Connecticut artist David Marshall has taken the all too familiar act of watching the clock at work and used it as an inspiration for art.
“Caffeine Daydreams,” a new exhibit at Claire’s Corner Copia, displays seven works of acrylic on canvas, featuring Marshall’s original character of a man in a suit with a coffee cup for a head. Marshall said he came up with the character after he began working at a desk job in 1996 — and started drinking a lot of coffee.
“I work mainly in financial institutions. You know, really boring stuff,” he said. “But there’s always an infinite supply of coffee. It’s the first thing they show you.”
In the paintings, Marshall’s man with a coffee cup head is constantly fantasizing about his freedom. Paintings show him flying through the air, riding a bike, rowing a boat and participating in other fun activities during the time he is supposed to be at work. Marshall paints the character in playful situations of escape, set on a colorful background.
“They’re about those times when you imagine yourself being anywhere besides at your desk. You kind of zone out being shackled to a desk,” he said. “It’s a total mirror of myself. It mimics my desire for escape.”
Marshall said he intends his art to be humorous, and he refers to it as “modern hard core surrealism.”
“All the pieces have a sense of humor, which is something you need when you’re working nine to five,” he said. “You’re in a suit 16 to 20 hours a day, with coffee breaks in between. It really becomes your identity.”
Marshall has also displayed his work at Elm City Java and Koffee?, and before he painted his coffee cup character, he said he had a reputation as a painter of aliens.
“I work in series. Right now I’m working with this character, but I have a million other ideas just waiting,” he said. “Once it gets rolling, the possibilities are really limitless.”
Marshall said he was reluctant to show his character out of concern for the reactions of observers and the desire to keep his design from being copied.
“I kept it a secret for like six years,” he said. “But now people have been seeing my van and are getting used to me around town.”
Exhibition organizer Kathleen Whipple said Claire’s has been displaying art on and off for the past two and a half years. The restaurant displays the work of a new artist each month.
Whipple said that although the exhibit is new, responses have been positive.
“When I first showed the work to Claire she was very excited about them,” she said. “So far everyone has really been enjoying them.”
“Caffeine Daydreams,” is free and open to the public and will be on display until Sept. 30. There will be a reception on the artist’s birthday, Sept. 22.