60s & Further Guest Artist
David Pontbriand

American Sitarist

David is dedicated to raising awarness of the instrument, and the music for which it was created.
In addition to regular public and private recitals, he teaches private students, and presents lecture-demonstrations.
His recitals often feature performances on both sitar and surbahar.

From the unique perspective of an American Sitarist,
his works highlight and re-interpret elements of the major classical instrumental styles,
with emphasis on the ancient and austere solo form called dhrupad alap,
and the imaginative and exciting khyal with tabla accompaniment.

"Though primarily self-taught, I have endeavored to respect, to preserve,
and to render the spirit of the traditional ragas ofHindustani classical music.
While clearly derived from a blend of traditional sources, my works are largely self-styled,
and do not always, or necessarily, represent any one particular school, or formal discipline, of sitar performance."
-David Pontbriand-

David Pontbriand's sitar is custom-made left-handed from the shop of Hiren Roy & Sons in Calcutta, India.
The late Hiren Roy is noted as one of India's finest sitar makers and is credited with many distinctive innovations. 
The beautiful custom surbahar comes from the shop of Radhey Shyam Sharma, in Varanasi (Benares), India.


An American Artist

In over thirty years of painting the American landscape,
from the coast of Maine to the desert southwest,
David has developed and refined a powerfully unique and personal vision.

David is best known for his thirteen-year study of the Arizona desert.
The Sonoran DesertWorks (1985-1997)
well known and widely exhibited throughout the southwest and across the USA,
have been recognized for their brilliant expressive color and lyrical stylization.

Born in Massachusetts in 1951, David developed, at a young age, a deep feeling for the landscape and a taste for solitude. He first learned to paint directly from the landscape, working outdoors in all seasons and in every kind of weather. David studied design, color theory, and painting under Ann Wallace and John Bageris at the former Hudson Institute, and earned a Certificate in Fine Arts in 1971. He moved his studio to Portland, Maine in 1977.

Three years later, David turned his attention to Arizona, first to produce a distinctive series of Grand Canyon paintings.
For the next fifteen years he explored and painted the deserts of the southwest USA, and Mexico's Baja peninsula.
His "discovery" of the Sonoran Desert region, in 1985,
marked an important turning point leading to the evolution of the Sonoran Desert Works.

In March 1997, he presented a multi-media exhibition entitled 
combining a single large scale painting with controlled lighting and
the artist's own original music compositions, to create a meditative atmosphere for viewing art.

Other plans will include the first public exhibition of David's abstract paintings.
Since 1971 his work has alternated between figurative landscape and abstraction,
but only the landscapes have been shown.
His latest series of abstract works represents the distillation of thirty years
investigation into the expressive power of the language of color and form. 

David Pontbriand will be returning to Arizona to further develop and
expand the Sonoran DesertWorks series in the spring of 2002. 

We are honored to offer David's work and visiom here on 60s & Further..please enjoy.

March 2007

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Laughing Coyote Hermitage

'Grand Canyon Morning' © David Pontbriand

'Desert Dance' © David Pontbriand

Sonoran Desert Works

'Cactus Garden' © David Pontbriand

'Saguaro Moon' © David Pontbriand
'Puerto Blanco' © David Pontbriand

The Sea and the Light

The Sea and the Light' © David Pontbriand

The Sonoran Desert Heart

"The heart of the Sonoran Desert, a land mass larger than Connecticut, sprawls across the southwestern corner of Arizona and into the northern reaches of Sonora, Mexico; this region encompasses Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, the Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery Range, and the Sierra Pinacate Biosphere Reserve.

Summer heat is stunning. In mid-June, a thermometer perched six feet off the ground may stall between 110° and 120°F day after day, while at ground level readings reach 180°. Searing dryness dominates this place. In the Sonoran’s most arid regions where in prosperous rain-years three inches might fall, annual evaporation capacity can exceed 10 feet. Every natural feature – the contour of a saguaro cactus column, the color of a lizard, the gradient of a dry wash, the clarity of the night sky, the density of soil, the spoor of a serpent, the flowering of an ocotillo – is an evolutionary spinoff of this extreme heat and aridity.

Rainfall, when it does come, varies from an average of nine inches annually in Organ Pipe National Monument on the eastern boundary to scarcely three inches in the Yuma Desert on the western perimeter where two or three years may pass without measurable precipitation. Occasionally, after a violent summer thunderstorm, the central arroyos, Growler Wash and San Cristobal Wash, carry water ephemerally and ponds fill at Las Playas, a dry lake bed.

No perennial streams flow here, and springs that produce reliable water are fewer than the fingers on one hand. Often, the only water to drink is ephemeral rainwater trapped in natural rock catchments. Perhaps by caprice or by a kind of logic turned on end in a place where water is desperately sought, nearly half of all place names – Agua Dulce, Tinajas Altas, Quitobaquito Spring, Papago Tanks, Bates Well – scream "water" in boldface. Names aside, travelers through the region carry their own water – or they die.

Yet, this Sonoran Desert core is the most species-rich and biologically-diverse arid land on Earth – far more diverse in life forms, for example, than the three other North American deserts that lie partly within Arizona: the Great Basin, Mohave, and Chihuahuan. In the Sonoran, botanists count more than 600 plant species; saguaro, organ pipe, and senita cacti prosper here, along with velvet mesquite, blue palo verde, elephant tree, white-thorn acacia, and ironwood.

In years of ideal weather, myriad spring wildflowers -- including Ajo lily, Mexican poppy, desert lupine, dune evening primrose, sand verbena, and desert marigold -- carpet the desert. On the highest peaks, where elevations approach 5,000 feet, more than 140 rare "sky-island" plant species thrive, among them a Pleistocene-remnant juniper and Quercus ajoensis, an endemic oak.
The endangered Sonoran pronghorn and lesser long-nosed bat endure here, too, and desert bighorn sheep clamber steep rock faces. In the wildest recesses dwell animals whose habitat has never been trespassed by human tread, among them: badger, kit fox, mule deer, and mountain lion; Mojave rattler, desert tortoise, Gila monster, and rosy boa; raven, phainopepla, loggerhead shrike, Say’s phoebe, prairie falcon, and black-throated sparrow.

Two intertwined factors – location and climate – contribute to the unique biodiversity of the Sonoran Desert. Its location is subtropical. Consequently, the Sonoran is less susceptible to killing winter frosts that limit plant growth in the more northern Great Basin or the Chihuahuan Desert, which, although farther south, is higher and exposed to blasts of Arctic air.

Oddly, the other favorable climatic factor is precipitation. Two rainy seasons, winter and summer, give the Sonoran Desert more moisture than other deserts. In winter, gentle, long-lasting frontal systems move into the region from the Pacific Ocean. These rains are more nourishing than in higher, cooler deserts where plants go dormant and precipitation is mainly snow. Winter rains in the Sonoran Desert sometimes produce stunning spring wild flower displays.

The summer rainy season is a monsoon, a wind shift that funnels moist tropical air into the desert, producing sporadic and heavy, though localized, thunderstorms. In good years the advent of the monsoon is like a second spring.
Beautiful and alluring, teeming with life but fatal to those who ignore its harsh terms, the vast heart of the Sonoran Desert is one of the last great untrammeled places on Earth.
 Award winning author Tom Dollar has written feature articles for Arizona Highways, Audubon, Wildlife Conservation, Omni, Discover, and The Mother Earth News. His third book, Guide to Arizona's Wilderness Areas was published last year.

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