We had the good fortune of connecting with Don Longo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Don, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I grew up in a family that loved the arts. My mom was a singer as a hobby and my dad was a wood craftsman also as a hobby. Both were extremely talented in these endeavors. They encouraged me to pursue whatever dreams I had as a young boy. When I was 10 yrs. old I helped design my grandmothers’ tombstone and knew then that I had some kind of artistic talent. I was allowed to paint my bedroom furniture any way I wanted as well. The freedom I had to explore color and design was what helped me pursue the arts throughout secondary school and college. I became a high school teacher in both Physical Education and Art but enjoyed the art classroom to the gym as I was able to open up young minds to drawing, painting and sculpture. I was amazed at the talent that the students had who never thought they had it. That’s what kept me going for the next 37 years in the teaching profession. Once I retired, I knew I wanted to continue to paint and have my own studio where I could create for myself on a daily basis. I now have my own website and continue to paint on a daily basis. I have sold many of my paintings over the past 3 years, have won some awards for my work and have shown in various galleries in Texas. I love my life and love to paint. I am a lucky man.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m not sure there is anything too much to say about setting myself apart from other visual artists. I appreciate all types of visual art from realism to abstraction in all mediums. I can walk into any gallery and love pretty much everything I see. That doesn’t mean I would buy everything I see but I truly can appreciate the process they went through to get to the finished piece. The main challenge I think I had growing into an adult was that I was torn between art and physical education. I loved coaching high school students in both soccer and volleyball. Played collegiate volleyball for four years and was an apprentice coach with the USA Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team back in the 80’s. I was also a USA Soccer Level B Men’s Soccer Coach and Educator so I had very little time for my art. I put it on the back burner. My only outlet for creation was teaching high school art classes. Summers were spent travelling with club sport teams both domestically and overseas. I loved all of it. But deep inside I had so many friends that kept telling me to do more artwork. My only space to create was in school, in class or in the garage whenever I felt like it. But the day came in the summer of 2017 where I retired from teaching. I had already retired from coaching a few years back but kept active in club sports. It was now time for me, time for my deep passion to paint, time to experiment with colors, textures and designs. So we built a studio in our backyard and I have not looked back since. I paint almost daily and sell my paintings online through social media and my website. I am relaxed and have found time for myself again.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First I would take them to my friends homes where they could meet and greet. I have so many great friends who love to host pool parties, dinner parties, sports parties, and other social events. I would love to immerse them in my world and let them see how life is here in Dallas. Next I would take them downtown as many always want to tour the 6th Floor of the Kennedy Museum. Can’t tell you how many times I have been there, although each time I get that eerie feeling of being back in time again. I would take them to the bars (except now in the time of Covid-19). We have many great restaurants of all types of food so would ask them what their favorite cuisine is and take them there. I would take them to the Dallas Arboretum which is a beautiful outdoor venue full of gorgeous flowers and landscapes. I would take them to Ft. Worth to the Stockyards which is still similar to the old west with shops and rodeos.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First of all, my parents. Without they support to explore painting, I would probably never have pursued it as a career. Next my high school art teacher, Mrs. Broughall who let me figure things out, explore design and put together a portfolio for me for college. A few of my college professors helped refine my skills but I was also interested in sports so decided to put sports and PE first with art as something I enjoyed doing and relaxing with. In my first teaching job, I was encouraged to teach one class of art by the art teacher, Mary Hensler. I took it and I never looked back. Thanks to Mary, she started my art teaching career at Sherman High School. In my next teaching job at Irving High School, the art department head, Mrs. Mixon, hired me full time to teach art classes and my last teaching job, the art department head, Becky Keeton, allowed me to teach all levels of art from Art. I to Art IV along with Pre-AP and AP Art classes with them. In my later years, many friends kept encouraging me to paint and show my work, one of which was Dana Williams Blackwell. She never wavered in her support. My husband, Al Dawson, kept pushing me to produce and sell my work and helped me build a studio in our backyard. He is my rock and best supporter. I have many other friends in Richardson and Dallas and throughout the state of Texas who love my work and have supported me with purchases. They know who they are. Family, cousins, friends…what more does and artist need.
Facebook: Don Longo and Don Longo Art
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