R. David New is a man with a plan. The Miami Beach artist is currently President of Access Now, Inc, dedicated to nurturing our disabled and business community to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
His background is a stellar compilation of art studies from Rutgers, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, FIT in NYC, finishing with the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. His design firm, R David New Interior Design was born out of his family’s furniture business while up north.
A rare eye disease in 2001 robbed David of his sight, but definitely not his vision, as he champions for the disabled as chairman of the Miami Beach Disability Access Committee as well as tireless head advocate of Access Now, Inc.
"Currently I’m working with glass, Laser Etched Glass Sculpture (he calls it LEGS); I just started,” New replied when I asked how long he had been at this particular venture.
“I studied art as a child and through college: graphic design, industrial design, fashion design, advertising design. After I lost my sight I went to school for law, using the other side of my brain. I always loved to mix up the mediums and the best way I knew to do it was interior design. I could use fabric, metal and glass, and wood. It’s where I got the most satisfaction. When I bought my apt I renovated the whole thing, it got my creative juices flowing again. I wanted to put something out in the world. I heard about this new laser process for glass (LEGS) and I coincidentally was reading the Andy Warhol Diaries, which added to my inspiration.”
He uses a crystalline (no edge tint), low lead, low iron glass called Starfire. An image is superimposed onto the glass through this laser, “like a scanner.” It can take up to 30 hours to complete the process of one piece.
After a severely difficult sojourn with Spinal Meningitis causing myriad grim physical issues, he managed to rally at zero hour through love and support, into a tour de force of creativity and advocacy, scraping through a period of great difficulty into a powerhouse glowing with good health, though paying a hefty price. Loss of sight brought with it a new focus on issues of the disabled, which David continues to pursue with dogged passion and success.
“As a visual artist my whole life, I was missing a component. I had to rethink everything. I got more involved in the community. I started new organizations, and non profits. I chair a committee for the mayor, the Disability Access Committee on the Beach.” He took over Access Now, Inc last year from Phyliss Resnick when she retired. Founders Resnick and her husband, Edward started Access Now in the late ’90s; he had been confined to a wheelchair. Since New took over he has done extraordinary work changing policies of companies and organizations to comply with ADA accessibility guidelines. He works with universities and technology companies as well.
He started the non-profit Power Access, which puts on events called Ability Explosion here on the Beach. When he took over the Disability Access Committee as a chair, he asked the then Miami Beach mayor about installing audible pedestrian signals for people that are deaf and deaf blind. He held Disability Awareness day where he blindfolded the mayor and commissioners and put them in wheelchairs (2009), which was the impetus for the first phase of the audible pedestrian signals program. “We did the simulation again this year with the new mayor.”
In college he did glass blowing, sand blasting, leaded glass and “slumping” (glass over a form in a kiln where it eventually slumps/melts over the form). “I love glass, it’s a very rich material. When I was installing mirrors and glass in my apartment I learned about this new laser process”. “You can do anything with it, as far as imagery.” He was introduced to the machinery, which is the only one of it’s kind in the country, serendipitously located in Miami. He designs the concept, the imagery, dimensions, and presentations as well as the polished stainless steel bases and glass specifications. “I did sand blasting (in the past) so I can visualize what this process looks like, especially the detail.” He works very much like glassblower Dale Chihuly, who relies on assistants since an accident rendered him blind in one eye, accomplishing the conceptual heavy lifting in all areas. He knows exactly what he wants and how to get there.
The Stewart Fine Art Gallery in Boca Raton, opening its David New exhibition December 10, quotes: “Stewart Fine Art is very excited to exhibit (his) creative artworks and to participate in this extremely worth while project. We look forward to having you as our December 2015 featured artist.”
Using an actual $2 bill for one of his pieces. He signed it before superimposing it into the glass. When you purchase the piece you get the $2 bill with it, underlining its authenticity. It comes in an impressive silver hard sided briefcase with the “New” logo inscripted on the side. So very Miami Vice.
He has three series of the laser work; Celebrity portraits, glass houses (iconic architecture) and $2 bills.
Look for his new (New?) web site, up and running in a few weeks. Check it out: RDavidNew.com