DM Simons (2014)

DM Simons

Simons received a Tree of Life Individual Artist Grant in 2014 for Large Scale Works.


DM Simons has worked as an artist for over thirty-five years. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and attended graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1982, Simons opened his first studio in Chicago and received an Illinois Art Council Grant in 1983. He was included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (1984) and at the Chicago Art Institute (1985).

Simons moved to New York City in 1987 and had solo exhibitions at Paula Allen (1989), Julian Pretto (1992; 1993), Donald Judd Foundation (1993) and Bill Maynes (1995). He was included in group exhibitions at Nelson Atkins Museum (1985), Littlejohn/Sternau Gallery (1994), Weatherspoon Gallery (1997), Brooklyn Museum (1997), Gas Works, London (2007), and Minus Space (2013).

In 2012/2013, Simons received a studio from the Marie Sharpe Walsh Foundation and The Richard Florsheim Art Fund Studio Award.

Large Scale Works

From September 2012 through August 2013, I made large-scale portraits in my studio at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation through an award given by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund. These portraits ranged from 72 x 96 inches to 114 x 93 inches. I will continue this exploration with the help of the Tree of Life Individual Artist Grant.

I work with pastel at a scale that seems daunting to many; however, the results are quite dramatic. I think of pastel as paint; it is a medium with one binder, the closest thing to working with pure pigment and similar in feel to fresco. Compressing time and space, wiping out all excess visual noise from the background and placing the portrait at the front of the picture plane (similar to portraits by Caravaggio or Raphael) allows me to compress and express the history of portraiture. History is a subliminal subtext of my portraits, the nuances and gestures and the way color and line work are part of my iconography of marks and signs. Each portrait acts as a fragment, compelling the viewer to fill in the narrative from their own experience through imagination and memory.

I might be older but I still feel like I am twenty-one and as long as I can, I will make the art that I believe is vital.