Nocturne: The True Story of an Etching which Grew

In 1979 I created an etching with aquatint called "Nocturne". It depicted a full moon gleaming through branches and moonlight reflected on a body of water beyond the trees. One of the galleries which handled my work at the time was The Red Barn Gallery, located near Green Bay, Wisconsin and a young woman visiting there purchased an impression of "Nocturne" as a gift for her friend Dave Unites.
Twenty years went by. The young woman passed out of Dave's life but the etching stayed with him. Dave continued to enjoy "Nocturne." Access to the internet became commonplace. In 1999 or early 2000 Dave found me online. "Could he," he asked in an e-mail message, "commission an artist to paint a large version of Nocturne on the outside of his house?"

I was thrilled. "Of course," I responded. Just send me a snapshot when it is done.

As it happened, I thought little more about it... At the time I was preparing for a solo museum show and had a lot on my mind. Thus it was a wonderful surprise when, approximately two months later, a package arrived from Dave containing photos of "Nocturne" writ large. Also in the package was a note inviting me to visit Dave at his home at Tee Lake near LaPorte, Indiana to see the work.

Later that year, while driving east after presenting a collage workshop in Chicago, I stopped to visit Dave. With him was Mike Zieve, the artist who had done such a wonderful job enlarging "Nocturne" that it looked (to me) better than the original. After posing for the photos below, we enjoyed a pleasant dinner just across the state line in Michigan and then I continued on my way back to New York.

Why do I share this story with you? Because it is about the human side of art, about art bringing folks together, about enjoyment and affirmation. It turns out that Dave is an artist in his own right (you'll have to ask him about that if you ever meet him) and I am delighted with his affection for my work.

The larger photo below shows the enlarged "Nocturne" on Dave's 2-car garage door. In the smaller photo at left, Dave is holding the original etching. The smaller photo on the right shows me with artist Mike Zieve standing in front of Mike's work holding my work.

--Jonathan Talbot, August, 2000

Jonathan & Dave

The Enlarged "Nocturne"

Jonathan & Mike

I have recently learned of Dave Unites' untimely passing. I understand that his house has been sold and I can easily imagine that the enlarged version of "Nocturne" no longer exists. But, thanks to Dave and Mike, the history of "the etching which grew" lives on in my memory and here, on the internet.

--Jonathan Talbot, 2008

*To reach Mike Zieve's websites (he has two) go to or
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