Daniel Silverman spent the majority of his career as a physician, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Harvard Medical school. After becoming disillusioned with the healthcare system—a term he says is an oxymoron "because there's nothing systematic about the way we provide healthcare in this country," he went back to school and became an executive leadership coach for healthcare professionals. Now he lives in Santa Fe year-round and divides his time between leadership coaching and painting giant works of abstract expressionism which will be on display this weekend at Plan B Arts Gallery (4 pm Friday Jan. 10. Free. 1807 Second Street, Ste. 41). SFR spoke with Silverman about his life as a healthcare professional and artist.
Your biography says you "divide your time" between healthcare consulting and coaching and creating abstract paintings. How did this divide begin?
I came to Santa Fe to visit some friends, and I came out of the elevator at the Loretto hotel and there was this stunning woman artist putting on a painting demonstration. We eventually became involved and she moved back east with me and then brought me back to Santa Fe with her. She was a great abstract expressionist and a teacher and she said, 'You know, I can teach you to paint,' and I said, 'I don't think so.' She and I were together for several years and she gave me the basic foundation for doing abstract expressionist art. I've become fascinated with it and it's a good thing for a psychiatrist to get outside of his head sometimes.
Do you ever imagine combining these two paths? Maybe something like art therapy?
It's certainly therapeutic for me. A lot of my clients come to Santa Fe to do face-to-face coaching with me and they've seen my work and it provokes great conversations. I encourage them to get outside of themselves and use other parts of their creative thinking for their leadership work. I think I unconsciously already combine what I'm doing with the coaching work and encourage them to think outside the box and think about big relationships. If you can see in my paintings they're really about the relationship between color and lines and boundaries.
What is your creative process?
My works are on very large canvases. I don't title them because I don't want to suggest to anyone viewing the paintings what they should see or feel. My hope is that they evoke very strong emotions and memories and recollections. I want the viewers to create their own meanings. When I approach the canvas I don't have a plan in mind—it's very spontaneous. I view the paintings as the history of a very physical way of doing it. I use large tools and brushes so it becomes the record of what my emotional side and creative side were doing in the moment. I'm beginning to notice that my color palette is taking on the color palette of New Mexico, like all the turquoise. There's just something about the light here. The sunset has certainly influenced me a lot as well as the sky and the cloud formations.