Danny Coeyman is an artist, illustrator, author, educator, activist, and performer who uses art to connect with others.
Trained as a Fine Artist, Coeyman first earned a bachelor's in fine arts from the University of Central Florida and later a master's in fine arts from Parsons The New School for Design with a full scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Danny's work has appeared at The Kitchen, the Leslie Lohman Museum, the New Museum Festival of Ideas, and Purdue University, as well as numerous other galleries in New York. After working as an arts educator at the New Museum and for Bric Arts Media, Coeyman joined Apple Arts to work exclusively with homeless youth in New York City. After five years as their Program Manager, Coeyman joined Art Start, a non-profit that teaches art to children and adults in shelters. He co-authored and illustrated his first book, "Happy Clouds, Happy Trees: the Bob Ross Phenomenon" which was published by the University of Mississippi Press. He has written several children's books as well, and is currently collaborating with animators to turn one of them into a short film. Coeyman co-founded FolkVine, an online ethnography of Florida's Folk Artists, which was funded by the NEA. He has performed improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where he continues to connect with audiences through laughter and play. His Youtube channel, "Bruised Fruit" features comedic sketches and interviews with his conservative family in Florida. While in college, Danny worked as an advocate and educator for queer rights, and footage of his activist performance of marrying several gay couples while dressed like a priest ended up on Univision and Chris Matthew's Hardball. Danny currently lives in Brooklyn where he likes to bake, walk through Prospect Park, and sew in his free time.
All of my work is about relationships. When I make a portrait, I sit with my muse on a piece of paper and together we spend hours talking about family, love, and loss. People laugh nervously, or get boners, or even sometimes cry, and I just sit with them and draw what I see. I use blind contour because it forces me to stare and zone out, to really look and listen to the person in front of me, and value their time.
I think traditional portraiture offers a chance to behold. To be present, and hold someone in my gaze. I love to take the long hours of looking that traditional portraiture requires and translate that process into the digital age. Now, more than ever, people are capable of constructing and broadcasting an image of themselves to the rest of the world. That sense of self-presentation makes painting another person distinctly collaborative. My work brings oldschool oil painting into the Age of the Selfie.
I use my work as a chance to connect with people that I find interesting, handsome, or magnetic in some way. A Danny Coeyman painting is like therapy on a nude beach: playful and sexy, intimate and potentially burning. I try to capture how people feel as well as how they look. Each painting is a single, continuous line that traces a person's movements and gestures, moment by moment, over hours. The pictures are messy and ruptured, haunted by the ghosts of hands and feet that have been repositioned, and floating in the drips and spills that happen as we paint together. They aren't flattering, or even Truthful, but they are honest. After hours of staring at anyone, I feel a deep love for them
When I came out at age 20, my family disowned me. The Catholicism in which I grew up, and the shame of loving mens' bodies was something that my art helped me heal. Later I studied paychology and Zen Buddhism and found healing by simply being with what is true in any given moment. I want my work to do the same for the people that come and sit across from me. I want people to feel seen and heard and accepted for who they are. In doing so, I have created and collected this group of friends and locers and family. I have also been able to express and reconcile my love for the body, for its sexuality and its sacredness.
I help people become naked. And nakedness is both physical and psychological. Your vulnerability, your willingness to be looked at and known is what makes the work special for me, for the people I paint, and for the viewer who sees the work The contours of these bodies are ruptured by the water that colors the work. That sense of being open, permeable, and integrated is the visual analogue to how I hope people feel when we make the work together.
Born June 16, 1982
Currently lives in Brooklyn
Master of Fine Arts / Parsons, the New School for Design / NYC / 2008
Bachelor of Fine Arts / University of Central Florida / Orlando FL / 2005
Group Exhibition History
10 by 10 / Cindy Rucker Gallery / curated by Rick Herron / NYC
Summer Camp / Festival of Ideas / New Museum of Contemporary Art / NYC
Open House / Curated by Melissa Diaz / Brooklyn
makeSHIFT / curated by Lisa Wicka / Patt and Rusty Rueff Gallery / Purdue University / IN
Pop Up Gallery / Leslie Lohman Gallery / NYC
Gallery Takeover / Curated by Tony Orrico / Under Minerva Gallery / Brooklyn
Birdsong / Curated by Julia Norton / Hi Christina Gallery / Brooklyn
Possibilities / Curated by Rick Herron / Chashama Gallery 461 / NYC
Hatch Presenting Series / Curated by Pascal Rekoert / Jennifer Muller Studio / NYC
Beat the Devil out of It / Gallery Bar / NYC
New Work / Curated by workers at the New Museum / Stanton Chapter Gallery / NYC
MFA Thesis Exhibition / Organized by Bill Carroll / The Kitchen / NYC
Odd Couplings / Curated by Don Porcaro / Parsons School of Design / NYC
Emerging Lines / Curated by Brad Silk and Jen Joyce Davis / Temporary Gallery / NYC
Published Writing and Illustration
Happy Clouds, Happy Trees: Exploring the Bob Ross Phenomenon (April 2014)
Scholarly book about the PBS art star is recently published by the University of Mississippi. I co-authored and fully illustrated this, my first book, along with two Doctorates in Art History.
This website showcases and preserves the work of several artists whose folk art practice connects them to important, and often underserved communities throughout Florida. The websites were designed in collaboration with the artists, and were launched within the artists communities as celebrations of culture, traditions, and values that would otherwise not be seen online.