Q: What’s your earliest memory of an art experience? Do you have any personal projects?
Dan: My earliest art memories are from when I was six years old.
I remember my sister teaching me the color wheel before I started first grade so I could impress the teacher with my knowledge on the first day of school.
I also have a very distinct memory of drawing Sesame Street characters with crayons on an old antique desk in the family room that got mailed to my sister who was away in college at that time. My son has that same desk in his bedroom now.
Lastly, I also remember my first art sales happened during this time. My friend, Mike Apple, and I drew a number of bald eagle drawings that the first grade teachers purchased from us. I believe the going rate was $0.50 at that time.
Q: Our next exhibition is about people and their pets. Do you have a favorite pet?
Dan: I wouldn’t ever tell my current pets this, but if I had to choose favorites, it would have to be Weezie and Mable.
I grew up with dogs, but they were the first dogs I got on my own as an adult. Weezie was half Siberian Husky, half German Shepard dog I got from the Humane Society at 8 weeks old a couple months before I moved down to Atlanta, GA. My girlfriend at the time had a cat named George, so they were George and Weezie (like the TV show, The Jeffersons).
I got Mable about four years later as a 7 week old puppy while living in Atlanta. She and her three siblings were left in a shopping cart in the middle of the night in front of a PetSmart on a cold November night at only 4 weeks old. I don’t know exactly what she was, but my best guess is Ridgeback mixed with Boxer or Pitbull. She was basically just a big, red dog like Clifford.
They were both the best dogs ever. Outside of about a year and a half late in their 14 year lives, they never had a fenced in yard. Despite that, I was able to let them out of the house on their own for as long as they wanted, and they never so much as stepped foot in a neighbor’s yard. They were very sweet, very well trained, and they kept us safe (we didn’t always live in the best parts of town). I could go on forever telling stories about them.
Q: If you could invite five people from any point in history to a dinner party, who would be on your guest list?
Oh, man. This one is really hard. Barring the extremely personal and sentimental picks like my mother and grandparents, my guests would be:
- Prince. I don’t know if I need to provide any justification with this one. But I will say this: If I were a professional baseball player, “When the Doves Cry” would be the intro song that would play in the stadium every time I came up to bat.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. His life and conviction has fascinated me since I was in grade school. My son is named in part after him. He is a modern-era American agent of change. The single purpose in life to me is to simply live and work to make the world a better place than it was before you were born. King’s ability to do that on such a grand scale, for me, stands as a beacon that I will never expect to reach, but will always look up to guide me ever forward with everything I do.
- Dolly Parton. I don’t know why, I’m not even a fan of country music. But she seems to have such a very friendly and fun personality. Maybe she left some weird impression on my subconscious when I saw 9 to 5 in the movie theater as a kid.
- Oprah Winfrey. She is interesting in her own right, with amazing life experiences. And I believe she would be really good at keeping a great conversation going among all the guests.
- Jeffrey Deitch. He is my current art-world related obsession. He has played so many different roles in the contemporary art world, including as an artist, a writer (for Art in America magazine), an editor (for Flash Art magazine), an art advisor (for Citibank), a gallery owner (Deitch Projects), and a museum Director (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles). He was a very early supporter of such artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Jeff Koons, and championed many street and graffiti artists.
One thing all of these guests have in common is they all come from modest roots, and they have all been able to achieve great things. I’d be really interested in hearing their stories and how they were able to accomplish all the things that they have done.
Ask me this question again in five minutes and it’s likely to change.
– Brigid Morrissey, Publicity Coordinator at the Carnegie Center for Art & History