Paul Davis likes his studio dark. He compares the former garage — now rendered useless by the roof-high pile of firewood in front of its doors — to “the bat cave.” Inside, where the windows are blacked-out, the only natural light comes from a small skylight that the artist keeps mostly obstructed. “It’s a little dark, a little sleepy,” he says, “like a movie theatre just before it goes dark. That’s the way I like it.”
Davis can remember his perfect Saturday as a child — in the museums until one o’clock and the rest of the day in the movie theatre. “Those two things have always been mixed up in my head,” he says. In third grade, when television was just coming to the neighborhood, he remembers there wasn’t much on, mostly old black and white movies from the thirties. So, he says, you’d end up watching anything—good or bad didn’t matter—and that early mix of imagery has been swimming around his head ever since. It comes out in his latest works, paintings that are a menagerie of figures that spread over the canvas creating a polyphony of narratives.
In 2013 Davis was voted one of Utah’s 15 most influential artists and his work will be featured in an exhibit this month at the Rio Gallery with the other fourteen artists. In this video interview, we visited “the bat cave” where the artist says the best time to paint is with the fire going and a blizzard blowing around outside. Watch to hear him discuss his life and work and what it was that drove him to look for creativity in chaos.
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.