the dark.

I watched my Step-dad Albert take his last breath and die in a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He never told me very much about his life but I had to write his obituary anyway. I found his hunting binoculars and a photo of him in his Army uniform and displayed them on a table next to his coffin. The soldier who played taps at his burial was using a digital bugle with a little speaker in the bell.

Life Is Too Short To Stay in One Place Forever
I rented half a house in Santa Fe and grew tomatoes. I cooked curry and listened to all my record albums. I got restless again and went to Nevada where I saw a three story electric rabbit bus. In Utah I happened upon a plateau during a storm and a funnel cloud spun out above me for several seconds. A few minutes later I was painting plein air in the sunshine again. Jennifer and I stored our belongings and went to a Texas beach where we wandered the coast looking at Portuguese Man-of-Wars dying in the sand.

In December we went to Montana. I was reflecting on the fact that I had never seen a moose when Jennifer pointed to a moose. The road was clear when Jennifer and I left Idaho Falls. I thought about turning back when it started snowing but she said she was not scared. We drove for an hour through a whiteout with only the reflector poles on each side of the road for guidance. We were both scared. By the time the sun came out we were sitting in an art gallery in Ketchum.

I ate a rueben sandwich in a Laundromat in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle. We boon-docked at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Ranier. One night Jennifer and I walked across the Burnside St. Bridge in Portland and contemplated our homelessness. Just over the bridge we found a long line of homeless people waiting to get into the shelter for the night. High above them glowed a large neon reindeer with a red nose.

The starfish, anemones and clams ignored us as we wandered in the rain for hours on a cobbled beach in Newport, Oregon. I imagined I could see Mount Fuji across the water. Jennifer and I saw our first whale off the coast of Mendocino, California at 7am. That afternoon we ate hot rice noodles huddled against a cold shore breeze.

Jennifer and I stopped at a parking lot for New Year's Eve but fell asleep at 9pm. In the morning we drank coffee in a shop where five of the seven people present were Burners. For lunch we ate burritos at a diner in Santa Rosa where everybody was Mexican. Later we drank wine in a Napa Valley tasting room full of Asians. We spent three days walking Chinatown in San Francisco and eating Dim Sum on every block.

We spent three days at the same pullout along Highway 1 in Big Sur where the only flat space was the surface of the sea. The tourists streamed by, most staying for no more than 15 seconds. The sun was setting as we left and we made one final stop at a beach that was full of cars for some reason. We approached the boardwalk and there below us in the sand were hundreds of Elephant Seal slumbering, nursing their young and fighting for females.

Haynes Canyon
Jennifer and I returned to New Mexico to repair my mother's house, through which 400,000 gallons of water flowed from frozen pipes. In the process I found many of Albert's mementos revealing a personal history which he chose to keep from all of us. I would have liked to interview him about these items but he was already dead. I took some of what he had saved and attached it to firewood he refused to burn during his life and exhibited the resulting sculptures at an art gallery in Santa Fe.

One day a huge elk wandered into the yard and stood outside my bedroom window eating leaves from a vine. One winter our dog got attacked by three mean dogs. I set a trap for them but caught a fox instead. Jennifer and I admired his beauty before letting him run off into the snowy woods. It was autumn when I found the first arrowhead. Jennifer found four more, one right behind the barn where I make sculptures.

Geriatric Ward
Mom is old now and cannot walk much or see very well, is sometimes confused and not very health conscious. I spent time everyday as her companion, caretaker, cook and driver. Friends and family told us that we are noble for sacrificing this time for my old mother, but we don't feel noble. But there are poignant moments like when Mom remembers her youth, sits quietly with the dog or drives around the store in a motorized cart. One day Mom was in the hospital recovering from angioplasty and I fed her soup with a spoon.

East Coast
Jenni and I stopped in Oklahoma to visit my uncle Bill in the hospital after his stroke. Speechless, but still a character, he made it clear that he thought Jennifer's breasts were attractive. We found a Middle Eastern buffet in Kansas City, a Polish deli in Chicago and a Moroccan café in Northampton. I collected rope knots that had washed up on the seawall in Acadia National Park. From the apartment where we stayed in Harlem we walked across Morningside Park to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to listen to a young man playing the pipe organ. His beautiful music wafted up into the cavernous church and suspended us in time and space.

