Painter, sculptor, and teacher, David Appleman has been an important artistic presence in Greenville, South Carolina, since the 1960s. In an artist’s statement he explained: “I like to keep it simple: sometimes bird or animal forms but often only geometric and without subject.” Most of his work is abstract.

Appleman was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and arrived as a freshman at Bob Jones University in Greenville in 1961. After graduation he returned to his birthplace and taught seventh grade for one year. He quickly realized it was not for him and was delighted when his alma mater invited him back, where initially he did advertising work, designing posters and promoting the university. He obtained his master’s degree in 1967 and has acknowledged Carl Blair, Emery Bopp, and Darrell Koons as his mentors. He soon joined them in the art department and remained at Bob Jones University for forty-two years. 

Appleman’s paintings are hard-edged, achieved without tape, but rather through a painstaking use of brushes. According to him: “Color also plays an important role in the paintings, as it gives added emphasis and visual interest and can even communicate emotion.” Sometimes the canvases are shaped, making them similar to his sculptures—typically carved soapstone—where the profile is all important. For him, “Contour lines moving from one form to another produce rhythm and help my sculptures to ‘read’ from any view.” Unlike the paintings with their methodical preparation of drawings on gesso and two or three layers of acrylic, the sculptures are more intuitive.