David Grieco is someone that I’ve know for years and only recently had the honor of interviewing. In addition to being a great artist, David is one of the nicest, funniest, free spirits that you’ll ever meet. As an artist, one has to often lift restraints that have been put in place, whether imposed by society or by oneself — David has found a way to not even see those restraints, and for that I deeply admire him, and the way he thinks and creates. His work is both beautiful and haunting, which you will soon see for yourself.
You once played football but gave it up to pursue your art. Was that a tough choice to make and could you tell me a bit about your football years and how you felt a different calling?
I always created out of necessity, Youngest of four, Italian, Irish family growing up in Upstate NY in the 70’s/80’s? Yes, I would look for ways to channel energy and not get into trouble, (so many long stories). I would sculpt, write stories, paint, journal, anything to have a conversation with who I wanted to be, even during football. At the end of football for me, I was in my second year at Alabama playing for the Crimson Tide under Gene Stallings as a walk on. I remember still wanting more when I played. I had so much anger and ego so much self-fabricated power I had to build in my brain to survive at that level. I needed to channel it, get to know it, not be afraid of it but understand it and take advantage of it in a loving way. I remember watching players play and how amazing they were and how hard I had to work just to be ok, I felt like I did not belong. I remember wondering if I had a calling and wondered what a calling was and realized that a calling was how balanced I felt when I was doing it or how my flow made sense to who I was as if everything in your body and mind would just fall into place. After an injury to my knee, I for the first time did not have the confidence or tools to play at that level and dove hard into myself to find out who I was. I remember helping a couple of artists on campus, one thing led to another, now art is still guiding me today in the direction of balance and love. I know that I have found it, found my calling. I can not imagine [doing] anything else.
As an Artist, it is sometimes very hard to find time for your creative calling when you have family and other responsibilities. Can you tell me about how you manage to find time for your creative side, while still doing all the other things you do to just pay the bills?
Well this is difficult to explain as I have now created a design to my life with kids, a garden, a cooking blog, Justice Bodan, commissions, general managing, running restaurants/bars/clubs, brand ambassador to a tequila company all having full attention when I drop into them during their space in my day.
I try very hard to take care of myself so I am able to show up when I am engaged in moments. I try very hard to take up the full space of moments and what they allow, to know the size of the imagination of and possibilities in that moment, space.
I meditate, eat well, and exercise though I sleep very little though when I am tired I sleep. I see my whole life as my creative side now, I think our lives are our art in the journey to the end and the expression whether it is in clay on canvas or in your day to day as an artist. We are on the journey of seeing beauty, and in the creation of making a better world — in conversation, in meeting people in business, there is an artist way of creating of expressing and that to me is how I have to flow. I am committed to a creative and loving life and when I am sculpting I feel so blessed and grateful that I am able to channel all of my moments into it. It is about the focus, when money is tight I slow things down and visualize creating opportunities. Sometimes it takes longer than others but I have gotten to know faith in the process of living this way. I know no other way now but if I am able to have a small moment during the day that I can move a medium into a thought or vision I am happy. Plus having the opportunity to be an artist and being able to express is a blessing and should make on a better human. An entire life’s expression can be held in one piece and is able to inspire the entire world.
I’m very intrigued by a project that you are doing where you post faces, and sculpture of faces, around Los Angeles. Whose face is it and what meaning does it have for you? Why are you doing it?
The face is my mom and I miss her. She died from cancer back in 2001. I created this bust of her about the same time she was diagnosed — the original work included one of her grandchildren kissing her. I remember the peace and gratefulness she felt about having the opportunity to have this life and I tried to capture that moment in the piece that reminds me of how blessed we all are and [to] be happy for every moment. I remember losing a cousin at twelve when I was the same age and think of all the life she missed and remind myself to be grateful, this is why I have been involved in Art of Elysium for over 16 years. I drive by on the way to bringing my kids to school … I want my kids to have that understanding and know her on that level of honor and celebration.
Putting her face all over LA is me putting that gratefulness and love out there for everyone to look at and see a peaceful woman not knowing that she was dying of cancer but that she looks content and the fact that she is dying is the moment that I want to voice/communicate, no matter how bad life is for us we need to feel blessed and grateful for the time and our moments and keep going.
Your brother Richard, once known as an actor, is also an artist. So, do you think there is something in our DNA that drives us to be artistic?
I do. I think it is a necessity for us, our parents always wanted more for us and I know my sisters and brother and kids now are looking for more balance and peace in their lives through expression and art. We all have bullshit in life and have to go through all the files that we were left with and with art and creating I feel we are able to communicate and interpret them easier.
You also design jewelry and other accessories. Can you tell me how that began? What’s the name of the line and what types of things do you design and what medium/materials?
I created the lifestyle brand called Justice Bodan as an ongoing art installation through the course of my life, to have a place to face my fears by creating art and doing all facets of a brand. The brand was started in 2005 and has the same message in all the pieces I create in the line. I hand make everything and do all the business from the website, photos, and marketing. It was a study on my insecurities of not feeling good enough and not feeling smart enough. Each piece has a story for the moment it was created and where in the world and the muse behind the vision, the message, the peace within the work. I work in gold, silver and diamonds, leather. Justice Bodan is an alter ego searching, questioning, understanding and loving. JB came out of a dream of traveling the world and learning that everyone that I met was the same as me with the same fears and wants, there is no difference and I saw us all as a family and I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin and confident when I saw us all as one living in time slots of existence, creating a history. The brand has helped me through every phase thus far in my life and learning how powerful love is.
Your works are in the homes/collections of some pretty well-known collectors/celebrities, is that right? Is that from showing your work at galleries or are they just personal friends?
Both really, it started with one piece at a time and I guess word of mouth has helped with my career. From one client to the next I feel more blessed every day to have these opportunities. I remember my dad talking to me after I installed one of my 7-foot pieces into a home and how proud he was of me and how that made me feel was just the greatest realization of how blessed we as artists are.
Are you showing your work anywhere currently or working on a show in the near future?
I have shown my work for many years all over. The past few years I have been working on commissions and personal clients I really have not had time for a show, but looking forward to the next one.
I like to ask artists that I interview who they would like to collaborate with, if given the chance. Anybody?
I like to leave distance from any well-known artist that I look up to with respect to collaboration, I love to enjoy their creations as their work lives as an inspiration in me versus any personal connection to the artist as the artist, most artists are better left alone. I would love to collaborate with my daughter and son on a piece, as they make me realize how far I have to go and make me see beyond my death to their life and so on and so on.