Artist seeks to unite talent to share inspiration, knowledge

Many view art as a solitary pursuit, but Dottie Stanley thinks it’s time for San Diego artists to come together.

She spends almost as much time networking as she does painting. Active in numerous organizations around San Diego, Stanley is the founder of the Allied Artists Association of San Diego. Starting Feb. 16 and running through March 30, artwork from 31 members of the association will be on display at the La Jolla Public Library.

Artists need a place to come together to learn and be inspired by each other, Stanley said.

“Artists are always looking to stretch and learn and try something different,” she said. “And how are you going to do that if you don’t have somewhere to go to?”

Stanley was recently named a fellow in the American Artists Professional League after her work was featured in four of the last five grand national exhibitions sponsored by the organization.

Since 1928, the AAPL has worked to promote and preserve American realistic art, as well as protect artists’ interests. They were instrumental in establishing standards for artists’ colors and the development of a congressional bill that stipulated official portraits paid by taxpayers were to be painted by American artists.

Coming on the heels of her AAPL fellowship, Stanley was invited to become a member of the Salmagundi Art Club, a center for exhibitions, painting demonstrations, classes and social activities.

“This is the kind of place I’d like to see in San Diego,” Stanley said.

More than 125 years old, the group originated from a sketch class in New York City. There are now affiliate clubs throughout the world.

She’s already planted the seed that may one day sprout into her vision of launching one in San Diego.

In June 2005, Stanley started the Allied Artists Association of San Diego.

“Our mission at that time was a gallery without walls, and we wanted to promote the artists in local venues,” she said.

There are currently about 100 members, representing artists, sculptors, photographers, ceramic and glass artisans.

Works from these artists are on display around San Diego in locations such as the Wyndham Hotel, Merrill Lynch Building and the Federal Building downtown. Every four to six weeks, the art is rotated.

The organization also supports fund-raisers and charity events.

“I don’t know of any group in San Diego that does what we do,” Stanley said.

One day, she would love to have what she calls an “incubator,” a facility to nurture artists.

Stanley, 65, moved to La Jolla from the East Coast in 1991. She is a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, managing over $100 million. Her husband is retired from advertising. She has a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Her award-winning paintings have been exhibited in museums and juried shows across the country. Her work features ordinary, everyday scenes and subjects such as landscapes, figures, cityscapes and portraits. From a technical perspective, she enjoys experimenting with the dramatic effect of light and shadow.

Her emotional content is derived from a sensitivity to isolation and loneliness, and some of her paintings are social commentary, such as her homeless series.

In creating these works, Stanley hoped to bring awareness to the issue, but not in a negative context. She wanted people to take a look at something they might not normally pause to consider.

“It’s not a terrible thing,” she said. “I wanted to show that there’s a beautiful side to this. Whatever it is I’m painting, I want to strike a response from the heart of the viewer. You have to do more than just copy what’s there.”

Now a member of the Salmagundi Art Club and American Artists Professional League and president of the Allied Artists Association of San Diego, Stanley also holds memberships in Allied Artists of America, Oil Painters of America and other regional and local organizations.

Though her participation in the groups takes time away from her own art, Stanley makes the sacrifice because she believes community is an important part of being an artist.

“I don’t find, here in San Diego, the kind of cohesiveness that there is with art and artists in other places,” she said.

As an art student, Stanley refined her craft not just at institutions but under the guidance of mentors and teachers such as Arthur Maynard, a protegee of Frank Vincent DuMond and a contemporary of Winslow Homer; Everett Raymond Kinstler, official White House portraitist; and Wolf Kahn of New York City.

“I really believe that you don’t pick a school to learn to paint, you pick a teacher,” she said.

San Diego lacks a visual arts center, Stanley said. There is no place for artists to nurture themselves and build each other up to the next level.

“You do that by sharing information with other artists,” she said.

Founding the Allied Artists Association of San Diego is her way of passing on the encouragement she received.

“You have to give it away,” she said. “I was dying to have the knowledge an accomplished artist had that I admired, and they shared it with me, and that’s what I want to do. I think it’s very necessary to give away what I have.”

The La Jolla Library is at 7555 Draper Ave. For information about the organization or corporate exhibition opportunities, call (858) 456-3960 or go to