6 of 10 (I also have another one unframed)
Unframed: 7 ¼ x 11 ¾
Other writing unclear (name? David Walker?)
Date: unknown, sometime in the 70s is when he gave this to me
23 x 7 ½ Framed: 29 x 13 ½
Signed: David M. Walker
This is an Amish farm that we could see from our back yard. It was down in the valley off Mondale Road. We rode our bikes past it frequently, riding hard and fast to avoid a snapping dog that always came out the lane to terrorize us. The Amish all had dogs and it seemed their biggest thrill was flying out their long lanes to the road where we rode our bikes. Once I got to the top of the hill and noticed David wasn’t with me – he had spilled off his bike, but was not badly hurt. He did tend to be a little accident-prone. Or maybe just overly adventurous!
25 ½ x 19 ¾ Framed: 29 x 23 (I had this top mounted b/c he drew right to the edges of the paper.)
Charcoal (or conte?)
Signed: Meade Walker
James Julian, David’s roommate, also a very talented artist. He said, “That’s just a casual thing. That’s around five minutes – that f___er.” He was a great appreciator of David’s artistic talent. David was also a wonderful mentor to him. He’s about 10 or so years younger than David; they met at Friends’ Café on Haight Street, where they both worked. Their friendship is a long and interesting story on its own; they lived together until the end.
19 x 26 Framed: 26 x 34
Pen and Ink
John was a friend of David’s and Will’s; he lived in Japan a lot, lives now in NYC, and always visited SF when he could. He did a lovely photo album of 8 x 10 photos he had taken in David’s garden. Very interesting man; I’ve asked him to remember how this drawing came to be.
Larry Lagasse, 1978
Notes on work:
'78, Walker, Boston
Framed, stored with Sheri
I don’t remember how David met Larry; he said he was one of his great loves. I was around him a few times in SF and found him to be nice but quite a puer, not very sophisticated, which may have been the appeal? He got sick and died very quickly in the epidemic. This hung over David’s fireplace for a long time.
Larry Legasse moved to SF shortly after we did, I think. David was delighted when he ran into him somewhere in the Haight and saw him on a regular basis. They started out in Boston as sex buddies, then became friends. I never did quite figure out how Larry supported himself, either in Boston or SF; I think he may have made some type of costume jewelry. When David met him he was quite open about being kept by a wealthy Back Bay woman, not an ancient like us now but middle-aged; I think David may have even met her: all very civilized or, rather, nonjudgmentally sexual liberationist, the polar opposite of gay assimilationist/traditionalist attitudes today.
No idea about this crazy thing; I bet he did it in high school. He always loved the macabre and/or things that tended to be fiendish! Could it be Macbeth?
Oil on a heavy cardboard stock. 16 x 12
Not signed but on the back someone wrote David Walker, further making me think he did it in school and maybe had it shown in the hallways or something.
22 x 11 ½ Framed: 27 x 21
Signed: DWALKER Undated; most likely high school.
Behind the Lancaster Central Market. We went there frequently, with our mom and with our grandmother, who carried the typical wicker market basket. The best market – mostly Amish stall tenders, with the freshest foods imaginable. Once we brought some fresh horseradish home, and grated it there. David said the smell wouldn’t bother him (when they grated it at the market, they had a fan blowing the fumes away from them, it was so pungent it could take your breath away), so he took a nice big whiff. And then had to go lie down to recover.
One of my favorite works of his; it’s been in my living room for years.
“M.V.” – Martha’s Vineyard
12 ½ x 9 ½ Framed: 17 ¾ x 14 ½
Pen and ink
This was a little farm on Herring Creek Road in Edgartown. We had a house there for about 10 years and the farm was just down the road. David took a chair down there one day and drew this sketch. He visited us there several times, and we always loved being there together. One year we met Pres. Clinton and Hillary, when they came to the island for Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen’s wedding. We waited with our dog Chappy at the airport, and shook their hands! We all got security-wanded down, including the dog. David loved “Lobsterville” – a town so tiny you couldn’t confirm it was even there. It was a running joke for years.
Untitled (Pastel Under Moonlit Room)
6 ¾ x 12 Framed: 15 ¼ x 20 ¼
Pastel; top mounted on mat
“Pink Peer” 4/12
4 x 5 Floating frame: 7 ¼ x 9
Signed: David Walker
Not sure of the date, possibly 70s. Just a whimsical thing. I love the guy’s face peering in the window. Also possibly a little fiendish or at least playful.
Self Portrait, pastel
Notes on work:
Date: around high school?
Ca. 9 x 11Framed: 15 x 16
Excellent likeness of neighbor/dear friend Thad. Good guitarist, he visited David often Zen hospice and played for him. I remember Bach one day I was there. Maybe Thad can say more about this…
Stretched on a frame, 48 x 16
Signed: DM Walker 11/8/90
I remember him taking a lot of time with this; redoing some of the figures and shades. I was visiting when he was working on it. I think he even changed the whole background color, too. Sort of Paul Klee-inspired.
I have a vague memory of giving him vermilion for the pink painting. I suspect it's actually an oil painting.
I don't believe the biomorphic forms have specific symbolism. David really studied Johannes Itten's The Art of Color. With this painting he's really thinking like an early modernist, and in my estimation he goes beyond the mere, postmodern, idiosyncrasy we've grown accustomed to seeing. It’s a great composition that provides an opportunity for the viewer to dwell poetically----visual music.
His influences at the time were the painter Wassily Kandinsky, and the teachings of Johannes Itten.
That's one of my favorite David Walker paintings.
