Cape Coral and Southwest Florida Feature Stories

Thoughts Turned Reality - The Art of Dan Davidson

Dan Davidson

Every so often an artist appears in the most unexpected of places. Outside the rigors of a formal art training. Absent of the “starving artist” and “tortured soul” stereotypes. The urge towards artistic creation is a natural force not easily bridled, unpredictable and capricious. Passion bubbles up to the surface. It cracks through concrete, not to be denied. Art won’t take no for an answer.

Cultural history is littered with the names of artists forcibly drafted by the muse. Henri Rousseau. Frida Kahlo. Winslow Homer. If there’s one lesson art has redundantly taught us, it is that conventional and systematic training take the back seat to talent, inspiration, and originality. A truly unique perspective has ambitions. It’s motivated. It asserts itself among us virally through whispers and word of mouth.

And here in South Beach it’s happening again, right now. Buzz and chatter are drawing attention to the work of the late-blooming and reluctant artist, Dan Davidson.

“It feels strange to hear myself referred to as an artist,” explains Davidson. “It’s been decades since I’ve taken the time to express myself in a pure and artistic medium. Back in the early eighties, I made my living with a small, but celebrated, photo studio on the West Coast. At the time I was studying genetics at the University of California at Berkeley. After I graduated, I left that part of myself behind for awhile. I began founding a number of successful companies in the biotechnology, nutrition, educational, and media production realms.”

After 9/11, Davidson left New York and relocated to South Florida where he purchased a beautiful, but neglected, Art Deco synagogue originally designed by famed architect L. Murray Dixon in the late thirties. He spent 2 1/2 years restoring and remodeling the 16,000 square foot facility.

“Something about the space was magical. It could bend light. I felt compelled. It pulled at me. I had to own it.

I was stirred to restore this magnificent property. It was of the utmost importance that I completely preserve all the original architectural flourishes of the building. I wanted to modernize all the electrical, plumbing, and air conditioning systems, but without diminishing the spiritual vibe that drew me to the building in the first place.

It was a real labor of love. But I had a vision of this sanctuary I wanted to create — the Temple House — a peaceful and tranquil oasis surrounded by all the activity of South Beach.

I did the interior design by myself. This is how the artwork began. I was aiming to create an atmosphere of simplicity, with Buddha heads and incense burning. But something was missing. That’s when I conceived “The Moment”, a piece I created to adorn the main room of the Temple House. Finally it all came together. The end impression is very Zen.”

The Temple House changed Davidson’s life. The swanky address granted him access to an eclectic batch of uber-cool people. He started hosting lavish private parties in his 6,600 square foot living room for his friends and celebrities. His property has also been used for many celebrity-studded photo shoots, TV shows, music videos, and commercials. Graced by such celebrities as J-Lo, Ricky Martin, Al Gore, Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z, Magic Johnson, the New World Symphony, and others — the studio is often showcased in the media including The New York Times, The Robb Report, HGTV, MTV, and CBS. Davidson’s artwork provides the perfect backdrop to it all.

“I’ve always gotten a charge out of taking an idea of mine and turning it into a physical reality…just like my businesses and my house, the painting I’ve been doing is an extension of that mentality.”

All the exposure has opened big doors. Davidson’s artwork became a focal point of conversation by guests. Art Basel, the largest art fair in the United States, was a watershed event for Davidson. During a private event for gallerists, his work attracted the notice and accolades of significant curators, the World Bank and United Nations among them, along with gallerists from Europe, Asia and South America.

He was presented with opportunities in the immediate days that followed. His innate business savvy took over. “Never sign a long-term contract that locks you up.”

Davidson’s artwork is generally large and is not suited for the average home - “The Moment”, for example, is 12 feet wide by 20 feet tall and bounded on top and bottom by large stainless steel tubes that serve as a “gravitationally assisted frame stretching the canvas”.

Davidson’s success in business puts him in a unique position. Despite offers by collectors to buy his work, Davidson says, “It’s not about the money. The work is not for sale. It may be in the future, but not now.”

Davidson says he may consider having an artist’s representative in the future, but like his businesses, he wants to do it right or not at all. He thinks big…his work is big…the exposure needs to be commensurate. In the meantime, Davidson will release his works to collectors for special events and recognized architects for significant projects.

— writing by Eric Taubert


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