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The Family Man: David Nixon

Age 39 
Neighborhood Columbia City 
Hometown Seattle 
Most recent book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman 
Favorite movies Raiders of The Lost Ark, Brazil, Harold and Maude 
Hero David Byrne

David Nixon has spent his public life in the world of ambiguity and abstraction, creating multi-disciplinary theatrical productions and playing with the performance art bands “Awesome” and the Half Brothers. For years, he explored existential terrain without getting too personal. Then his life took over.

“I remember back in college, when I was studying acting, and I just hated it when people barfed their personal crap onto the stage and called it art,” he says. “I was like, ‘Get a therapist already!’ And now here I am making art out of my most personal stories. But I don’t really steer this train, and this seems to be where it’s going these days.”

A longtime polymath with a scatter of influences, Nixon has recently embraced film as his medium of choice and family as his subject. The results are strange, funny and touching films that have turned Nixon into a standout.

Last summer he released the 24-minute musical film, The Shelf, in which he explores the disparities between his hapless brother and his talented self with grace. In November he premiered parts of Bladfold, an animated film about his father, Brad Nixon, the charismatic leader of the Northwest’s Nichiren Buddhism movement of the late-’60s. A finished version of that film will be released in the spring. Nixon will also likely be taking a lot of home videos of his newborn son, Jules.

“It does feel like there’s a whole new world opening up,” he says. “Partly it’s because I’m doing more stuff that’s solo or led by me, as opposed to being part of artistic collectives. I’ve always loved creating art collaboratively, but I get to take bigger risks when it’s my project.”

In 2013, Nixon will also be the Scholar in Residence at Seattle’s Town Hall, a role that will culminate in a performance late this year. 

Photo by Dylan Priest. Return to the complete Future List.

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