Radical Artist Dances, Paints and Inspires at Malibu Library

Performance artist David Garibaldi completed three paintings at Malibu City Hall as part of this year’s Malibu Library Speaker Series.

Performance artist David Garibaldi entered the stage at Malibu City Hall big, bald and splattered in paint to the sound of loud techno music.

“I need a little bit of energy from you and a lot of noise!” he yelled to the audience. He danced up to a big, black canvas with two paintbrushes in each hand and began painting as he danced. He made quick brushstrokes, sometimes painting with two hands at once, using two different colors at the same time, creating a piece of abstract art.

As he changed brushes and colors and continued to add paint, the picture came to life and the head of the Statue of Liberty gradually took form. When he finished it, the audience went nuts. 

Garibaldi, 33, is classified as an American performance painter. His specialty is his “Rhythm and Hue” stage act in which he rapidly creates portraits of notable rock musicians and other icons. He does over 100 shows a year, has been a finalist on “America’s Got Talent,” and has opened for the Blue Man Group and Snoop Dogg.

Garibaldi’s Statue of Liberty painting marked the beginning of the latest 2015 Malibu Library Speaker Series event. The show was introduced by City Councilmember Laura Rosenthal as “a joint project of the L.A. County Public Library and the City of Malibu, featuring experts in a wide range of subjects, including the entertainment, industry, literature, science, motivation, the arts, education, sports, travel, food and the environment.”

Rosenthal explained that Garibaldi is recognized for “combining street dancing with graffiti and delivering an inspiring personal message about going from a high school dropout to the success he is today.” 

After finishing his first painting, Garibaldi came to the front of the stage and began telling his story. In his hometown of Sacramento, he stole things and painted graffiti. One night, after being chased by police and hurtling an eight-foot wall to escape, he had an epiphany. 

“What are you doing with these friends in these situations?” he asked himself. “And what are you doing with the creativity that’s been given to you?”

He turned to a favorite teacher, Mr. Sullivan. “I learned the art of storytelling, learned to have dreams and aspirations for the future, and learned to go often to the things in your heart,” Garibaldi said. 

He later hit rock bottom after not finishing high school, getting fired from his job and evicted from his “little one-bedroom” apartment. In his father’s garage, he realized that his creativity was the one thing that had not been taken away.

He began teching himself how to paint, but was “going broke,” so he took his paintings to jazz clubs and other venues, trying to sell them. “I’d stay in my dad’s garage and practice non-stop, throwing paint around, and eventually performing on stage at bars or anywhere.”

Garibaldi became popular at fundraising events for charity, where the paintings he created on stage would be auctioned off afterward for as much as $50,000 apiece. This had a huge impact on him.

“I set a goal to sell a million dollars worth of art for charity by the time I was 30,” he said. He travelled the world doing fundraising events and met his goal, before his 30th birthday. 

After sharing his story, Garibaldi went on to dance and paint two more works of art during his performance in Malibu — a portrait of Steve Jobs and an upside-down portrait of Einstein, which most of the audience didn’t recognize until he turned it right-side up. He says his average on-stage painting only takes six minutes, but he also does studio art, which takes longer. 

He continued his message of finding what you love to do and then doing it. “Don’t let others opinions drown out your inner voice,” he cautioned. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

After the show, he came to the reception area, where he met and answered questions from members of the audience and posed for pictures. 

The next event in the Malibu Library Speaker Series will take place Wed., May 20, with Scott Backovich on “Motivating Millenials — inspiring teens to help them unleash their true potential.”