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Pace Gallery announces David Byrne online charity exhibition to promote unity in lead-up to US election
David Byrne, Podiatrist Punctuation, 2020. Fadeproof waterproof ink on archival paper 7-1/2" × 10" (19.1 cm × 25.4 cm), paper 11" × 14" (27.9 cm × 35.6 cm), frame © David Byrne, courtesy Pace Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Pace Gallery announced dingbats, an online exhibition of fifty unique hand drawn illustrations by interdisciplinary artist and musician David Byrne, made this year while he was solitarily isolating in his Manhattan apartment. The dingbats drawings explore themes and preoccupations associated with daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, from uncanny scenes of domestic life to surreal figurative illustrations, seeped in metaphor of a mind plagued by loneliness, boredom, and anxiety brought on by quarantine. While some drawings are entirely literal, others are a subtle evocation of the longstanding inequities and injustices exposed by the pandemic. The dingbats are Byrne’s response—an imaginative way of expressing hope, a desire for connection, and the power of community.

The drawings, each priced at $3,000, will be released in five series of ten works published every Monday and Thursday from October 15 to November 2, 2020. A rotating series of ten drawings, reflecting the most recent selection in the online presentation, will also be on view at Pace’s New York location at 540 West 25th Street for the duration of the project.

All sales proceeds from the exhibition will benefit the Arbutus Foundation, Byrne’s non-profit organization dedicated to re-imagining the world through projects that inspire and educate. The drawings were created as part of We Art Not Divided, a collaborative, in-depth journalism project that explores the human capacity—and deeply human desire—to overcome division, in turn promoting a message of unity and bridging divides leading up to the U.S. election this November. We Art Not Divided is a special six-week project produced by the solutions-based online magazine Reasons to be Cheerful, the inaugural project of Arbutus.

The idea for the dingbats works came about when Byrne’s colleagues at Reasons to be Cheerful suggested he make a series of illustrations to accompany the articles published as part of the We Are Not Divided project. Byrne immediately thought about dingbats—or drawings—used in The New Yorker and other publications to visually break up imposing blocks of text to make reading more digestible. However, unlike the negative connotation usually associated with “dingbat,” which to many implies a lack of intelligence, these drawings echo a unifying message through their sympathetic and humorous reflections on these tumultuous and uncertain times.

As Byrne states: “We like markers as we read—paragraph indents, spaces, chapters—and stars or a tiny drawing of a flowerpot—they all do the same thing. I got a bit carried away and made them quite a bit more elaborate than the typical dingbat. I decided to give them titles too, and I soon realized that the titles became integral to the meaning of the drawings. Humor sometimes allows us to say the unspeakable. To diffuse the nightmare and yet still somehow David Byrne, Movin’ On Up, 2020 © David Byrne, courtesy of Pace Gallery David Byrne, Podiatrist Punctuation, 2020 © David Byrne, courtesy of Pace Gallery view it face on. So these seem to be about how it is to live right now. In this New World. They allow me to say things visually that it might be too hard to say in person.”

The dingbats online exhibition extends Byrne’s long-term relationship with Pace, marking the artist’s 7th collaboration with the gallery since 2003. In addition to presenting a number of exhibitions with the gallery, including Tight Spot—a site-specific installation designed to inaugurate Pace’s then newly acquired location at 510 W 25th Street in 2011, which the gallery still owns and operates—Pace has supported several of the artist’s public art initiatives over the years, such as Playing the Building, a major commission by Creative Time in 2008 for which the artist transformed the interior of the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan into a massive sound sculpture. dingbats is Pace’s 18th exhibition to be published online as part of a series of projects that includes solo presentations unveiling new works by artists from the gallery’s contemporary program and thematic presentations curated exclusively for the online platform.

On the occasion of the exhibition, David Byrne will participate in a fireside chat and storytelling event during the week of October 26, 2020, one week ahead of Election Day. The event will be streamed live on Pace’s Instagram (@pacegallery) as part of the gallery’s online program, which focuses on conversations with artists. Further details on how to participate by submitting a story will be available soon on

Coinciding with Pace’s exhibition, Byrne’s American Utopia—a documentary film directed by Spike Lee that brings the artist’s critically acclaimed 2019 Broadway show of the same title to audiences around the world—will premiere on HBO on Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT.

David Byrne (b. 1952, Dumbarton, Scotland) was raised in Baltimore where he briefly attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1971 after transferring from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Byrne studied photography, performance, and video production at MICA. In 1975 Byrne co-founded the group Talking Heads, who in the ‘80s introduced an innovative visual approach to their performances.

Byrne has been involved with photography, drawing, installations, performance and design since college and has been publishing and exhibiting his work since the 1990s. Like his music, Byrne’s visual work has the capacity to elevate and transform ordinary elements into iconic ones and challenges our fundamental notions of what can be classified as art.

Recent works include the Broadway debut of David Byrne’s American Utopia (2019) as well as the forthcoming Spike Lee directed film version (2020), the launch of his Reasons to be Cheerful online magazine (2019), and the solo album American Utopia (2018). Byrne co-founded the band Talking Heads (1976), for which he was the guitarist and lead singer, and established the record labels Luaka Bop (1988) and Todo Mundo (2008). Other artistic achievements include the theatrical piece Joan of Arc: Into the Fire (2017); a series of interactive environments questioning human perception and bias, The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY (2016); the theatrical production Here Lies Love (2013); the public installation Tight Spot (2011) at Pace Gallery; the audio installation Playing the Building (2005); the public installation Everything is Connected (2002) at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York. Byrne wrote, directed, and starred in True Stories, a musical collage of discordant Americana released in 1986. For his contribution to The Last Emperor’s soundtrack Byrne received an Academy Award for Best Original Score and in 2004, Byrne won the Wired Award for Art for his project Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (EEEI) that used the presentation software PowerPoint as an art medium.

Byrne’s work belongs to numerous collections, including the Denver Art Museum and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C.

His book projects include True Stories (1986); Strange Ritual (1995); Your Action World (1998, 1999); The New Sins/Los Nuevos Pecados (2001); David Byrne Asks You: What Is It? (2002); Envisioning Emotional Epistemological (2003); Arboretum (2006) and How Music Works (2012).

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