Dilate (2008)

Dilate was a series that was was made throughout 2007 and completed right before the New Haven City Wide Open Studios in 2008.

The series was shown in several shows from 2008-2009.

From “Political Art In the Eye of the Beholder” written by Elise Granata published July 6, 2009 in the New Haven Independant:

Dave Estes was created in George W. Bush’s own image. At least he is in “Dilate,” a piece featured in a new month-long exhibit with the same title at Koffee? .

Estes offered the sociopolitical backdrop to his painting during an opening of the show Sunday at the popular koffee?shop at 104 Audubon St.

In the title piece’s medium of oil and latex, Estes’ visage is bound and gagged. He filtered through a contorted pupil within an eye that occupied the entire painting. The eye is widened, signifying the “realization of how things are,” or dilation, according to Estes.

“When you’re taking things in at first, your pupil is small and you’re not taking in as much,” Estes said.

On a 2-by-3 foot canvas, “Go Back to Sleep” germinated from a photo taken overseas by Estes’ cousin, and framed a set of barracks following a car bomb’s detonation.

The painting departed from the mucus-like tones of the exhibit’s prevailing color selection, and silhouetted a child against rubble amassed outside a window in unforgiving levels of black and white in pen and ink.

Pieces like this demanded a reciprocal dilation of the viewer’s eye. Tucked into the corner of the room, a standard outlet revealed peace symbols imposed onto the exposed plugs. Estes reasoned that these inclusions keep him “entertained” for the process.

In “Welcome to the Real World,” a hound with sunken eyes sneered at a small child. The intonations found on the dollar bill — like a serial number and the bill’s bordering garland — are snarled into his fur.

A way to cope with the awareness for some, Estes contended, is to do something to contradict what’s actually going on.

In the next room as he spoke, a double-canvas piece titled “Here” (pictured) depicted a figure with its face burrowed into its hands. The mirroring canvas showed a wooden sign with three words etched in its surface: You are here.

Compounding his cousin’s photograph, Estes drew from like sensory sources such as music. “Whenever I paint, I listen to music,” he said, citing A Perfect Circle and Radiohead as influences. “It’s something that has the ability to dictate what I’m doing. I stick to the same song; it puts me in the same frame of mind.”

He indicated “Dilate,” a painting which took a week’s time to create.

Ani Difranco’s lyrics caption the piece: “So I’ll walk the plank /and I’ll jump with a smile/ if I’m gonna go down/ I’m gonna do it with style.”