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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | Art Talk 

This Week's South Side Shuffle Expo at Galleria Dante

January 25, 2019

Galleria Dante, the largest and most eclectic art gallery in Puerto Vallarta, is located at Basilio Badillo #269. For more information, call (322) 222-2477, or send an email to galleriadante2(at)

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - On Friday, January 25 from 6-10 pm, a cocktail reception will open an art exhibition by artists Tom & Donna Dickson at Galleria Dante, Basilio Badillo #269, in Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone. Be sure to stop by and meet the artists while you're out doing this week's South Side Shuffle.

Tom and Donna Dickson, although unique individuals, both have great talent. It often prompts one to ask if they are competitive. They laugh and say "No". They paint in the same apartment, but each with their own studio space.

Donna has deservedly earned her reputation as a first rate instructor of art but there was a time nearly half a century ago when she was a fairly raw beginner herself and a sometimes difficult student to boot. As a sensitive child she had always been visually perceptive and had taken art at school whenever the option was available. Like most creative kids though, she found it wasn't possible to pick up much in the way of basic technique with the resources at hand.

Being a bit of a rebel she would have been prime material for formal art school training but she didn't know that at the time. She liked "dabbling" in an effort to express her feelings but she accepted her limitations as inherent, having no pretensions to being a great "artist". All the same, during 1973, on the island of Crete the limits of her humility were put to the test.

She had met Tom 4 years earlier back in Ontario and they had discovered they had a lot in common. Tom however was already selling his artwork and had a pretty advanced level of drawing skills.

Neither of them was terribly ambitious but they both shared an interest in adventure which eventually brought them to Crete in '73. They had packed their watercolors, of course, and spent most every sunny Grecian day sketching their surroundings, as best they could.

Though Donna wasn't the least bit prone to conceit, she was however, not immune from frustration. Tom kept coming up with things that looked something like art and it was too obvious that her work at that time was not on the same level. Not a depressive personality, she became depressed nonetheless. She decided to quit trying - said she felt like a "squashed penny".

In his tender youth Tom had squashed a few penny's on the tracks himself and knew exactly to what she was referring. Drastic action was required and he drew up a plan. Not much in the way of consolation was immediately offered; Donna having a remnant stubborn Irish streak that in this case was refusing all well meant help.

So, the first day it rained and they were confined to quarters in their pup tent at the end of the beach, Tom gave her a drawing project. It was a difficult project but he knew somehow she could do it if she was forced to try. Never in the past had he demanded she do anything. Donna doesn't respond well to police action but this time he insisted and she hated him for it - the loathing hung heavy in that little space.

However, whatever violence had been required, she did take up pen and sketch paper and began drawing the small cooking area outside the entrance of the tent. It involved a lot of perspective and some tricky ovals which were to be rendered, as instructed... perfectly. She was to leave all her insecurity about drawing outside in the rain and concentrate as she'd never done before. It was brutal at first but as she got involved it became very quiet and peaceful in that tent.

In the end, when she showed her partner the result, it was like the devastated Donna had departed and a new version was born... the drawing was near perfect! From that point onward she was an Artist and knew it in a humble but confident way. She now could draw anything and went on from there, to approach col our and composition with the same mental attitude. They still have the drawing to this day. They pull it out and marvel at the whole sequence of events every few years.

And over the following years their styles evolved individually. They both do what would be described as "realism" but Donna's approach has become more impressionistic, while Tom's work remains firmly in the "classical" oil tradition. They both feel real art lovers deserve quality and originality. They talk about art a lot and are gentle critics of each others work. The natural world remains their inspiration and they constantly share their insights regarding it. Each offers something of value to the other in this relationship which has not grown dull over the decades.

Tom Dickson was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1947. He began painting in oils at the age of 10 with his father, and from that point onward art became a focus in his life. After studying at Toronto's Ontario College of Art in the mid '60's, he began to paint the countryside and wilds of northern Ontario.

It was there, in Tobermory, that he met his future wife, Donna, and together they went on to share their life with their mutual love of art.

Tom is a Signature member of International Plein Air Painters. His art first became critically recognized during the 1980's while exhibiting in major galleries in the Halifax area of Nova Scotia - Zwickers and the Hollis Street Gallery being the most notable. He enjoyed great success as a painter of marine and city scenes, attracting a growing number of collectors. Beginning in the 1990's he also began showing on the west coast and not too long after moved to Hornby Island, British Columbia, where, a few years later he and Donna opened a very popular summer gallery of their own.

He continued through the '90's to call B.C. home, enjoying the distinctive west coast environment in summer and spending the winter months in sunny Mexico, where it's possible to paint outdoors in any season; something Tom and Donna very much like to do.

Tom had first come to Mexico in 1967 and been absolutely enchanted with the scenery, the people, the culture and history. In 1970 he returned again with Donna and since that time Mexico has been included as a major part of their life experience. They lived and paint in Mexico full time. After having been based in the historic colonial era town of San Miguel de Allende for 10 years, the last 4 years, they are lived in Puerto Vallarta. Tom is quickly became one of the top sellers at Galleria Dante.

Donna Lee Dickson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She showed an early interest in art and began to paint seriously on a trip to Greece in 1973. At this point her work was showing great promise and by the early 80's her Maritime themes were very popular - selling briskly around the Halifax area of Nova Scotia, where she was living during this period. She also showed an aptitude for teaching painting technique and students began asking that she give regular classes.

In the fall of 1990 she decided to return to the west, re-discovering her roots and finding new challenges in the mountainous landscape of British Columbia. As well as exhibiting in many regional venues, she also opened a gallery of her own on Hornby Island, B.C. which over the years became a favorite destination of many an avid west coast art collector.

Her art classes became increasingly popular and in the 1990's she began teaching in Mexico, a country with which she was becoming increasingly familiar, having first visited the charming, colonial era town of San Miguel de Allende in 1970.

In 2005, she decided to make Mexico her permanent home and now resides full time, dividing her time between San Miguel in summer, and the Pacific coast, north of Puerto Vallarta, in winter. She finds the climate to be perfect for a plein air painter like herself and the light, people and color of Mexico provide endless inspiration. Four years ago, Vallarta became their permanent home, with short trips to San Miguel to teach.

Donna has studied with some very accomplished professionals over the years, the most notable among them, Alvaro Castagnet of watercolor fame and the well-known modern masters of oil and plein air, Carol Marine and Kevin Macpherson. Her work can be found in literally hundreds of collections worldwide. She loves to teach art, but is also passionate about people, nutrition, bird watching and nature hikes. You will see many of your favorite Vallarta spots captured in her paintings.

Don't miss your chance to meet this talented artist at Galleria Dante while you are out doing the South Side Shuffle this Friday.

While you are there, be sure to check out Di Vino Dante, a chic wine and tapas bar overlooking the gallery's sculpture garden that serves creative cuisine and cocktails. Last summer, Di Vino Dante opened a small dining area on the ground floor in a corner of Galleria Dante, for those who like to people watch. Please Note: Di Vino Dante does not take reservations on South Side Shuffle nights.

Open Mon-Fri from 10 am to 5 pm and from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays, Galleria Dante is located at Basilio Badillo #269 in Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone. For more information, click HERE, call (322) 222-2477, or send an email to galleriadante2(at) To see some of the art work on display at the gallery, visit