In the Spirit of Service
Oil painting for me is a meditative experience--essential to my well-being, and a necessary part of my life. Painting also brings me great joy, and, I hope, uplifts the hearts of those who view my work. “There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom.” - Robert Henri
Annick Elziere: Your work is beautiful, David and I’m so happy that you have accepted to chat with me for a while.
David Simons: Your quite welcome Annick, your site looks wonderful, I have to explore it. Thank you I’m glad you enjoy my work.
Annick Elziere: You were born in Ontario, Canada in 1951. How old were you when you left Ontario and why did you leave?
David Simons: I left Ontario to relocate in other parts of Canada, Saskatoon which I loved and earlier I lived in Kelown, BC.
Annick Elziere: In 1984 you moved to Haifa, Israel to work as a construction supervisor on major projects at the Baha‘i World Centre declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That it is a long way from home, were you already in the construction business when you left for Haifa? Are you Jewish, maybe?
David Simons: I am a member of the Bahá'í Faith. I applied for volunteer service at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa.* I went originally for a two and a half year term of service and stayed for nine and a half years. I started in the works dept. restoring some of the Bahá'í holy places in Haifa and Akka. I transferred to Carmel Projects and was a field supervisor for the initial phases of the terrace developments around the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel which is in Haifa, Israel. It was a great honor for me to work there as well as a wonderful education. The best time of my life.
Annick Elziere: David, your worked as a volunteer there and on your spare time you began painting with oils. What inspired you?
David Simons: I had done a little watercolor before going to Israel but I really discovered my passion for painting while there. I started painting in oils and fell in love with the medium. I think the Creator has given many gifts to all of us and I feel we should explore and discover them. All people are gifted or talented in one way or another.
Annick Elziere: From Canada to Israel then to Arizona. What brought you to Arizona?
David Simons: I married a woman while in Israel who was previously from California. My two children were born in Haifa and they have both Canadian and American citizenship. We moved to Arizona because my mother in law lives in Green Valley and we wanted to be there for her in her elderly years since my wife is her only surviving child.
Annick Elziere: Were you taught from early age how to use the paintbrush? You seem to love painting landscapes and portraits. Are they faces from people living in Tubac or tourists?
David Simons: I am a self taught painter. I do portrait commissions, still life, landscapes seascapes and some abstract now and then. I have painted a lot of my friends but also many people I have seen or met in my travels.
Annick Elziere: Your work won acclaim in Southern Arizona and is collected internationally. Impressionism is a style of painting in which forms and colors are used with short brush strokes. Do you consider yourself being an American Impressionist?
David Simons: I consider myself an impressionist, yes. I’ve been very fortunate with publications. I’m a member of Oil Painters of America, and a signature member of the American Impressionist Society.
Annick Elziere: French Impressionist painters like Monet, Pissaro, Renoir and Degas are loved by so many. Today, you live in Tubac which is situated on the Santa Cruz River. A very dry river, I believe. It is a small town well known for its major event of the year, the Festival of Arts, which showcases the work of hundreds of visiting artists, craft persons and musicians from around the country and Canada. It began back in 1959 and is the longest running event of its kind in the southwest. Tell us more of the Tubac Festival of the Arts.
David Simons: The Festival is the busiest time of year here in Tubac. Local and out of state artists display and sell their work, Many visitors from many areas visit during this time. Tubac is an artist village so this is the biggest event of the year.
Annick Elziere: The economy is in a crisis situation as millions of people all over the world are losing their jobs, homes... You work on commission which must be very difficult to count on any income. Do you have another job to help you get by?
David Simons: I am a journeyman carpenter and a general contractor. I have been building custom homes here in Arizona and previously in Canada. This has been my main profession most of my life. I started painting when I was 33 and now I’m 60 so I hope to do this full time very soon. My construction work keeps me and my family going, however my art sales and commissions have increased every year. So I’m slowly making a transition to a full time artist.
Annick Elziere: Painting all day long sounds lovely. Thank you so much David for your time. All my best wishes to you.
David Simons: My pleasure, Annick.
|*From ancient times, Mount Carmel has been known as the "Mountain of the Lord." To Bahá'ís around the world, it is singularly significant as the site of the World Centre of their Faith. In 1987, work was begun on Mount Carmel to beautify the precincts surrounding one of the most Holy Spots for the Bahá'ís and to extend the operational capacity of its administrative institutions. The first building to be erected on the far-flung arc centering on the Monument Gardens was the International Bahá'í Archives to be completed in 1957. This building houses sacred artifacts associated with the history of the Faith and is visited by Bahá'í pilgrims from all parts of the world. The next phase of development occurred during the 1970s and 1980s, when the Bahá'ís undertook the construction of a permanent Seat for its international governing body, the Universal House of Justice. This was completed in 1983. The most recent stage has seen the completion in 2001 of three additional buildings and the redevelopment and construction of eighteen terraced gardens: nine above and nine below the Shrine of the Báb who was a Messenger of God Whose mission prepared humanity for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh, the Promised One.
“Let your vision be world embracing…” - Bahá’u’lláh (www.Bahai.org)