MEMBER STORIES

Diane Morgan: Hothouse Flower

The Desert Art center is excited to announce that longtime member Diane Morgan is joining our teaching staff. Her vibrant and exuberant paintings reflect her personality and this is a great opportunity for students, whether beginning or advanced.

Diane was born and raised in Michigan in a creative family, and graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. During summer breaks, Diane worked as a waitress which lead to her first job working in advertising for one of her customers. She’s been on a roll ever since.

Michigan was a bit dreary and cold for this color loving artist, and in 1988, she and her husband moved to California where she started her own ad agency for commercial builders. She then managed the Public Arts Program for the City of Palm Springs for 11 years and was actually in charge of the creation of our beautiful fountain on the same block as the Desert Art Center.

When Diane retired, she decided to teach. She found teaching motivating and the students interesting, coming from so many backgrounds. Diane teaches in watercolor, oil, and acrylic, and will also be teaching painting classes on ZOOM in the future.

While in college, Diane discovered the work of Georgia O’Keefe which has been a great influence in her own work. In her process, Diane photographs flowers (and bees on flowers), and closes in on the image, enlarging it into a somewhat abstract design as O’Keefe did on canvas or paper. Her work is vibrant and meticulous, as you can see from the photographs. It’s surprising to see the paintings of cars as well. A friend asked her to paint his 1957 Chevy and this has led to commercial work.

Be sure to visit the gallery when possible and see her work and sign up for her classes!

archived stories

DAC Instructor Meridy Volz donates proceeds to Black Lives Matter and Senate Runoff Funds

Popular DAC instructor Meridy Volz considers herself high risk for Covid-19. When the pandemic began, she knew to stay sheltered. “It was hard,” she says, “and it became very lonely”.

But, after George Floyd’s death, the long-time activist who proudly cites eleven arrests for civil disobediences decades ago, began a series of 18×24-inch oil pastel portraits depicting deceased Black artists and statespersons. James Baldwin was her first; five months later she has sold sixty unique artworks. While being interviewed she was drawing Barry White  (her 77th portrait) as the singer’s soul music played in the background. 

Each portrait is priced within a range — $300 to $1000 — and people pay what they can afford. Volz donated the proceeds from the first thirty portraits to the Black Lives Matter Bail Fund. Then, upon hearing about so many Black families in need, she now sends $500 checks anonymously through community contacts to people in need. “For example, one recently went to a grandma who couldn’t feed her three children,” the 73-year-old says.

“It’s a win-win. I’m sheltered in place anyway, and I draw four to five hours a day. It feels seamless. And I’m making a point that Black Lives matter. Black lives certainly have mattered in my life. Each of these people have contributed so much to our culture.”

Each drawing contains a brick wall and a sunset in the background. The sunset represents a life well lived, while the wall offers geometry and a point of view while in isolation. Her art has gone everywhere in the country, including ten to a bookstore in Louisville where Breonna Taylor died.  

Meridy also teaches five Skype classes a week for young people in Juvenile Hall, and she still does commissions. But right now her focus is this series. “I’ve always been an activist and it’s kept me going. My daughter was asking me, how many more? I don’t know where it stops, maybe at 100? I don’t know. In the meantime it feels like a really, really beautiful piece of activism.”

 

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Ray Lanowy: Behind the Mask

Ray Lanowy, long time member of the Desert Art Association, is not only an accomplished landscape painter but also truly exceptional on the sewing machine, and has been since childhood when he would help his mom with patterns.

As early as last January, he knew there would be a need for protective masks with the looming pandemic. And, with a little help from his partner, Lanowy designed and created over 800 masks. His generous art spirit led him to give them to DAC, which in turn has received over $1300 in much needed funds from the sales of his masks.

Because of amazing members like Ray, we are safe and inspired during this very trying time. Be sure to check out his beautiful works of mask art online!

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Tom Lowe: New Talent in Town

Tom Lowe, artist and designer, is a recent transplant from New York City and a 2019 juried gallery member at DAC and Palm Springs. Tom helped start our online store and developed our new branded look.  Like many others in the area, Tom and his partner Nick Humen came to Palm Springs on vacation and decided to make it their home.  They officially moved from New York in May, 2017.

 Originally from Long Island, Tom grew up as an artist in a family of firefighters. Although his family did not support his desire to attend art school in NYC, he was undaunted, getting an art scholarship at the New York Institute of Technology. At 25, he followed his dream to be an artist in France where he found promising success as a painter.  Once he returned to New York he began working in graphic design during the golden age of celebrity magazines and was soon enjoying all the trappings of material success — but he was miserable.  He hated it.  He had to make a change.  

It was during a two week period of quiet and renewal in Pennsylvania that Tom experienced a breakthrough moment — in the woods, in a cabin, in nature.  Inspired by a scene involving wasps in the movie KINSEY, based on the life of human sexuality scientist Alfred Kinsey, Tom says he got the idea of working with thin birch bark and pieces of silk to create art that resembled butterfly wings. Now he creates fabric art using felt because of its strength and texture.

 Tom’s very unique and beautiful work can be found on the DAC website as well as in the gallery when it opens again.  Don’t miss it!

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