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Local artist turns garages into drive-by attractions
The artist can be reached by calling 785-9386.
Artist Gayle Dettinger prefers to paint on canvases that typically measure about two cars wide, hang from a highly visible location and magically roll up with a click of a button.
Dettinger admits that a plain ol’ garage door challenges her - and her paintbrushes.
"I just like painting BIG things. You can put more into your mural. It’s just more impressive. And you can use bigger brushes!"
Unlike regular canvas paintings are that are unveiled at just the right moment, whole neighborhoods watch the birth of Dettinger’s creations, from the first stroke of color to final product in all its driveway glory.
Imagine the buzz when folks drove by as Dettinger transformed a garage door on a Wellton home into Yankee Stadium. Art quickly became a spectator sport.
"It’s great when people drive by or roll up in their golf carts and say ‘Looking good!’ or ‘Oh, you should put this over there,’" she said, laughing. "I take input!"
So far, Dettinger has decked out garage doors in Arizona and for relatives in Wisconsin who say people stop by at take photos of their decked-out doors all the time.
Aside from the novelty of this fun approach to art, Dettinger says painting on garage doors also offers a few practical advantages.
"It is just big, flat surface on the house and it usually faces the street, which means everyone gets to see it. When you paint a mural inside a home, if it’s in the bedroom, how many people actually get to enjoy it?"
Dettinger lives east of Yuma in the community of Roll. Her home definitely benefits from housing an artistic occupant with its many examples of her creative musings. Many surfaces in the home boast a faux finish, while other areas are covered in faux crown molding. The kitchen’s ceiling, for example, sports a covering of textured wallpaper.
"I don’t have a lot of wall space," she says, so mini murals can be found throughout the home. A roadrunner greets visitors from a door, while a friendly giraffe sticks his head through an imaginary window in the bathroom.
Out in the yard, Dettinger’s sheds have been included in the game of dress-up, too. One shed wears a painted garden scene on one side, while the other is painted to look like an outhouse.
One of her favorite creations is a door she loves so much that she brought it with her when she moved from a previous house.
"It is just a plain, solid wood door, but I painted it to look like a glass French door. It looks like you are looking through the glass as a winter scene," Dettinger said, adding that people often think she has simply painted on glass. "No, it’s all wood."
The artist moved to Roll around 10 years ago from Alberta, Canada, where the Massachusetts native owned a bed-and-breakfast for eight years.
"It was an 11-room bed-and-breakfast with a 40-seat tea room that was open for dinner in the evening. That was a wonderful experience. The people I met weren’t just customers. They became almost like family. When I travel, I go see them or they come down and see me."
Dettinger has also lived in New York, St. Louis and Israel, life experiences that she credits with giving a wider palette of color to her soul. "I don’t know if you can see exactly how it changes you, but it does. The more input you have, the better off you are."
In addition to being commissioned to paint regular wall murals, Dettinger satisfies her creative side by teaching cake decorating at a Yuma craft store and offering cookie-decorating classes at area RV parks.
Her love for getting creative in the kitchen was born years ago when she worked at her family’s doughnut shop. She studied to be a pastry chef and specialized in European desserts.
Dettinger loves doing all of those things, but she also hopes to be spending a bit more time in front of garage doors.
"Yes, I would love to do more," she said, adding with a laugh: "As long as it’s not too hot! This is definitely not a summertime thing."
Darin Fenger can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6860.