April 14, 2020

Self-portrait-12x24-1Dear Hope Nation,

I am not an artist but I love to paint, love the feeling of moving colors around on a canvas, love the accidental sprouting of beauty from even my ham-handed efforts, love the moment I discard my effort by declaring it finished. If we were talking about chess, instead of painting, I would be known as a patzer, a poor player who bungles basics.

Lots of you at Hope know exactly the feelings I’m talking about. You’ve painted pictures—around 500 at last count—and seen them fill the walls of hallways and meeting rooms. You’ve taken part in the group projects, from the Hope mosaic in the front to the multi-visions of the reproduced Hope photo to the Poetry to Paintings demonstration to the Chaos to Serenity paintings. You’ve enjoyed the meditative peace that painting brings, whether the result stuns you or simply satisfies. Again, if we were discussing chess instead of painting, almost all of you would be known as shokh shpilers, simply chess players.

Both the patzers and the shokh shpilers among us are indebted to one man for Hope’s dedication to visual art. Through his love of visual media, his dedication to images, his encouragement of bunglers and players alike, this man has spread the virus of creativity throughout Hope Nation. He is a mensch, a person of integrity and mastery, even a zheni, a genius, he has done more than anyone else to spread the love of creativity, the joy of art, the satisfaction of moving paint on canvas. This one single person has changed dozens of our lives, opening us to the joy of beauty and the beauty of joy.

That one man, of course, is Dave Cote, whose email signature block reads “media-information-data-art,” but could just as easily be “cheerleader for the untalented-distributor of imagery-discoverer of beauty in every painting-apostle of art,” although that would take up a lot more space and wouldn’t fit into Dave’s self-effacing style.

I didn’t hire Dave—he’s been here much longer than I—but I did recognize in him, almost from the first, his gift for encouraging positive risk and his willingness to try anything creative. From snippets of things Dave has told me, I know his gifts were not always encouraged or even recognized. I am proud that, along with Karla Gallagher and me, Dave is part of Hope’s leadership team. (Also, Dave reads over and reviews each of these Dear Hope Nation letters before they go out, and has prevented many ill-chosen images in my writing.)

Today, I’d like to ask, encourage, implore each of you to visit Dave’s new website (drcoteart.com). Here, you can see Dave’s own artwork, its depth and breadth, in a collection of about 60 of his latest paintings, created over the last few years. As my own work aptly demonstrates, I don’t know anything about creating art, but I do know what moves me, and Dave Cote’s paintings give me hope and chills at the same time.

When you’re at Dave’s website, you’ll obviously find your own personal favorites, but here is a list of mine:

Intensity
Northern Solace
Self Portrait (Attached and very much worth opening)
Watching
Parking Lot Present
En Route to Our Stroll
Longing

When you’re viewing Dave’s stuff, remember he is the man who looked at what you were doing and found something to legitimately praise, the one who makes sure all of Hope Nation has access to the tools of art, the quiet man behind the big computer screen. Remember that, and know that he matters, just as

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith