David Cleofas Avila - Painter, Musician and Author
David Cleofas Avila was born in Palm Springs, California, USA, the third and final child of Alfredo Antonio Avila and Elaine Kay Smith. Alfredo, or “Fred”, is a general contractor in construction and Elaine is a writer. They divorced in 1994.
Looking back, while in his early forties, David recalls that he had not spent more than 7 years in any one house his whole life. Perhaps the instability was a factor, but it was not the entirety of the reason for his mental problems. Having a genetic predisposition for persistent anxiety, David experienced his first auditory hallucination at age 15.
Keeping his “mind” a secret, David retreated into books and acting as a way of explaining away his eccentricities. His activities were socially successfully, but his grades suffered. With aspirations of a successful life after a prestigious collegiate career, David would have his first major schizophrenic break during his first year of junior college in 1994.
After years of medication and counseling, and a few failed attempts, David successfully returned to school in 2003. Feeling a debt of gratitude, David entered into the field of psychology. The interest would not last as “empathy fatigue and burnout are commonplace for the mental health worker and, therefore, diametrically opposed to my health and well being,” David would later comment.
A fascination with rhythm and music grew out of David’s mental illness which he never let go of, eventually finding respite in performing as a Blues front man. In 2016, David was the victim of a rear end collision en route delivering pizza. The subsequent trauma landed him in a crisis stabilization unit where he “discovered” painting while drawing with felt markers.
David’s work was utilized by his mother, Elaine Galey Smith, as cover art for her novella, Cathy On My Mind; the first of three memoirs chronicling her care of her schizophrenic sister. His contribution is also noted as editorial consultant. David lives and paints in Santa Rosa, California, USA.
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