David Byrd (b. 1926, Springfield, IL; d. 2013, Oxford, NY) worked in obscurity, mainly in upstate New York, and was active from the late 1940s until his death in 2013. His output was substantial and life-long, but his first exhibition was not until the last year of his life. Byrd was a keen observer of the human condition and his rural environment; his melancholy take on humanity focused chiefly on the denizens of Sidney Center, NY, where he lived during the last two decades of his life. His subjects include auctioneers and attendees at country auctions, shoppers at food markets, and patrons at laundromats and gas stations, all realized with thinned oil paint utilizing a dry-brush technique. Many of the paintings blend the real and the fantastical in unsettling ways that transcend the everyday sensibility that the works initially suggest.
Byrd had two solo exhibitions during his lifetime, which were facilitated through his late friendship with an artist and neighbor, Jody Isaacson. In 2012 he had his first show at Maywood Arts, Sidney Center, NY, followed by a show in 2013 at Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA. Byrd passed away in 2013 at the age of 87. In the summer and fall of 2017, the David Byrd Estate organized Ten Stops, a series of largely solo exhibitions of Byrd’s work in upstate New York, Brooklyn, and Seattle. Other solo exhibitions have been presented at Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, St Catherine University, St. Paul, MI (2015); Edgewood College Gallery, Madison, WI (2015); and Martin Mullen Gallery, SUNY-Oneonta, NY (2013). Byrd has shown in group exhibitions at Karma, Amagansett, NY (2016) and Zieher, Smith and Horton, New York, NY (2015).