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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Local artist strays from the traditional through his paintings

    Rebecca Noble

    Local Tucson artist Donovan White poses for a photo in his shared studio space, The 6th n’ 6th Faction, at 439 N. 6th Ave. on Monday, Sept. 21. White, a painter, shares The 6th n’ 6th Faction with Tony Pickup, a leather artist. The duo opened the studio at the end of May.

    People usually expect paintings to be inscribed on a white canvas. But for local painter Donovan White, anything serves as his canvas.

    “Forever, I was just a standard artist. I would go out and buy a canvas and paint on the canvas,” White said. “It just got boring to me, so I would just find little funny stuff to paint on. I really like wood, and now you can find so much cool stuff to paint on.”

    His mediums include wood, butcher knives and cast iron skillets, among other eccentric canvases. He utilizes 1 Shot enamel paint to illustrate his artistic vision. White said the paint is very flexible to work with because it adheres to all his unorthodox canvas choices.

    At the moment, White favors painting on butcher knives, linking his art to his culinary background. He said they make “perfect little canvases,” and the vibrant colors he utilizes diminish knives’ association with horror.

    “[The 1 Shot acrylic paint] just turns these horror movie instruments of death into cool, fun-to-look-at [art pieces],” White said. He also says that he sells these knives to chefs worldwide, including those in Mexico and Canada.

    White was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Maryland and Virginia. He credits many influences in his life then for leading him down the artist path.

    “I grew up in an era where we had wonderful Saturday morning cartoons and stuff like that,” he said. “From that, I was a skateboarder for a good 20 years and loved punk rock music, comic books, science fiction and Star Wars. [Art] just kind of came naturally.”

    His grandfather was also a significant influence to his art. White said that when his grandfather babysat him, he would always doodle; what his grandfather could do with just a pen impressed White. From there, he picked up a paintbrush and started to get into 3-D art. After deciding not to attend an art school in New York, White took a road trip down to Tucson to reconnect with old friends and decided to move to the city the year after.

    White’s style of art stems from comic books, old cartoons, Thrasher magazine and Mad magazine. When looking through his pieces, one notices these cartoon influences through his unique characters, illustrated with multiple eyes, small potbellies, and bright pink and green skin colors. In some artwork, he adds desert influences, made visible in paintings of men with sunglasses reflecting saguaro cacti.

    White said many of his successful paintings have been ones he never meant to create in the first place.

    “Mostly I’ll basically work on a big painting, and all the small stuff will come when [I’m] just cleaning out my brushes. So instead of wasting ink, I’ll have a bunch of little panels lying around and just throttle, outline and do little fill-ins,” he said. “I’ve had a good 10-year run with it.”

    White partnered with Anthony Kincheloe of Allegiant Brand Leather to create customized leather pieces, such as wallets and belts. The two opened a gallery, The 6th n’ 6th Faction, in April of this year. White showcases some of his smaller pieces there and bought the gallery with a vision in mind.

    “All I needed was a showroom place for the smaller stuff,” he said. “It’s a perfect location: it’s right downtown, close to the university, close to Fourth [Avenue]. …We’ve had five shows here.”

    White said the shows have a great atmosphere, ranging from the attendees to his home-cooked food to catering for the events. He also displays his works at Che’s Lounge, where he works as a bartender.

    Since relocating to Tucson, White has also collaborated with other talented local artists. He said one of his favorite collaborations was the Tucson mural that stretches down Speedway Boulevard toward the freeway. White also held a collaboration night called “ArtPhag” at the Surly Wench Pub on Fourth Avenue, where artists enjoyed drinks and collaborated on different art pieces.

    “There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting around with a couple other like-minded individuals and putting out good quality work,” White said.

    White said he plans to continue cranking out quality work in his gallery and hopes to continue to support fellow local artists. He also said that he hopes to someday receive statewide and nationwide recognition as an artist.

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