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 David Spivak  (1893 - 1932)

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Lived/Active: Colorado      Known for: landscape, western, portrait, mural

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H. David Spivak is primarily known as David Spivak

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David Spivak
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Biography from Savageau Gallery:
David Spivak was born November 19, 1893 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the family moved to Denver three years later. His father, Dr. C.D. Spivak, was a prominent physician and one of the founders of the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS). Both of David's parents were active in Denver's large Jewish community and helped found the Intermountain Jewish News. As a child, David attended Denver public schools, playing football for South High School back when that game was really rough.

Once past high school and a brief stint at the University of Denver, Spivak headed east to the Art Institute of Chicago. While in that city his teachers included Wellington J. Reynolds and John R. Morton. After two years, Spivak headed on to New York City and the Art Students League, where he remained for three years and was an honor student. His instructors at ASL included John Christian "Johan" Johansen, and Robert Henri.

Spivak's studies were interrupted by one year's service at Kelly Field in Texas with an aviation unit. At the war's end, the young artist returned home to Colorado.

Back on his home turf, David Spivak emerged as an admired artist and teacher, an active and colorful figure within Denver's art community. He had received excellent art training and was soon well-listed at the area's galleries. Sales were always disappointing, however, and never met the demands of family expenses. Spivak's teaching work supported his wife and children. In that the area of sales, Spivak was a "failed" artist, which actually had a liberating aspect. He painted with neither an anticipation of sales or a desperate need for any.

Spivak was a true plein-air painter, working while on family outings in the parks and mountains. His color mixing and brushwork are immediate and expressive, innocent and honest.

He taught art at both East and West High Schools, at the Denver Academy of Applied Art, the Chappell School of Art and the Denver Institute of Art. He was an active member of the early Denver Art Museum back when the city's artists were a shaping force in that institution. His contributions to all areas of Denver's art world were considerable. Spivak helped instigate, and for many years served as organizing superintendent of, the fine arts exhibit at the Colorado State Fair, still the largest and most comprehensive exhibition in that part of the state.

Spivak painted portraits of many Denver residents and executed several murals, including those at the B.M.H. Synagogue, the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society and St. Thomas Seminary; his work is in the collection of the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library.

Notably, David Spivak was one of the original founders of the Denver Artists' Guild in 1928 (now the Colorado Artists‚ Guild). In newspaper articles on the group's opening exhibit, Spivak was prominently quoted in the city's papers speaking about the inclusive force and redemptive power of art, and how he believed that art and beauty helped shape better citizens and better human beings. These opinions were quickly and publicly reviled by the Denver Art Museum's upper personnel, who insisted that only the educated portion of the populace could appreciate art. The Colorado Artists' Guild is still guided by Spivak's vision of a truly democratic organization open to every artist.

David Spivak was serving as the Guild's president at the time of his very sudden death from a brain tumor in 1932 at the age of 39. A posthumous solo show and memorial at the Denver Art Museum followed his demise.



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