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 and resolutely, but with little confidence, returned 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.

My Amherst College 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.  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), in a solo show and joint shows with friends Geralyn Inokuchi, Sharon Jensen, Susan Lehman, and Bonni Silver at Black Market Gourmet in Coos Bay (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), 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 four juried shows at Verum Ultimum Gallery in Portland, OR (2017 —2019), at Oregon Bay Properties in North Bend, OR (2017), in the juried exhibit “Expressions West 2017” at Coos Art Museum, at the Hawthorne Gallery in Port Orford, OR (2017), and at God’s House of Vision, with artist Dana Gronemeyer, 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.

Since the health-food cafe opened in 2018, half a dozen of my paintings 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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