Don Dahlke, born in San Francisco, California in 1950, is one of the most diverse artists of the 20th and 21st century.
One of the innovators of the agglomerate style of painting, Don is also a sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, and designer. Known for his oil on canvas paintings, he captures the gaiety of the islands in his trio canvases while creating a pleasing sense of balance for the viewer. Shadows on a West Indian porch with shutters and gingerbread trim are just as delightful as the backdrop of sapphire water and a brilliant blue sky. That same blue sky and water figure prominently in his paintings of people.
Don credits travel as his greatest artistic influence. His two-year visit to Greece changed the way he treated light and color. He interrupted his formal art training on the West Coast by visiting the Cayman Islands for six months. Here, he found the quality of light, the blending of cultures, and the sheer beauty of the Caribbean that attract many artists. After trekking across Europe to study the great masters and apprenticing in England, he returned to the States for a time. Once again, the Caribbean beckoned. Today, he is regarded as one of the foremost artists of the Caribbean.
The son of a merchant and housewife, Don developed a zeal for the arts at an early age. His grandfather, a Hollywood stuntman, props man, and backdrop painter of the 1920’s, influenced his interest. During this younger school years, he was deemed a bad student and reprimanded for drawing during class. His mother and father often told him that art was not a viable means of supporting oneself. A determined and rebellious thinker, he pressed forward in developing a sustainable means of support. Don’s passion led to many different aspects of art. He reached goals that gave him the freedom to invent and explore. After high school, he went on to study at various art schools.
Although these institutions furthered his interest in art, it was a professor (Richard Muller) at Portland State University who convinced him to pursue a career in fine art. Since then, Don continues to explore and to innovate in the nontraditional agglomerate approach to painting.