David Meade Walker: A Retrospective


The Center is pleased to invite you to a retrospective exhibition featuring the work of visionary artist David Meade Walker. A native of Lancaster, PA, Walker’s emotionally resonant work spans mediums and styles-- from pen and ink to oil; pastoral scenes to striking impressionistic self-portrait. This exhibition is a glimpse of a full life through the eyes of one artist and those who knew him.


About David Meade Walker

Born in Lancaster, PA, in 1948, and raised in the Amish country in nearby Bird-in-Hand, David was greatly influenced by the beauty and simplicity of country life. He excelled in art, and experimented with a wide variety of media from an early age.

He got a degree in art history from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1971, and he came out in college, first to our stepfather, a loving and supportive minister at the time. No surprise to the family, and no big whoop!

Refusing the draft for the Viet Nam war, David did alternative service at a church conference center in Sharon, CT, and a hospital in Providence, RI. He moved to San Francisco in 1978, and from 1979 to the end of his life, lived in an apartment on Page Street in Haight Ashbury. He died September 12, 2012, at the Zen Hospice, at the other end of Page Street.

David was always quite modest about his art, though he was amazingly gifted at so many media, from pen and ink to watercolor to acrylic and oil. He was not commercial in the least, preferring small commissions of portraits and such, and gifting pieces away. He left several portfolios under his loft, and from this collection, and works loaned from friends and family, come the selections in this exhibit.

Later in his life, David said he felt there was enough art out there, and he turned to tending his and friends’ gardens. This became his love and solace. His Zen style garden was enjoyed by many friends and neighbors. He said: in the end, the garden takes care of the gardener. He was also well known as a property manager, teacher, and chef, Scrabble master and channeler of Emily Dickinson. He loved the Giants, all good jazz and classical music, walking and communing in Golden Gate Park, and Maigret and other PBS mysteries.

He was one of the earliest to be infected with the HIV virus, long before anyone knew what it was. When he was officially diagnosed in 1988, David proceeded down the long road of the new drugs and therapies, and when one would no longer be effective, the next one that came along would help. (Viral load: 40,000; then: undetectable.) Every time another development or affliction happened, he’d say, well – there goes the fender. His spirit, love of life, and the light in his eyes never left him; he kept his sharp and sly sense of humor to the end. AIDS-related lymphoma was ultimately what his body could no longer fight, and that’s when he decided to live out his days at Zen Hospice.

That’s also where he met and fell in love with the chef, Gregory, but that’s another whole story, isn’t it?

July 8
Pieces of Us