Nashville's Ambassador of Music City


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David Andersen is most commonly known as “The Ambassador of Music City.” He is not only an accomplished musician. He's also a very accomplished artist. When David takes a break from playing his guitar he can be found drawing. He's known as the busiest guitarist in Nashville. David is a solo act. He believes as Chet Atkins told him, ”Playing in a band is great but you are a talented artist, you won't stand out. You’re just another member of the band. You'll try too hard to fit into the band and in doing so David, you'll lose what makes you as a solo artist, unique.” Nashville or Bust. David, Jackson and the Eagles all signed with Geffen at about the same time. Jackson and David had grown up together, went to the same high school. David played with Joni Mitchell after she saw him open for Bruce Springsteen at the Troubadour and then close for him. She told David, “You’ve got a lot of guts opening and closing for Springsteen. I’d like you to play for me.” David is the house musician for The County Music Hall of Fame and Museum and if you go there you’ll hear David playing. In point of fact David’s played there over 4,500 times. What makes David special is the fact that he can recall and play over 1,000 songs -- play it and talk to you at the same time. David was the last of that group of artists that he had belong to, that signed early with Geffen. He written some great tunes only to hear them sung my others musicians. He soon realized that the door that once had been open to him was now shut. He had exhausted the L. A. Scene or better still it had exhausted him so he headed East to Nashville. Los Angeles’ loss became Nashville’s gain. I tried to stop him but he was determined to reinvent himself He wrote to me and he told that when he got to the Colorado River, the border between Arizona and California and crossed the river, he never looked back. What Nashville doesn’t know is what a great artist David is. David has carved out a niche for himself right in the heart of the city he loves. He’s the Ambassador of Music City. David has performed at all 58 of Nashville’s Walk of Fame inductions. David has earned the title of ”The Ambassador of Music City.” When David takes time out from his busy schedule, he draws. David is no Sunday painter. His art work is passionate. He's a very accomplished portrait artist. David does time consuming works, portraits of Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash and D’jango Reinhardt. He also excels at doing quick sketches of artists, musicians playing. Especially of Artists he knows and respects. In his quick sketches he catchers the action of the artist as he sees them. He knows his medium and his materials. David's work is all about line. He uses a varied of line from a thin line, to a thick line in order to show curvature in an object or folds in a face or a jacket or even a landscape. He uses overlaying and four point perspective to achieve distance. David is a master of these tools and his uses are subtle and sublime. He uses graphite, charcoal and ink. David's skill at drawing is only matched by his skilled hands on his guitar's frets. His Early Art Works. David has always had a love of drawing. David has always been an avid art historian. Early on David was attracted to Photorealism. He maybe considered an early advocate of the style. David's earliest Photorealist works were of basketball players in action, going to the hoop, fighting over a lose ball. Some of his strongest works and most likely his most powerful were done of the Chinese Ping Pong Team versus The American Ping Pong Team. These freeze in time one of the most important moments in East - West relations. These Ping Pong matches are some of his best early works. His style and his technique perfectly fit the definition of Photorealism. The use of this subject is in retrospect brilliant. His workmanship is excellent. This simple set of Ping Pong Matches, here so aptly drawn show one the key moments in Chinese and American World diplomacy. These matches helped to ease the tension between both countries and open the doors to trade between the East and the West. David freezes a moment from a photograph. The effect of using the photograph as the model carries with it all of the distortions a photograph intrinsically has in it. Remember it is a painting or a drawing of a photograph and not a work from life. Photographs have distortions in them. They are created by the camera's lens or the angle from which the photograph is taken. Lets say the picture is taken straight on or the cameraman has used a wide angel lens. He or She takes a side view or a profile of the image and distorts it but not so much as to totally distort the image but just enough to make it unreal or surreal. So the camera creates an image that is very similar to reality but distorted. These distortions no matter how slight are what give the Photorealist Movement it’s uniqueness. The distorted image creates an unbalance in our equilibrium, it tweaks the images. It is the job of the mind to rationalize things or bring them into our point of view. The drawing or the painting is slightly off and our mind tries to right the ship and the ship can’t be righted so we make it fit and this causes the distortions we feel and we see. Our subconscious desire or ability to rationalize the image to correct it is just what Photorealism is trying to capture. It is that uneasy shift in the image we see in front of us that is the point. We get it but it is these distorts that make Photorealism work. David studied art at University of Cal-State at Fullerton where he was influenced by one of the early leaders of the Photorealist Movement, Don Hendrix. David’s work is equally as talented but his subject matter instead of slick cars with bathing beauties attached to them is more serious. David’s work is about highly charged moments in a knuckle biting sports event. Three players charging the hoop. A member of the Chinese Ping Pong Team going back or trying to spike the ball. The works are as good as it gets. Had David not been torn by his first love, Music he could have just as easily been a successful artist. David as he evolved became interested in wood cuts and the variations in line from very thin to very thick and how you could turn an object just by your ability to manipulate line. He looked at the work of Albrecht Durer. Durer’s “Four Horseman” and his “Praying Hands” are as fine a set of examples of what line can do as any. David got caught up in the technique. David was also influenced by the work of Leonardo da Vinci’s. Especially his studies of drapes and hands. These works of Leonardo’s are the pinnacle of observation and control. How well thought out they are. In David's quick sketches his folds and the shadowing from light to dark, Chiaroscuro, are achieved through tightly pack lines. This is evident in his quick sketches of Jazz Musicians. He still switches back and forth between laboring over a drawing or going out and doing a series of quick sketches. His quick sketches are done in a club or a studio. Yet both styles are difficult. Mastering the “Quick Sketch” is to really know your stuff. You may burn up a notebook to get one or two or even more, if you’re on but that one or two are generally awesome. You have to have supreme confidence in your ability to pull it off. In “The Jazz Musicians Series,” David wants you feel the music in them. He wants to capture their music for you. He always manages to get them to sign the portraits after their done playing. As a musician himself, they’re very real to him. David explained it to me this way. “I wait until they begin the set. I sit in the back out of sight. I don’t want to draw attention away from their playing. I begin to draw the very instance they pick up their instruments and begin playing. I’m on it. I draw in the rhythm of the music. I want that feeling captured on the page. Then -- when it’s over, I get them to sign it. It’s that in the moment -- wow! I love it! It’s so cool when it all goes right.” Check out David’s series of Jazz Musicians on The Ant Colony - Los Angeles’ web site, www.antworkgallery.com. I love this batch and these drawings are all signed by the Jazz musicians -- Charles Dungey, singer and stand-up bass, Laurie Meachem, on piano, Rod McGaha on trumpet and Kirk Whalum on the saxophone. It’s worth the effort. David’s work is really an extension of himself. He is all about the music and his art is all about musicians. Pretty Cool. L.A’s loss is Nashville’s gain. One thing David told me, “I was born in California but my is home is in Nashville.” STEPHEN J. SOTNICK THE ANT COLONY - LOS ANGELES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - SENIOR CURATOR


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