Dave Muller is a Los Angeles artist who spends his summers in rural Vermont. He is also a trumpet-playing visual artist and a well-known art-world DJ. Contradictions that may not really be contradictions but rather nuances (as in the title of this portfolio, Quiet Noise) that are at the heart of what he does.
These beautiful etchings make the most of their medium: liquid, articulate, possessed of both depth and shimmer. Muller worked on the plates in New England during the summer of 2010 (master printer Jacob Samuel, who will be a central figure in the Museum of Modern Arts “Print/Out” show in February, is a great believer in mountain-to-Muhammed print practice.) The aquatints were done in Santa Monica on his return.
The array of subjects is quirky: we see grass; a trumpet seen from the bell end; a small bear statue wrapped in foliage; a single leaf amidst Hayter-esque loop-de-loops; a small digital audio recorder; a mirrored disco ball; a dragonfly; a second patch of grass. None of the usual taxonomies seem to work here: the array is 1/2 botanical, 1/2 artifactual, 1/8 entomological, 1/4 musical (or 3/8 if you count the disco ball, 7/8 if you like nature recordings, and 8/8 if you can go the Zen distance of listening to the sound of one leaf swaying.) Most of the subjects come from the artist’s immediate surroundings in Vermont, but the disco ball is an image Muller has been working with for years, and hardly suggests bucolic countryside.
The array may be ideosyncratic, but it is not random. The fact that Muller apparently spends some $3000 a month on music and that he has made numerous paintings of the spines of old record albums (his various “Top Tens”), has been seen as evidence of his devotion to music, but it could just as easily be discussed in terms of the essential preoccupations of the collector. Living collections are both thorough—attentive to the individual properties of each and every loved thing—and incomplete, open to the next digression. Good collections embody both memory and desire. In this light, Quiet Noise makes perfect sense.