I have followed the career of the talented metal artisan David Dunn since I first wrote about his work in November of 2018 for the Spy. When I met David, he was working in his parents’ garage on their property in Bozman. As he showed me around his work area, there were boxes of wrenches, pipe, screws, gears, etc.-ordinary things found in a toolbox or workshop. When David showed me a completed work, I realized how David’s imagination and craftsmanship brought these creatures of the deep to life.
From his earliest years growing up on a creek flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, David combined driftwood and other found objects deposited by high tides onto the beach. He repurposed them into art objects while daydreaming about what lurked beneath the waves. The son of an American diplomat, David spent his formative years living in Paris, France, surrounded by the medieval and renaissance imagery of the old world.
David’s art is defined by his unique ability to invest his inanimate metal constructions with both whimsy and primordial dark mystery. His works draw on imagery and meaning from a metallurgical era lost to the modern age. His frequent use of medieval elements in his welded and forged work style evokes a recognition of historical elements, while imbuing the work with nuance and fantasy. With a modern environmental consciousness, he assembles repurposed tools, found metal pieces or modern steel implements with deft creativity, and he brings to life primordial creatures with movement and personality. Characterized by the spiked steel edges of medieval armaments and imbued with a dose of mid-century
B-movie curiosity, his creatures reflect mysterious and fantastical life forms that combine both natural and historical imagery.
From my perspective of seeing his work over the past four years, the tough of whimsy that I first admired is still there but David’s creatures have evolved into more sophisticated works. As one collector remarked, “His new art is much more graceful without being delicate, but still incredibly strong.” David’s work area has evolved too from his parents’ garage to his DunnIn Metal Studios in Silver Spring, MD. You can also find his work on the high end art website “Artsy” where New Orleans’ Octavia Art Gallery represents him.
Recently, I was fortunate to have been a guest at the home of the Commissioners of St. Michaels President David Breimhurst and his wife Sara Robins, who hosted a reception for Dave to showcase his new work. Throughout their lovely historic home, each room’s focus was one or more of Dave’s new pieces, large and small. The hosts had added spotlights to feature each work and as I moved through the rooms, I felt as if I were on a delightful scavenger hunt. Since I was born under the sign of the Crab, I was drawn to the large coffee table in the family room covered with rows of small crabs, as if they were scurrying over sand. Now this transplanted Tennessean has a crab creation who graces my front garden, resplendent in the colors of the Maryland flag.
Dave’s work is now found internationally in private collections in Paris and Normandy, France and Willerzell, Switzerland. Nationally, his work is found in collections in New York City and Shelter Island NY; Los Angeles and Malibu, CA; Washington DC, New Orleans, LA, Lexington KY, Asheville NC, Austin TX, Key West FL, Santa Fe New Mexico, and the Hunt Country of Virginia.
Now that the holiday season is upon us or if you are searching for a unique gift for a birthday anniversary or other special occasion, take a walk on the wild side and visit David’s website, www.dunninmetal.com. You can also contact Dave at [email protected] or 202-390-1881.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.