Untitled, Bird-in-Hand Landscape
17 x 14 Framed: 22 ½ x 19 1/2
Possibly done in High School; this is the view from our front bank, looking down on John Allgyer’s farm. We played there often w/his many kids, cows and cats. Had mint iced tea and cookies there. David and Doug rode the cows (weren’t supposed to!). I remember David doing skin-the-cat on the heavy metal bars separating stalls in the barn. They said that the ramp to the barn (where they brought in the hay) covered a shelter on the underground railroad… To the left of the farm, there was a big meadow (still there) and a good sized hill, where we’d sled in the winter. Danger: stream straight ahead, so we had to roll off before heading into it.
Untitled, Cubist Musical Instruments
17 x 11 Framed 25 x 19
Signed: David Walker
Very early work, most probably high school. Experimenting with style and form. Not sure of his inspiration but we had a very musical family. Grandmother was a pianist, grandfather a wicked fiddler, brother Doug a drummer and sister Sharon a keyboard player.
(dancing male nudes)
line drawing with pastels, 18x24
Notes on work:
1979, David Meade
Now framed, at Sheri’s24 ¼ x 30
One of my favorites, also never seen until I found it in a portfolio under his loft. What happiness and joy here, reminds me of Matisse’s Dance of Life. Also very moving, that it was done just before the epidemic started, when life was so very different and full of pleasure.
Untitled (Early Landscape)
20 x 27 Framed: 28 x 34 ½
I’ve had this one for a long time; don’t know when it was done, but surely early – either high school or college. I love the impressionistic quality of it. It’s been hanging in my living room for years.
Untitled (Front Bank in Winter)
13 ½ x 10 ½ Framed: 17 x 14
An early piece, high school or college. Looking out our front windows to the left. The fence marked the end of the next-door Amish farm. Sometimes we climbed over and walked down that lane to Hunsecker Road. Lots of wildlife in that little strip of woods – foxes, groundhogs – and there was a curious dump at the end, with old cans, bottles, etc. in it. Once a groundhog got its nose stuck in a can and banged its way towards our yard. A neighbor helped us set it free; we laughed so hard. The round bush is a bridal wreath, so fragrant in the spring. We walked to the right of that stand of trees down a steep bank to the road to get the school bus.
Untitled “Green Room”
On back: “Finished Sept. 23, 1988 – Walker”
Stretched canvas 36 x 72
Signed: chop stamp 1988
One of my favorites, finished right after he was officially diagnosed in August, ’88. Fortnight lilies, he had in his garden. So much symbolism here to wonder about, the different light sources. I love the steps leading down somewhere, but I see it as a lighted place and not something to fear. The red squiggle is lifelike to me.
Untitled "Large Orange"
Signed: chop stamp
Jim says: he thinks the date is around 1985. (I have some photos of him painting it, and can further determine the date.) ”He worked on it for a full year. Drawings were fast, paintings slow, but this painting was very slow.” On the right, another Jim, an upstairs neighbor at 1871 Page Street, who only lasted a few years after he was diagnosed. Jim, David’s roommate, is on the left. David brings the gladiola. “People, food, Japanese prints and culture, it’s just a bunch of stuff he liked. The vessel at the bottom might have some symbolism. The other form at the bottom is just a gnarled root or piece of drift wood that helps the composition work. The painting medium is simple…most likely turpentine, linseed oil, damar varnish and cobalt drier. Simply, it’s an oil painting.”
Untitled (Man with basket)
47 ½ x 32
Oil mounted on board
Those mysterious shapes; is the man David? He used some of the ideas in the big green painting as well, the moon, the light in a window, the square hole leading to what?...
Untitled “Rose and Honeysuckle”
Watercolor! Framed: 9 ½ x 11 ½
He painted this for Mom and Pop when they got engaged in 1969. He was so happy for them; he depicted some of Mom’s favorite flowers, rose and honeysuckle, both of which grew in abundance at our home in Bird-in-Hand, PA. And how the two flowers, very different, blended together in lovely harmony.
Untitled – Sheri
23 ½ x 17 ½ Framed: 27 x 21
Signed: Walker 77
A Christmas present: The folks lived in Belchertown, MA; I in Amherst; David in Boston. He sketched one of me, Mom and Pop. He asked us to just be still and not pose any sort of face, just be pensive. I love this. They didn’t like theirs at all, saying they didn’t look like that. They looked quite serious, but I think the likenesses were good. The artist’s eye, after all. I have these sketches as well but they’re not framed.
Untitled – Taj
42 x 31
Signed: red DMW chop stamp (no date)
Taj Tellalian was a colorful character who was part of the Fort Hill community in Boston. He moved to SF before David and Will. He was living in SF when they arrived at the end of October 1978, but moved to LA. Will says David didn’t any such large canvases in Boston, so this most likely was done in the late 70s. He doesn’t know whether Taj ever saw this painting; so it’s doubtful he ever owned it.
Untitled - Will
18 x 24 Framed: 21 x 27
Charcoal and crayon
Not signed or dated; possibly early 80s. Possibly around the same time David did the sketch of James, since they’re so similar.
Will was a college (Indiana U. of P.) friend of David’s. They lived in the Boston co-op and then drove to SF together, arriving in October 1978. A truly deep, loving, and lasting friendship – another wonderful story. They were very close although never a couple.
(self portrait dying and floating over rectangle)
charcoal, chalk and ink on Japanese paper,
Notes on work:
red ink DMW chop stamp, 1990
unframed, given to Thad and Janet
David had told Thad to go get this from under his loft, near his death, and that if there were an art show dealing with AIDS, he’d like it to be offered for exhibit there.
David never mentioned this drawing to me; I was shocked when Thad sent me the file, having opened it just before I went to bed one night, and then amazed at its profound beauty. I wonder how it made David feel to draw this. This was 12 years before he died. I wonder if he felt it would be sooner than that.
The Zen Hospice asked me if they could use this as the cover for their funding appeal letter in 2012, after David died. And they did. I have some of the cards.