Hi there, I'm Deanna, nice to meet you, virtually. My life has been about painting for 30+ years now. My first little oil painting was made in an abandoned building squat on 13th street between A&B in the East Village, NYC, 1990. When I made that painting I knew it was what I had been searching for after briefly attending 6 colleges, studying everything from fashion design to commercial art to broadcasting. From there on out I've been teaching myself to paint by trial and error and success.
Within a few months of that first painting I traveled with my partner to the East side of Berlin, Germany, accessible since the wall had fallen a few years before. A thriving art community was living and working in buildings that were bombed in WW2. This was Tacheles. My partner, a Julliard trained dancer/choreographer, formed a ballet company based in Tacheles. I painted the backdrops for the performances. Being a part of Tacheles at this transitional time in Germany was an incredible life changing experience, and friends I met there are still very important to me today.
About 2 years later I returned to NYC and became a part of the East Village/Lower East Side art community. This was still a very rough and dangerous area; it was a very exciting time to be creating art, hanging out at Mars Bar, CBGB, SideWalk Cafe, and other now non-existent infamous dives. I lived in East Village/LES until rents went so high that I moved to DUMBO in Brooklyn, which was the next dump inhabited by all the artists. Abandoned warehouses were rented out as art studios and many of us lived in them as well. We opened galleries, night clubs, and restaurants. Once again, as with all gentrification, the artists make it happen but are then pushed out by high rents.
Around 1999 I left NYC; I lived in Baltimore, MD, painting sets for Center Stage and the Baltimore Opera....I wasn't particularly good at this because it required realism and working from a pre-existing design. It was here that I first started working as a background actor in John Waters' film Cecil B. Demented. Wow what an amazing experience that was! Over the years since then I've been involved in many films and television such as The Wire, Replacements, The Invasion, Red Dragon, Invincible, San Andreas, 13 Reasons Why, Ant-Man, Chance, and many more.
After living in Baltimore a few years, I was about to move back to NYC. My car was packed but I decided to wait until the next day to drive up.....this was on September 10th, 2001. Of course on 9/11 my plans to return to NY changed. Instead I stayed in PA near my family, then spent the next few years living in Key West, FL and traveling in Europe before moving out to live with my sister in the SF Bay Area in 2005.
Once again, in 2006 my life changed direction when a truck T-boned my motorcycle on a ride out to Bodega Bay. It was a near-fatal accident that left me permanently disabled. My sister stayed by me for 10 grueling years of surgeries and ongoing rehabilitation at Stanford Hospital. During those years I discovered a wonderful new occupation - acting in medical education as a Standardized Patient at Touro University. When I could barely even walk again I was given the opportunity to work with some of the most caring and dedicated people I've ever known. In 9 years working at Touro I developed lasting friendships I wouldn't have now if not for the original accident. This traumatic experience, and the following job in healthcare, taught me empathy and compassion I could not comprehend before. During this time I was also painting and exhibiting in the SF Bay/NorCal area, making jewelry, background acting in films, taking acting classes for film and the Meisner Technique, and attending Santa Rosa Jr. College where I studied music/voice and graduated with my AA in Psychology in 2015.
And now to the present day! In 2017, when the fires raged through Santa Rosa, CA, I was living not far from there. The fires came very close to my studio, I could see the flames while standing in my yard. If the fires had reached my studio 25 years of paintings would turn to ash, so in Spring 2018 I decided finally to return home to PA to stay with my parents and figure out where to go next. Shortly after returning my father fell and broke his femur, we were also noticing that he may have dementia. This started a long process of moving my parents to a one level home and the decline of my father's physical and mental health. I've been living nearby in Red Lion, PA for three years now, assisting my mom as she took care of my dad. This has been a very difficult time, the complex feelings involved with watching my parents age, the surreal horror of dementia, and then a global pandemic!! I never expected to be in PA for this long, but I've had many great opportunities to exhibit my paintings in York, and have been extremely prolific. The paintings on this website are about 1/3 of the pieces I've made in 3 years. When I look at my journey written here I feel there's been a lot of tragedy that's shaped my life, but many exciting adventures and caring people have shaped it as well. I don't know what the future will hold, but I know as long as I can paint I will survive!