In Christiane and David Schendowich’s north Sandy Springs home, everything has a story.
When asked how a museum executive might view his own painting practice, Schendowich mused, “I have many favorite artists, today they are Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollack, and everyone likes Picasso; but I think of myself as an expressive painter. I am always experimenting with colors, techniques, composition and materials.”
Schendowich paints at night, in complete silence, while his three alpha dogs — Mojo, Coco and Polo — look on.
“They are my harshest critics,” he says.
As the Breman Museum’s marketing director, Schendowich admits that “the museum does influence my art — Jewish culture, the Holocaust, Southern Jewish history and the contributions that Jews have made to the arts while at the museum. I am currently developing a new series of paintings based on this experience that will be ready to show soon.”
Read on to learn why Schendowich answers to “Kato Salyut,” and how he brushed elbows (and paint) with Keith Haring and Warhol.
Jaffe: You are a real estate professional. What drew you to this house?
Christiane: Standing in the living room, we can look up three levels to the sky. My office is on one wing, and Dave’s on the opposite end. It’s just over 4,000 square feet, which is not so huge, but sufficient for our active dogs and Dave’s studio downstairs. Our home furnishings are simple and comfortable, especially suited for sharing space with active canines. What’s special about our home is the open design and the play of light that welcomes the sun from the east in the front and sunsets in the back, to the west.
Jaffe: How do your German roots come into play?
Christiane: While growing up in Germany, I collected art from my friends. Most notably, several pieces by Bruno Bruni and Karl-Heinz Dennig. Bruni is one of the most well-known artists in Germany, stemming from his Italian lithographs in the 1970s. Many Americans do not know that Germans are fascinated by Native Americans. This group of four, representing the seasons, are by Karl Dennig, who resides in Berlin and is known for his ethereal and transparent pastels, yellow and rose tones, using overlays, maybe with feathers or plant forms. We have one of a series of Rosa Luxemburg by Bruno Bruni. Luxemburg was a Polish Jew and antiwar activist who was murdered for political reasons in 1919.
Jaffe: Dave, how did you become interested in art?
Dave: I have always been into visual communications. I started drawing cartoons in elementary school and was self-taught through middle school. In high school, I was active in politics and made screen-printed posters for protests in D.C. There I learned that visual and creative skill and technique are essential, but without a solid memorable message, it is worthless. In college, I majored in pre-med and made money doing medical illustrations for the professors. I liked this more than studying cell interactions, so I changed my major to visual communications and, eventually, advertising.
Jaffe: You are well known for your advertising work.
Dave: I left college with a hunger to be in the NYC Madison Avenue ad world. There, I worked with some of the finest creative strategic minds in the business and at night went to the Art Students League, mastering fine art techniques. During this time, I met Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and others and, after a Seagram’s Beverage project, Warhol let me have an original artist’s proof “Mask” (1981).
Jaffe: So, the second time around, you started painting two years ago?
Dave: When COVID struck in 2020, I took my art from virtual to real. I purchased supplies and started painting again. Since then, I have been painting every day. My art now is inspired by life and driven by experimentation and having fun. My technique is like a game, trial and error, winning and losing. Often, I do a painting and then paint over it; this encourages me to take risks. An early lesson was not to be timid and to err in big ways. There is no right or wrong in art, just results. One of my newest works, “Mean Beast,” is a personification of COVID, contrasted on a pleasant pink background. I paint everything, including pet and sports portraits. In my downstairs studio are dozens of ongoing projects — acrylic, oils, pastels, spray paint and collage.
Jaffe: Explain your fascination with the virtual world and with comics.
Dave: Several years ago, I became interested in 3D graphics used by video games and characters that represented gamers in newly emerging virtual worlds — the metaverse. I started doing virtual avatar photography in immersive games like Second Life in 2008. After a while, I was getting daily requests for portraits paid with virtual currencies, which I traded for real money. This work has been shown in galleries in Paris, London, Perth and San Francisco under my avatar name, Kato Salyut. My virtual art sells for virtual currencies. I also have a collection of original cartoon art that includes R. Crumb, Jack Kirby, Al Capp and other golden-age comic book artists. I have always been impressed by their skill and ability to tell stories through art.
Jaffe: Last word …
Christiane: We are into building our vacation home on a lake near Cashiers, N.C., and figuring out who is the real alpha — Mojo, Polo, Coco … or David.
- Chai Style
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Christiane and Dave Shendowich
- Sandy Springs
- Lee Krasner
- Jackson Pollack
- Breman Museum
- Jewish culture
- The Holocaust
- Southern Jewish history
- Kato Salyut
- Keith Haring
- real estate
- Bruno Bruni
- Karl-Heinz Dennig
- Karl Dennig
- NYC Madison Avenue
- Art Students League
- R. Crumb
- Jack Kirby
- Al Capp