Today we bring you a new Community Partner Story about a storyteller – performing artist and writer David Gonzales. The PAC has had a long and fruitful relationship with Gonzales, who has been a regular on our Art-In-Education series. He continues to be an active and engaged collaborator and partner, most recently by generously sharing some of his work with us (and you) as part of our The PAC in YOUR Living Room initiative.

Can you give us a brief description of your artistic mission and goals?
I’ve heard it said that there are no new stories, just old ones, not “the same old ones”, but earth-old stories which need to be told anew, with new language to reach the people of our time. This is what I try to do with my work as an artist – to search for fresh and evocative language to reach essences. I consider myself an interdisciplinary artist with roots in music, dance, storytelling and poetry. Through my many years as an arts therapist working with a wide array of people struggling with handicaps, illnesses, and personal problems, I have come to see my role as a conjurer of curative imagination, and as a celebrant of human possibility.

I consider myself foremost as a contemporary American artist engaged in processes of discovery and creation for the good of our society. As an artist of Latino heritage I also have an interest in drawing from the traditions of my culture and in focusing my talents back toward that community. While I revere folk artists for their dedication and discipline in sustaining cultural traditions, I see myself as an experimentalist inspired by the exploration of mixed traditions, mixed disciplines, and mixed points of view, including modern aesthetics.

Short Version: My goal as an artist is to tell earth-old stories with new artistic language to conjure curative imagination.

Describe in a few lines what you do and what your typical day looks like:
I tell stories, mostly, though not exclusively to children. Music, video, poetry and writing are also part of my artistic practice.

Practice piano or guitar
Review the day then make a plan
Handle pressing administrative matters
Connect to my clients and colleagues
Write or practice
Dinner with friends
A flick, or reading

What quote do you live by? Or, what/who inspires you the most and why?
“If it’s win/win, do it now” – a former teacher said this was inscribed on his teacher’s tombstone. I like how it points so directly to mutual benefit, and action.

What led you to become an artist or performer?
Music was a haven for me. As a young teenager I could have gotten into a lot of trouble, instead I started playing the guitar and the infinite world of sound became intimate, immediate, and personal. From there I discovered Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and the power of myth. Great teachers, a supportive family, and seeing the effects of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights struggle all played a part.

When did you first become involved with The Performing Arts Center, or Purchase College?
I started collaborating with Seth Soloway when he was working at Brooklyn College many years ago. He brought me to perform at The Performing Arts Center soon after he arrived there.

David Gonzales

David Gonzales works with Purchase College Arts Management students, March 2018 (c) Lou Vaccaro

Describe in a few lines how your work has engaged with The Performing Arts Center in the past few years.
While I was developing The Man of the House with a commission from the Kennedy Center I approached Purchase about helping me further develop the piece, which we did in conjunction with community outreach. We did the same thing with The Boy Who Could Sing Pictures.

What surprised you the most about the partnership?
The granular level of engagement with my creative process, and the much-appreciated transparency of our collaboration.

How does your work tie into The PAC’s mission to discover, enlighten, and engage?
Those three words could have been lifted from my mission statement. I believe, no, I feel, a deep simpatico connection with the people at Purchase. Everything I have ever done in my career has been driven by discovery, learning, and sharing.

What artist inspires you and why?
My touchstones these days are painter/photographer Gerhard Richter and composer/saxophonist John Coltrane. I could say a lot about each of them, suffice to say they exemplify the passionate quest for connection, and they continue to evolve throughout their brilliant careers.

Can you think of an event or project you would love to see at The PAC?
A reunion of the Marx Brothers.

What is the best advice you have received or what advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?
Breathe, it’s going to work out.


Watch Maddog and Me, an engaging and inspiring mix of wisdom tales and personal stories that addresses the crisis of bullying in our society.

Click here to learn more about David Gonzales.