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David Ellis is an artist born into a family immersed in music. His brother travels the world leading a band on tenor saxophone. His uncle plays and restores pianos. His grandmother led the church choir, played pump organ in the little churches his grandfather served, and sang the jubilant songs she learned growing up in coastal South Carolina. In his youth Ellis had little patience with piano lessons or reading sheet music. Instead he absorbed everything on The Super Mix, a Saturday night radio program broadcast from the nearby Fort Bragg military base. Each week a new cassette tape of emerging New York hip-hop found its way into the life of a child growing up in a log house in North Carolina. By the time Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 released The Message, Ellis was writing rhymes and banging out beats with his friends on the desks at school. Things have since become much louder.
Ellis’ paintings are frequently improvised. He works directly on the walls of spaces that remain open to the public during installation and shares the making of the work with viewers. The experience is much like a band playing in front of a passing audience.
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