David Boatwright

David Boatwright, detail

After graduating from SF Art Institute I spent three years making short experimental films. I toured Europe twice lecturing and showing a package of West Coast avant garde films (including several of my own) to film societies and cinematheques. I returned to my home state of South Carolina and in 1977 received a National Endowment for the Arts individual artist grant to make documentary films in Charleston. After the completion of several films I moved back to San Francisco and began making short fictional films which led to acceptance at the AFI in Los Angeles. After completing that program, I spent several years writing screenplays which were optioned by various production companies, but never produced, and I was subsequently hired to write more screenplays. Between writing projects I co-founded a film production company and directed over 100 commercials and made several more documentaries.

While a filmmaker I maintained an interest in studio painting. It was not until I was well settled in Charleston that I began work in several different art forms simultaneously in which I had had at least some training. I was fortunate to return to this city, 1984, during a burgeoning period as Charleston began to expand culturally and demographically, and I found I could support myself and a growing family by working as a designer, painter, filmmaker and musician.

Of late, except for a three year period when I was designing new houses, I’ve been painting, largely by commission. Studio painting evolved into a sub-specialty of creating large murals and mural-like signs on many exteriors around the low country. In addition to the signs, I produced murals and paintings for the interiors of restaurants and in some cases was able to sell studio pieces to collectors and commercial establishments.

The pre-requisites of commercially funded public art projects and the approval process by first the clients, then municipal boards and, finally, the general public would be challenging for any artist. To make something that fits the needs of the client and yet still gives me some artistic satisfaction has at times been elusive and difficult. Given a free hand and over time I think I’ve been able to merge personal expression and the the specific needs of a project in a balanced way.

Meanwhile, my studio painting has followed a fairly steady path from my student days under the sway of the West Coast Funk Art movement. That is to say, I work in a figurative, provocative form which over time has acquired a certain Southern storytelling style.