David Krase has work on display at GVA, teaches art to local students, some who have special needs
Published in the August 16 – August 29 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
David Jerome Krase has a passion for painting. His works have been shown in prestigious galleries throughout America. Now he wants to share his love for creating original works of art with the children of the South Valley.
From 11 a.m. to noon he spends his Saturday mornings at GVA Cafe in downtown Morgan Hill guiding local youngsters in the techniques of drawing and painting on paper the images they have in their minds. Recently, Vincent and Maxwell Jones, 11-year-old twin brothers and sixth-graders at Gilroy’s Ascencion Solorsano Middle School students, received some fun art tutoring from Krase. Under the professional artist’s mentoring, Maxwell created a comical octopus while Vincent worked on an abstract of bright colors and curves that suggested a Georgia O’Keeffe landscape.
“He’s really nice and kind and generous,” Vincent said. “When you ask him he’ll give you the stuff you need for your art. He’ll give you frames if you want to frame it, which is really cool.”
Maxwell described Krase’s technique of tutoring as very hands-on. “He’s very intimate with his art work, his abstracts, so it’s not always the same old thing,” the boy said. “I like how he does abstract.”
For Vincent, the art starts with an idea in his head. Then when he’s got a concept of what he wants to create, he uses colored pencils or paint to express the image on the medium of paper. “The best part of doing art is that I get to imagine what I’m doing and I get to be creative,” he said. “I can draw to get my feelings out. Like when I’m mad, I can draw that emotion.”
The art classes for kids at GVA Cafe provide a fun way to learn to paint and draw, Maxwell said.
“What I like about art is that you can create your own image in your imagination and then bring that image to live on its own scale on the paper,” he said.
Krase, 59, began his career in art by accident. In 1980, he was a guitarist and lived in a San Jose home that he occupied with artists. Among them was Phil Tiger, a fixture of the downtown San Jose art scene starting in the late 1970s who exhibited his works at Silicon Valley galleries. One day, Krase made a poster for a music show performance he was playing in. Someone called it “outsider art.” Krase showed it to Tiger to get his opinion.
“I painted the thing myself, and Philip said, ‘David, I think you’ve got some skill as an artist.’ So we went out to the dumpster, brought back a couple of pieces of plywood and some paint. And he said, ‘Paint something.’”
Tiger was impressed with the results and gave Krase encouragement.
“I started painting and kept painting,” he said. “After six months of painting, I was showing at major galleries. People couldn’t believe it.”
Krase’s works have been shown in the Gallery M Squared in Houston, the prestigious Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City and the Blue Door Art Center in Yonkers among other notable venues. Collectors from as far away as London have purchased his pieces. Now he has a show called “Love Wins” in The Lounge at GVA Cafe. It features abstracts as well as whimsical robots that have a theme of kindness and compassion.
He has a masters degree in special education and brings in that background to help young people deal with the challenges of life. He has worked with gang members and kids with special needs in programs in Los Angeles Schools.
Krase started working as a director of an innovative pre-school in New York City in 2014. In 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged him for creating the top Universal Pre-Kindergarten program which became a model of education excellence.
“It was a big deal to be part of that,” Krase said. “Every day there was an article in the paper.”
In early July, Krase moved to Morgan Hill. He’s now waiting for a background to clear him for a job dealing with mental health clients at a Silicon Valley company. One night after he made his home here, he visited GVA Cafe. In The Lounge, he met owner Rene Carrillo and told her he was an artist and musician. He showed her some of the works on his website. She immediately asked if he would hang up his paintings. He agreed and several people purchased paintings.
His passion for art and kids encouraged him to teach young people how to express themselves through painting and drawing and he started his Saturday morning tutoring. The first class is free as a trial to see if the kids enjoy it. If they want to continue, he charges $25 a class. He sees a benefit for kids with special needs to work in the medium of painting and bring out their creativity.
“I’ve been working with children in social work for many years,” he said. “If they see how excited about art that I am, my enthusiasm and joy I have doing it, it’s kind of infectious. I think that’s what it is. When I’m working with children, it’s yes, yes, yes … let’s go. It’s a positive experience for them.”
He makes sure learning art skills is a fun experience for the children and they can discover their originality in their own way.
“When children go to school, they’re told what to do. They’re told how to act,” he said. “And with me, it’s, ‘OK, let’s have some fun.’ I’m not trying to tell them how to paint and what to paint. I’m just giving them options. At the end of the classes, some of the children don’t want to leave. The parents have to drag them out. One class I had to walk the child to the car.”
Although the kids have fun “playing” as they create abstract and other styles of paintings, Krase also wants them to take the experience of creativity with a level of earnestness.
“We complete a piece of artwork, and the children leave with something framed. I think that shows them that I take it seriously,” he said. “It’s really important to me that the artwork doesn’t go into the garbage, because then they don’t take it seriously. It’s not like you put the art on the refrigerator and it falls off the refrigerator and somebody stepped on it and it goes into the garbage. Their artworks need to be seen by them and others as valuable.”