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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Soul music meets Yogi Bear

    Savannah Douglas
    Savannah Douglas/The Daily Wildcat Dave Sayre is a Tucson artist opening an exhibit called ‘How to Kill a Marvin Gaye Song.’ Sayre’s studio is located at the Toole Shed in downtown Tucson.

    Artist Dave Sayre knows there is something magical about being a kid and watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.

    “That’s what cartoons were to me,” he said. “I was just inspired by them.”

    His technique and style of painting are influenced by the early ’70s cartoon era, which played imaginative and eccentric shows such as “Underdog,” “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” and “The Yogi Bear Show.”

    Sayre puts his cartoonist style of art to work in his latest exhibit, “How to Kill a Marvin Gaye Song,” set to open to the public at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday. The name, Sayre said, pays tribute to his lifelong appreciation of Marvin Gaye.

    “I’ve been through so many different types of music in my life, but Marvin has always been there,” he said. “I’ve never left Marvin Gaye.”

    As well as stemming from Sayre’s love for the musician, the exhibit’s title also originates from a thought Sayre had one day in his studio while listening to the radio.

    “I heard somebody covering a Marvin Gaye song and it sounded horrible,” he said. “So I, in my head I said, ‘That’s how you kill a Marvin Gaye song.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, that’s the perfect name for a show.’”

    The exhibit will feature 12 of his paintings and includes a room with ’70s cartoons playing on massive old-school televisions as his paintings hang in the background.

    Sayre said that he has been an artist for as long as he can remember, and his initial inspiration led him to continue to draw and sketch into adulthood.

    Before his current style of painting, Sayre focused on more realistic art, but he eventually grew tired of the style’s repetitive technique.

    “[There] was always an undertone, layer after layer,” Sayre said. “Every time I went to the studio it was always the same … [Realism] is always the same process; that’s why I went away from it.”

    Sayre said his childhood passion for drawing cartoons was revived one night when a friend invited him to watch old episodes of “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”

    “It just brought back so many memories for me, how important cartoons were in developing artistically,” he said. “That’s why there are so many cartoons in my work; it brings me back to my childhood.”

    Sayre is a former elementary school art teacher, and his students’ relaxed and simplistic style of drawing inspired a new style for him.

    “They don’t have all this crap in their heads and they’re not bogged down with bills,” he said. “There’s this fluidity in their lines. The coolest thing about kids’ drawings is that it’s all universal. We have kids come from Africa, but they all start drawing a figure the same way.”

    He has recently started to paint the colorful versions of his childhood memories on patterned fabric instead of the standard canvas. Sayre said the fabric provides a more creative backdrop for his paintings than standard canvas does.

    As he moved from realistic painting to loosely-styled colorful cartoon paintings, Sayre says that he frequently changes his style and likes to consider his work different from that of other artists.

    “It bothers me when artists’ work looks exactly like other artists’ work,” he said. “I want my work to look like my work. I want people to look and say, ‘That’s a Sayre.’ And that’s a long journey. That doesn’t just happen overnight.”

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