We stood under a giant steel vessel made by Anish Kapoor in Chelsea. We ate pig cartilage in Chinatown. I listened to Roy Hargrove play the trumpet two feet away from my table in Greenwich Village. Jennifer and I hung out with Mike, a former jockey, in his Spanish Harlem garden. By the time we got back to New Mexico I had decided to move to New York City.

Black Rock City
One night at Burning Man Jennifer and I: watched a Temple burn; leapt through flames; hitched a ride on a two-story shoe; ate gnochhi given to us by a stranger; drank whiskey with Acacia and Earthala while cruising the Playa; danced to the Thievery Corporation under a throbbing red heart; miraculously found our lost bikes; spent the night in a Pirate Ship; and watched the sunrise with lattes.

Estate Sale
My brothers and I decided to sell Mom's property in High Rolls so I started with an estate sale. It took weeks to make the living room and barn look like a vintage store. Then we met our neighbors, strangers until that day, and watched them carry Albert's history away over the next week. We even sold the property. I took Mom to El Paso, Jenni left for New England and I built a 24 ft. tall tower. I spent the next month packing, cleaning, moving, painting and walking the forest. And then one day I left forever.

New York City
I love New York City. My neighborhood is filled with Polish delis. Carlos at the bodega near the Forest Stop is a philosopher and we talk about life if I come home late and need a snack. I have train prowess. I own snow boots. Jenni and I made a replica of a fallen tree out of the cardboard boxes. Our dog lives in Massachusetts.

On late winter afternoons the sun reflects off of the Federal building near the U.N. onto the East River which I can see from the Williamsburg Bridge. I worked for three months in a studio in Chinatown between a dumpling shack, a Chinese Hispanic grocery, a Buddhist temple, a contempory art gallery and a whore house. One winter day I came across a stack of frozen pigs on the sidewalk. This city doesn't care about me.

Tall buildings are churches of granite, glass and grace. There are so many pretty girls. People are nice to me. I am so big that I do not feel threatened wherever I go. I can drive like a cabbie, but I don't drive that much. On the beach I like to watch retired Russians do weird old people exercises while birds eat breakfast around them. I salvaged discarded umbrellas and turned them into an elk bust with a high-voltage transmission tower coming out of its head.

It felt good to go West, to see my friends and family and to walk alone in the desert again, but it did not feel like home anymore. I fell in love with grain elevators in Kansas, which were the only vertical things in sight. But I found that I missed everything about New York, despite spending all my money living there.

I did a portrait series of Mom and so we sat together for many hours. I took pictures of her epic hands. Mom's routine revolves around meals, audio books and television. She is secure and relatively healthy with family nearby, but she still laments her diminished freedom and I feel guilty for leaving.

In New York I have learned to be an entrepreneur again, cobbling together different income streams to survive. But I am middle aged so that is hard and I am surrounded by energetic young people. Jenni has adapted to New York easily. The people I know here move in circles of art, music, theater, film, teaching, publishing and so many other circles. I have met so many amazing people that I cannot keep track of them anymore. Now when I go on an art gallery tour I always see someone I know.

I live on an island. Many times I've watched waves roll up on Rockaway beach. I watched a storm roll up onto a gray brown beach from a muddy cliff in Montauk. A friend has a place where we have watched the waves roll in on the Long Island Sound. Another friend has a house in Mattituck with a bedroom from which we've seen the sunrise over Peconic Bay.

I went to a Hawai'ian picnic on Governor's Island in hopes of seeing the Hokulea', a traditional sailing vessel from Hawai'i. I missed the boat but watched the hula dancers moving to local musicians. We all gathered for a prayer in a big circle from which I could see the Freedom Tower looming high above. A few weeks later Jenni drove me up the Hudson to see the Hokulea before it left for Hawai'i.

One day I wandered over to Union Square as I often do. A demonstration for worker's rights was underway and the people were beginning to march down Broadway. Naturally I joined them and continued all the way down to Foley Square near City Hall. I absorbed the speeches about resistance against oppression. Finally a band took the stage and sang music from the Mexican Border that made me cry.

Sometimes my job requires me to visit art collectors. On one such visit I found myself in a 2-story apartment on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park. I had never been in a place as upper crust as that in my whole life and it was unsettling. I at once felt that I might be able to live this way one day and that I could never, in many lifetimes, be able to live this way.



David Nakabayashi
New York City, September 2017



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