Fresh A.I.R. Gallery presents 'healthy' exhibition of David Leonard's art

David Leonard said he turned to art as “a healthy way for me to get out of the reality of life.” He added, “I had multiple unhealthy ways.”

Until 2015, Leonard had struggled most of his adult life with alcohol and drugs. He had dabbled in art-making, creating and donating a few pieces to Southeast, Inc., an agency serving individuals with mental illness or substance abuse disorders, where his wife worked. That an exhibition of his work made in recovery is being shown at Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, operated by Southeast, is not lost on the artist.

“Because of the nature of the gallery, I'm confident enough to be as honest as I've been,” Leonard said in a phone interview. “I've never created this much art. It's a byproduct of being sober.”

An untrained artist, Leonard said mixed-media isn't really an apt descriptor for his work, suggesting, “painting-sculpture, like one word,” instead. The assemblages, featuring circuit boards and other electronics and often more than hinting at robotic characters, “stems from that same place as me being a little kid and tearing things apart, or building LEGOS but not following the directions,” he said.

The exhibition closes this weekend.