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THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata
David Nakabayashi paints scenery all over Ridgewood

The simple act of painting his surroundings helped draw a Texas transplant closer to his new hometown of Ridgewood.

David Nakabayashi, 52, has been painting since his early childhood. He moved to Ridgewood from Texas in December and right away began painting the landscape of his new area.

“This takes me out of the studio and connects me to my neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a great area to paint.”

Nakabayashi can be spotted throughout the neighborhood about two to three times a week as he does his paintings of Ridgewood en plein air.

He picks a spot to set up his paint stand and illustrates the scene taking place in front of him on a tiny 7-by-7-inch canvas.

During his usual four to five hours of painting, in which he finishes about two to three canvases, locals stop to admire the work and talk about the history of some of the buildings or scenery he may be painting.

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“There are times where I’ll be painting a building and people come up to me and start talking about different stores that used to be there or the different people that once lived there,” he said. “If I hadn’t been out on the streets I would have never learned so much [about Ridgewood].”

Nakabayashi is a self-taught painter. He relies on his artwork as his main source of income but does it for more than just monetary purposes.

“I feel it is my civic duty if I’m a talented guy to give back to my neighborhood,” he said. “Although my paintings are about the neighborhood what’s really important is the connection between me and the art.”

He described Ridgewood as a tight-knit community and said he has never had a bad comment come from any resident who passes by to watch him paint.

“Ridgewood has been super nice to me,” Nakabayashi said. “It’s an ideal place to paint because there is so much diversity in the area.”

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He said he has held many “normal” jobs throughout his life, mostly in Texas and New Mexico, but none have given him more pride than painting. The art scene in New York drew him to the city as he is now just a train ride away from some of the most famous art museums in the world. He believes that Ridgewood has been the place for him to live all along.

“I never had the experience of being able to go anywhere and see art all over,” he said. “I think this might be home. I like it here.”

To check out more of Nakabayashi’s work go to www.davidnakabayashi.com.

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