Defining David D.

Artist David D’Alessandris stages the show of a lifetime.

Award-winning artist David D’Alessandris, known to many as simply David D., has been musing on his life as an artist—where it began and what the future holds. So much so that he is staging an exhibit at The Brick City Center for the Arts, which opens June 2nd, of work spanning his 50-year career. The show, titled Retro/New, features work from the periods and mediums that have distinguished him as an imaginative creator.

In a release for the exhibit, he notes that he is known for his  “imaginative use of color and … exploration of materials—acrylics, watercolor, fiber, paper, wood, metal, ceramics, and found objects—applid in both two- and three-dimensional formats.”

Indeed, a hallmark of his mixed media works is that they often imaginatively employ recycled and repurposed materials and objects.

“David D’Alessandris’ work is extraordinary. Not only is he an accomplished artist with a poignant attention to detail, but his approach is also fresh, new and distinguished. He sets the bar high and is a great example of a true artist entrepreneur,” offers Xochitl Jacques-Smith, the current COO of NOMA Publishing and former gallery director for The Brick. “I personally appreciate that David is truly a mentor to many local artists and we’re very fortunate for his contribution to our dynamic arts community.”

We Are Family, 1985

D’Alessandris earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting, design, and graphics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and then pursued graduate study in the Master of Fine Arts program at Carnegie Mellon University. His work has been featured in group/solo exhibits and international juried shows at notable venues in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh and in Florida at the Cornell Museum of Art in Delray Beach, Artspace in Miami and Gallery 221 in Boca Raton, as well as locally at the Webber Gallery, Appleton Museum of Art, Fine Arts For Ocala and Marion Cultural Alliance.

From a young age, he sensed that he’d find success and fulfillment in the arts.

“I always knew I was going to do this from the time I was 5,” he recalls. “It was either this or I’d be on Broadway trying to make people laugh.”

And while he was always creating art as a personal passion, professionally he initially went down a slightly different path and began a career in retail home and fashion product development.

“It was ‘77 and I was an executive for the Joseph Horn Company, at a department store in Pittsburgh. I was part of their creative team and I always painted as a thing to look forward to and  release my anxiety. I did these caricatures of nuns, exhibited them and they started to get recognition,” he recalls. “In the summer of ’78, I was recognized by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It’s an eye-opening experience to be reading the Sunday paper and it’s about you. I figured, Oh, this is going to do something for me. Well, then I find out a lot of people don’t really want nuns on their wall. You know, it’s sort of quirky.”

His success in his profession led to a 30-year career and eventually he worked his way up to vice president at Burdines. He credits the many creative experiences he had during this time and international work trips as a significant influence on his art.

“I figured I’m getting paid to be creative and I still could paint and do my thing at home. I split myself: David the bohemian artist and David the professional, who had to wear suits and ties every day,” he explains. “The best thing about being an artist in a corporate career was the travel opportunities. Not many people could say, ‘On the way to the rug factory, we stopped at the Taj Mahal.’”

Two of his Nuns on Parade pieces are included in the exhibit, representing the earliest work in the show. 

“There’s also one from 1985, when I was living in Manhattan. You can definitely see the transition from the ’70s to the ’80s. I broke away from the nuns and I started doing caricatures of the people I worked with or knew. I’d go home and sketch and come up with a design that would incorporate these characters.”

The exhibit will also feature works from many of his past shows that have been staged locally.

“When I moved to Ocala in ‘06 and I had made the decision—I’m done with the corporate world. I’ve put in 30 years and now I am finally gonna do what I am supposed to do—I got into my art, established the studio, got involved in the Ocala art community. And lo and behold, I got into museum shows and galleries.”

This past summer, D’Alessandris and his spouse, Max Russell, traveled to India and the artist came home with a vision for some new works that echo the style of his early works but are absent of people altogether. These intricate compositions of iconic urban landscapes are purposely void of humans, even though it was the humanity and overpopulation of India that provided him some early inspiration.

“I had been there before many times on business trips, and I’m really taken by the colors and how many people there are there. They are compressed, just living on top of one another. But I didn’t see anybody flip off anyone or anything like that. All those people living there … houses on top of houses, buildings on top of buildings, all these antenna and wires flying through the air. I thought about including people, but then I thought, No, I want it to be void of humans, but to show that humans were there. There’s this peace and Zen there. This trip really was a gift.”

The reason to do the show now he says was a matter of timing and purpose.

“I just turned 69 and realized, Oh, my, I’ve been doing this for 50 years,” he offers. “And I want to capitalize on my journey.”

He also notes a recent conversation when a friend asked when he was going to give it all up. 

“It was like a knife in my back,” he shares. “I’m doing the best work of my life. I’m gonna keep doing this ’til I die. You don’t turn off your creative juices because all your friends retired. If it is in you, you’re gonna find the time to do it. You don’t just turn it off. I’m not one to ever give up.” OS

The opening public reception for Retro/New will be Friday, June 2nd, at the Brick City Center for the Arts. The show will run through July 8th. For more information, visit


India One to Five, 2023
Posted in Community Spotlight, Ocala Style Features

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