As a child, David B. Cuzick dreamed of flying so often that he actually learned how to control his flight path. But since lucid dreaming isn't exactly a science, one night he found himself in uncharted territory—high above the city, and afraid.
The dream stayed with him and eventually became the inspiration for "Flying Dream," the piece of art on the cover of this week's CityBeat and one of Cuzick's new works in Neither Good Nor Bad, his first solo show on view through May 7 at OBR Gallery (3817 Ray St. in North Park). For the show, Cuzick uses silhouetted graphics on wood, paper and canvas to explore these kinds of childhood themes.
You may know Cuzick's work from Circles and Squares, his clothing line depicting playful childhood motifs. This new work, however, represents a side he's only just recently started exploring. Cuzick's aesthetic may be in its infancy, but his understanding of human nature isn't. Each of the pieces in the show captures the challenges and insecurities we face. He uses common childhood situations to drive narratives on what it means to be powerful, vulnerable, isolated or, like in "Flying Dream," alone and free.
"I'm trying to do things that everyone can relate to on some level, either as a child or a human being," he says.
In "Big Boy," a gritty, fenced-in playground sets the scene for a merry-go-round spin gone wrong. A few kids hang on for their lives as the bully in the center, towering over the rest, whips the thing around and around. The kids are purposely presented as flat, almost generic-looking, while the bully's shoelaces and back pockets are fully detailed. Small touches like these help set the print's militaristic, somewhat ominous tone.
"This explores the notion of power and what you do with it once you have it," Cuzick says. "Do you use it to be benevolent? Assert control?"
There's a lot to glean from such simple prints. But Cuzick's works are like that: To a casual observer, they appear nostalgic and playful but, in looking again, you find more powerful commentary on those themes he so vividly dreams about.