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“suicide” by david byrd / all images via greg kucera gallery

Three months ago, no one knew who David Byrd was—well, maybe his old co-workers at the VA hospital in Montrose, New York, or a few people in Sidney Center, New York, where a mountain of junk in his driveway led to a chance meeting with a neighbor (who happened to be an artist herself) led to the unexpected discovery of decades worth of unseen paintings. Two months ago, Byrd got his first-ever solo show, at the Greg Kucera gallery in Seattle, and then at the end of May, Byrd passed away. He was 87, and he’d told one critic who interviewed him that he never expected anyone to see anything he’d made: “I thought an auctioneer would find my paintings after I was gone and sell them off—I just thought it would go that way.”

“man in garbage can” by david byrd

So is that the story of David Byrd? Well, at least the first part. As that art critic Jen Graves said, his work had both soul and style, and because of that I think it’s going to reach more and more people even though Byrd himself is no longer here. This tiny sampling of paintings here is mostly drawn from his experiences at the VA Hospital, but there’s so much more I couldn’t fit.

“twisted” by david byrd

The single best place to see more would be at the Greg Kucera Gallery site, which collects probably everything there is at this point on Byrd—his work, his history and the few pieces written about him at the end of his life. I recommend taking a look. If these paintings really had never been discovered, something important would have been lost.

“hospital hallway” by david byrd