About M.E. Dunham (Elaine)

With my husband, Bill Moriarty, I have lived in Coos Bay, Oregon, for twenty-four years and have raised three sons.  When our youngest left for college in 2012, I suddenly had vast stretches of time alone. Resolutely, but with little confidence, I turned back to my childhood passion for drawing and painting.

Coos Art Museum has helped me reclaim regular habits of making marks and manipulating color.  Since 2013, I have taken nearly every studio art class offered at the museum–watercolor painting, acrylic painting, print making, mixed media, and experimental classes.  My instructors have included Pat Snyder, Liv Drahos, Allen A. (Tony) Adams, Eileen Sorg, Zoe Cohen, and Jesse Reno.  After a summer 2017 workshop in Yachats, OR, with Serena Barton, I have also started learning to create abstract works using mixtures of oil paint and cold wax medium. In the last five years, I have rarely worked to reproduce people, places, or objects in my paintings.  Most of my paintings now are abstract expressions of experiences, ideas, and aspirations. I paint from the inside out.

In early 2020, I stumbled upon some free online classes with artist Nicholas Wilton which I found quite inspiring, so I next enrolled in his twelve-week intensive online Creative Visionary Program 2020. The twelve week course was offered with a full refund if one cancelled before the end of the first month. Before the end of the first month, March 2020, Covid-19 had me, like most Americans, locked down in my home. So I stayed in Mr. Wilton’s program and painted intensively for three months. I produced about twenty abstract paintings, all on 12″ x 12″ wood panels.

My formal education included studio classes in watercolor with Carl Schmalz plus drawing and oil painting with Oriole Farb, but English was my major area of study at Amherst College.  I continued to devote intense attention to words, history, and ideas as I pursued a master’s degree in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School.  I  considered entering professional ministry but never felt any certainty about “being called” to ordained ministry.  Having a headache every Sunday after church underscored my doubts.

For nearly ten years, while my husband was studying medicine and completing his residency, I was employed as an editor of Lutheran periodicals, first by Fortress Press and subsequently by Augsburg Fortress.  Page design plus selection of photos and illustrations were among my responsibilities. Occasionally I also created illustrations for the publications.

Every once in a while, I have been a guest preacher at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Coos Bay, but I feel free to say more in a painting than in a pulpit.  Additionally, I find preaching exhausting, while painting energizes me.

My artwork has been exhibited in Coos Art Museum’s Biennials (2014, 2016, 2018) a couple of solo shows plus several joint shows with friends Geralyn Inokuchi, Sharon Jensen, Susan Lehman, and Bonni Silver at Black Market Gourmet in Coos Bay (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), at Pacific Coast Medical Park Gallery in Coos Bay (2016), at the Coos Bay Library (2016), at Southern Coos Hospital in Bandon, OR (2017), in six juried shows at Verum Ultimum Gallery in Portland, OR (2017 —2020), at Oregon Bay Properties in North Bend, OR (2017), in the juried exhibit Expressions West 2017 and Expressions West 2020 [postponed until 2021] at Coos Art Museum, at the Hawthorne Gallery in Port Orford, OR (2017), and at God’s House of Vision with artist Dana Gronemyer in Coquille, OR (2019). In May 2019, half a dozen of my paintings, along with paintings by Geralyn Inokuchi, Susan Lehman, and Sharon Jensen were hanging in the Red Door Gallery at Umpqua Valley Arts Association in Roseburg, Oregon in a show entitled “Celebrating Abstraction.” I have entered pieces in several community shows at Art by the Sea gallery in Bandon, Oregon, where one of my collages, “Huddle,” was awarded second place in early October 2018. In 2019, I was awarded First Prize in Small Works at Art by the Sea for my painting “Steampunk Sea.” On commission, during the last two months of 2017, I created a 4′ x 5′ painting entitled “Tomorrow” for a couple’s Coos Bay residence.

Intermingled with paintings by Geralyn Inokuchi and David Castleberry, six of my larger paintings currently hang high on the walls of Art Connection, my main source for art supplies and professional framing in Coos Bay. Art Connection is open from 10 am until 5 pm on weekdays and from noon until 4 pm on Saturdays.

Since the healthy-food cafe opened in 2018, half a dozen of my paintings, as well as an equal number by owner-artist Bonni Silver, have been hanging on the walls of Noster Kitchen in Coos Bay. If you find yourself in Coos Bay in the middle of the day, pop into Noster Kitchen, enjoy some super food, and check out the artwork.

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