David Lazarus -July 2018

Scrimshaw. Printmaking. Oils. Watercolors. David Lazarus has found joy and a certain amount of success in all of these mediums in his 40-plus-year career as an artist.

by: Joshua H. Balling

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Yet there always comes a point when he gets restless, when creating the art begins to feel more like work, and his thoughts shift to something new.

While he still works in multiple mediums, lately he’s turned his attention to abstract painting and is even toying with the idea of trying his hand at sculpture.

“I’m always shifting gears, I’ve got ants in my pants. There has to be some pleasure in the process. A friend once showed me how to prime this little panel of wood with lead primer. It took all day. That’s totally not me. Life is short. I’m a quick and dirty guy,” said Lazarus, who will be honored by the Artists Association of Nantucket at its annual gala this month for his four decades as an island artist.

“It’s got to be fun. Maybe that’s why I keep on changing. If it ain’t fun anymore, I don’t want to do it. If painting Brant Point is excruciating, why keep doing it?” His prints are meticulously-detailed depictions of marine mammals and shorebirds, the watercolors muted island landscapes with an ethereal feel, the abstracts filled with bold splashes of color and palette-knife marks that beg for individual interpretation.

“The breadth of his work is perhaps what’s most impressive to me,” Artists Association curator of exhibitions Bobby Frazier said. “He has this great rendering skill, but at the same time the ability to move into pure abstraction, from one completely different skill set to another.”

Lazarus is also a teacher, and spent a good deal of time this winter at the AAN’s Visual Arts Center on Amelia Drive, working with small groups of mostly novice artists.

“All of the people we have honored are not just artist-members, but have given back to the AAN community in significant ways,” executive director Cecil Barron Jensen said. “He’s got a legion of fans, and to his credit, he likes to keep his classes small so he can spend as much time with his students as possible. He’s a true mentor to our member artists, and the art students in our community.”

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