yarger at dawn

No one laughed when he sat down at the piano, and when he started to play…

…SKBers who didn’t know that David Yarger was also skilled at playing the piano, suddenly knew. Last fall, during one of the evening programs at SKB’s Dubois workshop, Yarger played several pieces and explained the what and why of the selections. The usually boisterous group sat hushed in the 3,300-square-foot room at the Headwaters Arts & Conference Center. Veterans of the Susan K. Black Foundation workshops knew Yarger as a scholarship student from several years back, and as a returning student building on his development, and in 2014, as the wrangler of the large batch of scholarship students attending the workshop. They knew his skill with the paintbrush, his polite and intelligent manner. But they didn’t know he can be quite torn between music and visual art. Yarger has at least two muses calling to him.

yarger piano

“I’ve always had art and music in my life,” says Yarger. “Art may have come first because liked to draw and color. My older sisters were more into music, and I spent a couple of years studying piano, but it meant nothing to me. Then something clicked with another teacher, and here I am. The two art forms complement each other beautifully, and I’m kind of sad that I can’t pursue them equally. But I get the distinct sense I can’t really do art on the weekends and excel, and I can’t do the minimal amount of music practice and excel. I get a distinct sense that music won’t be the kind of career that I want it to be. Plus, I can’t see a personal commitment to music for the next 80 years. My personal goals don’t line up with the life of a professional musician. Now that a more focused stance is necessary for further growth, the time and commitment demands of the two are conflicting.”

Yarger’s interest in painting spiked when he started working with veteran SKBer Ken Shanika. It climbed further after the young man won a scholarship to attend the 2010 SKB workshop. “SKB skyrocketed my interest in art hugely,” says Yarger. “I came with my twin brother that first year. I went thinking it was a glorified field trip, but when we got there, we realized what was really going on. Previously I had doubts about the role of art in my life. Then I met all these individuals who were ‘old’ from my perspective and were very good at what they do–but were very kiddish in their enthusiasm. There is a different fire in the people at SKB that I didn’t find in Colorado Springs or in the Denver art scene. Every time I go to the workshop in Dubois I meet an individual, have a conversation, and the conversation gives me exactly what I need.”

SKB instructors have noted Yarger’s growth as a painter, but his development does not necessarily point to a career as a professional painter. Yarger thinks his future lies in design. “Career-wise I don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” he says. “A career as an original painter doesn’t suit me nearly as well as a design career.” Yarger says he is pulled toward many areas, including fine art, art history, advertising, retail, and “the savvy, competitive business aspect of merchandising. And fashion has a surprisingly synergistic relationship with all of those areas.” He’s young, and willing to explore a bit before he settles on a career path. “I’ll just get into something and see if it works, and if it doesn’t, I’ll try something else. But whatever I’m going for, whatever I need at the time, I get some guidance at SKB.” Ω

yarger sketching