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David Holt





by Trish Mollo

David Holt, the author of “The search for Aesthetic Meaning in the Visual Arts” and Golden Age of New Paltz artist, is inspired by danger and decay. Holt is drawn to deteriorated buildings and lonely, dangerous suburbs. He uses vibrant colors and unconventional shapes to bring spirit and balance to his gloomy subject matter.


What is unique about your art?

I try to incorporate my own personal feelings in my art. My stuff usually has some sort of pathos to it. I like old, falling apart buildings. I like industrial scenes or something that looks like it has some sort of element of decay in it.


Where did your love for art originate?

When you’re in elementary school, some kids are good at music and some kids are good at art. I was instantly good at drawing and working visually, and, you know, you notice those things.


Besides danger and decay, what else inspires you to paint?

Last year, I did a lot of realistic pictures and I wasn’t having a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s better to not struggle. When you’re doing something and it’s flowing and you’re not struggling with it, you’re probably doing the right thing. If you’re struggling to get it right or if it’s an effort to do it, right at the beginning, you’re probably doing something you shouldn't be doing.


What does being a Golden Age of New Paltz artist mean to you?

I guess the late sixties was the golden age of New Paltz since the school evolved during that period from a small state college to a much larger university. Most of the campus buildings were built and the student population ballooned to over 7,000. It was also a time of great changes. Free concerts both indoors and outside on the campus. And an overall feeling and understanding that our generation was going to succeed where the older generation had failed, regarding materialism versus morality and choosing peace over war.


How has your art changed over time?

It’s funny because what I am doing now is very similar to what I was doing in high school. It is going around in a big circle.

In Judaism, the word shalom has the origin of wholeness, like a perfect circle. A lot of times when you’re a kid and you’re starting to paint or draw, or do anything, it’s probably what you want to do, but you just haven’t learned the skills yet. These distorted landscapes that I am doing now are very similar to the more naive ones that I did in high school.


Why are you an artist?

Well, it inspires me.

When I go to a museum, I will fixate on one or two paintings, and that experience has a tremendous effect on you. It is almost a meditation. When you look at something, you’re not thinking about practical concerns, you’re just focused on that one thing.


What role do artists play in society?

To make it worth living.

Life can’t just be people, like Trump, telling you that money is the only thing important. You have to have culture and the arts and you have to have these really important things that people can do in life, besides living in the biggest house.


What challenges did you have to overcome on your journey as an artist?

Making a living.


You wrote a book critical of art critics. Why?

 When I wrote my book, “The Search for Aesthetic Meaning in the Visual Arts,” the whole point of it was that I was so upset with people who are writing about art today. These people think that the old ideas of aesthetics are obsolete and don’t mean anything. I just wanted to write something that said that we have to really look at art not as a political thing, even though it might have political meaning, but as something you look at and contemplate without thinking about its practical value. I had a guy who wrote a review of my book, and he didn’t get that at all. The book on one hand was great, getting it published and everything, but once I heard people’s misinterpretations, I thought, wow, when you do a painting you don’t have to go through this. They either like it or they don’t.

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