Friday, October 24, 2014


There's no denying the fact that my good friend David Schoffman has sorely missed his calling.

Never much of a painter, David, a gifted raconteur, well-intentioned writer and sublime tenor seemed to have picked a vocation in which he was destined to fail.

The Body is His Book #50, oil on linen, David Schoffman

He was told as a child that there was no hope in the life of an entertainer - his father's cousin, Moishe Kotutchky was a third-rate character actor in the Yiddish theater who ended up hanging himself with a tefillin strap after reading a scathing review in the Togblatt - and so his nascent ambitions were smothered in their cradle.

He has spent the better part of his adult life trying to prove to his long deceased parents that they were wrong. (Of course to his Depression era parents the antidote to the thespian's fate was not the life of a blighted visual artist).

So to this day whenever David happens upon one performance or another he is swept like a gust of bitumen and sulphur into the past and into the dregs of shame and regret.

But David, you live in Los Angeles!

It's never too late!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


There's an old French maxim that dates back to the Third Republic that says "if you're out of ideas go the the Middle East." (Si vous n'avez pas d'idées allez dans le Levant).

I was reminded of this the other day when I happened upon a reproduction of one of David Schoffman's paintings in a fashionable French magazine that focuses on what the French call "style."

Imazighen, oil on canvas,  David Schoffman2002

There's a bit of irony here in that of all my good friends who are painters, the one I associate least with the idea of style is that California klutz with the bald head and the mismatched socks.

In any event, David has spent a fair amount of time traveling and living in the Arab world. In fact, his passport is such a hodgepodge of exotic stamps and seals that whenever he tries to get on a plane he's detained for at least a half an hour by either Homeland Security or the TSA.

It's either really worth the trouble or he's suffering a very fallow middle age because he's back in the region once again, this time living in a small, family owned pensione in downtown Ouarzazate, Morocco.

He spends his days in what he describes as "creative idleness," sleeping late, enjoying long walks along the Draa Valley and making elaborate rubbings of the rich architectural details that are found on almost all the public buildings in the area.

"I envy these guys," David told me the other day on a very shaky Skype connection from the Abu-Shwarma Internet Café, "they really know how to make a day seem long."

The whole world wants to be like America and here is Schoffman in the middle of the desert struggling to go native!

And come to think of it, maybe the guy has some sort of unique and interesting style after all.

Thursday, October 09, 2014


 The restaurant trade is a violent affair full of cutthroat competitors and palate-blind critics eager to pick at what to them is merely food.  Like many artists before him, my good friend David Schoffman, fearful of the vegetative indolence most common at mid-career, has tossed his tattered apron into this tasteless ring of flames and opened up a bistro of his own.

Though he labors in earnest, Los Angeles tends to greet much of what David does with an undernourished apathy and a bitter, hostile extravagance of dismissive inattention.

This was not always the case.
There was a time when Schoffman was Southern California's darling, a spaniel among the curs, a toasted garnish on a glamorous gourd. 
Feted by the famous and fetishized by the rich he was a bohemian trophy mis en bouteille in the chateau of grand celebrity.

It would have been nothing spotting him with some starlet on Opening Nite, flashbulbs bouncing off his bald head like fireflies in summer.

The cult of the artist maudit is all fine and good so long as the artist in question remains obedient to the proscribed règle du jeu. As soon as said artist sheds his gloomy hide and joins the well-adjusted he is no longer of any use as a bangle or a beard.

Unless of course his work is durable, strong and speaks for itself.

Which, of course, has never been the case for David.