Rastros is a collection of David’s New Haven paintings. None of the landscapes is of New Haven, but each is from the city—sketched in his notebook on a rock-littered beach by the Sound, painted in the basement of my duplex on Crown Street, transported in a car to and from his apartment in Wooster Square for photographing. These paintings are about the many migrations, miniature and massive, that have amalgamated in his journey not to New Haven, but about it. In images of the Mexican border wall by the ocean, a highway fissuring the Texas desert, and a clouded underpass in Buffalo, Wyoming, David places us in memories of coming and going. It is tempting to think of these scenes as bodiless landscapes of in-between. But the traces of human life through planes, power towers, and pipelines suggest that these are not scenes of sanctuary, but of emergency.
This all sounds very dark. And it is very dark—the end of this world as we know it! I find comfort in the small traces of human togetherness found in each painting, though. The footsteps of a father (and later two sons) on the beach by the border in Tijuana, a group of brothers and lovers and dog at the base of Griffith Park, a tenderly tended to vegetable patch by a family’s finca in Colombia. Maybe my determination to see these traces of togetherness as glimmers of hope is only a testament to my own optimistic delusions. It was sunny today in New Haven, after all. David and I had tacos for lunch with our friends on a dock by the Sound, the water smelly and frosted with algae. We laughed a lot and ate well.

Enjoy the views. 

Ryan Benson
New Haven, Oct. 9, 2020